As we were nearing the completion of the Palace Dinner theatre , Evelyn and I discussed changing the exterior of the building to look more like Las Vegas and less like an ex-roller rink.
Our budget was too depleted to add any structural things so I though a tasteful long awning in black with a red carpet would look posh and showy enough. Valet service would collect the VIP cars and the customers would be escorted down the red carpet into the wonderland we had created. “What about a tall statue or figure of a show girl edged in neon lights,” offered Evelyn one evening as we doodled with ideas on the kitchen table. Suddenly it hit me. ” what about a statue of YOU in lights, like a giant Mae West figure waving the crowds in? Everyone on the highway would see it for miles!”
What I had been thinking of was a photo of her in her red Hollywood on Wheels costume, we had one where her hand was on one hip and the other arm raised up high, waving at everyone in the audience during the finale. Sceptical but excited, she told me to go ahead and see what could be done with a photo.
I immediately contacted Roger Lewin at his family’s photo shop business, he has already done a great deal of photo work from us and he was the type of kid whose boundless energy and creative mind shirked at no task no matter how daunting.
“We can’t blow the entire photo up as large as you need it” he said, but I can blow it up in sections, cut out a strong wood backing and piece it all together. “
He added later that a lot of detail would be lost in the blow up, but I insisted he go ahead with the project, I had another idea.
When he finished the jig saw puzzle of the photo on the Palace floor it look like the ghost of Evelyn, every featured blurred by the blow up process. Using acrylic paint, I hand painted her face and hair back in place but with enhancements that could be viewed better from a distance.
The costume was also touched up and the entire thing sprayed with a thick protective coat of Varathane varnish. Roger and I were both amazed and when it was erected on top the building over the main entrance and spot lights trained on it, it did stand out for a mile In either direction of the high way, her megawatt smile and hand aloft in welcome making her seem almost alive!