I own this album because of a very thoughtful gesture from a wonderful person named Nancy.
Nancy posted a set of vintage album covers, including this one, on Flickr and I kind of went crazy when I saw it. What I didn't realize when I told Nancy that I was green with envy that she owned this album was that in fact she didn't own it... she had simply photographed it, along with some others, at a thrift store.
Here's the reason Nancy is such a wonderful person: because I was so crazy about the Al Parker artwork on this album cover, Nancy went back to the thrift store, purchased the album and mailed it to me!
When the package arrived and I saw the return address was in Westport, Connecticut, where Al Parker himself had lived for many years during his heyday, I knew what I had to do: I ordered Ephemeral Beauty, the catalogue from last year's Al Parker show at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and had it shipped to Nancy's house. When she received it, she sent this delightful note:
I just got the book. What a nice surprise! It's so funny that Al Parker spent time in Wesport. My family moved here in 1953. My father was a photographer in town and was friends with lots of artists, illustrators, and bohemians of various stripes. The beautiful book you sent mentions Harold Von Schmidt. One of his sons, Pete, shared my dad's studio for a long time, and his brother, Eric, was a wonderful musician and also an artist. They all used to throw crazy parties together. Who knows, maybe AP was at one of them. The book is beautiful and also really interesting to me; having grown up during Al Parker's heyday, many of his images seem very familiar, and I am realizing that his elegant aesthetic formed some important part of my imaginary "ideal" world that is still rattling around in my subconscious today. It was so nice of you to send me the book, and it is such fun learning about Al Parker. I owe it all to Goodwill! Your Flickr photos and website are treasure troves. Thanks for everything and especially for telling me about Al Parker.
Once again, my thanks to Nancy for brightening my day with her kindness to a complete stranger... and I hope reading this story and seeing Al Parker's beautiful illustration brightens yours as well.