So now you were beginning to tell about--$$I (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) how you started working for the home show.$$Yeah, I was--always wanted to go to New Orleans [Louisiana] to see the artists all around the square. I've always saw pictures of artists, man I said I'd just love to go down there see, just see the artists and be a part of that. And I remember taking this bus ride to New Orleans, and I had my little art portfolio that I'd done, 'cause I went to American Academy of Art [Chicago, Illinois] too off and on and took classes and the Art Institute [Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois]. You name it, I've been there, okay; any, any school in Chicago [Illinois], I've been to. So I had my portfolio, and I was looking through it. And there was lady standing there, and she said, "Who did those paintings?" And I said, "I did." She said, "You're kidding." She said, "When you get back to Chicago you should contact my boss. I work for a home show company [Color Your World (ph.)], and we sell art, and, and we're always looking for artists." And I said, "Oh, you're kidding." So anyway, I called when I got back. And the guy came out, and he said, "We, we've never, ever sold any African American art at all, but let's try it." So this had to be around in the '70s [1970s], '79 .$$Seventy- okay, all right.$$About '79 . And he said let's try it and see how it works. So I remember doing five little jazz musicians. And he said you know--what, what I would do is paint an original on a little eight by ten [inch] canvas. He said, "Let's do ten of each, and we're gonna try to sell them in Minnesota--in Wisconsin--and see how it goes." So he called me. He said, "Annie [HistoryMaker Annie Lee], do me twenty of each. We sold those right away." And I'm like, "Really?" And he said, "Do twenty of each." So I did twenty of each, and he called back. He said, "I can't believe it." He said, "These things are going like hotcakes. Do fifty of each." And I did fifty, and he came back and he said, "Just paint until you get tired." He said, "We're not gonna--we don't pay you much money per piece, but we'll buy volume from you, plus it'll help your name get known around the country." He said, "We start in Wisconsin. We sell in ten different states." He said, "And we'll just start selling these all around all the states so your name will get out there." (Laughter) I'd come in from work and I'd paint from seven in the--I'd get in maybe about 5:30 from the railroad [Chicago and North Western Railway; CNW Corporation], and I'd start painting at maybe 6:00. And I'd paint 'til 3:00 in the morning every day, all day. I was--it got so until I hired people to erase the eraser off, you know, the, pencil off the painting. I had somebody--it was, I had kids on the neighborhood to help me. And I loved every minute of it. And (laughter) I, I always remember my neighbor came over one day and she said, "Annie, stop, stop, stop; you've got to stop." She said, "You're gonna paint yourself into a coma, stop it." I had an operation on my wrist 'cause I got acute tendonitis from painting. And I went up to Mayo Clinic [Rochester, Minnesota], and I remember painting with the cast on coming back. I was making two or three thousand dollars a month. I was like, ho, besides the railroad. And, and I said me, I can do whatever I wanted. I remember opening my son [Howard Lee, Jr.] a fish market. And then he got killed while, during that time.$$Okay.$$And with the, with the, with that added income I was able to, you know, just do most of the things I wanted to do and help my kids and stuff.$Tell me about your artwork. Do you remember your first piece?$$I remember the first piece that I did that I paid to have produced. Okay, I re- yes, I do remember the first print. My friend Dan [ph.], who grew up with me, who owned the art gallery, he came by my house--well I'm doing the home show companies, okay.$$Right.$$And Dan came by my house, said, he said--I had a painting of some trees that I'd done, and he said, "Who did that?" And I said, "I did." And he said, "I didn't know you could paint." I said, "Yeah, I painted all my life." He said, "Can, may I take that piece to the gallery and see if I could sell it?" I said, "Sure (laughter)." He called me the next week and said, "Annie [HistoryMaker Annie Lee], guess what. I got a check for you." I said, "A check for what?" He said, "I sold the painting." I'm thinking oh, you got to be kidding. And so he, he, he said look, come on. May--not--the home show company and Dan are two different things. Dan said, "Annie, do you think you could do some paintings? And maybe we'll give you a one woman's art exhibit." I said, "Yeah, but I don't have any paintings." He said, "Well, we'll just start working on it, and we'll wait 'til you get enough." So, it took about two years to get enough paintings for me to have a show. Meanwhile, I'm doing these little musicians and things for the rail- for the home show company. So it was two different things. I tried to keep them separate. And so Dan, one day he said, "Annie, may I take three of your paintings and make prints out of them," like this (gestures off camera). And I said, "Yeah." And it was one that I liked myself, and I said man, I should make a print out of that, but I can't afford it 'cause it costs about three thousand dollars at the time. And you know, that's a lot of money to be spending on hoping it'll sell, but it was 'Blue Monday' [Annie Lee]. And I went on and did it anyway, and today that's still my best seller.$$What was the inspiration for 'Blue Monday'?$$The railroad [Chicago and North Western Railway; CNW Corporation]. That's the way I looked every morning going, getting up going to that railroad. And I, and one day I said, "I know somebody's got to feel bad like, too. I hate, I hate that job, and I know I'm not the only one going to work on a job that they hate." I hated the prejudice. I, I, I mean it was just awful. So, that was 'Blue Monday.' That's the way I looked.$$So it was that, sort of like a, a (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I sketched it.$$--of yourself (laughter).$$Yeah, yeah, it was me.$$Okay.$$It was me. I sketched the picture on the way to work, and came home, and painted it in a, in a half an hour. And usually, it takes a while to paint a picture. I painted, and then I went and made the prints. And it's still the best seller today.$$Now, the, the artwork that you were giving to the home show people, what was the name of that company?$$It was called Color Your World [ph.].$$Now--$$And another company was called Artistic Impressions [Artistic Impressions, Inc.]. So I ended up work, working for two or three of them.$$Now, would that be original art that you were giving to them?$$(Nod head).$$And what size was it?$$Eight by tens [inches].$$Eight by ten. And how much were they sell, selling for?$$They might would sell them for fifty or sixty dollars. And at first they started giving me like five dollars apiece, and then they gave me ten dollars apiece. And then they'd sell, and then they went up; I was getting twenty-five dollars apiece. You know, it really, it moved up.$$Okay, so Dan is the one who paid for--$$No.$$--'Blue Monday'?$$No, I paid for 'Blue Monday.'$$Oh, you paid for 'Blue Monday.'$$Dan did 'Six No Uptown' [Annie Lee], the women playing cards. And he did a little boy playing ball called 'Full Count One and Two' [sic. 'Full Count Three and Two,' Annie Lee], and he did one called 'Stretch One, Two' ['Stretch 1&2,' Annie Lee], women doing aerobics. And Dan said, "Okay, Annie, I'm gonna take a chance on you." He said, "I just think this is gonna sell." So he ran an ad in Essence magazine. And it was just a little fourth of a page 'cause it cost a mint to run an ad in Essence. And he ran this little ad, and that was it. He said, "This is the best thing I ever did," he said. And it just took off like crazy.