Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Mystery on Forest Avenue

Today for my daily ink sketch I went driving around aimlessly looking for something and I wound up on Forest Avenue by the H. H. Richardson complex.

I mean I was at the Richardson complex! But I did not draw it. Instead I turned around on the bench where I sat and drew the brick building across the street. That is it up above! The picture so far is no great shakes but I am not yet through with it. I even had trouble taking a decent picture of it thanks to this strange big bright thing that appeared in the sky and was shining down. However, I will say this, that picture I drew does the job.

That is what I saw!

I think it comes from being a reporter and a music critic for so long but I love when I can look at a drawing I did and say that. Sometimes reviewing a concert, especially if the piece was new music, I did not want to give it a concrete thumbs up or thumbs down. So I would just tell myself, you do not have to be clever or have any great insights. Just say what you experienced. Say what it was like. That comes from being a reporter. That is what I do with drawing.

This building I drew, as you can see, it is kind of weird!

I have wondered about it forever. And while I was drawing, a stranger stopped by as strangers often do.

"What was that building?" I asked him.

He didn't know. Then he said, "Did you see the head?"

That's right ... there had been a head! A big head in front of a building -- was it this building? It was like out of that Russian opera "Ruslan and Ludmilla." In "Ruslan and Ludmilla" the big head appears in a forest and in Buffalo the big head appears on Forest Avenue. Surely somebody had that in mind. Anyway, there was a giant white Victorian head parked in front of some building on Forest and that was what this gentleman was talking about.

"I did see the head!" I exclaimed. "But not recently. Was it here?"

Neither of us could figure that out. But it turns out yes, here was where the head was. Online information is scant but I was able to learn that the head had been a replica of a decoration at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. I sort of remembered that. Unfortunately the head was made of Styrofoam and so could not take our winters and fell apart.

Here is a picture of the head which is gone now. We lost our head!

But there is that building in the background, sure enough. So...

What was it?

It turns out it was a streetcar repair barn. It was built in 1895 and it was used for the Pan-Am trolleys, among other trolleys, I imagine.

I should have guessed. It is mammoth! And there are all these huge windows and doors.

Now it is owned by the Buffalo History Museum. It is a Resource Center but it reminds me of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory because nobody ever goes in ... and nobody ever goes out. That was always the case. I mean even before the pandemic.

This is why I draw.

You solve mysteries!

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