Twenty-six years ago, I moved to the neighborhood and house where my wife and I still live. The first day, I met my new neighbor and eventual great friend Chuck Bucsek (rest his soul). He told me that if my car ever broke down, to take it up the street to Edinboro Auto. He told me that the owner, Dana Volkman, was knowledgeable, fair, and trustworthy. At the time I owned a fifteen-year old F-100 Truck. One week later I was driving through town when it stopped running. I left a note on the dashboard, the truck on the side of the road, and walked to Edinboro Auto.
I spent my career as a high school art teacher, and did a lot of fine and commercial art on the side. In the 1990s, I really got into sports art. Having been born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, I spent my childhood cheering on the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. Most of my published art showcased both current and legendary members of these teams. This was a very exciting time in my career. So, imagine my surprise and excitement when I walked through the main door at Edinboro Auto to see a bright, organized, and clean shop with black, yellow and white stripes like the sleeves on the Steelers uniforms painted around the entire interior. The auto lifts and a black tow truck were professionally painted with Steeler logos. The office was painted Steelers gold and was filled with Steelers memorabilia. Dana had a white pick-up truck that was professionally “Steeler-ed Out”. Dana himself was wearing a black T-shirt and a black Steeler cap. I introduced myself, looked around and thought, “This is going to work out just fine!” Thirty minutes later we were towing my rusty truck to Edinboro Auto. I didn’t know it at the time but this was to become one of the most important days of my life, as it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. THE STEEL AGE MURAL
Over the years, Dana continued to repair my cars and help me with construction tasks at my home. To show my gratitude and appreciation, I drew his favorite Steeler players and got them autographed for his office. I also got to attend many Steeler games at Three Rivers Stadium with him in his Steeler truck. During the summer months I was working at Braendel Painting. One day I told Dana that although I worked on many murals with colleagues, I never painted one by myself. He enthusiastically offered up his building. The subject was obvious --- the Superbowl Dynasty of the1970’s. Dana started prepping and painting the wall the next day. Most of the images came from an old book from Harborcreek High School Library (thank you Mrs. Baird), a few Sports Illustrated magazines and some game day programs. My son Adam, Dana, and I began projecting the images on the wall and tracing outlines with sharpie pens. We painted with tube acrylic paint. It took about four summers to complete.
I ultimately spent many hours sitting on scaffolding and talking with Dana and my son while I painted. Dana’s life stories were captivating, exciting, and very entertaining for my son and I. People passing through from all over the country would stop to watch or talk to us about the Steelers or their favorite Steeler memory. I always loved talking about the Steelers or art with them. Our mural was finally completed in 2000 and we received a great amount of attention in the local media. I often saw people photographing or posing in front of it whenever I drove by. The mural became my claim to fame in the town where I live. RAISING FUNDS TO RESTORE EDINBORO AUTO
Somehow, nearly two decades have passed. Not only has time rendered the mural beyond repair, but Dana has since dealt with many hardships. He has had, and continues to have, many major and costly health issues. Further, his once beautiful building that was an eye-catching landmark when entering our town tragically caught fire while another mechanic was renting his building. Dana and his friends and family replaced the roof, but major electrical and plumbing work, as well as cleaning and painting still need done. Dana is currently doing these repairs himself but the task is beyond his physical and economic means. Despite his pride and hesitancy to do so, it’s time to ask the Edinboro community and Steeler Nation for a helping hand. Now with cancer and many surgeries behind him, Dana’s wish is to restore his building back to its former glory and replace our disintegrating mural with a new Steeler Super Bowl XL and XLIII theme.
My friend Mitchell Brourman once told me how to measure the value of a true friend: “When things are tight and on the line... and you are in a desperate situation… would you want to be pinned down in a fox hole with this person?”
Needless to say, Dana Volkman gets a confident and resounding YES vote from me and many others in town I am sure. Therefore, I am dedicated to getting his building back and running so I can paint him an awesome, new Steelers mural on Edinboro Auto. If you know Dana or members of his wonderful family, you know that he is well deserving of any type of help you could offer financially or via labor, materials or services.
If you know the awesome town of Edinboro and the legacy of our university, you know that 6N is the main route leading to the school and we should beautify that route.
If you love art, friendship, community and/or the Pittsburgh Steelers, please think about how you could contribute to this project.