Monday, September 28, 2009

The Hubcap Man

I was having lunch last week with my friend Gayle. Gayle is a fascinating woman from the Bay Area. She's a dancer and now is also creating assemblages out of found objects. At first she was going to the tianguis to find stuff, but has graduated to the scrap yards of Celaya to find things.
While she was talking about the escapades of the junkyard searches, it jogged a memory for me of a similar episode. It happened in Houston.

It was back in the mid 80's. I was working on designing a restaurant called Elvia's Cantina and British Pub. There's another story right there in the name and concept of that restaurant....for another day. A funny, funny story actually. I was so afraid that this restaurant wasn't going to make it for the couple who were the owners, that I decided to concept it as "funky" with lots of inexpensive decorative items. Hence, hubcaps was one of those accessories.

I wanted to cover a wall with hubcaps. Someone had told me about Hubcap Heaven out on Hempstead Hwy. I remember it was summer and one of those "hotter then hell" days that you only get in the South with humidity to match. But, I had a mission.

Out there I went. There was a big gate covered with hubcaps. Hmmm, this must be the place.

The gate was opened by a man who was so short I could see the total top of his head. I'm only 5'6"! On top of his head was a tattoo of a hubcap..........can you imagine the pain to get that adornment? Yikes. It was hard for me not to look at him. I could feel laughter bubbly up in me each time I looked at the top of his head. I stifled it.

He was accomodating and showed me around. It was, it seemed, acres and acres of hubcaps. Each one I would bend over to touch, he would wax about poetically. Each one had a story. I, of course would think, because of his love for that particular hubcap, that it would be expensive. So I would ask. I knew I needed about 55 hubcaps. And he would say, "Oh $1.50" I was delighted.

I must have been out there for at least two hours. Dripping with sweat, oops perspiration, by the time I left with all 55 hubcaps. Total bill was less then $70 dollars. I thought of that little guy several times after that trip and how much he enjoyed what he did and loved those things he had to sell.

You just never know where an adventure will come from, do you? By the way, last I heard Elvia's was still open at the corner of Fondren and Westheimer. Almost 25 years later.

6 comments:

DanaJ said...

B- i used to go to Elvia's in that first year it was open. Worked nearby.
that place was crazy and schizophrentic. A pub, cafe and dancing nite club all mixed up and each personality vying for top billing. A reflection of the designer? It's success is, no doubt.
Yes, it's still there. I think the expansion location died in infancy.

Hubcap Man....an addition to your cast of characters.

Leah Flinn said...

Babs, do you have pictures of some of your previous work? I'd love to see it, a relative of mine is a very successful interior designer, and I have helped her with various projects. I always wondered what would have happened if I had chosen Interior design vs. Graphic design when I entered Art school...I guess I wouldn't be able to work online from Mexico if I had chosen the former.

Babs said...

Ah Dana - it was schizophrentic. I could write about the original owners and have you rolling in the aisle. If you went there, you HAD to know Elvia.....And then there was her husband, Mr. Peepers. It was a fun and funny project. The use of the corrigated tin at the entrance sorta set the tone, don't you think? One lots of national awards for the logo and exterior rooftop sign. It was a beacon for that corner.
Leah, I have 100's of photos and a complete professional portfolio. All neatly stored where no one sees them. It was part of my former life. This one is much less stressful......

Kay Cox said...

Dang...my kind of heaven. How could I have missed this place!
Say hi to Gayle...would love to see what she is making. Is she still out at Pozos?

richland said...

I think I saw the HubCap Man on one of those dating site. EHarmony I believe.

Babs said...

Yes Kay - Gayle is still in Pozos most days, anyway.
Richland, there is that and more on E-harmony. I'm thinking of writing a blog about my observations, but as Felipe says, this is a G-rated site. Ha.....