Thursday, August 9, 2007

Jimmy Morton

On Monday morning we stopped by to visit Jimmy Morton, who lives alone in a little house near the headwaters of Schoharie Creek. He has spent all his 94 years within five miles of Platte Clove.

As I sketched his portrait in his kitchen, he told me about the horses that used to haul the bluestone down from the mountain, and how he used to walk to school in 30-below weather.

When he was younger he brought his pet crow Jip on his milk delivery route. “Jip was the nicest pet I ever had,” he said. “He’d sit up in a tree and then—‘caw, caw’—he’d come down and set on my shoulder. But he’d steal things from people around here—watches and keys and whatnot—and stick them all in a hollow tree. I had to climb the tree and fetch them all back to their owners.”

One time he was coming down from Roundtop Mountain through the deep forest when he heard a strange sound coming from above. “I looked up and I’ll be darned if there wasn’t a cowbell up in the tree ringing. The only thing I could figure, a raccoon hauled it up there and was ringin’ it when he seen me go by.”

6 comments:

K_tigress said...

Nice story to go along with a nice portrait.

Colin said...

Hey my grandparents live on Roundtop Mtn. I wonder if they know this guy...

Dakota said...

Hmmmm...

I wonder. Was he the inspiration for Nalab? He looks just like him.

James Gurney said...

No, I met Jimmy long after Nallab was created. But who knows? Maybe he resembles someone else we'll meet in the future in Dinotopia!

Allison said...

Was this man ever the inspiration for a Dinotopia character? James Morton dies last year, having lived, as you noted, his entire life within a few miles of the home where you sketched him.

He was my great uncle and the portrait is wonderful.

L. Chapman

James Gurney said...

Allison, No, I met Jimmy after doing most of the Dinotopia artwork, so I haven't used him as a character model. It just was a privilege to spend time with him hearing his stories. You are lucky to have known him as a relative.