Telling their stories
Painting with Glass
Lauren Merhberg - Mosaic Artist
I knew I was in an artist’s home from the first step inside her living room. The high ceilings, glass doorknobs, unique dark wood staircase and floors whispered welcome. The charming antique furniture and rugs were accented by a wide array of color, pattern and texture. The vintage three part mirror over her fireplace beckoned to tell its story to those who would listen. Artistic inspiration was everywhere.
She led me through to the dining room where her mosaics hung on each wall as if in a gallery. The shimmer and dimension of the glass tiles invited me closer for a look and a touch of the detailed pieces making up their design. I stopped briefly at each one, noting the slender bits of stained glass, colorful beads and trinkets as she shared each one’s history.
Fifty years ago, when Lyndon B. Johnson was still president and gas was only 32 cents a gallon, Walter (Wally) Mulcahy was a spry high school student looking for a job. His uncle, Alden Whittemore, (grandson of B.L. Ogilvie, founder of B.L. Ogilvie & Sons Hard- ware Store on Warren Avenue in Weston) was willing to take Wally on with no experience at all. “He ran a tight ship,” Wally says. “But if you stuck with his rules you were fine.”
Wally was given tedious, menial jobs that only required common sense. But he was happy just to be employed. His first assignment was to spend hours lifting firewood onto a conveyor belt. He also delivered coal. “I was there to unload the very last trainload of coal in the late 1960s,” Wally proudly shares. “Delivering was a dirty job. I would hold a two-foot-wide sack over my shoulder near the truck while a lever was lifted and coal fell into the sack. Next I’d lug it to the house near a small basement, drop to my knees, and send it down into the coal bin.”