ST. CHARLES – Not even the Cubs' 106-year World Series championship drought can keep longtime friends and Cubs fans Scott Comperda and Frank Pavlek down. For them, a picture hanging in the Avenue Two Barber Shop in downtown St. Charles says it all.
Posted on the back wall of Pavlek's barber station sits a sketched picture of a man in a Chicago Cubs hat with a beard, seemingly looking for comfort. Behind his sunken eyes lies a story of 106 years worth of Cubs misery.
The picture's story began when Pavlek attended a party about 20 years ago and sketch artist V. “Jim” Roseili drew the picture, giving it to Pavlek. Pavlek then posted the picture to his work station wall. Comperda, a customer and friend of Pavlek's since 1974, gave Pavlek an idea for the picture, suggesting he elongate the picture by sketching a copy of the beard and attaching a long strand of the “beard” (laminated paper) in which he inscribed every year the Cubs have not won the World Series since the last title in 1908.
“It's an illustration of the futility of the Cubs,” Comperda said. “Anybody can look at a certain year, and reflect on how long it's been since they last won it.”
For either new or returning customers, the picture is a natural source of conversation, and depending on which Chicago baseball team one supports, it could bring either tears or jeers.
Memories of the 1984 NL Championship Series loss to the San Diego Padres and the 2003 NLCS collapse against the Florida Marlins are just two of many instances throughout Cubs history that the picture signifies. It is a painful reminder for some Avenue Two customers, including St. Charles resident and loyal Cubs fan Chris Gibson, who has had Pavlek cut his hair for 26 years. Since his first haircut as an infant, Gibson has sat in Pavlek's chair and watched the beard “grow” year-after-year.
“The look on [the subject's] face says it all,” he said. “One day we'll get to tear that thing down.”
While it remains to be seen if the Cubs will return to the World Series any time soon, there is no shortage of optimism inside the shop, especially with the Cubs' ascending minor league system earning rave reviews.
“I predict the Cubs will win the World Series in 2016 or 2017,” Comperda said. “It's gonna happen, and when it does, there will be a celebration.”
If the Cubs ever break the drought, there is a “special idea” Comperda has in mind but hasn't finalized it yet. He's kicking around potentially making the picture into some sort of shrine or special display, although he has ruled out the destroying of the picture, similar to what transpired at Harry Caray's Restaurant in which the “Bartman ball” was blown up for a charity event.
Until further notice, viewing the picture serves as a potentially cathartic experience for some Cubs fans.
“I look at life like it's half-full. When it comes to the Cubs, it's half-empty,” Comperda joked.