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The Citgo sign has a place in people's hearts

Posted by Sebastian Smee  July 6, 2011 04:34 PM

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citgo.jpgMy Frame By Frame column about the Citgo sign in Boston's Kenmore Square prompted many people to write. One of them was Larry Kohn, who took this picture, he says, on the "4th of July eve a few years ago." He was driving over the Boston University bridge as a thunderstorm approached. He pulled over into what he calls "a non-space" on the bridge to take the picture, "knowing full well that if a cop came, I was going to be doing some big explaining."

It was worth it, as he says.

Ann Erikson wrote to say that her husband was in the Army for 20 years. Whenever he returned from his various postings, she said, "we saw the Citgo sign [and] knew we were home."

Barry Petchesky noted that something peculiar about the sign makes it seem incredibly close when seen behind the left field wall at Fenway. He wondered if there was a reason that it throws off all sense of perspective.

citgo2.jpgSusan Vorley said she will always be fond of the sign because it helped guide her when she was caught on the road during the infamous blizzard of 1978. With her head out the window, she ways, "I was able to make out a small red dot in the distance, so I focused on that as my landmark in the all-white landscape. Gradually it got larger and larger and I was able to see that it wasn't a dot at all, but the Citgo sign. I was SO happy to see it."

It took Vorley four hours to get from Cambridge to Hyde Park that night, but she made it - thanks in part to the Citgo sign.

Perhaps my favorite email came this afternoon from Malcolm McKenzie, who wrote: "My son Ian has published a novel and is now a full-fledged diplomat, but to me his most durable accomplishment may always be his pronouncement, at the age of about three, of this landmark as 'the little movie about triangles.'"

Brilliant.

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About the author

The Boston Globe Journalist Series: Sebastian Smee
Sebastian Smee is the Globe's art critic, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He joined the paper's staff from Sydney, where he served as the national art critic for The Australian. He can be reached at ssmee@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @SebastianSmee. Read Smee's full bio.

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