The Pulpwood Queen has a Passion for Books!
Passion is a powerful word held close to my heart and embraced with reckless abandon. I have a passion for books and authors and reading AND literacy! Let's face it, if something involves ink on paper, bound, I'm so there.My friend, Richard Moore had a passion for books too! And the power of the written word, he wrote nearly something everyday for the SPEAK OUT!, section of The Marshall New Messenger. I was devastated when I heard he had suddenly died several months past.
What! Life without the flamboyant Richard Moore! How could this be? No more controversial comments in the area newspaper? No more spontaneous visits to my shop to talk and dish. I could not imagine. But Richard had another passion too, HOLLYWOOD! We shared that passion too besides books. Hadn't he not got me a signed Phyllis Diller book just for me. He also gave both my oldest daughter and I a personalized signed photo of the famous stripper, Tempest Storm. So when I got the call from Auntie Bev, that they were having an estate sale of all of Richard's things, I rearranged my schedule so I could drive like Tallulah Bankhead without the scarf with sister riding shotgun, to his Victorian home in Marshall, Texas.
I was not disappointed. In fact, if I could have purchased every single item in his home that day, I would have. Shoot, I could have moved in. Talk about divine decadence. Richard had the largest collection of Hollywood memorabilia I have ever seen. For two and a half hours my sister and I perused every nook and cranny of his home. If I could have stayed a week, I would have. But duty called, I mustn't forget my day job.
You see, my passion for Hollywood began with my mother. My mother wanted to be a movie star. I was raised on watching the silver screen, whether at home on our Curtis Mathis Black and White monstrous television, or the Princess Theater, or the Highway 54 Drive-In Theater on the outskirts of town. The Oscars night was the biggest night of the year in the Murphy household.
My mother, little sisters, and I would all pile on the divan with all the lights out to watch our idols of stage and screen accept those coveted golden Oscars. Richard's house was the mother lode of Hollywood days and nights. He had virtually every wall covered with signed photographs, boxes of framed ones on the floor, and more boxes and tables set up just to make it easier to go through the files of alphabetically of each star. Antique furniture, glass cases filled with memorabilia overflowed from room to room resplendent tapestry draperies festooned with fringes and tassels.
Over the top would be an ample description, kind of like my shop and house. We were both sympatico collectors.At first, I went through and picked out all my favorites Hollywood starlet photos like Irene Dune, Doris Day, Tuesday Weld, what no Bette Davis, or Bridget Bardot! I guess they were already gone but wait a whole box of Mae West, Phyllis Diller, Loretta Young, and Sally Rand. I began a stack of framed photos and pictures by the check out table.
As my sister, Karen and I went through the house, we exclaimed at every delight, perfume bottles, movie posters, and an antique typewriter I just had to have. I grabbed up the 1930's leather suitcases that were his mother's then I found the boa. The very same boa that Richard tried to sell me after he attended our Rue McClanahan event at the shop."How much?" I inquired that day."$350 dollars", he replied for the peach ostrich boa that was Phyllis Diller's."Too rich for my blood Richard," I quickly retorted back.
"Well, it's there for you in case you change your mind. How about this beaded silver sequin cap?"I spied that very cap in a glass display case. Then I saw the closet. Yes, there it was nearly 9 feet long and marked $20. To top the incredible prices, everything was 25%!
You've heard the old saying, "like a kid in a candy closet." I was delirious with joy! The very boa that Richard tried to sell me months before. It had to be it. I mean how many vintage peach feathered boas are out there, if you know what I mean. I had to have it and I grabbed up the sheer turquoise silver sequined wrapper that was part of the burlesque star, Tempest Storm, costume ensemble. $3 was the ticket price.
I was ecstatic! That was until I entered the back room of Richard's home, the library! Hold me back, Nellie!Now if I was to die and go to heaven, Richard's library would be there to greet me. Every book known to man on Hollywood, fashion, opera, theater, design and more covered the walls of the room. Almost all of the biographies and autobiographies were signed the the movie stars. I quickly selected an autographed copy of "Baby Doll" signed by Carole Baker. In this room was also every old movie probably made to VHS tape.
It was overwhelming and I was brought to tears at the thought that this collection, this home was not to be made into a Hollywood museum. Everything was selling and selling fast. I quickly got a grip on myself and set to the task at hand. I couldn't buy everything but I would buy what would be some of my favorite things and remind me of Richard.As I lugged my haul back and forth to the car, I thought about how when you die, you certainly can't take it with you! Richard had no heirs so everything had to be sold. I'm sure Richard would have taken it all if he could have. So when I got home and looked at all my treasures, all my books, I sat down with my two daughters and we talked about it. We decided that I we would go through everything in our house and mark what was to be Madeleine's' and what was to be Helaina's. Then I'd let my sister go through and pick out what she wanted. Everything else they can sell.I was promptly amused by what each selected. Not expensive items but the old elephant from India, that my husband, Jay, bought me at a junk store when we first got married, was Lainie's first choice. Madeleine wanted the photo of my grandmother, Mudder. Neither wanted my African doll that came from the Art Institute in Chicago. "Too scary", they both chimed. We laughed. Then we approached my books, my framed art, a daunting task. Hopefully, we'll have plenty of time to sticker those items, God willing.At first, I thought it was so sad that all of Richard's Hollywood things were being sold. Then I thought of all the people I met at those two days, (yes, I went back the second day too on the premise of picking up the fantabulous lamp that I purchased the first day. They needed to keep it for light until the end of the sale. I thought about how my newly found friends and I had so much fun exclaiming our delight on each new find. Once I turned to what I thought was my sister, going, "Karen, look, have you ever seen Loretta Young this young?".
The relative stranger never skipped a beat replied, "No, but look at this one of Barbara Stanwick?"
We both laughed when I told her I thought she was my sister. I bonded with some pretty incredible women that day. We had discovered a secret treasure. We were pirates finding major booty. All we need was ho ho ho, a bottle of rum!One of the last times I saw Richard, he told me, "Next year at your Girlfriend Weekend, (our annual Pulpwood Queen Book Club Convention), why don't you let me schedule tours of my home and my Hollywood collection?" I agreed wholeheartedly, that would be something that we wanted to see. Now as I finish typing this feature, listening to Marlena Dietrich sing from the 33 records I bought at the sale, I wonder what young girl might be at my estate sale. What passionate reader will ooh and ahh over the books and collections I have treasured through the years. Makes me smile. I believe Richard would be very happy too knowing that I now have a part of him in my home. To be remembered fondly, passionately, who could wish for more.
Tiara wearing and Book sharing,Kathy L. PatrickFounder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs and author of "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life", Grand Central PublishingBeauty and the Book608 North Polk StreetJefferson, Texas 75657