In 1944, Paul Van Doren dropped out of intermediate school in 8th Grade at age fourteen when he realized he didn’t like school. He had a strong passion for horses and found his way to the race track where he earned the nickname “Dutch the Clutch”, and for just one dollar he would give you the odds of the race. Paul’s mother, Rena, did not enjoy the idea of Paul being without a job and not in school, so she insisted he get a job at Randy’s, a one-time shoe manufacturer in the US. His job entailed sweeping the floors and making shoes. Paul eventually worked his way up the ladder and became the executive vice president at just 34 years old. Randy’s became one of the biggest shoe manufacturers in the US From Van Doren’s quick success in Massachusetts, he was ordered to turn around a failing Randy’s factory in Garden Grove, California that was losing close to a million dollars each month. Paul and his brother Jim moved their families and settled in Anaheim to help the factory. After just eight months of being in Garden Grove, the factory was functioning better than the one in Massachusetts. Three months after trying to have the Garden Grove factory, Paul decided he wanted to start his own shoe brand.
The self-portraits reflect an unusually high degree of self-scrutiny. Often they were intended to mark important periods in his life, for example the mid-1887 Paris series were painted at the point where he became aware of Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne and Signac. In Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, heavy strains of paint spread outwards across the canvas. It is one of his most renowned self-portraits of that period, "with its highly organized rhythmic brushstrokes, and the novel halo derived from the Neo-impressionist repertoire was what Van Gogh himself called a 'purposeful' canvas".
There are more than 600 letters from Vincent to Theo and around 40 from Theo to Vincent. There are 22 to his sister Wil, 58 to the painter Anthon van Rappard, 22 to Émile Bernard as well as individual letters to Paul Signac, Paul Gauguin and the critic Albert Aurier. Some are illustrated with sketches. Many are undated, but art historians have been able to place most in chronological order. Problems in transcription and dating remain, mainly with those posted from Arles. While there Vincent wrote around 200 letters in Dutch, French and English. There is a gap in the record when he lived in Paris as the brothers lived together and had no need to correspond.
Van Dyke left high school in 1944, his senior year, intending to join the United States Army Air Forces for pilot training during World War II. Denied enlistment several times for being underweight, he was eventually accepted for service as a radio announcer before transferring to the Special Services and entertaining troops in the continental United States. He received his high school diploma in 2004 at the age of 78.