Rolled up and stored in a mailing tube, lying for decades in a New England attic, the canvas had collapsed onto itself at one end. There was water damage, too, effectively gluing together two sections of the roll. When it was finally stretched out, the paint had pulled off both sides, leaving foot-long white scars.
Forty years ago this summer, two and a half hours west of here, a heat wave brought an already intense summer to a boil. New York City, litter-strewn and struggling, had declared bankruptcy. The blackout of 1977, lasting 25 hours and hitting most of the city, led to looting and torched storefronts. The Yankees were battling their way out of the blighted Bronx to win a championship. It was the summer Star Wars lit up the screen. It was the summer of Sam.