Mid-Century Modern and Pickleball on Day Nine


Oscar and I are back to a full day on Day Nine. When I get to his house at 9 am I see the Subaru is gone and therefore so is Diana. Oscar comes out to the car and invites me in the house to look at some work he admires. On the landing is a loose, fluid landscape. It’s signed ‘Kappa.’ His mother lived on the island, Oscar says. Oscar loves the style. He is amazed at how quickly Kappa put it down.

We look at one more, and then two of Oscar’s own paintings.

This is his favorite.

Oscar’s favorite painting

Deer Isle is busy today, as the Post Office and the library are open. I tweak my lobster trap painting, adding some pink to the water so it doesn’t fight with the sky. Some of the Pepto-Bismol still shines through.

Linda Campbell from Due North next door stops by to ask if I can tell the pickleballers she’ll be there a half-hour late tonight at 5. “I have a conference call,” she says. It involves a committee of Deer Isle Village merchants trying to get sidewalks. “We have to do something,” she says. There used to be an ice cream shop, an apartment, a lawyer’s office, an art gallery. Now Due North is the only business open throughout the winter. She says maybe they’ll make a parking lot at the end of Main Street, across from Rte. 15 where the house burned down in 2011.

Hub White stops in for a visit. He and Oscar try to figure out if they studied architecture at Michigan at the same time. They didn’t. Hub was in the Army after Korea. Oscar was in the Navy for five years in Vietnam. Hub and Oscar also both lived in Connecticut and did architecture work in New York City.

Hub worked for the Saarinen firm. He said they worked crazy hours, 70 hours a week. His wife had to get a job as a receptionist just to see him. Those must have been exciting times in New York, I say. Hub said they were. (I have a little bit of an idea: my mother and my uncle worked for New York advertising agencies. In fact I was in a Congoleum flooring magazine ad before I was born.)

Saarinen was friends with the great Charles Eames. Eames would come to visit and a hush would fall over the office. Hub tells us about Eames. I say, “Did you ever see Mad Men? It’s about a New York advertising agency in the ‘60s. The period details are tremendous, except they used Helvetica typeface for the corporate signage and it wasn’t used yet.”


Hub asks if I’d seen the documentary Helvetica.  I say no, and Hub says it’s terrific. It’s about how the Swiss invented the typeface, how it changed the world of graphic design and how graphic artists are bitterly divided over it. I later find out the director designed a Helvetica poster that was used as a prop for Mad Men. Also that Mad Men did indeed play fast and loose with typography. Also that it was Arial, not Helvetica, that was used improperly. Also that the Peggy character sits in a Saarinen chair.

(An aside: Eero Saarinen designed the Dulles Airport terminal. Looking at the terminal is the best thing about Dulles Airport. The only good thing. The control tower is now a national landmark. I got to go in it when I was a reporter. Not much to report there, except for the view. Here’s the Stonington Airport. Not much to report there, either.)

Stonington Airport

Annie Taylor Gray emails me. “You probably need words for the Lupinefest poster,” she writes.

“Funny, I was just talking to Hub about typefaces,” I say. I don’t think I’ll use Helvetica.

Day Nine Work and Play

Oscar has been laboring over a painting he doesn’t like. I tell him he should set a timer and just try to do something in 30 minutes.

I take my own advice. I set my timer on my phone to 30 minutes and I paint Cadillac Mountain. By the time the timer dings, I’m done. I like it.

We leave a little early because it’s pickleball night. Oscar says he might come over to the Island Community Center gym to watch.

At the gym, we have a brief meeting to talk about the tournament. Anne Douglass tells us she was on the Good Morning Maine television show with Renee Colson-Hudson this morning talking about Winterfest and mentioned our tournament! We are all excited. (You can watch it here.)

Anne Douglass (center) and Renee Colson-Hudson on Good Morning Maine.

I’m on the court playing when I see Oscar sitting in the bleachers. There are 12 players, two courts, so four people at a time wait on the benches. Oscar tells Wayne Endriss, his neighbor, it looks serious. Wayne says, “No, we’re not serious.” Oscar says, “I see serious.” There’s a pickleball clinic Thursday night as part of Winterfest and a prelude to the tournament. Oscar said he’ll come to see if he can play.

Helvetica: By GearedBull Jim Hood – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3367075


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