An Interview with Daniel Knauf

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Daniel Knauf is best known for his work on such television series as Carnivale, Supernatural, Fear Itself, The Phantom, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Dracula, and The Blacklist as well as the comic Iron Man. Most recently he set out to bring the world a glimpse at his more poetic side with a collection of poems coming straight from the soul that speaks of both hope and angst while mixing grit and glamour as few can. The collection called NoHo Gloaming & the Curious Coda of Anthony Santos, slated for release October 30, 2018, is now available for preorder direct from Clash Books (where the first direct 200 preorders come autographed), as well as on Amazon. I recently set down with Daniel to find out what inspired him to bring this collection to life.

Have you always enjoyed poetry? Who were some of your influences in that particular genre?

When I started out writing in college I was an art major. My early work was naturally very visual, instinctive, impatient and undisciplined, so I was drawn to the form of free verse poetry. I liked the fact that I could create a finished work in one sitting, like a drawing. Poetry was like a gateway drug that led me into longer forms. It didn’t take me long to realize that “short” did not equal “easy.” Unless one has no standards whatsoever and is content vomiting random, half-formed lines absent serious intent or any degree of complexity, one learns that the shorter a form, the more unforgiving it is.

The truth is, far more people can write a good novel than a good screenplay, and almost none at all can write a good poem. And there are maybe 3 writers alive on the planet at any given time that can pull off a terrific haiku.

My early writing influences varied depending on what form in which I was working. Different influences for prose or screenwriting. For poetry, Charles Bukowski primarily, followed by the West Coast/Beyond Baroque crowd–Ron Koertge, Gerald Locklin, Dennis Cooper, John Doe—as well as Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, the English Romantics—Keats and Shelley. And Dante.

What was the very first poem you ever wrote?

I really can’t recall. Probably something when I was a child for my Mom or something. I was brought up in a California suburb, not on some windswept Scottish heath, so poetry took a back seat to Gilligan’s Island and riding our Stingrays. Seriously, the earliest poem I memorized starts with “Milk, milk, lemonade.”

But I do remember my Dad got a real kick out of reading us limericks and humorous poems. He really loved the Gentle Jane Experiences, these super-dark, martini-dry short poems written by Carolyn Wells. Things like, “In the big steamroller’s path/Gentle Jane expressed her wrath/It passed over, after that/Gentle Jane felt rather flat.” Plus, later, there were song lyrics. Those would have to be my first real introduction to verse.

What led to your writing poetry at this particular stage in your life?

Part of it was a personal transition, a way of sorting out chaos I was experiencing at that point in my life—a lot of confusion, pain and terrible, deep loss. Plus I was balancing multiple projects, and I found composing poetry an effective way to clear my mind between going back and forth between projects—a creative rinse between cycles, so to speak. I found real joy in the rigor and discipline of it, and it allowed me to work some unfamiliar muscles. In television—especially when you’re writing someone else’s show, as I was on The Blacklist—you long to create something that’s yours alone; something that just bears one set of fingerprints.

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What do you love most about the act of writing?

Starting with nothing, and finishing with something. It’s like a conjuring trick, but real. Like, “Fuck me! I made that!”

How did spilling your soul out in words in such a manner affect your outlook at the time?

It clarified things. I was able to externalize some heavy, sometimes humiliating, often devastating experiences and gain some objective wisdom rather than being dazed and punch-drunk by it. Most of all, it decisively refuted what was my biggest fear.

I’d gone through almost a decade during which the only way I could survive was by emotionally shutting down. It was a state of self-imposed anesthesia; I simply couldn’t bear the abuse to which I was being subjected. Once I was clear of it, it was hard to open up and feel again. Keep in mind, one of the most important tools a dramatist has is empathy—the ability to discern and extrapolate emotion. And if you’re numb inside, you’re done. You’ve got zero ammunition.

Those years when I wrote NoHo Gloaming was a time when I started actually feeling again—great surges of completely unexpected pain and passion. Even when it was negative or toxic, it was still so exhilarating. Life-affirming. I got drunk with it. I was like, “Yeah, bring it on! Make me hurt! Make my heart soar! Love me! Hate me! Rip me to shreds! Fuck you! I’m ALIVE, motherfucker!”

What led you to decide to put all of the various pieces together in the form of a book?

That wasn’t my idea, smartass. That was you all the way! I was just catching fireflies, putting them in jars, and floating them down my Facebook stream. You’re the one who collected them. Which was nice because, once I posted enough of them, people started asking, “When are you going to put out a book?” And I’d think, “What book?” Then you sent me all my poems in one file and said,“This book, dope!”

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Can you tell our readers a little about what this collection contains in its pages?

A lot of giddy-ass shit. An alternate title could be The Portrait of the Artist Standing in the Town Square With His Pants Down. Moments. Loss. Redemption. Stupidity. Wisdom. Epiphanies and regrets. Joy. All that stuff.

Are you excited to see how the world reacts to such a thing? What do you hope the reader takes away from this particular body of work?

It’s deeply personal, but I hope others connect with it, see themselves reflected in it.

In drama, the gold standard is to inspire the ecstasy of recognition; that is, the moment when the artist renders a moment in a very specific, unprecedented way and the audience goes,“Holy shit! I thought I was the only one who ever felt that way! I thought I was all alone in that!”But you’re not, because the writer wrote it, and the actor acted it, and the director directed it, and the crew shot it, and the entire audience is empathizing with it, comprehending it. And you feel this exultation because you thought you were all alone, but you aren’t. There’s a whole fucking army of you!

It’s hard to do. If you can pull off one scene like that in a movie or episode, people are thrilled. If you can do it twice, you win awards. If you can do it more than that, you’re fucking Shakespeare.

Do you ever get nervous about exposing so much of your self to the world through your words?

Not really. That’s why people who make art are called “public figures.” It’s part of the job description.

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I understand one of your poems was for your mother Dorothy. Can you tell us a little about her? What do you love about her most? What would you say is the most important thing she taught you?

My mom had no governor on her impulse to tell the truth—at least the way she saw the truth in that particular moment. It could be feckless and charming or cruel and thoughtless. My Dad used to tell her, “Jeez, Dorothy! Make sure your brain is engaged before your mouth is in gear!” Nevertheless, she’s still a cipher to me. I knew her as a Mom, but never as a woman—and certainly never as a girl. I regret not having more conversations with her grownup-to-grownup. I really regret only half-listening to her when she did reminisce. It was like, “Yeah, Mom. Right. Whatever…”

We’ll have a lot of catching up to do on the other side.

The best thing I think she taught me was to just be who I am.

Is there any one poem in this collection that is more deeply personal to you than all the rest?

They’re all pretty personal. My favorite is Perfection, because it’s about the person I love most in the world. My first and last great love.

Do you think you there might be second collection in years to come?

Probably, at some point. I love this book more than anything else I’ve ever done.

What projects are you currently working on?

I really can’t talk about active projects, especially since they’re based on intellectual property that doesn’t belong to me. Suffice it to say, they’re all fairly high-profile and awesome as all get out. As for projects I’ve developed over the years, they can all be found on the web at https//Knauf.TV/

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Only a note to all those folks who avoid poetry like I avoid mimes.

There’s poetry-poetry and there’s the poetry I write, which is something else—much more approachable and relatable, I think. And perfect to keep in the bathroom in reach of the toilet. Seriously. Buy a separate copy for every bathroom in your house! Each poem has been engineered to take no longer to read than it does to evacuate your bowels. It’s all clinically tested and proven and very scientific, I swear! Except The Curious Coda of Anthony Santos. Save that one for when you’re severely impacted because that one’s an epic and it takes a while.

Oh, that. And I love you all.

 

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An Interview with Leslie Jordan

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Leslie Jordan has worked on countless television series and films over the course of his career. Appearing on Sordid Lives, American Horror Story, Supernatural, Murphy Brown, Lois & Clark, Hearts Afire, Will & Grace, The Help, Jason Goes to Hell, to name just a few, he has worked in various genres across the board. As a writer he has created the scripts for the plays Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel and Rockabilly Baby, as well as Leslie Jordan: My Trip Down the Pink Carpet and Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far. He can currently be found on the FOX sitcom The Cool Kids alongside Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier, and Martin Mull.

Are you enjoying working on The Cool Kids? How is that going so far?

The show has been a blast from day one.We premiered Friday night (September 28, 2018) and got really good ratings. So it looks like we will be around for while. A journalist pointed out to me that this was my first series regular role since Hearts Afire went off the air in 1993. So that is 25 years! I have done really well with re-occurring roles, guest roles and movie parts but there is nothing like having a job with some security.

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What is it like to work alongside Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier and Martin Mull?

When I was in acting class, the first thing they taught us was that acting is not “acting” but “reacting to what we were given”. I have the deep honor of “reacting” to three of the best comedians working today. It is like verbal ping-pong. And we all genuinely get along.

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Do you have any interesting stories from the set you might be a liberty to share with our readers?

Our time on the set is like a party. Vicki told me that Carol Burnett used to call it “playing in the sandbox.” Martin and David are having a “bromance”. They sit and talk incessantly. It’s all about sports and music. Vicki and I sit together and talk about the sales at Neiman Marcus!

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Leslie with the cast and creator of Sordid Lives at the premiere of A Very Sordid Wedding

Are there any characters you have had the chance to bring to life that you hold more dear than the others?

Just about every character I have played is dear to me. Favorites are Brother Boy from the cult movie Sordid Lives and Beverley Leslie from Will and Grace. But Sid from The Cool Kids is the easiest character because it seems he is the closest to me in real life. Coming from an extremely homophobic background in the church and all, to be able at 63 years of age to play a gay man, who is perfectly comfortable with who he is and what he is, is a real joy.

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You have also worked as a writer, how does that differ most from the work you do on screen? What do you enjoy most about having the chance to create your own worlds and characters in such a way?

The life of a writer can get a bit lonesome. But when given the chance, I love to write. I have been journaling since I was 17 years old. I write every day religiously. I have found that when I write, when I put pen to paper, the scary monsters under the bed stop their low moan. It is very therapeutic. And to be able to stand on stage and relate my stories releases me from the demons of my past and childhood.

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How do you think you have changed most since your early days both as an actor and as an individual?

I am much more comfortable with myself. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with over 20 years clean and sober. When I got sober all those years ago, I was still riddled with internal homophobia. I had just medicated for so long I didn’t realize it. The last 20 years have been a journey not only into my sobriety but into my queerdom. I am at the top of my game and in the prime of my life RIGHT NOW at 63 years of age.

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Do you think the world in general as it is these days could use a little more laughter?

Our hope on The Cool Kids is to give folks a break. Laughter is so healing. And with all that is going on in this hectic world of ours I think people will love just putting their feet up and having a belly laugh.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

I think the key lies in proper diet, sleep and exercise. You have to work on the inside as well. But most importantly, is to be of loving service to your fellow man. You have to be “of service.” I tell the kids that I help as recovering addicts,” Go volunteer. Work at a hospice. Try telling those folks how dismal your life is! It will put your problems in proper perspective.”

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What projects are you looking forward to pursuing next?

I am giving The Cool Kids my 100% attention right now. Martin Mull said something so profound the other day. He said, “In most jobs after being there for years, you get a gold watch. I think The Cool Kids is OUR GOLD WATCH.” So I plan to enjoy the ride. I think people think that in the entertainment business the “bigger” you get, the “bigger” your life becomes.  I have found it to be the opposite.  As I have gotten more successful, my life has gotten “smaller.”  And I do not say that in a bad way.  I am going to try to slow down, smell the flowers and enjoy the success of this show.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Please tune in to FOX every Friday night at 8:30 p.m.(eastern) and see us in action. “A GOOD TIME WILL BE HAD BY ALL.”

Love.  Light.  Leslie

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An interview with Marcus Winslow Jr.

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Born in Marion, Indiana to Winton Dean and Mildred Wilson Dean, James Dean suffered the tragic loss of his beloved mother at the young age of 9. Raised in the delightfully small town of Fairmount, he grew up on a 180 acre homestead alongside his cousins Marcus and Joan under the guidance of his aunt Ortense and her husband Marcus Winslow.

With a lifelong love of theatrics and all things creative, and a determination to succeed he was destined for greatness. His career started with a commercial for Pepsi Cola and led to three motion pictures that would make him a star of epic proportions. With his passing in 1955 the world lost one of the most genuine creative geniuses of modern time.

Over 60 years since Marcus now works tirelessly to maintain the farm and preserve the memory of the man he knew as a brother. It is an honor to have the chance to talk to Marcus Winslow Jr. about what life was like before the fame and to give the reader a further glimpse into the life of the man behind the legend that is James Dean.

Tina Ayres: What was the Winslow farm like when you were all growing up there together? Can you tell us a little about that?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well it was more of a working farm then. Years ago farmers had a lot of different kinds of livestock. I can remember we use to have chickens and hogs and cattle and some sheep, had some geese, geese you know geese, weren’t really a farm animal, but they were here. I guess the first thing dad got rid of farming was the chickens. Which suited me fine. They always seemed like kind of a dumb animal, but anyway, a lot of people had them. And mom had them because it gave her some, that was her income. Dad would get the feed and stuff and feed them and then she’d collect the eggs and that was hers. Then he finally got rid of the hogs which called for a lot of work. They’re dirty, they’re dusty, especially years ago. They were really dusty. I always liked hogs, but I wasn’t upset when he got rid of them. And by that time I was doing other things and really didn’t have much time to help any way. And we’ve still got cattle here on the farm.

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Mark Kinnaman : How many head you got right now? How many acres do you have now?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Now we have, they are all Coy’s cows, I think there is around 40 head about approximately 20 head of calves and the same amount of brood cows. When dad died we had about 40 some group cows. He had a lot of cattle, but we got rid of a lot of them after he passed away. We’ve always kept cattle on the farm because the way the grounds laid out here you can’t farm a lot of it so the cattle help eat the grass down.

Of course when Jimmy was here we had milk cows too. I can remember the milk cows being here, and then dad must have got rid of them around 1950 or so because I never had to milk any. He got rid of them before I was old enough. Milk cows are a lot of work and a lot of time. I’ll never forget you go to check the chicken house if you didn’t make some noises and let them know you was coming then all of the sudden you come to the door they just fly and go crazy and dust would roll It’s not like you see in the pictures.

There are 180 acres right here on this piece of ground.

Mark Kinnaman: Is that when Jimmy was here?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Right at it. Well theres more than 180, there is almost 300 now. There is 111 acres and another piece of ground that has 40 acres than we had 180 here so that’s where I come up with over 300. But the basic ground that dad had is still here. It’s the same piece of ground it always was. I tried to keep as close to what it was. I like old buildings anyway so that is one reason I kept it that way, of course the fact that fans have all seen it in movie magazines and stuff over the years I suppose that enticed me to try to keep it looking the same. Anybody that is really interested recognizes it I think. Without question. They are all pretty similar to what they were 60 some years ago.

Mark Kinnaman: The little pushcar it looks like you had a blast with that? Jimmy pushing you and all…

Marcus Winslow Jr: I did.

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Mark Kinnaman: Did your dad make that?

Marcus Winslow Jr: No I made that. I found some wood and found some long piece of rod. I don’t remember if dad had to drill holes in it or not. It was something I threw together as a child. I’d have only been about 10 or 11 years old when I made that, but I had a lot of fun with it. Me and my friends would go out here and shove it down the hills. Of course the worst thing was if you shoved it downhill you had to push it back up. We enjoyed it.

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Tina Ayres: Do you happen to remember what your first memory of Jimmy was? What is your clearest memory of him?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well my earliest memories are of him just being around here. I can remember he used to go to school. I can remember him either riding his motorcycle to school or sometimes Mrs. Nall would pick him up, she went right by here. Sometimes she’d pick him up take him to school and bring him home.

He worked for a canning factory in Fairmount. It was seasonal job just in the Fall. We used to raise tomatoes around here more so than they do now and in the fall well they’d hire a lot of extra people to peel tomatoes and do whatever they had to do. He did that some I know.

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Tina Ayres: Did he ever speak to you of his mother? Do you think her influence on him contributed to his unique sense of self? Do you think experiencing such deeply profound loss so early in life in part made him more aware of the things that matter most?

Marcus Winslow Jr: No. Not to me he didn’t. I never heard him mention her. Of course I was so little when he was here that I didn’t even realize the circumstances really. He was just here and that is just the way it was.

Mark Kinnaman: Well your mother and father provided a nice home for him.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah, they sure did. I don’t think he talked about his mother much. Not that he didn’t care or whatever but I’ve heard mom and dad say they never heard him mention his mother. Whatever that means I don’t know.

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Tina Ayres: What would you say is the best advice he ever gave you?

Marcus Winslow Jr:  I don’t know that he ever gave me any advice. When Jimmy died I was almost 12. I liked a couple months of being 12 years old and I don’t know that he ever gave me any good advice about anything. I was still just a child you know.

Mark Kinnaman: He was more like an older brother…

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. I can remember him real well but I don’t think he ever gave me any advice.

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Tina Ayres: Do you remember the day he left for California in 1949? What stands out most clearly in your mind from that time?

Marcus Winslow Jr: I can remember. My sister had a going away party for him on a Sunday and I can remember mom and dad was there and of course me and my sister and her husband, their son, and their daughter was a baby then, and my uncle Nolan and his family. I can remember being out in the yard and playing. We got some pictures, well we got a family picture of us outside. Everybody’s picture except mom, I think, probably because she took the picture.

My sister said, see I don’t remember this but she did, She says we were leaving, they lived up along the lane, she said, “As we were leaving going home Jimmy hung out the back door of the car, out the back window and hollered at my sister and said, “See you in Hollywood!” She said she never forgot that.

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Photo from the going away party taken by Ortense Winslow, 1949.

Tina Ayres: What was it like around the house when he brought Dennis Stock to capture life in Fairmount? Was that a planned visit or a spur of the moment thing? How did your family feel about having your home life captured forever in photos?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well, I don’t know that Jimmy planned it. I don’t know how far ahead that he planned it but, they knew someone was coming home with him. A photographer. Dennis seemed to fit right in here. Dennis took a liking to my dad and talked to him an awful lot. Jimmy and Dennis would go to town or somewhere, and of course wherever they went why Dennis would try to capture some pictures and he did take some of Fairmount and Jimmy. They went over to uncle Nolan’s one day and went out in the garage and took a couple pictures of Jimmy sitting in, I think Jimmy was in the race car, my uncle Nolan was building a quarter Midget. I don’t know if he ever got it, totally finished it or not. It had an Indian motorcycle engine in it if I remember right.

I know a lot of times when I’d get home from school he had something planned, they’d want to go to town and he’d want to know if I wanted to go with them. Of course every time someone seen they’d holler at him. At one time he knew about everybody in Fairmount, but this time of course he’d been gone for five years and a lot people he didn’t remember who they were or their face would look familiar. I can think of two or three times he asked me, “Who is that?”, before the people would get to us and I’d tell him. It probably made him feel good to call them by name you know.

I remember the banker in Fairmount Vick Selby he hollered at Jimmy one day and wanted to know if he could bring his Jaguar out, he had a Jaguar sedan, a four door sedan that he drove some and Jimmy said, “Why sure.” I don’t know if it was the same day or next day, he came out late in the afternoon with it and we all got in that Jaguar. Let’s see it was Jimmy and Dennis and Vick Selby and his daughter Anne, she was real small then, we all got in and Jimmy drove. He drove over to Jonesboro I remember and every time he’d go around a corner he’d gun it and slide the back end around a little. Vick got a big kick out of that. That was an experience I’ll always remember. I forget what they called it a Mark something, the Jaguar, but it was a neat old car at the time.

Once he showed me a big full page ad with a Speedster in there I remember he showed me that magazine and said, “This is what I got coming.” I think it was about a month later that he got the car so of course he didn’t enjoy the big Jaguar sedans like he did the little sports car I am sure but, he got a kick out of it.

I imagine that he was tickled that Vick let him drive it.

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Photo from Nolan’s garage

Tina Ayres: Do you feel honored to be left guardian of Jimmy’s memory?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. I’m, I feel proud of Jimmy. I certainly didn’t do anything to cause him to be famous, but I am very proud of him. It took me a lot of years to realize how famous he was. I mean when he is growing up with you and doing some television shows and so forth…

Mark Kinnaman: That was exciting to see him on t.v.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yes it was. Very Exciting. We used to…mom and dad had a television and sometimes Jimmy would let us know what show he was going to be on and the date. Of course we always made a point to watch it. Every time something would come on that he was on the phone would ring and ring. Of course that was back when you didn’t have cell phones. The phone was in the dining room and we’d take turns jumping up and going to answer the phone because we knew it was someone telling us Jimmy was on in case we didn’t know it.

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Mark Kinnaman: What was your reaction when you saw him on East of Eden? When you saw the movie?

Marcus Winslow Jr: It just seemed like him. I kept thinking to myself why he’s not acting. That’s just him. I was really tickled. I didn’t have any idea what East of Eden was about or anything and it turned out it was in the late teens WWI was breaking out and there was a lot of old cars, which that fascinated me. It was a period in history that I was interested in and I was just tickled to death with the movie. I thought he did a great job. I still think it is one of his best.

Mark Kinnaman: It’s my favorite. Adeline Nall told me, “ If you want to know what James Dean is like watch East of Eden.” That is what she said.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. He didn’t seem like he was acting in it. It just seemed like he was up there saying the words and going through it, of course there is more to it than it appeared, but he made it appear that way.

We seen him in a kind of a special showing that the theater in Marion had in the morning and then that evening is when the public started watching the movie. I don’t remember who all was there, Mrs. Nall was there I know, and mom and dad and I, and I think my sister was probably there and a few people that were close to Jimmy or to the family. It was really exciting.

Of course that was the only showing that was made when he was living. Even though Rebel was really a good movie I never enjoyed it as much because I knew he wasn’t alive anymore and I knew that he wouldn’t be making anymore. Of course I knew Giant was coming out. I didn’t know anything about Giant but, Giant was so dog gone long, it was three hours long. I remember they had an intermission between when it was half over. It was year after he died, ‘57 sometime, so as a matter of fact it might have been a little over a year.

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Tina Ayres: What would you like the world to know about Jimmy most?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well, he was very devoted to his craft. He was just a tremendous actor. He read acting books and he liked to study people. He was very theatrically inclined and anything to do with the arts he was good at. He was a good artist, he was a good sketcher. He did dance a little. Took some dancing lessons. He’d taken some dancing lessons as a kid from what I understand. Of course we know the pictures of him and Eartha Kitt that Dennis Stock took in New York City. I am sure that dancing helped his movement on stage. He was just unreal in the devotion that he put towards his career and the characters he played. You know he went all out to be those people he was portraying. It didn’t really seem like he was acting.

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Tina Ayres: What do you think he would think about the festival and all of that sort of thing?

Marcus Winslow Jr: I think he’d probably be getting a big kick out of it. He was a kid at heart. I don’t think he’d object to it at all. I think it is something he’d get a big kick out of it.

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Mark Kinnaman: Does it amaze you that even now all these years later the foreigners that come over from all over the world…It just amazes me that people come halfway around the world and they come to here. That blows my mind.  

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah it does me too. I mean even after all these years. It is kind of hard to understand. I can remember when I was a little kid there was people coming here from Japan and France and foreign countries. At the time I just thought it was something that’d blow over. Usually when people get interested in an actor or an actress they get real involved in them and then after a while they, especially if they pass away, why they go on to something else but, that didn’t seem to happen to Jimmy. His old fans are still interested and he gets new fans, which is very unusual.

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Tina Ayres: Out of all of your memories of him are there any that stand out most clearly in your mind today, after so many years have passed?

Marcus Winslow Jr: None more so than any other I guess. I can remember before he ever left here, things he used to do, riding his cycle and helping dad here on the farm baling hay and so forth. Of course my clearest memories are the ones last time he was home because Dennis Stock took so many pictures. I can remember when every one of them was taken about, that I was there, and those always bring back memories. They are good memories they’re not…no hurt about any of them. I guess I was older then too, getting a little older. I remember the kids at school giving me their autograph books wanting to know if I’d bring them home and have Jimmy sign them. I didn’t know if he’d like to do that or not but he seemed to be pretty tickled to do it. I think he was enjoying his popularity somewhat.

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Mark Kinnaman: Well he worked so hard for it.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yes he did.

Mark Kinnaman: I think he liked the benefits that came along with it?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah, of course when he was here East of Eden hadn’t even been released yet. It was a couple weeks later before it was released. If it had been released a couple weeks before he came home I think he’d have really been bothered by fans. A lot of people didn’t know too much about him other than little things they read in the paper and the tv shows, of course a lot of people didn’t know those were coming on. He played in a lot of tv shows, over 30. For being live and not able to go back and correct mistakes and stuff they were very, very good.

Tina Ayres: How do you think he would have most liked to have been remembered?

Marcus Winslow Jr: As a great actor I would say.

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The preceding interview was originally written by Tina Faye Ayres in 2015 and conducted by Mark Kinnaman on September 13, 2018 on the Winslow Farm in Fairmount, Indiana. It is with my deepest thanks to both Marcus & Mark that I offer up this interview here today. This interview is a rather dear and sacred matter to me. Thank you both for making it possible.

All images are by Dennis Stock (except for the earlier family photos of course). All images are used with permission from Marcus Winslow Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

“Liftoff 16:textbook” by Stephen Bett

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“At Eternity’s Gate” by Vincent Willem van Gogh circa 1890

Lift Off 16 : textbook

 I accept
(in this “book
of acceptance”)

I accept what
the doctors
tell me—

You, love, are
mentally ill
& our time
so abruptly
done

I accept,
what else
can I
say?

Except that
I still hurt
some days

What the fook
else can be
expected?
Bruised
memories
collide,
bruise
again

And you are
dying daily
within me
by slivers
(like they
said you
would,
such smart
people &
we are
simply
text-
book)

Moving
across its
sheaths
of paper

Though the
slivers feel
like shards
at times
—glass
cutting this
very page
you left
blank

 

Stephen Bett has had eighteen books of poetry published: Un/Wired (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2016); The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015); Those Godawful Streets of man: a book of raw wire in the city (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2014); Journal for Breathing Arizona (Ekstasis Editions, Spring, 2014); Penny-Ante Poems (Ekstasis Editions, 2013); Sound Off: a book of jazz (Thistledown Press, 2013); Re-Positioning (Ekstasis Editions, 2011); Track This: a book of relationship (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2010); SPLIT (Ekstasis Editions, 2009); Extreme Positions: the soft-porn industry Exposed  (Spuyten Duyvil Books, NYC, 2009); Sass ’n Pass (Ekstasis Editions, 2008); Three Women (Ekstasis Editions, 2006); Nota Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis Editions, 2005); Trader Poets (Frog Hollow Press, 2003); High-Maintenance (Ekstasis Editions, 2003); High Design Refit (Greenboathouse Books, 2002); Cruise Control (Ekstasis Editions, 1996); Lucy Kent and other poems(Longspoon Press, 1983).

His work has also appeared in well over 100 literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland, as well as in four anthologies, and on radio.

His “personal papers” have been purchased by the Simon Fraser University Library, and are, on an ongoing basis, being archived in their “Contemporary Literature Collection” for current and future scholarly interest.

For reviews of his books, please see www.stephenbett.com

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet. His earlier work is known for its sassy, edgy, hip… caustic wit―indeed, for the askance look of the serious satirist… skewering what he calls the ‘vapid monoculture’ of our times. His more recent books have been called an incredible accomplishment for their authentic minimalist subtlety. Many are tightly sequenced book-length ‘serial’ poems, which allow for a rich echoing of cadence and image, building a wonderfully subtle, nuanced music.

Bett follows in the avant tradition of Don Allen’s New American Poets. Hence the mandate for Simon Fraser University’s “Contemporary Literature Collection” to purchase and archive his “personal papers” for scholarly use.

 

A New Interview with Artist, Fred Larucci

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Artist Fred Larucci has been producing drawings seen at galleries and in publications worldwide for several years now. His work is currently slated to appear in the art gallery scene in the upcoming short horror film Month from Jonathan Holbrook (Tall Men, Beloved Beast). Prints of his various works can be found at Fine Art America.

Is it still true your work never features the same subject twice?

This was true early on. I try to choose and select the best shot, something that works for me completely in my portrait Illustrations, I feel if I selected the overall best image, there’s no need to do the subject over again. In later years, I was asked a few times to do subjects that I’ve already done for shows and exhibits so in a way…. the answer to that is both yes and no.

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Are you excited to see seven of your portraits on screen in the film Month? Who are the subjects of those pieces?

Yes very excited because this format is something completely new that will be shown to a larger audience since the venue will be in a movie. The only portrait piece I can name now is the Director, Writer and Producer of the film Jonathan Holbrook (Tall Men, Beloved Beast), he wanted a Cameo to be included in the movie so I did one of him, sorry, I can’t disclose the rest until the movie is released or shown.

How did your first meeting with Jonathan Holbrook come about?

Facebook, lol….I was on a road trip with my Brother in West Virginia and we came across his last movie from 2016 called Tall Men. It took a while but I eventually wanted to see if the movie had its own page, to my surprise the director was on there and I sent him a single message telling him that his movie Tall Men was awesome. We became friends right after that and the rest is history.

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I understand you are also working as an associate producer on his newest feature film Beloved Beast? Is that something you have always had an interest in? How did that come to be?

I’m a big supporter of the Jonathan’s work, I like his movies and he likes my art, So we already had that in common not to mention that we became friends….we’re both creators, just in different ways, him with his movies and myself with my drawings…..late 2017 I sent him a message that I would like to somehow be involved with Beloved Beast since I was a supporter of his work, it didn’t matter if it was just promoting his movie through social media, marketing it to my 700,000 social Media fans or if it was some other kind of support. I also told him that I would like to work with him down the road if all possible on his next feature, not to get into movies, but to have something art related in one…a few months had past, Summer now… I got a private message from Jonathan saying he might need me for a short he’s doing this fall because one of the scenes in his next movie involves an art gallery and artwork. We’ve been working together ever since.

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Does it feel good to be able to express your creativity in such a different manner through you work on the film?

It’s harder because I don’t normally have the pressure of working under the gun like I’m doing with this movie, I usually work on subjects I want not the other way around. I asked about the shooting schedule thinking I had some time since they just got done wrapped up Beloved Beast and the director told me they’re going to start now.

What can viewers expect from Month? Are you at liberty to tell us any more about that?

Well for anyone who hasn’t seen Tall Men or soon to be released Beloved Beast…I would suggest you see his work to get a better understanding of what you might see in Month. From what I was told and I can’t elaborate too much about the plot is that it’s going to be bloody, He’s a Horror Director like John Carpenter and both directors have a knack for giving you the creeps with their movies.

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Film work aside, do you have any upcoming art projects you are excited to bring into existence?

I had to clear my schedule to work with the director Jonathan and the Chronicle Factory for this film since my portrait drawings usually take 3-4 weeks each to complete and he requested seven for the Movies Gallery scene. We are in talks to possibly get a piece of my art in his next feature after Month called Overbite but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

What have you learned most about the art world during your work in the field?

It has Highs and Lows…Stay focus, do what you love…you just need to forget about what other artists are doing and concentrate on your work. Nothing else should matter.

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As an artist is there any one piece of work you hold more dear than the others?

Not really, they take so long that I’m usually bored of them after they’re completed and posted in the Night Gallery and on Social Media…I usually don’t obsess with my work, In a way I feel relieved that the work is done and I can relax for a few days before I start searching for the next project.

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How do you think you have evolved most as an artist since we spoke last?

Try to stay active. Do Art fairs, Shows, Exhibits and constantly look for work that you can be involved in. Stay away from Money Making art calls that only have their best interest and business in mind and treat artists like Money making Cash Registers that they can benefits from. No artist should ever have to pay to have their art showcased. I’ve always said “If they think your art is good enough”, they’ll invite you to a show, exhibit or ask you to do it for free. I’ve dealt with a few of these early on. As for evolving….If you feel you can’t evolve anymore, you’re finished.

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“Walking Paths” by Millard C. Davis

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WALKING PATHS

Leaning down I followed a wisp
That left a trail no one could follow
Except in imagining what was there
And, even more, what was not.

Maybe you’ve been on such a trail,
Even wondered if it were left behind
Just for you to imagine upon,
If such be dreams by daylight, too.

If this is true, why come along
And see if we can find such a path
Has been laid out with us in mind
And is wide enough to take on two.

Millard C. Davis is a graduate of Middlebury College, Cornell University, and The University of Wisconsin. He has written The Near Woods (Knopf), Natural Pathways of New Jersey (Plexus), How to Read the Natural Landscape in Forests and Fields (National Science Teachers Association), and The Master Management Plan for the 38 Codified Natural Areas of New Jersey (New Jersey State government).

 

For Adeline Nall an Interview with her Son David

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On August 6, 1906 Anna Adeline Mart was born in Grant County , Indiana in the town of Marion to Nina Shugart and John Mart. She later became known as Adeline Nall, the speech and drama teacher at the Fairmount High School, Fairmount, Indiana who helped inspire James Dean to pursue his dreams and encourage countless others, including cartoonist Jim Davis to do the same. With her passing on November 16, 1996 the world lost one of most inspirational teachers of our time. It is with great pleasure and deep gratitude that I bring you the following in her memory from her son, David Nall.

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Did your mother ever talk much about her parents? What were they like as people?

Actually Mom and I lived with her mother, my Grandmother, Nancy Shugart Mart Mills from the age of 4 in 1937 until she, ultimately, went into a retirement community following her leaving teaching. (I called her “Grand Nina” because she was the “Grand – – what-ever” for the Knights of  Pythias Women’s Auxiliary (to learn more go to www.pythias.org) for the State of Indiana.)

An important part of mom’s early history was the fact that her father, John Mart, was a conductor on the Interurban, a passenger train that went from one small city to another in Indiana. Tragically, he was killed. I believe, at the age of 29 when attempting to get a drunken passenger off the train. This was when Mom was still a teenager. Grand Nina, who inherited the farm, re-married Edward Mills, Mom’s Step-father. She, however, was Adeline Mart. Grandpa Ed was hospitalized in the early ‘40s I believe, and I never saw him again.(I believe there was a serious mental problem.)

Mom and Dad divorced, in ’37 and she and I traveled by train to Marion and we moved in with Grand Nina.  At that time, in addition to Grand Nina and Grandpa Ed, there was a second  gentleman, Bill Hunter,  that lived there. I really don’t know why but he was there until his death, probably in the late ‘30s. Thus, as you can see, it was just the three of us until I left for collage. As you might suspect, this being during the depression, we were quite poor. The farm was only 36 acres so there really wasn’t very much income that came from it, Interestingly enough, I never thought that we were, actually, “poor”. I suspect that was because we were able to grow most of the vegetables that we ate.

Mom, originally, got a job as a reporter at the Marion Chronicle Tribune where she did quite well but her real love was teaching. Although I believe she taught, briefly, at a grade school in Marion she ultimately became a member of the teaching staff at Fairmount HS.

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Did she ever tell you much about her childhood? What was she like as a child? 

I really don’t know too much about her childhood, however, I know that she was a very bright student and extremely active in high school. She was Winner of the County Declamatory Contest ’21-’22, President Dramatic Club ’24,Year Book Staff ’24, HS School Chorus ’23-’24, Latin Club, in the Senior Play, Ukulele Club ’23. She was, also known as “The Most Popular Girl in School!” Unfortunately I don’t have anything about her collage activities, however, she did have a Masters Degree in, I assume, Speech.

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What was her life like during the time you came along? How did she come to find herself in Chicago? What led her back to Indiana?

My parents both graduated from Marion High School at the same time.  Dad’s name was Darl Otto Nall. I’m not sure when they were married and/or where both went to college but they ended up in Chicago where I was born in ’33.  It may have been because Dad graduated, I think, from the Univ. of Chicago and found work as a Social Worker for the Chicago Commons, a “Settlement  House” where we lived.  Mother got a job as a school teacher.  Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the marriage didn’t work out.

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Adeline & David Nall

What was she like as a mother?

My Mother was, literally, the most wonderful mother this world has ever known! Period! She was desperately concerned about my growing up without a “Father Figure” in my life! Living on a farm there were no men constantly around on a daily basis. (Grandpa Ed was, frankly, of NO help in that area!) Mom even re-married in hopes of “finding” a father for me. The marriage was a disaster and lasted a very short time.

Mom learned about the Cub and Boy Scouts of America organizations and quickly, at her urgency, I became a member. Why is this so important, you may ask? Well, remember, we lived on a farm which was at least 8 miles, away, from where my Cub Pack and later Boy Scout Troop met weekly. Yet, every week, 52 times a year, until I was able to drive, my Mother drove me to the weekly meetings, dropped me off and then, did something – – I have no idea what – -for the next 2 to 3 hours until the meeting was over at which time she picked me up and we drove another 8 miles back out to the farm so that I could have the “influence” of a male Cub Master and Boy Scout Leader. This is just one example.

Here is another. In High School I “tried out” and – – almost immediately – – was eliminated from the basketball team.  However, my Coach, realizing my disappointment, asked (I didn’t know the first part of this until much later) Mom and then me, if I would like a position as a “Student Manager” (This is the guy who, goes to every game – at home or away – hands out water and towels to the team during practice and the game and washes the uniforms, “jock straps” towels, et al)  She, apparently, was absolutely delighted (I learned after graduation) and thanked Coach Weaver very much for offering me the position!  The result was that, after her daily job of teaching she had to stick around school every night while the team practiced and/or played a game – in Fairmount or away – every night !  Unbelievable!  These are but two of the dozens of examples of her amazing role as both Mother and “Father”.  As I have said many times, My Mother and Wabash Collage are the two reasons of my success in life as an adult!

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What was it like growing up at the farmhouse? Can you tell us a little about that?

Well, lonely I guess!  Although I had a number of friends in Church and School, the nearest one lived about a mile and a half away from our farm.  I would see my “Best Friend” (to this day) only Sundays at Church. However, early in my life, I began to work on the farm driving tractors and trucks (I learned to drive at the age of 7) so was quite active physically.

Since both Mom and Grand Nina were members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union – WCTU (Grand Nina was Indiana State President at the time for a couple of years) I was strongly encouraged by Mom to begin entering the numerous teenager WCTU sponsored local and state public speaking contests and I, as the result with Mom’s brilliant speech training, was able to win a number of times during my time on the farm – again Mom driving me to ALL.

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What would you say is the most important thing you learned from her?

Honesty — Integrity — Hard Work — Study Hard — Never Give Up — and all the other vital things that one learns from a Good Mother.  However, I think the most important thing that she taught me, and this began at an early age when I began to speak at the WMCA Loyal Temperance League (LTL) competitions, was the “Art” if you will, of Public Speaking.  There are many elements to that which is why I use the term “Art”  First, I remember her telling me that whenever I was talking to, literally, more than one person, I should always remember that I was speaking to an “audience.”  This encompasses speaking clearly with inflection, correct and precise enunciation, proper gestures when applicable, et al.  This was even more emphasized when I was a member of her class in High School.  I remember her taking me into to the auditorium and pointing to the last seat in the very last row at the back right side.  “That, David is your most important listener!” she said.  “Make sure that he or she can hear every word you say with or without a mike!”  She also emphasized the use of gestures and facial expressions.  It was much more than simply telling a crowd something.  It was, truly, an art and required a LOT of practice, practice, practice. She was an excellent teacher!  As mentioned above, I credit her, and the head of the Speech Dept. at Wabash College, with any success that I have had during my  Career!

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What led her to pursue a career as a teacher?

While I don’t know for sure, I suspect it was something that she always wanted to do. Although, as mentioned above she, briefly, worked as a reporter in Marion at the news paper, I believe her first job in Chicago was teaching.  Mom was quite intelligent and she had a distinct desire to provide information to others to assist them in their life.  As you may know, not only did she teach Speech and Drama, – – Yes, the Director of a play is ‘teaching” the actors various ideas and concepts so that they can use the “teaching” to portray the character they are playing – –  she also taught French, and Spanish.  During the summers at our farm, when immigrant Mexicans were working in our fields I remember her going to their camp sites in the evenings to spend time with them perfecting her Spanish – – every evening for a couple of hours!  (As an aside  she, Dr Brigance, my speech Prof at Wabash, and a third Prof. from Indiana Univ. I believe, were selected by the State of Indiana Educational Department to design the Speech Curriculum for all Indiana High Schools.)

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What qualities did she possess that made her so good at that?

As mentioned above, intelligence and a great desire to inform and provide “talent” and her ability to work with teenagers.

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You once told me you and James Dean got the chance to play “money changers” in the Easter Pageant over in Marion. What do you remember about that most clearly? Adeline was also often a part of those. What was it about those that she enjoyed most do you think?

You received a picture of Mom in her Easter Pageant costume in the packet I sent.  This was an annual event in Marion, IN when I was growing up.  I remember that it was presented at the very large Marion Gymnasium with a cast and chorus of, I believe, 300 to 400 folks from many churches around town.  Because of her acting ability and her beauty (she was quite attractive) she was cast many times in the role of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  The show covered the entire basket ball floor which had a stage at one end where specific scenes – – The Last Supper – -A Temple etc – -., were set.  Every year, Grand Nina, Mom and I were in the show.  During HS Mom suggested that Jim sign up to be one of the members of the cast and we were both selected to portray “Money Changers”. As you know in the Bible the Money Changers were not all that honest in their work and Jesus “Cast them out of the Temple” Jim and I portrayed two of those that were chased out by him..

I think you are aware of Mom’s heavy involvement in the Marion community theater activity.  She both starred in and directed a great number of shows during her entire life – both before and after the short time she went to New York at Jim’s urging.  The Easter Pageant was just another theatrical activity in which she participated.  Theater was her Great Love!

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She seems to have inspired countless people from an early age on to pursue their dreams. What were her thoughts on that?

My Mother had a great talent with the “Art Of inspiration.”  She seemed to be able to identify individuals with almost hidden talents but who were not quite sure how, exactly, to develop those talents into a career, or a life experience, et al.  Once she noticed that element in a person, with a little probing, she seemed to be able to, gently, but firmly, nudge them along the right path.  At my age now, I can’t give you specifics but I can well remember her spending times over the dinner table when she spoke of this or that individual and what she was going to do to “push them along” the following day…

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What was it like during the time James Dean convinced her to go to New York to pursue her own? Was she nervous about the whole thing?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you much help on this since I was away at Wabash Collage from 1951 to 1955 and, during the summer, I was employed at our Boy Scout camp as their Program Director.  However, I really don’t think that she was “nervous” about going.  I do know that he was extremely influential in getting her to go and introduced her to his Agent and many other  contacts there.  As you may know, Jim had a brief but STRONG short career in NYC.  He was in plays on Broadway. He stared in The Immoralist and appeared on T.V before he went to Hollywood.  As such, his untimely death really hit her hard and she just lost interest in it.  However, as I may have mentioned, when I asked her why she returned she told me that she came to realize that she was a much better Director then she was an actress. As you know she was immediately rehired by Fairmount HS.

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What was she like on stage performing?

I did see Mom in a few of the many local productions she was in and directed, however it has been so long ago that I can’t remember any of their names. Having said that, however, I can remember that she was simply spectacular and received many, many accolades for both her performance and her directing talents. As mentioned in previous questions, Mom was very attractive in her younger years and did a great deal of acting from High School on.

How did she react to learning of Dean’s death? Was that a particularly hard time for her do you think? How did his passing affect you at the time?

When Jim was killed I was in the Army either in Basic Training or in MD or San Francisco, CA.  I simply don’t know what her reaction to Jim’s death was when she first learned of it.  She must have been in New York and I would suspect, as mentioned, that it hit her very hard.  I do think that (as I believe I mentioned) it may have really taken the heart out of her activities in New York and probably did cause her, at least partly, to return home.  As far as how did it affect me … quite frankly, while I was shocked and sorry to hear it, I was, obviously unable to attend the funeral because of the military, et al. Actually, I had the same feeling that I would have had if ANY of my High School buddies had suddenly been killed in  an automobile accident.

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Was she excited when she became a grandmother?

As you might expect, being a remarkable Mother she was, equally, a fantastic Grandmother as well. Unfortunately, since my wife(s) and I never lived near Marion (We lived in Chicago, California and Hartford, CT.) she was not really “around” if you will. Nevertheless, she never missed a birthday or Christmas with a card and/or a phone call, and we did spend a great deal of time visiting both she and Grand Nina down at the farm where she was with them constantly. They each, in turn, dearly loved their Grandmother.

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Martin Sheen visiting Adeline.

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What would you say is the best advice she ever gave you?

As I mentioned previously above, her advice was to live a Christian life, and live according to the “Law” of the Boy Scouts of America, “Be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent!”

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What was her personal approach to aging? What do you think we could all learn on aging gracefully from her?

This is an interesting question. As you know, once I graduated from collage I really left home. So individual “statements” weren’t available. However, looking back on her life I feel that she was “in control” very much of the entire period of her life from birth to her death at the age of 90 in 1996. I was with her at her death … well almost. I had arrived in Marion and was with her for quite a while that afternoon but had gone over to my motel room when I got a call that she had passed. Fortunately, we were able to spend quite a bit of “quality time” together earlier. She never lost one bit of her mental capacity to the very end. Although there were, obvious, physical difficulties, she had visitors, almost every day of retirement from Dean fans and other friends from, literally, everywhere. It was amazing! She spent time with each one of them! Young , old, it didn’t matter. She was pleasant, talkative, kind and gentle with never a word of “I’m busy now.” She was truly, an unbelievable and lovely person to the very end. While she, obviously, knew she was aging, it had NO effect on her approach to people.  I knew, and saw this throughout her entire life.  Hopefully, I am continuing down that same path!

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What were her personal thoughts on death and dying and what hopefully comes after?

Mom was a devout Christian! I’m sure that she spoke with her Father in Heaven every day of her life! Because of this she had absolutely no fear of dying and knew, without question that it was just another phase of Eternal Life … whether that started immediately or after the second Resurrection of Christ.

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What do you miss about her the most?

Her warmth, constant Motherly love, incredible ongoing training and teaching abilities long after her “formal teaching” was over and her wonderful and outspoken pride in my lifetime accomplishments.

What do you think she would have thought about how she is remembered today?

I think she would be very, very (and TOTALLY justified in being)… Proud.

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