My Thoughts... Exactly!

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Bright Idea

David R. Darrow, early graffiti, circa 1975This (click for a larger view) is probably the only graffiti I have done, other than the time in 1964 when I, at age 7, wandered around the corner from my home on Oregon Avenue in Costa Mesa, CA, and found a newly-poured, still-wet, cement driveway and proceeded to misspell my own first name permanently in the tempting grey goo (I wrote, in capitals, “DAVD” — a story my daughter reminds me of every time she wants to get a laugh out of me, or keep me humble).

After high school — probably around 1975, age 18, since I maintain that my parents gave me my first airbrush for graduation, since digital watches (a new phenomenon) were $80 back then — I got this wild idea to climb up a ladder and “borrow” this glass lamppost globe, which stood proudly across the street from our home in Playa del Rey — and paint a “surfing motif” illustration on it. I was too naive to understand the nature of opaque paints when viewed with light coming through them, but this looked pretty cool during the daytime.

The idea seemed sound enough… climb up a ladder, grab the glass globe, run it indoors to my bedroom and paint the art, and sneak it back. All this seems like a no-brainer from the ground, but is a different story when you get up there.

I doubted
my own ability
to replace it
The six-foot ladder I brought out there the first time was just not tall enough. I didn’t realize this until I stood it up against the pole and realized I would have to stand on the top of it and reach above my head to get it loose. Even in my naivety, I could tell that was too risky. So back to the garage to grab my dad”s extension ladder. In its minimum-length configuration (un-extended) the ladder was so tall that I had to tilt it at a sever angle just to keep it from resting against the glass. Now it was more like a staircase.

I got up there and figured out the mechanism that clamps the globe to the cement pole, unfastened it, and lifted the globe off over the large incandescent bulb. This proved to be much harder than I imagined. The globe (before they came up with the idea of making clear, plastic look-alikes) was 1/2-inch-thick glass, 24″ tall, and weighed, easily, 75lbs. Even though I removed it successfully, I doubted my own ability to replace it successfully.

I managed to get it and the ladder back to our house, and went into my room to do my masterpiece.

I sneaked out there when I was done, with the proper ladder and tools to replace it, and got it fastened back onto the pole.

I lived in fear from that moment on that

  1. I would get busted by the lamppost police
  2. A real vandal would throw a rock at it.

One morning about a month later we awoke to find that someone had stolen it.

I knew how hard it was to do that!


  1. I love that story! I had no idea that thing weighed 75 pounds!

  2. It’s even more surprising when you discover that at the top of a ladder!

  3. Wonderful memories, DAVD.

    What I also remember is that a long string of cars came over the hill for about an hour. Each one stopped at the lamp pole, and either wrote something down, or took a picture of it. We all suspected that it was on a list for a Treasure Hunt kind of game that church kids play.

    I was always proud of your art… where ever it showed up.

    Except for the DAVD.

  4. ohh daddy :]

    you crazy artistic hooligan, you.

    Thats really funny that it got stollen though! Well…disappointing but funny :]

  5. The way I thought I remembered this was that after you’d replaced it, someone through a rock at it and broke it and it hung up there, with about half of it missing, for a long time.

  6. You must be mixing this story up with my 1975 visit to Concord, CA story where you were rope-pulling me on a skateboard behind my parents VW van and you went too fast and I did a dive roll on the asphalt at 30 MPH. That’s where you got the “half of it missing” part.

  7. I think I saw it on eBay… (just kidding)

  8. Funny story! It’s a wonder that someone didn’t see you with that ladder at the lamp post and make you stop!

  9. Just here, catching up on your blog. You know, you are the one who introduced me to blogs, one Sunday long ago in the PBCC parking lot. ANOTHER advantage of knowing your family. Well, I’m here because I knew you’d have lovely tributes to Jan, which you do. Now I learn that your artwork was in demand, even then! See? Oh, and very cool to learn, via Jan’s obit., that the Darrows once inhabited ocean-front property. Niiiice! Don’t we wish THAT was still in the family?!

  10. The things that hang in your head for 30 years — I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of your house admiring this.

    I also liked that house. Especially the view.

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