SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — A couple of paintings hanging in Elliott and Norma Rose’s home are certainly worth more than a thousand words.
They’ve been in the family for nearly seven decades now, but they technically had not owned the paintings until a few weeks ago.
They were originally painted by Jack Masey. The internationally known man is a veteran, but was really known for his work as an exhibits officer at the U.S. Embassy in India, organizing events about American technology and culture. He had also promoted American culture at world fairs for decades through the U.S. Information Agency. He had promoted things such as American hairstyles and modern gadgets of the day.
Masey and Norma Rose’s sister had been friends many years ago in New York City. Masey was quickly recruited to begin his job in India and didn’t know what to do with his things.
So they were given to Elliott Rose’s sister-in-law, at first. Then the Roses got them. And they’ve kept them ever since. Through all the moving they’ve done, the children they’ve raised, the pictures were there all along. But they had lost touch with Masey.
Recently, when the Roses were watching a television special about the ghost army of World War II in England, Masey’s name was mentioned.
“He’s the one whose pictures we have in the house,” Norma Rose told her husband.
They were able to obtain his contact information and talk to him about the paintings. The Roses had offered to mail them to his New York City apartment, but proved to be costly. The paintings weren’t on canvas, but on wood, making the art particularly heavy.
So instead, the Roses opted to call their neighbor, photographer Michael Ayers. He was able to shoot detailed photos of Masey’s paintings and email them to him to see.
“He doesn’t even remember ever having done the pictures,” Norma Rose said. “He didn’t even know what they looked like anymore.”
Masey was pleased to see them after all these years, but told the Roses they could keep the paintings. The paintings have a lot of sentimental value to their daughter, particularly. She grew up seeing the paintings through the years.
One of the paintings hang in the Roses living room to this day. It has a creamy background and abstract, colorful shapes in the foreground, like animals. The other hangs in an office space. The background is black, and many dynamic, warped faces are depicted on it. For a long time, the rectangular painting was used as a coffee table. Norma Rose had put legs on it and sheet glass on top of it.