Minority and Justice Commission
In My Fathers House There Were Many Roomers
Barbara Earl Thomas
The inspiration for this painting was the big house where I lived as a child in Seattle's Central District. That house was always full of people. In the late fifties it was common practice for families to take in roomers, especially in Seattle's small black enclave. Many of the blacks who settled in Seattle came in the mid-forties drawn by the bustling wartime economy. In the beginning we all lived together in an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins all in the same house. When the relatives moved out to homes of their own, my parents let rooms to many of the young men who were stationed in Seattle after the Korean War. I always felt like our house was bursting at the seams with people coming and going. So when I painted "In My Fathers House There are Many Roomers" that is exactly what I meant. But, I am also aware that in the hearing there is a biblical reference, as well as, how news was passed in and around the neighborhood. For me it's about hospitality and sharing. In those days a big house was meant to be filled with people, food, and the sounds of life. That's how I remember it.