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Antietam Gallery feeds hunger for 'Mo' nostalgia

June 25, 2006|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

SHARPSBURG - Fine art, muscle cars and fried food might sound like unlikely companions.

Even so, the three worked as a complementary trio in the case of the Mighty Mo Car Show and Reunion Saturday at Antietam Gallery.

Antietam Gallery owner Jim Kehoe and street rod photo artist Thomas O. Nichols teamed up to create an artistic rendering of the drive-up diners and hot-rod cars of their high school days in Prince George's County, Md. They celebrated the release of the limited edition print, titled "There's a Moon Out Tonight: A Tribute to the Mighty Mo," last November with an "everything '60s" car show and reunion.

"We had a tremendous response," Kehoe said. "Kids who grew up in Montgomery County asked us to do their version."

Kehoe and Nichols answered that call with another limited edition print, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? A Tribute to Wheaton Hot Shoppes." They celebrated the release of the print Saturday along with more than 500 people who gathered at the gallery.

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Nichols designed and drew the images for the print, and artist Doug Quarles of New Mexico completed the painting. The prints cost between $85 and $450, depending on sizes and frames.

Nichols, who resides in Palm Springs, Calif., said the brightly colored "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" depicts a late Saturday afternoon after a high school football game. It includes images of a Hot Shoppe drive-up diner, Montgomery County-area high school pennants and a variety of vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s. Nichols said a pickup truck in the background is a nod to farm kids who drove to Hot Shoppes from the rural areas of Montgomery County.

"Hot Shoppes were where the social mail was delivered. Kids would cruise through to show their colors," Nichols said. "People see these prints and go nuts because somebody took the time to create nostalgic art that shows a place where they used to go."

Jim Halstead, 51, of Hyattsville, Md., remembered the Queenstown Mighty Mo, reminiscing about the tasty namesake burger and "spinning tires" on the street nearby. Halstead said he ran into a number of his old high school classmates at the event.

Like the car show and reunion in November, Saturday's event offered sale-priced art, 1950s and 1960s music, Mighty Mo burgers and a classic car display. Kehoe said he was able to offer additional attractions at the event as a result of contacts he made because of the prints.

Larry Collier, a self-proclaimed "pack rat" from Silver Spring, Md., spotted "There's a Moon Out Tonight" at Antietam Gallery's Francis Scott Key Mall location in Frederick, Md. Collier told Kehoe he owns both large and small teletrays from bygone Hot Shoppes. Collier also has a DVD that was transferred from kinescope, featuring a 1957 episode of "The Milt Grant Show," the Washington, D.C., area's answer to Dick Clark's "American Bandstand." Collier displayed both the teletrays and the DVD footage at the reunion.

Len Cottrell, 62, of Manassas, Va., went to the event with his wife, Sandra, for old time's sake after receiving a flier about the event. Cottrell said he "lived" at the Wheaton Hot Shoppe during his youth. As he viewed footage of "The Milt Grant Show," Cottrell suddenly was overcome with nostalgia.

"Hey, that's me! That geek with the big glasses. That geek is me 49 years ago," Cottrell said.

Nichols said the prints and reunions are all about history.

"People are responding big time, and everybody's got a story," Nichols said.

If you go



What: Mighty Mo Reunion

When: Today, noon to 5 p.m.

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

Call 301-432-5868

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