When I’m on Zoom calls I get a lot of comments and questions about the painting of the Incredible Hulk hanging behind me on my wall. Admittedly, it is probably not the average law firm office décor and most people assume that I’m a big comic book fan or that it was something one of my kids painted for me. Neither is true.
It was painted by someone that reminds me of when I was a little kid growing up in Hamilton. When I was a little kid and my mom was driving me and my brothers around town, we always saw an interesting guy riding his bike. What caught our attention as little kids was that he had stuffed animals all over himself and his bike. We didn’t know his name then and we just called him the Stuffed Animal Man. Sitting in the back seat we would keep an eye out for him and would announce “hey it’s the Stuffed Animal Man” to each other if we saw him. As we zipped by we would turn our heads to try to see which cartoon characters he had that day. We were always happy when we saw him.
When I grew up I found out that his name was Frank “Frankie” Prickett and that we were not the only kids who had grew up watching for him from the backseat of their parents’ car. I think it is fair to say that if you lived in Hamilton you knew him. Beyond being known for his stuffed animals, Frankie was an artist who loved to draw pictures of famous cartoon characters. Many kids were lucky enough to get one of the drawings he did with a marker and paper while sitting around the Courthouse.
In 2013, I saw a Journal News article about how Frankie had passed away. It was one of those weird moments in life when someone passes away that you really didn’t know well at all but at the same time takes a bit of your childhood with them. The article talks about his life and how for the last few years he had been lucky enough to be in a local program at InsideOut Studios which gave him access to better art supplies including paint and canvas. I remember that part of the story makes me feel good and then didn’t give it much more thought.
Six years later, I was in a board meeting at a different local non-profit (Butler County Parachute CASA…. if you want to volunteer to help disadvantaged kids link here) and for some reason, someone started talking about Frankie and it brought a smile to everyone’s face. As we were talking I found out one of my fellow board members had known him personally through her work at the art program he had been a part of. What really got my attention was that she said she still had a few of his paintings at the studio. I’m not an art collector and I had not seen them but I immediately wanted them. She told me I could come to look at them and I walked over from my office the very next day and purchased three of his paintings. The Hulk for my office, a painting of the Thing that hangs in my son’s bedroom, and a Tinkerbell that is in my daughter’s. I feel really lucky to have been able to buy these paintings they are like treasures that only a Hamiltonian would understand.
I was on another Zoom call last week with a few lawyers from all over the country. As I’ve become accustomed to it, someone asked about my green friend on the wall. I got to tell them the story about me and my brothers always on the lookout for Frankie and his stuffed animals when we were kids and how he painted my Hamilton treasure. They liked the story. Frankie is still bringing smiles to people’s faces.