MuseArtist Les Bryant tells the interesting and amusing story leading to the creation of
The Watermelon Thieves
"My uncle once told me this story about his childhood with my father. Later confirmed by my father though his version varied slightly. This is my version of the story as I reconstruct it and was the inspiration of this painting.
Imagine if you will, two small boys, Collins age 5 and Frank age 8 who lived on a farm in the hills of Kentucky near the little village of Ready almost 80 years ago. The boys were poor, their widowed father was sickly and barely able to scratch a subsistence living out of the families very small hilltop farm. These two boys ranged far and wide over the country side, catching rabbits and squirrels to add to the dinner table. One day during their travels, they came across a neighbor's prosperous farm and saw a field full of ripe watermelons ready for picking. Having caught sight of such delicious fair, the temptation to acquire one was irresistible to these hungry, thirsty boys. So Frank, the older boy begins scheming on how to liberate one?
Collins resisted the idea at first but with arguments from frank and his grumbling tummy he reluctantly went along to help get one of their neighbor's melons. Collins being the practical sort snuck up to one of the smaller melons near the side of the field. Frank on the other hand had spied a really big melon in the center of the field. "What a prize! What if we could get that home for dinner" he thought, so he called out to Collins, “Not that one, let's take the big one!”. Now this was a really huge melon, only with difficulty did they manage pick it, then lift it up to carry between them. As they disappeared into the forest they heard the farmer yelling at them in the distance. In fear the boys picked up their pace. Running along the forest path, barely able to keep the melon suspended between them. They were fortunate to have such a big head start, for the farmer did not bother to pursue the mischievous boys.
So what happens when two young boys go running along a dirt path in the woods trying to carry a watermelon? A watermelon nearly as big as the smaller of the boys. A big mess of course, as they topped a hill the melon got away from them. It went rolling down the hill with the boy's in pursuit. Near the bottom of the hill it a tree dead center, KERPLUNK....SPLAT!!! The watermelon split in two, sending out a spray of watermelon bits. So they sat down at the bottom of that hill, next to a small stream. Each boy with a more than ample melon half. They scooping out the heart of the melon with their hands to gorged themselves on what they could of that huge delicious watermelon.
When they got home they discovered why the farmer had not pursued them. The farmer knew it was "Those Bryant boys", and knew where they lived. He was there speaking to their father. It turns out the farmer was a kindly sort, he knew of their poverty, and was not mad that the boys had taken a watermelon, indeed he would have been happy to give them one, but he was upset that the boys had stolen his seed melon. Every year he would save the seeds from his biggest and best melon to plant the next year, hoping to improve his crop. He had been caring for that melon like it was his baby! What was he going to do for seed next year? So the boys had to agree, in the future, if they really wanted a watermelon, they would pick a small one."