Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Encounter With The Duke

I may have told this story before in a previous Blog post....if you've heard the story before....excuse my absent "mindness."   (Is that a word?) 

It was March 1955, I turned 13 years old in January that year and was so excited that we were going to take a family vacation.  However, I knew riding in the same car as my dad, mom, grandmother and 5 year old brother all the way to southern California and back was going to be a challenge.

This is really the only family vacation I remember, we lived on a small farm....had animals that needed to be cared for, so a day at the park or maybe an over night at the ocean was the most we ever did.

I was in the 7th grade and it was not Spring Break, so my mom talked with my teacher and it was decided that I would be excused from school as long as I wrote a page each day about our activities. Then turn the 'diary' in when we got home for a grade for the time I missed.

My dad's father and step mom, plus his brother and step brother and their families all lived in California.  It was very exciting as we headed out the first week of March...down Highway 99.  I remember at every stop there was the 'changing of the seats' routine between my mom, grandma and myself. Quite frankly I was super annoyed with my brother by the time we passed thru Olympia (30 miles south of our home). 

One day after we arrived at my uncle and aunt's home, my dad's step brother and his family came over and spent the day visiting.   My dad's step brother (Uncle Don) worked for the movie studios as a freelance photographer.  He took those pictures you used to see as you walked up to the ticket booth of a theater, and he took continuity pictures so the actors ended up in the correct spot and in the correct clothes when they came back from a break in shooting their film.

Anyway, during that day of visiting he asked me if I'd like to go to work with him one day while we were there.  I was thrilled and my folks agreed that it would be a fun adventure for me.  But, I didn't really have the appropiate clothes with me, so the next day they took me to the Robert Hall store in Hollywood.  They got me new shoes, new skirt, blouse and a pink  jacket.   I felt like a movie star myself.

The appointed day came and Uncle Don came and picked me up.  When we got to the movie studio he took me in with him and sat me over in the corner to watch the action.  The entire morning they shot the same scene over and over again and I remember that they finally got the scene right just at lunch time.  My uncle came over and said that he had talked to the two movie stars and they had agreed to pose for a picture with me.   I followed him over to another area and there on a high stool sat this beautiful lady named Lauren Bacall.  I had never heard of her before.....

She did sit while my uncle took the picture but then she got up and walked away. She didn't say one word to me. 

 From there, I followed my uncle over to another spot to a group of people standing around talking and laughing. In the middle of that group stood this larger than life man who stepped forward as we approached.  He looked over at my uncle and then at me and extended his hand...my uncle introduced me to John Wayne.  I had heard of John Wayne and needless to say I was dumbstruck.  Here I was, this 13 year old girl who lived on 10 acres and did farm chores meeting the one, the only John Wayne.

We (or should I say 'he') chatted with me and my uncle for awhile and then he asked me if I was hungry. I must have nodded yes, because before I knew it he was leading us to a big round table over in a corner and box lunches appeared for all.  I remember there was an apple in my box lunch but that's all I remember and I don't even remember if I was able to eat much.   I do remember he asked me about my school, where I lived, etc.  He was especially interested in the fact that we lived on a small farm and had animals. He wanted to know who was milking our cow.  His laugh was hearty and it helped me to relax a little. 

Sadly after the lunch break it was time for me to go.  My uncle had arranged for my grandfather to pick me up so I bid farewell and literally floated out of the building.

It was a day I will never forget.  My 8 x 10 glossy, autographed photos hang proudly in my hall, along with family photos.  I have treasured them all these years.

Oh and the movie they were shooting~ it was 'Blood Alley.'   A very good movie and several years ago a friend gave me a DVD of the movie so I can watch it whenever I want.


Kath said...

This is a fabulous post Linda,I have often read your blog and remember reading it in J/Land too.Not always commenting,but I loved to read about your travels,as I do ou r friend Jeannettes.John Wayne my Oh!My what an honour.Lauren Bacall,I remember well too.I always thought she had a very sad look somehow.The lod pics of yourself are beautiful,how bonny your were.That was a very long journey in the car,but what memories you have now,it was all worth it.Have great day Linda.I have realy enjoyed your post.I love reading blogs.(Motherhen)Take Care God Bless Kath xx

Sybil said...

What wonderful memories to have...thank you for sharing, I can't remember ever reading about your film star experience on the old much loved blogs...take care love Sybil xx

ADB said...

A memorable vacation indeed, Linda. I'm sure you know that John Wayne (Marion Morrison) had his roots in the island I'm typing this comment from.

Marie said...

What a lovely experience and memory Linda. I have always loved John Wayne and felt him to always be a very sincere and humble man. One of the best, right up there with Jimmy Stewart in my estimation! I really enjoyed reading this and had not read it before. Thanks so much for sharing! xxoo

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

That is a great memory to have. Talk about dancing with the stars...you had your own private experience.

Robin said...

Love this story!!!!


Robin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linda :) said...

I don't think I had ever heard the whole story, the Lauren Bacall part was new to me... How rude of her... What a wonderful memory you will always treasure... and I love the pictures of you at 13... :)

Linda's World said...

I'm leaving a comment sent to me via email from our friend DB;
Linda, I tried to leave you a comment on your blog. Somehow it got messed up. What a great story. Bacall was fulfilling her reputation. But how nice that you got to meet and talk with John Wayne. Movie stars are not all creeps. What a memory.

michele said...

What a wonderful story Linda & fabulous photos! Thank-you for sharing hugs Mrs T xx

Ally Lifewithally said...

Such lovely memories Thankyou for sharing them with us hugs Allyxx ~