Tag Archives: bus scroll

Trade ya!

Remember that bus scroll Bus Nerd and I bought last fall? Well, it was pretty big, In fact, it was close to as tall as me and possibly as heavy (OK, not quite), and the place we wanted to hang it was kind of tricky to reach. Plus, we’re lazy and busy working and parenting two small people and have just barely, after over a year and a half, gotten around to hanging the pictures we moved to this place with. So, the cool bus scroll sat on the floor of our bedroom for months upon months, forcing us to expose visitors to the chaos of our personal space in order to show it off.

Fortunately, our neighbor, Mark, happens to be down with some cool, museum worker types who actually hang pictures for a living. He hooked us up, and the lovely lady and gentleman came over and helped us put it up. The scroll looks great, but, despite all evidence to the contrary, that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about a man named Josh, one of the cool people who helped us hang our picture. Josh is a self-described “transit and history buff,” and he really liked our scroll. Josh doesn’t own a car, and the story of how he came to be without one is one of the best I have ever heard.

In addition to being a picture-hanging expert, Josh is also an artist and therefore tends to spend time in the company of other artists. One of these other artists is a very talented portraitist. Josh really wanted this person to paint a portrait of his elderly grandfather, but (being an artist) he didn’t have the money to pay for it. What Josh did have was a car that he rarely used; living on First Hill, he rarely needed it. So, he offered an exchange. The talented portraitist got some (not-so) new wheels, and our history buff got an enduring reminder of a man who has had an immeasurable impact on his life.

I think we know who got the better end of that deal.

Bus art is cool, part II

Back in May, Bus Nerd’s mama (aka my Gail) gave him a subscription to a Detroit city magazine for his birthday. (As you might already know, the man is rather partial to his hometown.) In last month’s issue, there was a profile of an artist who makes replicas of old-school Detroit bus scrolls.

On the old busses and streetcars passengers learned of the various stops by way of signs on destination boxes [which] contained a continuous, two-sided canvas scroll with an alphabetized list of street names. The destination boxes were manually operated by the drivers and operators, using a hand crank.

I sort of hate to admit it, since this will no doubt brand me a “pseudo,”* but we ordered one. (How could we not? Buses + the D + history = goodness x 3.) We chose one that included the name of one of the streets Nerd lived near when he was growing up, so now he has a reminder of home (other than the Vernor’s ginger ale that occupies a full shelf in our refrigerator, that is) out here in the 206. But back to the scroll. Fellow bus chicks, behold:

Detroit bus scroll

Of course, being both a transit geek and a history lover, I was immediately compelled to research the specifics of how the scrolls worked. I didn’t learn much about that (MEHVA types: a little help, please?). What I did learn is that having a bus scroll (or, at least, a bus-scroll-like poster) in one’s home is apparently a “thing.” They’re everywhere on the internets—in Etsy shops and on dedicated sites galore. One of these sites encourages visitors to “design your own scroll for that special someone.”

If your special someone is a bus chick, you probably should.



* This is not a term for the bus glossary, since it’s not transit related (or transit inspired). It is, instead, a Saulty special. “Pseudo,” used as a noun in this case, essentially means a pretentious person. (My brother would provide a more colorful description, but I’m hoping you get the point.)