Vietnam Stories: ‘I want her smile back’

For the Monitor
Saturday, September 30, 2017

When Gil and I moved to Charlottesville, Va., in November 1973, we were welcomed right away by our next-door neighbors, Ed and Elaine Davis.

We learned that Ed had returned in February that year from North Vietnam where he had been a POW for 7½ years. An account of his experiences in the Hanoi Hilton that included physical and mental torture, solitary confinement and starvation, can be read in Ed’s book, We Came Home.

Ed commissioned me to do a portrait of him and Elaine to commemorate their reception at the Oval Office in the White House.

At one point while I was working on the painting, “MaCo,” the dog he adopted his last months in Hanoi, had gone missing. This was a very stressful time, with Ed combing the woods of Albemarle County on his motor bike searching in vain for MaCo and Elaine worrying.

As I was working on detailing all the military decorations on his uniform, Ed came late at night and said: “Don’t worry about that stuff, I want her smile back!” I complied.

(Sissi Shattuck lives in Hillsboro.)