A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Wednesday, January 18th 2023, 10:31 pm


From Oklahoma wheat fields to powerful lightning shows and bustling scenes of downtown Oklahoma City, dozens of beautiful original photographs line the halls of the new News 9 downtown offices, but one photo in particular overlooking the newsroom caught the eye of a News 9 viewer on the very first morning show from 100 W. Main St.

“It was five in the morning. I was getting ready for work,” Helen Littejohn said.

“Once I got to work, I turn the TV back on and you were saying ‘on this level’ and you pointed at this picture and said, ‘and this is one of my favorite pictures here,’” she said.  

Helen recognized the picture instantly.

“I said, ‘that’s my daddy!’ and I just started screaming at work and crying, and people are saying ‘where?’ and I said, ‘the picture that he just pointed that that’s my father!’”

Helen reached out to News 9 on social media, saying the man known to many as “the shoeshine man” was in fact her father, James Littlejohn.

We invited her to the station to see the photo for herself.

“He just passed away July 29th,” Helen, a self-proclaimed daddy’s girl said, overcome with emotion. “I love you daddy.”

“He met a lot of people, and he always spoke about the Lord,” Helen said. “He’s just a good hearted man all the way until the day he passed.”

Hellen said her father began shining shoes as a hobby at age six when Oklahoma City roads were dusty – and clean boots cost just five cents. 

After retiring from Oklahoma City Public Schools, Littlejohn took shining shoes full time from the courthouse to the airport and the fairgrounds.

“Hi I’m Josh Welch,” said a man emerging from the crowd that had gathered on the second floor of the Griffin Media headquarters, “I took your fathers photograph in 2012 at the fairgrounds.”

“He remembered you as well!” Helen said, giving Josh a hug around his neck. “He told me, ‘a young man I met at the horse show took a picture of me!’”

Josh said it wasn’t until later in the day reviewing the day’s photos that he realized how powerful the picture of James Littlejohn was.

“I was like wow that is a really, really powerful portrait,” Josh said.

“His eyes do tell a story,” Helen said. “My dad has been through a lot. He overcame a lot and he is a man of God. So, you see the Lord in him; he brings peace to a lot of people. You could have a bad day and you just got a look at and he’ll bring a peace.” 

Hellen had first seen the photo years earlier hanging in an Oklahoma City store front.

“I was going to purchase it, but it’s a little too expensive, so I told the people I was going to come back in about two weeks to get it, but when I came back somebody had already bought it,” Helen said.

Josh had a surprise for Helen and her family.

“News 9 has help me make sure that you guys get a copy of this image that you can hang in your house and have this memory of Littlejohn forever,” he said.

“When I took the photograph, the lighting, and all that didn’t really matter,” Josh said. “His face told a million different stories.”

“He was a great man,” Helen said. “He took care of a lot of people; he was a man of God. He tried to help anyone. Nobody was a stranger.”

Helen said she’s going to put her new photograph in her living room right over the fireplace.

“He’d like that,” she said.


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