Meter maid on ‘Wall of Respect’ seeing red over new paint
By George P. Hassett
A mural celebrating the diverse women of Somerville was recently painted over and one of the women depicted on the wall is wondering why.
“They painted over a wonderful work of art that focused on women and what women can be,” said Joan Batzek, who was working as a meter maid when Be Sargent, formerly Be Allen, was painting the side of Osco Drug at 393 Highland Ave. “I thought it was great that she was speaking up for the women.”
“I walked all over the city when I was a meter maid so I would talk to her. She told me she wanted a woman in uniform,” said Batzek. “And I said, ‘what do you think I’m wearing?’ So she took a picture and put me up on that wall.”
The “Wall of Respect for Women” featured women of all ages, races and professions going through their everyday tasks. It was a vibrant public mural in a private space that was sudddenly painted over by new owners Brooks Pharmacy this month.
Brooks Pharmacy was supposed to give the mural’s creator, Allen, a 30 day notice before destroying it, but failed to do so. In addition, the mural’s accompanying plaque has been missing since Brooks painted over it, said Batzek.
The mural had been peeling and was in serious need of a rehabilitation. But, said Batzek, that was not a good enough reason to eliminate Sargent's ode to females.
“My son said, ‘You had a good run ma, give it up,’ but I want to be up there forever,” she said. “They painted over more than a wall, they painted over a work of art. This lady did a wonderful job and there should have been a way to keep it up.”