An interview with John Sentovic’s granddaughter, Jessica Brodie
A couple of months ago I wrote a piece about General Dynamics / Convair artist John Sentovic, based on what I could glean about him from his art and a scrap of an article printed in 1960. As luck would have it, his granddaughter Jessica came across the article, and graciously agreed to talk to me about her grandpa.
Jessica, we’ll talk about your Grandpa John in a minute but why don’t we start with you? Tell us a little about yourself, and how you’re related.
He is my grandfather on my mother’s side. He married my grandmother when my mom was about 16, but he never was considered a step father. They all loved him and considered him dad, so to his grandchildren he was grandpa but we all called him Papas.
What do you remember about him? Do you have a favorite memory?
He was a dapper man and always dressed to the nines: aviator sunglasses and gold jewelry. He had this Gold Lincoln Continental – it was huge – we all called it The Rhino Chaser, it had these spacious leather seats that we would slide across when he made turns. He loved that car and knew he was so cool driving it. My sister and I spent a lot of time with him and my grandma and he always let us do crazy hairstyles on him and do makeup or whatever we wanted. He never complained, he was a real trooper. Whenever he saw my sister and I he would always say, “Oh no! Here comes trouble! It’s the apple sisters Seedy and Corey.” These are some of my core memories of him: he was always fun to be around, he taught us to play poker and he let us use his expensive art supplies. He never wanted animals but somehow a stray cat adopted him and he loved and spoiled that cat and he was always caught holding my grandma’s tiny Pomeranian named Petite. He loved sports and music. He loved Frank Sinatra and big band music. He was always grooving to the music. If he wasn’t listening to music you could find him watching sports on his favorite recliner.
Was family important to him?
Family was the most important thing to him, he was especially close with his mother Pearl, he cared for her and was there for her until the day she died. He was her baby and she called him Bebo. He was always there for all of us. As I said earlier he was stepfather to my Mom and her 3 other siblings but he treated us all as if we were his own.
The short piece I wrote was based on a magazine article from the sixties, and that’s pretty much all I had to go on. Is there anything you’d like to add?
He was an amazing man, everyone loved him and gravitated to him. He was smart but humble, funny, sassy, a man to be respected, kind, caring, great fashion sense and style. He died before he could meet my children. I named my first born son after him and coincidentally my youngest was born on his birthday. My grandma always jokes that I am trying to be his favorite even after he is gone.
Do you have a funny story about him?
One time he was babysitting my sister and I, and we were playing hide-and-seek, and we were laughing so hard and having fun. Apparently we were so loud someone called the police on us for screaming. We thought it was so funny. We laughed so hard. I still smile to this day when I think of that.
During World War II your grandfather served in the Navy, and by choosing burial in a national cemetery, I expect his time in the service meant a lot to him. Are there any family stories about his service you’d like to share?
Like many of that generation he didn’t talk about the war, he never talked much about his job either. He always said it was top secret stuff. He was a humble guy.
Is any of the work he did for Convair with the family?
My grandma has a few of his personal pieces hanging up. They moved from San Diego to Las Vegas in 1992 and then after he passed in 99 she moved back to San Diego. I am not sure if she kept what he had stored in the garage since she had to downsize to a much smaller house, I will have to ask her. The aerospace museum in San Diego is said to have a number of his pieces , but when I went to inquire they said they must have them archived offsite.
Do you think he had a favorite piece of artwork?
He used to do these special types of portraits , I don’t know the name of the technique but it was on this black paper and he used an X-Acto knife to etch out the portrait. He had a few favorites that are hanging in my grandma’s house. There were a few he favored. One was of my cousin Matt when he was about 4 years old and the details are amazing. All his little curls and his face, it’s amazing.
and of course, the delightful Jessica Brodie