I traveled to Cleveland this past weekend and hit the Tremont-area version of “Gallery Hop.” While wandering around, we popped into a gallery featuring photos of the area. Included were striking images of the “Guardians of Transportation.” These are 43-ft tall pylon pairs standing on each end of the Hope Memorial Bridge, with two winged Art Deco men on each pylon. Each man holds a vehicle of some kind in his hands. Since the bridge dates to 1932, the transportation depicted is out-of-date (have you ever seen a hay rack in Cleveland?), but the theme is ageless: protection of transportation and traffic using the bridge.
These images captured my eye, and my imagination. I immediately loved the idea of these Guardians, of their ceaseless watchfulness over the bridge and those coming to and going from the city. I began to imagine an urban fantasy dealing with them, in some way. Just an inkling of an idea, a niggling worm of wonder and curiosity.
Now I’m home again, and I’ve done a wee bit of research on their background. It’s even better than I could hope! I’ve found images of each one, and some interesting facts and figures. I came across information about the possible influences on the bridge designers and the pylon sculptor, and discussion of the likely significances of certain elements contained in the sculptures.
While this research information is wonderful (it opens my eyes to new and better possibilities), there is no denying that the initial impulse — that little tingle of interest at the first sight of these immense figures — was the lightning-strike of ‘Idea’ for a short story.
It would’ve been easy to ignore. After all, I was ‘on vacation’ in a strange place, enjoying many strange and wonderful things. But I’ve learned that often the Muse of Inspiration strikes best when I’m not striving too hard to catch her. And when she offers a gem like this, I’ve learned not to ignore it because it’s ‘inconvenient’ for me.
So, now you know the latest in my story incubator. What will come of it, and when? I can’t say yet. I’m still mulling the possibilities, letting the neurons fire and, with luck, they’ll cross-pollinate into something wonderful. When it does, I’ll let you know.