When JoAnn Gleason, a lifelong Gloucester artist, left her apartment to pick a trio of flowers from the nearby Sawyer Free Library, she got a surprise.

A new library security staffer, Ernie Curtis, saw her with two pink blooms and asked her to refrain from picking the public flowers.

Gleason, 84, was very apologetic, explaining to Curtis how she needed three flowers for a composition for her painting.

"Indeed, I was caught picking a tulip," Gleason said. "He was very pleasant but when he saw me picking the flower, he walked over to say those tulips belong to the library and they would prefer that you not pick the tulips. I said I know this is very brassy of me to say, but I really need three to make a nice bouquet to paint. And he said let's just leave it with the two. I profusely apologized and returned to my apartment."

Later there was a knock on her door. It was Curtis, a retired Gloucester Police officer of 33 years.

"I thought he was coming with a summons," Gleason said. "But when I opened the door, there he was standing with a big bouquet of flowers and I was shocked beyond words."

She later shared her story at Annisquam Village Church to the glee of those who heard it.

"So many people came up to me and said that was the most wonderful thing," she added.

Gleason had placed that bouquet of flowers in a vase and painted it as gift to later give to Gleason.

On Thursday, she found him on his usual patrol and surprised him with the painting.

Curtis grinned from ear to ear at the serendipity of the situation and said he was touched she had done that.

He happens to be related to some noted Cape Ann artists; his uncle is Howard Curtis, whose murals hang in the Sawyer Free Library, and his cousin is David Curtis.

When asked if he had tried his hand with a brush, he replied: "I can't even draw a stick figure."

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

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