Sunday, December 26, 2010

Where the Sun Never Sets

From Dave Brigham:

The sun never sets in Auburndale, Mass.

I pass by this mural to and from my daughter's preschool three days a week. Tens of thousands pass it every day on the Mass. Pike. Most people, if they notice it at all, have no idea the history behind it. I didn't either until I hit the "return" button on my Google search. Even still, I have more questions than answers.

Auburndale, MA, mural #3

According to a blog thread at the web site for the Newton Tab weekly newspaper, the mural was painted in 1969 or 1970 on the back of a "new-Agey" store called "Ends of the Earth." Evidently, according to the blog, the mural attracted local and national press because of the "hidden meaning" the painting held. Two people posted on the blog about this supposed meaning, which may or may not have been obscene, but nobody has any details.

Auburndale, MA, mural #1

Nowadays, it seems very innocent: a sun, what appears to be a butterfly, a circle and some long, straight lines. I'd really like to know what was on the mural in its original incarnation. I may have to buy a time machine, which would be worth it, because according to another post on the above-mentioned blog, the building used to be a restaurant and bar.

Auburndale, MA, mural #2

Who painted this mural? What was on it that some people deemed obscene? What products did "Ends of the Earth" sell? Why did this mural get saved in a cleaned-up version? So many questions...


  1. I lived on Central Street, not far from the mural at around the time the mural was painted. I was only a child, but I remember there was quite a bit of controversy about it. Not because of its subject matter (although that might also have been controversial) but because some people felt it was going to cause accidents on the pike. You have to realize it was quite a bit brighter when it was painted. I also remember that when the Ends of the Earth closed there was a campaign to keep the mural. It was obviously a successful campaign. I was recently back in the area and delighted to see that the mural still exists. Ends of the Earth (I remember it being called "To the Ends of the Earth") sold glass globes, macrame and other hippy stuff as I recall.

    For what it's worth, I don't remember it ever having anything else in it than what you see in your pictures.

  2. Hey Steve:

    Thanks for the information!

  3. The big controversy about the mural was that those that opposed it (not sure who they were) objected to the arrow, which they claimed pointed to the store, making it an ad rather than art. I believe the store owner owned the building and so they were not able to stop her from decorating her property.

  4. I grew up in Auburndale and am very familiar with the story of the Mass Pike Sun. The owner of The Ends of the Earth was a a woman of a certain age (40+) and kind of hippish and very cool. Her name was Ronnie. The controversy came not from any obscene message but rather it depicted a "setting sun" with an arrow pointed west. As I recall the Mass Pike Authority was pissed as it was the only legal entity that could have signage with arrows on the Pike. thewre concern was that this sign would confuse drivers. As i further recall common sense prevailed, as did the sign.

    1. Interesting that the Pike Authority would have been concerned...thanks for the info!