My First 40 Years
Bobby O’s 1984 oil on canvas 30x50” Collection of Susan W. Paine
The architecture and the street of Bobby O’s sandwich shop grabbed my attention during the summer mornings of 1984. Little did I know what I was painting.This was a large canvas to walk down the street and to set up and paint. It took most of the summer to complete. I did it standing on the sidewalk, beside a laundromat, across from a Lebanese men’s club, where I assumed the men gathered to play cards. Shawmut Avenue, where a number of Middle Eastern people lived years before, was now becoming gentrified, so there weren’t as many around. Now and then one of the men from the club would come over to see what I was painting, talk, ask about me and what I was planning on doing with the painting… typical questions. Apparently I checked out fine because they would offer to buy me a coffee or tell me to bring it by when I was done. I noticed the large Cadillac was parked nearby most mornings, so I included it. A very large man, seated inside the door, seemed to be the owner of the Caddy. A couple months later I read that there had been a large drug bust right on that corner and that a few people had been arrested. I read that there were federal agents with binoculars and telescopes in the Greek church tower observing the men not a block away from where I was standing. So apparently some of the regulars from the area, perhaps whom I’d dealt with, were engaged in illegal activity and had been coming over to see if I might be a federal agent. Little did I know.