Ophelia and Drac live on the front porch at 1616 Virginia St. They have seasonal outfits and often have conversations that are shown in cartoon-type balloon messages on the wall. Ophelia wears a red, white, and blue bikini and “hands out” candy on election day.
Linda Gallaher Brown and Steve Napoli are the proud creators of Ophelia and Drac.
Linda moved to Berkeley and this house in 1985. She was a programmer for library automation at Cal. Her husband, Steve Napoli, grew up here and is a retired train operater for BART. They made Drac first, about ten years ago.
Linda made him, placed him, arranged him and went into the front garden. When she came back up the steps to the porch, she had forgotten what she had made and was startled. Very Startled. Success!
One year later, Drac more or less morphed into Frankenstein. He soon returned to vampire form.
Ophelia came a few years later. She is named after a young noblewoman of Denmark, the daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes, and potential wife of Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. She sometimes leaves the porch and spends her days near the curb. She is headless, and everything up there is improvised. She changes her clothes seasonally. She does not seem to mind clothing from Goodwill.
There are beautiful, quirky things inside the house, which you can see in my Quirky Berkeley post.
Of greatest interest to me was the collection of sock monkeys. The collection grew quickly, but when the Christmas tree on which they were hung each year fell over, they knew that it was time to quit.
Linda and Steve are not people who you would, at first glance, label as quirky. That said, Ophelia and Drac, especially with cat curled in Drac’s lap, are exactly what I hoped to find when I began my Quirky Berkeley quest. They are people who are just folk like you and me, showing us in small material ways that yes, Berkeley is a little different.
Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-plus-year resident muses on what it all means.