OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WJTV) – The Walter Anderson story is best told at the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs. He studied art extensively when young and then returned to Ocean Springs and joined Shearwater Pottery with his brothers, Peter and Mac. He married Agnes Grinstead, who’s family home, Oldfields in Gautier, is where the couple lived and started their family. Their daughter, Mary Pickard, remembers her dad with delight.
“At that time, we could sit down beside him while he was drawing and watch. And he’d be drawing chickens, and a chicken would go running across the page, and it was like magic,” said Pickard.
Anderson’s personality didn’t stay magic. He grew more reclusive and started taking long sabbaticals, rowing the 12 miles out to Horn Island for weeks-long stays, painting the animals and the plants.
Many of those watercolors weren’t found until after his death, in a trunk in his secret room. The room is now preserved at the Anderson Museum. John Anderson, who is 10 years younger than Mary, has different memories of his dad.
“We didn’t treat daddy very well. He rode around town in paint spattered clothes on a rusty old bicycle, tipping his hat to people as he went past. He was kind of looked upon as the town fool,” said Anderson.
He continued, “If we were with a group of our friends by Lovelace Drug Store and we heard the creek of his bicycle, we would probably turn ourselves strategically so we could pretend not to notice him. Now, of course, we are very proud that he’s our father.”
Probably the most productive period of Walter Anderson’s life was while he lived at Oldfields. Most of the work he is remembered for was produced there. And now, thanks to the persistence of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, this architecturally, historically and culturally significant home will be restored and preserved in Gautier.
Shearwater Pottery is still operating in Ocean Springs. Descendants of the Anderson Family still run it and prints of Walter Anderson’s work as well works of other family members are still for sale there.