Cora Lou Robinson has been involved with the Minden St. Jude Auction for about 30 years, but it wasn’t until 1992 when it became personal for her.
Many of her paintings and prints are depictions of the times she remembers growing up in Minden, but the first painting she created for the St. Jude Auction was of a set of twins, when one lost her sister. In 1992, Denise Whaley died from cancer at the tender age of 16.
Robinson says that’s when she really got involved in the auction.
“That’s when this became the biggest thing in my life,” she said.
Laura Hollingsworth, a past auction chairman, says the painting depicting the twins was raffled that year.
“One of Cora Lou’s students won it and she gave it to the Whaley family,” she said.
As Robinson displayed her many years of artwork at the Minden Civic Center Thursday night, she talked about some of her more memorable works, saying she just likes to paint what she remembers.
“Every painting has a story,” she said. “It’s about growing up in Minden.”
She held up a print depicting a college football field, recalling she’d gone to a game between Louisiana Tech University and Mississippi State University.
“I went to every one of Terry Bradshaw’s games after that, and I watched him when he played for the (Pittsburg) Steelers,” she said.
This year’s print depicts the old Minden Railroad Station on the old Shreveport Road with soldiers from World War II returning home. A train from the old L&A Railroad rolls in as families await their loved ones.
Every dime she makes at the auction goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee to fund life-saving studies and treatments, and she’s been raffling her paintings and selling prints for about 20 years.
She taught six St. Jude patients during her time as a fourth grade teacher for E.S. Richardson Elementary School. One particular student stands out in her mind, she said, adding that Richardson is the first school in Minden to start raising money for the children’s research center.
A little boy and his family came to Minden from South Louisiana to escape Hurricane Katrina, and he landed at her school in 2005. Every morning, Robinson would get on the intercom and ask students who wanted to donate to turn in their money.
“They could do anything they wanted to earn the money and bring it,” she recalled. “They would not get a prize for it. Their prize was helping children get well. One day, this little boy in the second grade from New Orleans would come to school and tell his teacher, ‘I’m going to bring my money tomorrow.’ She would say, ‘Would you like for me to give some money for you?’ And he would say, ‘Oh no ma’am, I’m going to bring my money tomorrow.’”
For days, this little second grader who lived in his car with his family would tell his teacher he would bring his money “tomorrow.”
“One day, he came to school with 50 cents in his hand that he’d found under the floor mat of his car,” she said. “So he gave everything he had to help a child. That’s what this whole thing is about. That’s why Minden is like that. That’s the story of this auction to me.”