Local artist Patti Middleton was up on her ladder again this week, working on the mural at the Loose Caboose. The owners of the restaurant, Blanche and Jacques Boudreau, opened the iconic island eatery today after a brief respite and renovation period, and wanted a little piece of themselves portrayed on the famous mural inside.
That’s why the next time you visit, you might notice some new additions. Two-legged and four-legged additions, to be exact. As Patti painted inside the restaurant on Wednesday morning, she explained the original concept behind the work of art that graces the south wall of the restaurant.
The year was about 1997, she said, and Susie and Joe Mayhew owned the Loose. When they commissioned Patti to do the mural, they said there was one common element to everything: Everyone had to be holding ice cream.
“It was fun,” she said, “because I tried to stick with a 1930s theme. I envisioned people pulling in on the train from places like New York City. There’s the traveling salesman and the local guy with a fishing pole – and everyone had to have ice cream.”
The Mayhew children, Ben and Maggie, were already seated at a table in the original mural, with their little white cat at their feet. When Blanche took some time out and studied it, she realized that something was missing.
“This restaurant has become so much a part of us, and we are so much a part of it now, we really wanted to do this,” she said. “My daughter, Miranda, got her first car by working in the ice cream shop here. That was before we even owned it. So she needed to be in the mural, too.”
Not only are Blanche, Jacques and Miranda featured in the newly-retouched painting, but so are their pets. It isn’t a stretch to realize that the whole family are animal lovers.
Blanche and Jacques have been two of the island’s most loyal wildlife volunteers, and average eight to 10 calls a week to capture injured birds and animals for transport to the Wildlife Center of Venice. They are also very involved in the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida.
Those pets will now be immortalized, alongside their owners, on the wall of the Loose Caboose. There’s Lucifer, a black cat who passed away last year, sitting on top of a bicycle. Tank, a black Lab, and Max, a yellow Lab, are positioned on each side of Jacques. Lady, another cat, is perched on a window sill. Pumpkin, a 20-pound Maine coon cat, is also portrayed. Blue, Miranda’s cat, is also prominently displayed.
Miranda is pictured in her Navy uniform, holding a miniature version of her ship, the “U.S.S. Leyte Gulf.” While she may be overseas, a piece of her heart is always in Boca Grande with her parents. Now, she’ll be on the wall with them as well.
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