If you call Robert Vick by his legal name, he assumes you’re going to ask to see his license and registration as well. Vick goes by Stretch, a name tied in to the independent Stretch Marx painting business that he has run, on and off, for 20 years. His signs stretch across the country and can be seen throughout Portales. His favorite superhero is Underdog and he couldn’t have picked a worse time to pretend he was a smoker.
What do you think of Portales?
“I love Portales. A very nice place.”
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
“My perfect day, I would win that $99 million lottery, and I’d get on a plane and go to Sudan (Africa) and before I spent the money, I’d give it to places (where) they could use it. If I went overseas right away, I could take care of some good business, paying my tithes.”
What is your fondest memory of Portales?
“Meeting my girlfriend, I think.”
Who’s invited to your dinner party and why?
“I’d like to eat lunch with the old Navy, the 12 disciples and the savior. That’s who I’d do lunch with.”
What is your favorite TV show, past and present?
“The Andy Griffith Show. Mayberry, I always wanted to live there. Present, According to Jim.”
What’s so great about your favorite sport?
“I love auto racing, any kind. Not so much NASCAR, but anything making more than a right or left turn, I like that.”
What do you envision your life being like in 10 years?
“I hope a lot better than it is now. I’d like to be a lot more spiritually equipped and have a better relationship with God.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Not having that.”
What is your greatest hope?
“My greatest hope. I’d like to see the prejudice gone, all the walls torn down, and for all of the good things to happen. I’d like to see everybody getting along at once … trying to figure out big problems — hunger, things like that.”
What is your favorite smell?
“A fresh rose.”
What would you like printed on your gravestone?
“A sign painter.”
What’s your theme song?
“Stone Cold Believer by 38 Special.”
What is your favorite taste?
What do you like best about your job?
“It’s always something different, it’s never the same.”
Who would you want cast in the lead role in a movie about your life?
“He played the sheriff in ‘Powder’ (Lance Henrikson).”
If you could be a superhero, what would your name and powers be?
“I like Underdog. I like the name, I like the character, I like everything about him. Honestly, before Stretch Marx, it was almost Underdog Signs. I do take the under hand to everybody out there that’s got a shop and everything else. I work out of the back of a car. Technically, I would be the underdog according to everybody around here.”
Tell us something about you that nobody would imagine:
“I believe in God wholeheartedly. I want to do the right thing. I’m as human as everybody else. Some people have a misguided thing about me. I’m middle of the road — I’m a pretty average guy, I think.”
Tell us about your parents:
“My parents, they must have loved me very much. I’m adopted, I was adopted at three days old. I’ve never met my real people, or natural parents. My dad’s dead, he died about 11 years ago. My mom lives in Mesa, Ariz. They must have loved me very much because they picked me, they gave me everything. That’s Mom and Dad to me.”
Tell us about your first date:
“It was a disaster. She was a very good-looking blonde girl, her name was Diane. It was in 1979. I believe I had a white Trans Am. I ate at an Italian restaurant in Denver. I smoked a cigarette because she smoked a cigarette and my eyes got full of water because I didn’t smoke, but I wanted her to think I did. I burned a hole in the tablecloth, my eyes were watery, I was a nerd and I never saw her again after that.”
Tell us about your pets:
“I have Krusty the Cat and a bunch of his brothers and sisters that I haven’t named yet.”
If you could do one thing and money were no object, what would you do to make the world a better place?
“I think I’d try to make everyone on a straight playing field, to where there wasn’t too much high-ups, there wasn’t too much way low. Everybody got the same chance.”
Who is your hero and why?
“My daughter. No matter what she does, she just keeps on going and I like that out of her. She knows where she goes wrong and she tries to correct it. She makes me proud.”
— Compiled by Kevin Wilson