The sign above the door says 1978, but the mural can’t be that old, though it’s been there as long as I can remember. It’s faded, and the reference points out of date. Gretzky is still an Oiler, so it was painted before the trade in 1988. Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope was 1980. In the years between, someone painted this, thirty-one faces on two whole walls of a massive warehouse. A Salute to Legends and Record Breakers, the painted banners say. The building is Beachcomber Hot Tubs, off the main road, but not out of sight. It’s the kind of place one passes on the way to somewhere. So today I stopped. I’m trying to do more of that these days.
Identifying these faces turned into a bit of a debate. I’m convinced the guy on Princess Diana’s right is Jimmy Carter (it’s the mouth); my dad says Kennedy. People on the internet seem to think the guy in green next to Michael Jordan is Edwin Moses. My dad says they’re wrong, it’s Pelé. The old man between Louis Armstrong and Charles Lindbergh had us stumped, but I was sure I knew that hat. I think it’s Frank Lloyd Wright.
I think I have to go back, on a weekend when the parking lot is empty, on a day when the sun is shining. But the city–the world–is too big to let rain keep you from seeing it all.