Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oxford Spa Nateral Foods

As an "urban sketcher" I documented the older buildings in my Cambridge neighborhood just outside the bounds of Harvard. Oxford Street was only a couple of blocks away from my residence and I was there often, wandering around on my daily walk with sketchbook. This old building housed a liquor store and a small market, the "Oxford Spa," advertised on the green and white striped awning as selling "nateral" foods. The owners were Greek and didn't know English very well. 

I recently took a virtual trip down Cambridge's memory lane in my old territory, using the marvelous looking glass of "Google Street View." The Google Street View of this building shows that the Oxford Spa is still there, under the same name, though certainly under different management, and has a cafe as well as the old market.

Thirty years later I imagine in memory my Cambridge days, and remember them as slow-paced bohemian artist's life in an urban village. But the reality was more complex, and I could make myself feel as unproductive and miserable as I ever could, then or now. I didn't have a day job then, so I could draw my urban sketches whenever conditions permitted. And I have the entire global Internet not only to hurry me up but remind me of all sorts of dreadfulness beyond that lazy little neighborhood in decades past.

Brown ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, about 8" x 8 1/2", July 19, 1984. Click for a larger view. You couldn't say that in 1984.

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