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Harold & Bill: An enduring portrait of another era

In 1971, I was attending nursing school and working as an emergency department (ED) orderly. One day, two elderly men came to the ED. One was brought from a taxi in a wheelchair. The other man, who was there simply for company, followed slowly on foot.

They waited silently. Neither spoke more than 10 words during the 2-hour wait and visit. They were men who came of age in another time. As adults, they faced two World Wars and the Great Depression. They didn’t complain. They endured.

A few days after that ED visit, a Newsweek or Time article on aging had a photo of two old men that reminded me of the men I’d seen and inspired this drawing. I sketched “Harold & Bill” on breaks between nursing school classes.

The drawing remained in a sketchbook until 3 years ago, when I scanned it and cleaned it up with Photoshop. I had a copy made and framed as a birthday present for a nurse I highly respect. The only other copy hangs in my office.

Thomas Wenzka is an associate professor at the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, Georgia. He has drawn, carved in wood, written creatively, played music, and worked with community theater since childhood.

We encourage readers to submit their original artwork and expressions, including illustrations, photographs, poems, essays, and short stories. We’re not looking for the next Frida Kahlo, Jane Austen, or Andy Warhol—just readers who’d like to share their creative efforts. For more information on submitting original works, please review our Author Guidelines.

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