Western Auto Building

Western Auto

This doodlewash is of the Western Auto building in Kansas City. It was originally built for the Coca-Cola company in 1914, but later became the headquarters for Western Auto Supply Company. Today it’s been converted into housing but the multi-story lighted sign that tops the building was left in place and has become a landmark in the city.

We have a rooftop deck and you can see the sign clearly from our house, once the leaves of a large tree blocking it fall to reveal it. With our weather being slightly erratic and often too hot or too cold, having a rooftop deck is much like owning a convertible here – It’s really cool but slightly impractical for the amount of time you actually get to enjoy it.

I went to a party once in this building when it was first renovated into lofts several years ago, before Philippe and I ever met. I remember the view being really great and the curve of the building makes it rather impressive. The party itself was crowded with people. I didn’t really know anyone and mingling makes my skin crawl. I don’t like “small talk” and really, why would anyone? It even sounds like it could also be called “irrelevant speaking.” What’s the point? 

I prefer to have real one-on-one conversations with people I like, rather than multiple meaningless ones with people I don’t really know, so I don’t end up at very many parties. Philippe and I are both introverts so a swarm of people small talking at us makes us want to run home silently screaming to hide.

The host of the Western Auto building party, I don’t even remember who this was, asked a group of us if we wanted to see the rooftop deck and since I only saw a couple people volunteer, I immediately did the same. The view was amazing, but somehow in my haste to exit the party I completely forgot that I have a fear of heights (perhaps a reason I should have gotten that convertible instead of a rooftop deck).

I stepped out onto the roof of the 12-story building and froze up, unable to walk to the edge with the rest of the group. They kept beckoning me to join them and I brushed them off with an awkward smile while maintaining my white knuckle grip on the railing near the door. To this, I got the “who invited this freak” look and they turned away to enjoy the view. Seeing my moment, I rushed back down the stairs, returning to the party which suddenly felt like a safe haven.

Thinking I could finally relax, I poured a drink and wandered to the back of the room. I barely noticed the girl standing right next to me, but after a few minutes she quietly said, “I hate parties like this.” I turned to her and smiled. We spent the next hour hidden in a corner actually talking about things that matter, and I left feeling happy. I didn’t attempt to conquer my fears that night, but by just being my awkward self, I did manage to make a new friend.

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you'd like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
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47 Comments
  1. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    “Irrelevant speaking”…that’s brilliant, as is your doodlewash of this building!

    Sounds like you and I have yet another thing in common: I also hate parties and small talk. I try to decline as many invitations as I can (I pretty much only go to hubby’s departmental gatherings now…thank goodness they really only have them about once a year). Good thing for me hubby dislikes them, too. We’re such homebodies, but we like it that way! 🙂

    Glad you made a friend that night, though! I do, like you, enjoying getting together with just one or two good friends occasionally…and talk about things that matter. 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa! 😃 Yay…I figured I wasn’t alone in this. It definitely helps when you’re both the same way. Hehe But sometimes we have had friend say they were going to “send out a search party” because we tend to disappear for long periods of time. 😊😊

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        I’ve told my friends often enough that I don’t like parties that they don’t worry. 😉 I can always be found online. It’s when I disappear from the internet for a while that they start worrying. LOL!

      • Author

        Lol!! Me too!! 😃👍🏻

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Oh, we are so birds of a feather! 😀

  2. Snehal Kank 2 years ago

    I really like your study of light, shadow and perspective. The sketch look so perfect and natural! Keep it up! 👍🏼👍🏼

  3. Eric Disney 2 years ago

    <3 <3 <3 !!! your story-telling warms my heart–for realz.

  4. thepaperbaker 2 years ago

    Fabulous doodlewash! Definitely a KC sign landmark…. Love the history….. Thanks 🙂

  5. Jacob 2 years ago

    What a fascinating building, the painting of which as well-executed as ever, sir! The shading is gorgeous and I love the choice of composition; it really comes across as a structure that commands its skyline.

    On your commentary: YES. I don’t cope well with big parties, nor indeed small talk. I don’t appear to have any kind of capacity for it. When people try, it invariably dies a death after we exchange “how are you?” and I’m left awkwardly smiling, hoping someone will come and rescue me/take my place/the floor beneath me will open up. It’s a woe, really, this social interaction business… but indeed, being introvert in that way makes it all the more pleasing when there are people you find with whom you can have worthwhile conversations, as you happily did!

    • Author

      Hehe…I figured there were more like me out there, Jacob! Yeah…once I find my person I’m find, but up until that point it’s horrible. When someone small talks at me, sometimes the words don’t make sense in my head. Perhaps I’m just easily bored as well. Lol

  6. Jodi 2 years ago

    awesome doodlewash Charlie O! I love parties, but also intimate gatherings as well. Not much into small talk though. I love deep, meaningful conversations – and usually find a way to manage them even at large parties – asking challenging questions… Hubby calls it nebby – silly guy – I am just super interested in people. They don’t have to answer! haha!

    • Author

      Lol..thanks Jodi!! ❤️😃Yeah…that’s the thing. I DO find people very interesting, which is why I don’t like their cardboard versions of themselves. Give something I can latch onto!! Hehe

  7. I never felt comfortable at parties either, but didn’t realise for many years that I’m an introvert. I like to people-watch, I find them interesting and fascinating, but I’d much rather interact with animals. More than 15 minutes around people I don’t know and I’m exhausted. And, yeah, heights. Just no. I seriously think we need a DNA test to make sure we’re not long-lost brothers!

    • Author

      Haha…I think maybe you’re right! Suspiciously similar! 😉 I’m always impressed with people who can easily talk to strangers and “work a room” from afar, but when they head my way I want to run screaming. 😊

  8. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Cool building, I like how you achieved the curvature. I’m with you Charlie, a small gathering is so much better. I feel lost and overwhelm by large groups. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

    • Author

      See?! We doodlewashers are kindred spirits! People have suggested a meet up someday but that might be challenging with our collective fear of groups! Lol 😉

      • Sharon Mann 2 years ago

        Haha, as kindred spirits we could probably handle it!

  9. Carol King 2 years ago

    A roof deck sounds very exciting and luxurious. I would walk around Tribeca looking up at all the buildings with roof decks and feel envy. But I like your comparison of it to a convertible.

    Another great building sketch. How many floors is the building?

    I don’t mind small talk. It leads to “big talks”. But I know how it can be painful for someone who is an introvert. My husband used to be very introverted until he became a cop. He’s met so many kooks and very nice people too, now he can talk to anyone. (almost.)

    • Author

      Thanks Carol!! The building is 12 stories but feels taller due to the high ceilings. And that’s so interesting about your husband! I guess being a cop would give you lots of practice in talking to everyone! Thanks for sharing!

  10. memadtwo 2 years ago

    For some reason I immediately thought of a carnival when I saw your painting. The party theme fits too! I’m a person who has trouble at parties even when I know many people there…(K.)

    • Author

      Hehe…love that Kerfe! It does have a carnival feel. And yeah…it depends on my mood, but I feel the same even when it’s people I know. 😊

  11. kirkistan 2 years ago

    Another great image. Another telling story. I really like the shape of that building.I’d have gone to that rooftop in an instant. I’m crazy about the vistas from on high. Good writing!

  12. Rachel Murphree 2 years ago

    oh Charlie, your personality sounds so much like mine! I’m not afraid of heights…but parties, mingling, useless chit chat? way too difficult…I have to have a “mission” like helping the hostess or something to make it not horrendous.

    • Author

      A mission is so true Rachel!! I usually volunteer to help with something as well. A specific task that makes sense…versus the meaningless chatter! 😊

  13. Kari 2 years ago

    What an interesting building! I agree that you’ve captured the light and shadows well! I don’t often enjoy large gatherings either. I’ve done it many times but it just exhausts me. When I was in college, I tested ENTP (Myers Briggs) and later I tested INTJ.. Lol.

    • Author

      Lol…that’s quite a change Kari! I had the same happen… I was an ENFP for a time, though my F & T were really 50/50. Then I moved to an I. Hehe… I’m actually 100% N and P which seems a tad overkill if not dysfunctional, but I’ve made it work somehow! 😉

      • Kari 2 years ago

        I think becoming a parent changed my F/T and P/J. I’m a pretty solid N but the last two keep fluctuating. Fun stuff.. 😊

  14. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    I like how you’ve captured the curve of the building in your sketch. I don’t like parties where I don’t know anyone either. Enjoyed your story and your art, Charlie! 💜🎨

  15. beverlydyer 2 years ago

    I often find myself pondering on the fact that I’d rather be home than anywhere. In a world where it seems most people like the “night life.” I’m fully content to be in my pajamas by six with a glass of wine, my cats, my husband, and some art supplies!

  16. Charlie, first of all, I love your artwork (as always). I am the same way re the party thing. Hate them. I don’t even like parties where I know the people all that much, honestly. We are homebodies and really really enjoy it! An ideal social night for me would be having one couple over we really like and enjoying the conversation that way. But ideally, I could skip all social events (and usually do) and paint, draw, quilt or read instead. I used to feel like I was a weirdo but I’ve learned that this is who I am and if I’m happy, who cares? Oh, and I hate heights too! ((((((Charlie)))))))) I do enjoy drawing people though. And I really do like people! Just in small doses.

    • Author

      Totally agree my sister from another mother!! Hehe❤️😃 And in the end, I’d rather be weird than just like everyone else, and as long as we’re happy then that’s all that really matters!!

  17. ann christina 2 years ago

    I really love this post! Such a nice picture, and such a nice story to it! Nice to know that I´m not alone being a “nerd”. 😉 I hate parties, and I hate crowds. I meet even my best friends alone, just the two of us. Being threesome is getting on my nerves already. And, to be honest, the best is being alone. Not lonely, but alone. 😊 Maybe that´s part of people who are into arts or creating. Creating itself is a lonesome journey. And the artwork itself assumes the conversation. Too cool! 😊

    • Author

      So true!!!! ❤️😃I’m all for the one-on-one! I just can’t focus beyond that! Lol And art can be lonely so that’s why I try to virtually connect myself and also connect artists with others. The cool part is how virtual just works better for us! So we’re never really alone…we still have other’s back! 😉Just in the doses we decide! Lol

      • ann christina 2 years ago

        Yeah, you´re completely right!!! 😊 Some would call that probably a little weird, but who cares?! 😉 I love that quote I read once (don´t know unfortunately by who it is): “I tried to be normal once – worst 2 minutes of my life.” But maybe it´s not weird at all. Most people here are like-minded and love creating stuff, and it´s just so cool how we support each other here. It´s really precious! 😊❤️

  18. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Lovely sketch, you are so great with the detail.

  19. Margaret Hunt 2 years ago

    After your tour it’s obvious that Kansas City has allot more interesting architecture than Augusta Ga does even though it’s a lot older a former state capital. I think they said look at that interesting building lets tear it down. 😒

    • Author

      Lol…that probably would have been the case here were it not for the vigilant historical societies! They’re fierce! 😉

      • Margaret Hunt 2 years ago

        In fairness to the city fathers we did have a huge fire sweep the downtown around 1910 gutting a lot of the downtown area for blocks. And a lot of flooding from the Savannah River up to the second stories covering downtown.

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