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This is the story of a legendary art dealer whose life is suddenly cut short and how his two sons have to fill his gigantic shoes to carry forward the third generation family art gallery through treacherous financial times. This crushing blow comes only eight years after a horrific family tragedy left the Davids struggling to survive
an emotional black hole from which very few would escape.
Carl David is the third generation of a four-generation family art business in Philadelphia. He is the author of Collecting & Care of Fine Art published by Crown in 1981. His article about Martha Walter, an American Impressionist painter (1875-1976), was published in the American Art Review in May 1978 Mr. David's new book, Bader Field, embodies the emotional story of a son's loving relationship with his father—a legendary art dealer whose life is suddenly taken by a massive coronary at the young age of fifty-eight years. His death plunges the twenty-four-year-old man onto the front lines of the family art business, which he had entered a mere three years prior. Battling with his own grief while trying to help his adoring but fragile mother survive, David forges forward with all of the elemental tools his father imparted to him. His journey proves a difficult one, not having yet recovered from the horrific loss of his brother to suicide just eight years earlier when he was found dead on the fourth floor of the Rittenhouse Square townhouse, which was home to the prestigious David David Gallery. His self-imposed obligation is to successfully take the family art business to the next generation and to give his own children every bit of love, kindness, and wisdom bestowed upon him by the unique man whom they will never know other than the mark he left on everyone who knew him. Bader Field adds significant insight into the mysterious workings and dealings of the art world. David speaks from experience of having been immersed in it all of his life and having lived it from the inside out. There will be a tremendous crossover interest in this book as it combines the elements of an American family, its goodness and its tragedy interfaced with the multifaceted aspects of the art business and flying small airplanes. Bader Field in Atlantic City was the oldest airfield in the country. With little sophistication, its two asphalt runways juggled single and twin engine aircraft exuded a character and charm that created memories to last a lifetime. That is where this saga begins and where it ends as life comes full circle.
Chapter 2 ~ Unfulfilled Promise
Pop had been experiencing some fairly predictable warning signs toward the end. He was feeling more than just vague pressure in his chest every so often. It occurred mostly at night, but it was significant enough that he decided not to waste any time and got himself to the family physician for a physical examination. In the early 1970s, that meant a superficial blood pressure test in conjunction with a urinalysis, cardiogram, and basic blood work. He had undergone a mandatory complete physical for his pilot's license renewal prior to his death. He had passed with flying colors, but his symptoms were persistent enough to cause him sufficient doubt about the medical clearance he had received. A second physical revealed no more than the first. His cardiogram was normal, and his blood pressure was right on target. All signs pointed to a perfectly healthy specimen who either had habitual indigestion or a deep-rooted problem elusive enough to escape detection. Back then, we didnít have an introspective battery of tests like we have today. He questioned why he had difficulty catching his breath after a flight of stairs or during only one block of spirited walking.
He was petrifiedónot of dyingóbut of losing his license to fly. If he were to be grounded by the FAA for health reasons, it would have been equal to imprisonment and a punishment he wouldn't have been able to bear. Banishment from the heavens could not be tolerated. And yet, he knew something was amiss in the medical analysis of his body's communication to him. The doctors were telling him that he was fine but he didn't feel it or believe it. He was extraordinary in his perception of things both inward and outward and he just wasn't buying the news from the world of medicine.
Early one morning, he was in the gallery with Annabelle, one of Momís sisters who worked with us for years, when he confided to her, "Annie, I think I've got a bad ticker." She suggested that he make an appointment with a heart specialist.
How frightening it must have been to count the days, not knowing which would be his last. There was so much to do yet, so much to see, and so little time in which to do it all. He had certainly crammed a lot of life into his brief but fiery years, but it wasn't enough. It's hard to judge who would be more cheated, he who would vanish forever, or everyone he touched who would have to continue on with life's journey without him. It would be a terrible tug of war but there would be no winners.
Alan was also aware of Popís degenerating strength. He would have to wait while Pop rested for a minute or two, every couple of blocks. How pathetic it must have been to watch helplessly as the irrepressible force of his strength dwindled so rapidly. A few weeks prior to his trip to London, Pop asked Alan, "What would you do if I died tomorrow?" Alan was stunned and totally unable to respond. Filled with worry, he began to contemplate the gelling realism of what he had suspected from the recent weeks of Pop's visibly declining health. Pop knew that Alan would be able to carry on the business, but he wasn't sure of the emotional repercussions of his death. Alan was extremely independent in his ways. At times he felt put upon or restrained from doing his own thing, which caused an occasional tense moment between the two of them. Pop only wanted the best for him, and as parents will do, exerted his opinions when he thought it necessary. Pop needed Alan in the business; he was a hard worker and there was an enormous amount of work to be done. It was nearly impossible as a one-man show, but through the earlier years when Alan was fresh out of Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania it was pretty much a solo enterprise. Alan wanted to be a stockbroker so he moved to New York and played that hand until he tired of it. He could have done any number of things, but eventually came back to the family business. As with any two generations, there were differences in opinions and philosophies regarding the most profitable way to administer the business, but for the most part they agreed in principle and worked well together.
Pop's dream was for Alan and me to run the business while he and Mom traveled aimlessly throughout the world, visiting far away lands and traversing foreign bodies of water on luxurious yachts while bathing in the various facets of opulence which the world had to offer. Pop was angry at the thought of being cut down in his prime and being robbed of the opportunity to relax a bit in the pleasure-laden years ahead.
In the final few weeks when Pop wasn't feeling well, Arlyn and I would visit with him. In response to our questions of concern he would say, "Aw, it's just indigestion; I'll be okay. Don't worry!" But I wasn't so sure. The antacids weren't working anymore and he wasn't getting any better. The tightening in his chest was becoming too frequent to be coincidental. He still enthusiastically insisted that the four of us go out to dinner at La Panetiere, the best French restaurant in Philadelphia, but we calmed him down and told him that we didn't come to eat, we just came to spend some time with him. It was plain to see that he was suffering discomfort every now and again and when he sat around listlessly, I worried. Though I was seriously concerned about him, it didn't occur to me that he was really mortal. I could not envision his being anything but alive; death was wholly out of the picture.
Could the crushing blow have been averted? The certificate of death indicated that his heart had suffered nearly total calcification, so even a bypass operation might have proven ineffective. In those days, that kind of procedure was relatively avant-garde. Double, triple, and quadruple bypass surgery was nearly unknown then, though if Pop had been afforded the opportunity to be the pioneer experimental patient, he would have unquestionably gone for it. He was not the kind to give up without a fight. One of his poker playing directives was that if you're going to lose it all anyway, throw in everything you've got for the grand finale, and just maybe you'll come out a winner.
The irony in all of this lay in a very private and tender conversation which Pop had with Mom the night before he left for London. She made him promise her that he would go to see a heart specialist as soon as he returned the following week. He swore faithfully to her that he would. That was the only promise he had ever made that he couldn't fulfill.
Writers In The Sky / Yvonne Perry
Writers in the Sky
Yvonne Perry PDF Print E-mail
Writers in the Sky
By Yvonne Perry "Writers in the Sky"
I had the privilege of serving as the developmental and copy editor for this book. The author, Carl David, is a skilled writer with a superb story.
Bader Field has the drama of human emotion stirred by true events that bring lovable characters to life. Plus, there are interesting historical facts intertwined throughout the telling.
I was not familiar with the art world that is common and everyday life for the David family, but I learned things in this book that caused me to better appreciate all art forms around me--even the art of life itself. I also learned quite a bit about flying twin-engine airplanes, which is a huge love the author shared with his dad. The book is named after the airfield that launched Carl and his dad to the skies where they enjoyed hundreds of flight hours reveling in their distinctive father-son bond.
Even though the book follows a chronological time line, each chapter has an embedded memory or flashback that lands us in the middle of an exciting, tragic, or educational event. Whether a childhood winter moment as the David boys take their dad for the sled ride of his life; or the account of how a famous piece of art was acquired; or the bygone days of the Depression Era when Sam and Flora first met--this book details a heartfelt journey that demonstrates the healing that comes from letting go of the past and living only for what is before us in this moment.
Bader Field allows a reader to see the inside impact that the self-inflicted death of a loved one has on an entire family and how much spiritual strength it takes to move past such devastation.
After reading Bader Field, you will feel as if you have known the David family all your life. You may even feel like part of the family and be tempted to refer to Sam David as "Pop." He might even visit you in spirit!
Reader Views / Carol Hover, PhD
Carol Hover, PhD PDF Print E-mail
By Reader Views
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (1/09)
Mr. David has written a story of love and inspiration in memory of his father who died in 1973. It is also of his journey and healing through many trials in his life when he thought he could not go on.
There are very few individuals who come into our lives for a short period of time that leave a lasting impression on us. Sam David, Carl's father was one of those special individuals. From the time he was a teen until his death he was an inspiration to all and one of the world's greatest authorities on art. His uncanny ability to acquire masterpieces and know trends coming in the art world before anyone else did earned him respect and love.
As a young boy Carl David was in awe of his father. Not only did his dad take time to be with and guide Carl, he let him make his own choices without interference. He taught his son how the art world worked, how to choose quality pieces and how to work hard and still enjoy life. One of his father's greatest passions was flying.
Prior to his father's sudden death, Carl's brother Bruce killed himself. His father was the one who found him hanging in the 4th floor of the studio. Carl's parents were never the same. Bruce and Carl were very close and he had great difficulty trying to answer "why."
Married now with two grown sons, Carl David has worked in the art field for years. His sons now help with the family business. He has taken the time, as did his father to teach his sons about life. It is rare, that as teenagers, children take what a parent says to heart. The author, Carl David, has done that and through his writing of "Bader Field," he has given readers the same wisdom his father gave him.
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Carl E David