William Metcalfe, 4/22/2019

Current Occupation: Having retired from profitable work, I am playing about with either writing or photography.
Former Occupation: There were 40 years of picture framing. My company was one of the first in Washington, DC, to push for preservation as a very important aspect of a framing job.
Contact Information: After 30 years of aimless travel, I settled down in Washington, DC. after I found I enjoyed working as a picture framer. In the years of travel and of working with customers, I have accumulated a large collection of stories, which exist as short notes. For a period, I was also, by acclamation, a interesting photographer, but a move to a near suburb, a wonderful wife and our 3 children took more and more time. I had to curtail my pursuits. Now that I am retired and my children are adults, I have returned to earlier interests. The iMac which sits on my desk offers itself as a means of rendering a legible copy of a story from the dusty corridors of my mind. It also offers itself as a instructor in converting digital snapshots into something much more meaningful, might I say art. One can only hope.





    After a year, I realized that I had found the perfect work for myself in this small picture frame shop. I have always been a visually oriented person, I liked working with my hands and I enjoyed solving small problems. I also got a kick out of working with the customers to find the framing ingredients, matting and framing, that would showcase their pictures. Plus, I had been enamored of art since my family, including myself at ten years of age, moved three blocks away from a free art museum. I think I still have some of their pictures embedded in my mind.

    One of the strangest framing jobs in my 30 years in this business arrived into our shop within my first month on the job. A college student from a nearby Catholic university brought in a bunch of drawings from India. There might have been over twenty. They were the same size, about 11 x 14 inches. Our job was to install two drawings, back to back, in each frame with glass for protection. The owner of the drawings wanted to be able to turn the drawings around occasionally.  Perhaps there was a limit in the amount of wall space in his apartment. Or there were other pieces filling the walls. That wasn’t our concern.

    He was having a party for his friends in two weeks and wanted us to complete the job before then. We did it quickly and gave him a call so that he would have time to hang the framed pictures.

    On the day we expected him, we were brimming with the question whose answer would tell us why we had to frame them the way he wanted. When he arrived, work stopped. My boss went out to greet him and to ask the question that would provide the answer we all wanted.

    After the student unwrapped the kraft paper covering one package, he complimented us on the job we had done with his drawings. The student wanted the pictures on his walls when his fraternity brothers came to his party. They were certain to get a big kick out of them.

    Then he continued by saying that when his mother visited, he wanted to be able to turn the pictures around.

    Half of his drawings were images that his parents would surely enjoy. Temples. Landscapes. People walking in the clothing they wore in India. These she would see and like.

    Oh! I forget to mention that the other sides were copies of the illustrations in the Kama Sutra? These she would not like nor would she see. Thanks to us.



One comment on “William Metcalfe, 4/22/2019
  1. M. F. McAuliffe says:

    Funny story!

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