Anyone with even a casual knowledge of the Old West has at least a passing knowledge of the name Charles M. Russell. Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, you've probably seen one of his paintings or statuary.
Several years ago, when I first learned about Mary Fields and began the long hunt for information about her, I was told that this legendary artist had done a pen and ink drawing of her inspired by meeting her in Cascade. He wasn't the first celeb to encounter her; Gary Cooper knew her when he was a child, having witnessed the incident involving Mary and the guy who welshed on the laundry bill. I'm fairly convinced that Cooper's mention of Mary in an interview in Jet Magazine in the late 1960s marked the start of the excruciatingly slow awareness of her existence within the wider sphere.
Anyway, I've never been able to find a copy of this drawing. (And for the record, I don't think this is due to it being suppressed by whitey. I think it's more a function of obscure pen & ink drawing+time+not a painting=not high on any museum or collector's general radar.) I know what the drawing is supposed to contain, though I'm still not clear on if it's based on something Russell witnessed or if he made up the scenario. I like to think it was something he saw go down there on Central Avenue. From what I know of what's supposed to be in the drawing, it's hilarious, and even if only 1/4th of the stories about Mary are factually true, the scenario in this drawing is highly probable.
Again with the anyways. I bring this up because out of the blue earlier today a buddy who has known about my various Mary things brewing calls up to pass along something he was told to pass along by an acquaintance of his friend. Did she call the Wedsworth? And I'm like, did I call the whozit? And he's like, did you call the Wedsworth? And I blinked at that linky and just about fell over.
I called the Wesdworth. Nice people. Very small place I'm thinking, based on this (reconstructed) exchange:
"Hello. I was told you have the Charles Russell drawing of Mary Fields available on a T-shirt. Is that true?"
"I'm the assistant librarian. I don't handle this. You let me go over to City Hall and see."
"I can call back. What time is good for you? I'm calling from Los Angeles. I think I'm a couple of hours behind you."
"Oh no. You just hold on."
She didn't push a hold button. She put the phone down on a table or something. Apparently, 'going to City Hall' meant walking across the room! I listened to two (possibly three) female voices and a male voice talk about something that (I think) had to do with permits, interspersed with a little everyday wrapping-it-up chit-chat. And when the male voice said goodbye and left, the assistant librarian voice explained that someone from California was on the phone. And I winced at hearing one of the other female voices say "no, we don't have that" as both voices moved closer to me on hold on the table. Then the new voice picked up the phone.
This new voice tells me they don't have T-shirts with the drawing.
What they have are prints.
Large and medium prints, along with postcards.
She explains what the differences are between them, as far as the contained elements. She tells me how much they are. Asks me how many I want. Tells me she can't take my moolah over the phone because "we don't do that sort of thing". Tells me to send a check. Gives me the address. Tells me that not to send the check now, because she has to take the stuff over to the post office and get a mailing tube and have them weigh it first. This might not happen for a couple of days, though, because she's part-time and about to get off.
"You're not in a hurry, are you?"
"No." (this was a lie. it's real! you have it! omigodomigod SEND IT NOW)
"Because you said you're in Los Angeles."
"No, I'm not in a hurry." (lies) "Friday is fine. Thank you so much. Thank you. I can't tell you. This is so wonderful." (truth)
So she said she'll get to the post office as soon as she can, and then she'll call me back to tell me how much to send. But that might not be until Friday, okay?
The whole thing was so fucking great. Listening to them all, having her carefully explain what's available and the logistics of getting it here and we don't do credit cards over the phone. And how they were all friendly. Business, but friendly. Not arms-length. I was about to start crying again. These are the the sort of people Mary lived with, way back then.
As an aside, currently there are only about 600 people living in Cascade town proper. Which is probably why visiting city hall meant walking across the room.
And I'm thinking about this because on Sunday night I finished the beta draft of the script through a fog of medications (and tears, which haven't completely stopped). I don't know. I've been thinking about this all day since I hung up the phone. It's like I FINALLY got this thing done (and it was hell at times let me tell you), and the universe says okay! Here's your shiny gold star!
I know this is rather long and rambly. Also I am violating a *huge* personal rule just posting it. But my energy is almost gone - I don't think I'm well enough yet to take this kind of excitement - and when I get home I'm going to collapse into bed. I'm just feeling really weird mood about this Charles M. Russell falling out of the sky at this particular moment in time, and felt like rambling while I still could.
Once more with the anyways. As soon as I'm done formatting the script***, it's off via the Internet(s) to Brazil. When the posters arrive, one of them is also going to Brazil, too, as a peace offering of sorts in case the poor dear falls over screaming when he notices the word count. All I have to say is if you've ever seen an Alan Moore script (which i have because I own the From Hell scriptbook which you probably don't...nyah nyah) it's not so bad, really. And The Man himself said just last week that every Sandman script was at *least* 10,000 words long, that . So you, you know. I think I'm in the mean, here. That's gonna be my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.
Don't tell him, though. Its a surprise.
*** I DESPISE formatting. It's the very last thing I do. Depending on the size of the work, it can take me four days to format an entire comic script. It takes me that long because I have a day job so I have to use the evening writing time to format.