ONE WELL-TRAVELED ARTIST: Before settling down Hanover resident had no particular place to go
Frank Carroll, who resumed painting in 1998, is featured in an exhibit at Ventress Memorial Library in Marshfield. (GREG DERR/The Patriot Ledger)
By ANDREW LIGHTMAN
The Patriot Ledger
HANOVER - After fighting in Korea in the 1950s, Frank Carroll wanted to feel free. He liked art, but knew only a little from books and from things he saw overseas.
He taught himself to paint geishas after the war, but he yearned to learn more.
So he became a hobo.
‘‘I just did it,’’ Carroll said. ‘‘My education was from looking and traveling and observing.’’
Carroll spent five years on the road before he married and settled down in Hanover.
Now 75, Carroll is a local painter whose work is on display at Marshfield’s Ventress Memorial Library.
Another of his paintings is up for silent auction at the John Curtis Library in Hanover, with the proceeds to benefit the town’s historic Stetson House.
It’s all a far cry from the years he spent living the life of a beatnik, traveling from one town to the next and playing music as he went.
His adventures took him to Michigan, California, Florida, Mexico and countless places in between. He rode the rails and slept in boxcars. He hitchhiked and he drove around in a $100 panel truck, with tequila under the visor and a stripped-down piano in the back.
He ate fruit that fell off wagons in marketplaces. He ate at missions in New York and California, where ‘‘you could eat well - a big bowl of lima bean soup and a half-gallon of ice cream.’’
To raise money for gas, he’d play music or sing, fight in boxing matches or pick fruit.
He panned for gold in the Feather River in California, but he didn’t find much.
‘‘I remember waking up in a truck, on a mountain in Mexico, thinking, ‘I don’t have to get up if I don’t want to,’’’ Carroll said. ‘‘It was total freedom.’’
He eventually returned home to his family in Winchester. In 1964, he got a job at a printing company in Boston.
It was at the job, wearing a Salvation Army jacket, a 50-cent Hawaiian shirt and boots cut down into dress shoes, where Carroll met his future wife, Barbara.
‘‘I said, ‘What an interesting-looking guy,’’’ Barbara Carroll said.
They both loved music and art, and he made her laugh. When they married a few months later, she bought him a suit.
‘‘It was time I settled down, and I met the right girl,’ Carroll said. ‘‘I might not have known it at the time, but I found out over time ... and she had a car.’’
The Carrolls have two grown sons and are still in the Spring Street house they bought 42 years ago.
To support the family, he worked in the printing business and spent 12 years at Gem Gravure, an ink-manufacturing company in Hanover.
He also worked as a collector, buying and selling oil paintings, 78 RPM records and pieces of art.
It wasn’t until after a near-death experience in 1998 that Carroll decided to paint again.
Today he works in a small studio in his home, turning images in his mind into paintings of local scenes. Barbara sells his oil paintings and prints for him.
It takes between two and eight weeks for Carroll to produce a new work, because, well, you can’t rush an artist.
‘‘The secret is that he’s a great nap-taker,’’ Barbara Carroll said.
These days, most of his traveling is making day trips to museums and art shows. His painting, though, is as passionate as ever.
‘‘We have such a great life with his art,’’ Barbara Carroll said. ‘‘We have such great reason to hurry home and start on that next painting.’’
Andrew Lightman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Friday, June 08, 2007