There’s a shark on the bus.
My old friend Maynard Silva was a sign painter and a bluesman.
Sign painting and music, and other creative arts, often go together for some reason. James Whitcomb Riley, nowadays mostly known for his poetry, was a proficient guitar and fiddle player. And a sign and billboard painter. His first verses were cobbled up for sign customers, so sign painting was the door through which he entered the land of Calliope. If you haven’t heard of JWR, check him out sometime. He was so famous that in 1940 he was put on a ten cent US postage stamp.
Maynard Silva may never make it to official postage, but you can now get the USPS to make you custom stamps. If you cared to come up with the picture and a design, they could make you a Maynard Silva stamp.
One of Maynard’s sign gigs was lettering the tour buses that carry daytrippers around the Vineyard, giving them a brief glimpse of our hundred square miles of scenic beauty. Not content to just letter the buses, he frequently added pictures. The fronts, backs, and sides sides of his buses are a gallery of Maynard’s art. The photos that follow come from buses 39 and 47.
We begin the bestiary.
Some of his critters were musical.
By religion, Maynard was if anything, a Buddhist. There is incredible economy in the mollusc pictured below.
Here’s the shark-on-the-bus that inspired this little essay.
Maynard lived hard, and died too young, of throat cancer. He was a talented, brilliant, and complex man. The last time I saw him was on the ferry to Woods Hole, not long before he died. He knew the end was near, and was aware that our encounter might be the last one. His final words to me were “Don’t ever stop playing music…”.
I won’t Maynard, I won’t.