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In the Pipeline: The ballad of Taylor Walsh

November 30, 2011|By Chris Epting
  • Can of spray paint.
Can of spray paint. (HB Independent )

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my tour of the former Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church at Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane.

Included in the column was an observation I made about a pink, spray-painted message that was written across a wall inside the church: "I Love Taylor Walsh."

In the midst of the garbage-strewn, weather-beaten, ransacked room, the message stood out as a plaintive, human emotion in the midst of the soggy chaos — and so it was noticed.

Little did I imagine that a couple of weeks later, I'd be communicating with Taylor Walsh herself — yes, that Taylor Walsh — she who inspired the pink-paint avowal.

But it would not have happened had I not received a note from a young man in Huntington Beach. He explained to me his fascination with old, abandoned buildings. He described how, sometimes, he finds access into these places.

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Not to steal. Not to ransack. But rather to imagine what the history may have been like in the building, to take photos and study the past.

"I've always had a passion for historical buildings," he wrote, "especially in Huntington Beach, where I've lived the majority of my life. I enjoy finding out about what buildings have stood the test of time, what buildings used to be used for and learning about abandoned buildings."

As well, he'd never entered a sealed-off structure with the intent to spray paint. But last year, his love of a local girl got the better of him.

Another excerpt from the letter: "I wanted to say I'm sorry because I spray-painted 'I Love Taylor Walsh,' on the inside of that church — at that time breaking into historic buildings, Tay and writing were the three most important things in my life, and they still are. The reason I am apologizing though is because at the time I had heard that they were going to tear it down, and this upset me. I loved that building and that mural."

Daniel (last name withheld by request), who wrote the letter, also explained at length about some of the other places he had "visited" over the years. Familiar with some of the books I've written about historic places, Daniel felt I might empathize to a degree with his numerous wanderings to off-limits places.

And to a degree, admittedly, I do. While I will not condone trespassing, truth be told I have ventured occasionally into places that I know will soon be gone for the purpose of documentation. Sometimes, the siren call of the past is simply too strong to resist.

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