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WATERMELON by A.L. "Unk" Quick - marker on paper, 7.5 in. x 9 in., signed by the artist SOLD

"Unk Quick can read the floor of the Apalachicola Bay like a blind man reads braille. But now, with the bay yielding precious few of the bivalves that always meant prosperity to his family, Unk is, at age 73, beginning to learn reading of a different sort."

That is the lede to "The Oysterman," my story on A.L. "Unk" Quick that appeared on The Bitter Southerner in January 2015. I've known Unk since 2006, and this piece not only detailed my reunion with him, but the hurdles Unk now faces as a functionally illiterate out-of-work oysterman in Franklin County, Florida.

A.L. "Unk" Quick by Amy C. Evans, 2006.

More from "The Oysterman":

"Unk quit school when he was a teenager. He floated through, mostly, never learning to read or write. And then he floated out, choosing instead to earn a living on the water. Unk hung up his oyster tongs a couple of years ago, when the fate of the bay appeared to be all sewn up. For the past good while, instead of spending his days sitting on a boat, making use of his 50-plus years of experience working on the water, he spends three days a week sitting in a classroom, reviewing flashcards."

FRUIT BOWL by A.L. "Unk" Quick - marker on paper, 7.5 in. x 9 in., signed by the artist SOLD

The State of Florida has something called the Workforce Investment Act Program that offers financial assistance to out-of-work oystermen, so they can get additional education and training, all in an effort to make them more desirable as potential hires. What it means for Unk is this: getting paid to work toward his GED diploma at the age of 73.

Unk's teacher suggested that he draw pictures on the back of his flashcards so that he might remember new words more easily. One day when I was at Unk's house, his wife Gloria showed me some of those drawings. They were beautiful. I suggested that Unk make some larger ones and let me sell them on my website in an effort to get a little more money in their pockets. A few months later, I received the two drawings you see featured here.

And now you can purchase them on my website. Each orignal drawing is signed by Unk and comes with a photographic print of a portrait I took of him in Florida in 2006.

This is a very special, one-of-a-kind offering. I hope you will read Unk's story and decide to support him through the purchase of his wonderful artwork.

I hope he will make more drawings.

* * *

UPDATE: Both drawings were sold within 24 hours of my posting them in the online shop. Thanks so much for supporting my friend and his family through the purchase of his artwork. I spoke with Gloria Quick, and she says that Unk will do more drawings, so check back for more!

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