Art, cars evoke 'Mo' memories

November 06, 2005|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

SHARPSBURG - It was a time of hot-rod cars and drive-up diners. Guys toted cigarettes in the rolled-up sleeves of their fitted tees and chicks donned high-flung ponytails and bobby socks.

Jim Kehoe, 58, owner of Antietam Gallery, remembers the 1960s fondly. And when he got together with Thomas O. Nichols, a fellow graduate of his high school alma mater, to create an artistic rendering of the time, the two were betting that they weren't the only ones strolling down memory lane to streets tread by sock hoppers and gear heads.

The more than 500 people who showed up for the Mighty Mo Car Show and "everything sixties" event Saturday at the Antietam Gallery suggest they were right. The event - which offered sale-priced art, 1960s music, classic Mighty Mo burgers and a display of more than 40 classic cars - was designed to celebrate the release of Kehoe and Nichols' brainchild, a limited edition print entitled "There's a Moon Out Tonight: A Tribute to the Mighty Mo."


"(The event) is about a good time, good food, enjoying cars and celebrating the release of this print," Kehoe said.

Kehoe, a resident of Middletown, Md., grew up in Prince George's County, Md. Kehoe said the popularity of nostalgic art, along with the considerable number of people moving from Prince George's County to Washington and Frederick counties, prompted him to brainstorm ideas that would re-create the feeling of Prince George's County in the 1960s.

"We were trying to push some very clearly known buttons on the emotional side," Nichols said. "Jim and I were talking and we said, 'Would it not blow their minds if we did the Mighty Mo?'"

The Mighty Mo was a 1960s drive-in diner with two Prince George's County locations and a namesake double-decker burger with a special sauce. On Friday and Saturday nights after football games, it was both the place to be and the thing to eat.

Nichols, a street rod photo artist who resides in Palm Springs, Calif., designed and drew the images for "There's a Moon Out Tonight," then called upon fellow artist Doug Quarles of New Mexico to complete the painting.

The piece features the Mighty Mo cowboy icon; a tele-tray menu; the classic meal of a Mighty Mo burger, onion rings and an orange freeze; pennants from three Prince George's County high schools; and a variety of 1950s and '60s automobiles, one of which is occupied by a cool-looking guy, a pretty girl and her "third wheel" friend.

Kehoe said the painting has evoked strong emotions in those who recognize Mighty Mo. He spoke of a man who was passing by Antietam Gallery's Francis Scott Key Mall location in Frederick, Md., when he stopped and stared for nearly five minutes at the print.

"The man just looked up, hesitated a moment and said, 'That's me!'" Kehoe said.

Becky Byzet, 49, of Huntingtown, Md., said she drove more than two hours to attend Saturday's event.

"When I found out about it, I was like, 'Mighty Mo's!'" Byzet said.

Ron Berry, 57, of Germantown, Md., and his brother Brian Berry, 48, of Monrovia, Md., pre-purchased several prints among them and attended Saturday's event.

The Berrys said they lived only a half-mile from one of the Mighty Mo diners, and they went to Northwestern High School, one of the schools referenced in the print. Ron Berry said "There's a Moon Out Tonight" hangs over the bed in his master bedroom, and he plans to post a matted Mighty Mo menu below it.

Mighty Mo burgers will be served up along with '60s music and sale-priced art again today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you go

What: Mighty Mo Car Show

When: Today, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Antietam Gallery, Md. 34 between Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown, W.Va.

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