e-street trees and memories

E St Pano Jan2018 sm
This is E Street, Davis. Click on the image to see it in more detail. Actually to see it in even more detail, go to the actual place. You have to stand just by the bins near The Hotdogger, near the rear of Uncle Vito’s, the pizza place. Well not just pizza, they do beer and fries and other things. They show sports. It’s nice, I’ve sketched in there before. When I first moved to Davis it was actually a Chinese restaurant called “Wok’N’Roll”. Wok’n’roll. Wok. ‘N’ Roll. There is another place in south Davis over where I used to live called “Wok of Flame. Not having an American accent I did not get that pun at first. Wok of Flame? IS there a Rock of Flame, is that a thing I need to look up, like Rock of Ages (which is another thing I don’t understand but nevertheless laugh when Iron Man uses it to refer to Loki). Now with Wok of Flame, when I realized, oh that is supposed to be ‘Walk of Flame’ but even then it was like, but I still don’t get it. What is the Walk of Flame? Took me ages to realize it means Walk of Fame. That’s two puns in one. So I started to think maybe all the other shops and restaurants in Davis were punny references to things I didn’t get? At this point I should roll off a load of Davis shops and restaurants and try to make vaguely funny guesses at what they could potentially be puns for, in a completely silly manner, but honestly I feel like I’m above such frippery. No, ha ha ha no no I am totally not above that actually so here goes. The Avid Reader, is that a reference to David Ginola’s Bird Feeder? No, that doesn’t work, not even close. Being a punster in the ‘Wok of Flame’ league is harder than you might think. But Wok’n’Roll…that works too because you have woks, and you have spring rolls. And it’s like Rock’n’Roll. I used to eat there sometimes on Saturday when I worked at the Avid Reader (my first job in Davis was at the David Ginola’s Bird Feeder) and to be honest, Wok’n’Roll wasn’t very good. I didn’t like the food much. I just liked their name.

Anyway, enough wok-ing down memory lane, back to this sketch. This is E Street, like the Band. The building on the left is the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer Mansion which was built in 1875, I have sketched it before (remember my Davis centenary sketchcrawl last year?) but not from this side of the street. There is also Mansion Square behind it, with lots of various businesses which may or may not have punny names, like ‘A Better Place to Bead’, I don’t know what it’s referring to.

Actually I have a story from this building on the right, when I first came to Davis, before I had any job (back when I’d spend the day playing scrabble by myself before leaving the apartment at 4pm and go to the library to translate Anglo-Saxon poetry; boy I needed a job) (this was before I started drawing Davis) I interviewed for Kaplan, who did all the SATs and GREs and stuff. I ultimately never got the position, which I think was teaching people how to pass those exams, exams which I had never ever taken myself because I’m from the UK and we don’t require them, but I did get on very well with the people there and had to do a presentation on the subject of my choice. Now you might think, well that’s an obvious one, drawing, or maybe history, or even historical language, no definitely football shirts. Interactive Theatre. You’d be wrong. What I decided to talk about was Black Shuck. You know, Black Shuck the ghostly dog who terrorized East Anglia hundreds of years ago. Black Shuck who had this massive great big eye and breathed fire and burnt church doors with his paws. Black Shuck used to keep me awake at night. Black Shuck scared the living bejeezus out of me. He was huge, like a horse, and would roam the country lanes of Suffolk or wherever, and cars would feel his icy flaming breath (seriously myths and legends, make your mind up). I used to have nightmares about Black Shuck, like he would for some reason seek me out in my terraced house in Burnt Oak, north London, and, what? Roar at me? Burn me with his imaginary paws? Look at me with his massive single eye that looks like a bowl? Black Shuck, ridiculous, silly ghost stories. Like the Beast of Exmoor, or the Hairy Hands of Dartmoor. Yes, the Hairy Hands of Dartmoor, look them up, it’s one of those great local English legends.

That’s not a very interesting story actually. I may even be remembering it wrong, maybe I did talk about Interactive Theatre, leaving the Legend of Black Shuck story in my notebook, deciding last minute not to bother anyone with it. Memory can be a funny thing. Not everyone remembers everything the same way, so what is reality? Speaking of memory, one more thing to add about this sketch. Until about ten years ago there used to be a massive tree which stood right in the middle there, huge thing it was, towering high above the Davis skyline. It was leaning though, to the left (left-leaning like much of Davis), leaning to quite a large extent that if it fell it would have probably meant the end of Mr Dresbach and Mr Hunt and Mr Boyer, so they chopped it down. I still see it, like the ghost of trees past.


davis before the city of davis

Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer Mansion, Davis

And finally, here are the sketches from last month’s “Let’s Draw Davis!” sketchcrawl, the centenary tour of old Davis. A group of us met up on a Saturday morning outside the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer Mansion at the corner of E and 2nd Streets, and set off exploring and sketching the bits of Davis that were a hundred years old or more. Because Davis, you see, celebrated 100 years of being The City of Davis in that very week – but it’s been around a lot longer than that. In fact I might have called this sketchcrawl “Let’s Draw Davisville!” because that was the name of the place up until around 1907 or so. Davisville was named after Jerome C. Davis and his wife Mary, who owned a lot of the land which eventually became the city, and the man who coined that name was the early postmaster Mr. Dresbach, and this was his house.


I gave everyone a special map that I created, which you can see below. On the reverse side it includes a little bit of local history, but on the map side are listed most (but maybe not all?) of the buildings and spots that are 100 years old or more. I have drawn many of them already (see the pictures around the edge) but this was a nice way to start checking off those extra-centurions from my to-draw list. By the way, I think “F” may be in the wrong place, I couldn’t find it and it’s not signposted. There are also a couple of places at least outside this map which may be a bit older, but if I start going beyond the realms of cartography, well, where does that leave us. Hey if you live in Davis and want to try sketching them all, download the pdf map and let me know how you go!

LDD map March 2017 map page

LDD map March 2017 info page v-ucd

So, after I sketched the Dresbach Hunt Boyer Mansion I went over to G Street, and sketched the Masonic Lodge. Yeah, you didn’t notice that either huh! I never knew this building was a century-old Masonic Lodge, only paying attention to the ground floor shop level. Trees usually block it, but you can see the masonic symbol up there if you look closely. I sketched this from outside the G Street Wunderbar. Those odd shapes in the front are cars, or the ghosts of cars maybe; I decided I couldn’t be bothered doing any details on them. You have to imagine 1917 vehicles.

masonic lodge, G St Davis

This building, which is across the 5th Street border in Old North Davis (the Bowers Addition, which is over a century old; I will write an Old North-centric post soon…), is called the Bentley House. In fact I did not know about it until a few days before, while still putting the map together. Iw as coming baxck from downtown and passed by it, and they actually ahve a big informative plaque outside with its history on it. It celebrated a centenary in 2010, so by that I deduce (my dear Watson) that it must date back to 1910. It’s pretty, in a pretty neighbourhood. Below the sketch is a photo of the plaque, with a century of history.

bentley house, old north davis


My final sketch of the day is another structure from 1917, not a house, but a tunnel. The Richards Underpass (or rather, the Davis Subway as it is properly know) links downtown to the other side of the railroad tracks, toward south Davis, and the I-80 freeway. It was part of the old Lincoln Highway, that connected San Francisco with New York. Yeah, that New York. This tunnel leads to the whole world, baby. Well, it is actually on the National Register of Historic Places. She doesn’t look like much but she got it where it counts. It’s a popular place to sit bottlenecked in traffic too, coming into Davis off of the freeway, and I like to imagine Dr Doom sitting in a metallic grey and green car fuming away beneath his metal mask at “that FOOL Richards” and how “I, Victor Von Doom, would have created a far superior underpass!” Oh you’ve gotta love Dr. Doom.

richards underpass (1917)

And then we met up, those that remained, and looked at each other’s sketches. I have yet to find time to set the next sketchcrawl here in Davis, but I am working on it. This one was fun, but you know, you can sketch old Davis in your own time, just grab that map, grab a pen or pencil, and get sketching!


Well done the Davis sketchers!

Oh and Happy Birthday City of Davis!

house of the rising sun

dresbach hunt boyer home
The Dresbach Hunt-Boyer House in downtown Davis, on 2nd St, is one of the most historic buildings in Davis. I had to pop by on Friday lunchtime to pick up some brochures about Davis and Yolo County for work, and took the opportunity to sketch the building, something I have rarely done (though I sketched its former tank house a couple of times, it is now located at a farm on the edge of town, in two pieces). The building dates from the 1870s, and its triple-barreled name reflects different owners of the mansion, the grounds of which spanned a larger area in days gone by. The Yolo County Visitors Bureau is located in there now. I sketched this while listening to an excellent podcast about Roman timekeeping, from the History of the English Language podcast series (though I am listening to the History of Rome series avidly also).