In this portrait, Frederick Graham was a boy of about 12. He was the fourth child, born February 2, 1923 when the family was still living in Brookline. In 1936 they were living and going to school in Concord and spending summers in North Haven. Father Allen wasn’t keeping his diary and hadn’t been since 1924 so, except that Frederick thinks he sat for him in his studio, nothing is known about the circumstances that prompted him to do a portrait of his son.
This is a natural loving portrait. As a father, he was not physically affectionate. In a time when the effects of the recommended child-rearing methods, which had discouraged holding or kissing your children, still held some influence, this was perhaps a way for Frederick to touch his son. The father’s hand is there in the child’s hair, the clay spread with his thumbs. These were the Depression years, sad and difficult times for families, especially fathers who worried about being able to provide for their families. So Frederick, the father, mussed his son’s hair and stroked his face while he sculpted this portrait with the love he found hard to show.
Frederick went on in his education from the Concord public schools to graduate with a PhD from Harvard. He worked at Bell Labs for 8 years then at NASA for 33 years where he worked on the Apollo missions. He ended his professional career as full professor and Chairman of the Department of Electrical Sciences and Engineering at UCLA. He married Susan Morse, a Wellesley College graduate and raised an interesting and accomplished family of three children. At this writing he is a vibrant 93 year old who is still enjoying life, his family and his beloved North Haven summer home.