Ariadne, I told everyone at school that I knew a girl who was almost guaranteed to be a famous movie star, and that she could sing and tap dance, as well as jump out of a cake and they just didn't believe me for they had never heard of anyone so talented before in their life. So I showed them the pictures from your calendar, and they were even more impressed. Please, please promise me that you will give me your autograph once you Make It Big. Also, one of my teachers told me that the desert in Arizona is where a big ocean used to be, but that the water went away and now it's the desert, but that is where all that sand comes from. So remember to be very careful while you are out there wandering around looking at the cactus, for I am thinking, well, there must be a very big drainhole out there for all that water to have gone down, and I'd hate for you to fall into it and get washed either down to the pacific, or worse, up over the mountains and into the Atlantic. That would just be awful, especially when you are so close to Making It Big!!! Well silly, it has to be a really big drainhole, and it may not be covered up. Why do I say that?? Well, think about it for a minute. The water in the Pacific manages to stay put, even though it gets very hot in that area. And the water in the Atlantic does the same thing. So I am thinking, that some kind of big fish, maybe even a shark, or a Seacow (maybe that's where all those bleached skulls came from!) accidently bumped into the drainplug, and all the water drained away. And of course, it won't come back until some type of fishy in either the Atlantic or Pacific accidently does the same thing. So, please be very very careful, and should you see a big hole, well, don't go near it! I can't wait to hear of your further adventures in HollyWood, but I wonder about the name. Does holly really grow there in the woods?? You must tell me someday! Well, I must run for now and get to work on my homework.
Of course, without a talent scout to whisk me right off to hand me a pen and a contract at the nearest motion picture studio, I was not sure just where to go next, so I lugged my bags outside the terminal to a taxi stand to get some ideas from a cabbie. Cabbies know everything about new cities, you see, they are better than a Baedeker guide. At the taxi cab stand I met two other blondes who evidently also failed to bump into talent scouts and were also wondering what to do next. So we introduced ourselves and decided to split a cab to .... to where? Well, they hadn't the foggiest, either: they were going to ask a cabbie where to go, too!
One was named Esther - she's from Minnesota - and the other's name was Carmen, from Arkansas. And guess what! Both Esther and Carmen know how to sing and tap dance and jump out of a cake! And they were each carrying a manila envelope with a bathing suit calendar inside and though our bathing suits were quite different, it was amazing to see that we all were holding the same transparent umbrella for April and were all riding side-saddle on the same skyrocket with the little reins for July! So we wondered why the props were the same and then admired one another's bathing suits and poses and how glamorous we each looked in our photos even though the propers were the same and how we were all bound to land fat contracts within just a couple of days, and since we were all going to be famous starlets anyway, we began to share our private beauty tips with each other.
So just when Esther was about to tell us a better way to curl eyelashes, up lurched a cab and out sprang a dazzlingly pale blonde taxi driver with the most immaculate make-up and lavish curls I have ever seen, hardly contained under her cap. She bounded up to the kerb, grabbed two bags and chirped, "Hi, girls, Ah'm Betty Sue Pahrtridge, an' Ah'm takin' y'all straight to the 'Y.'" (Only she said, "th' 'Wah.'") Betty Sue, it turns out, is from Peachblossom, Georgia, and guess what? She is also an accomplished tap dancer and singer and knows how to jump out of a cake!
Betty Sue's rear view mirror is as big as a supper tray, so that any important passenger is never too far out of range of her spectacular smile, and she keeps her bathing suit calendar next to her right there on the front seat just in case she picks up a famous directress or producer who might be in dire need of a new star, which can occur at any moment in a place like El Lay, though its not too likely at eight-thirty a.m. in front of Union Station. Just last week Betty Sue picked up the famous brunette actress, Miss Katherine Hepburn, and drove her all the way down to Laguna Beach! Imagine, there we were, three silly blondes, riding in the same cab as Miss Hepburn! It's a good thing we were already sitting down or we would have fainted. Carmen almost did: she swore she could still smell Miss Hepburn's perfume.
For a blonde with a languorous drawl, Betty Sue managed to cram in quite a bit about herself in rather a short time, as she zig-zagged at dizzying speed through the dense El Lay rush-hour traffic, scattering pedestrians at intersections like clouds of hens fleeing a fox in a barnyard, and trailing a continuous din of squealing brakes, blaring horns and occasional, rather unladylike oaths in her wake. She has been in Hollywood for six months, it seems, and has held any number of jobs, which she says are invaluable "life experience" for a budding starlet and also give a girl lots of "exposure." She has been, um, let's see ... a lift operator, a hat model, a coat-check girl at the Mocambo Restaurant, a Western Union messengerette, a cosmetics salesgirl at Sak's and she has even sorted oranges in an orange juice factory! She has been in about fifty movies already, but not in any leading roles, not yet.
In the midst of her life story, Betty Sue glanced at her watch and abruptly screeched to a stop at a telephone kiosk for her hourly call to Central Casting to see if anything had come up - and it had! As we began to get up to speed again, throwing a goodly bow wave through the traffic, Betty Sue breathlessly told us that at eleven she had "a sure bet" at Universal Studios as a Mediaeval damsel! So we took a little detour on the way across town so she could pop into General Wigs & Costumes on Santa Monica Boulevard and pick up a damsel outfit - starlets like Betty Sue have to rent their own costumes by the hour, it seems. General Wigs & Costumes is as big as an aeroplane hangar - a girl can be Faye Wray or Marie Antoinette or the Empress of China in a matter of seconds! We all wanted to try on every costume we saw, but, of course, we didn't have the time (or the money).
Damsel costume safely stowed in the boot, Betty Sue ripped across town like a buzz saw and deposited us at the YBCA, which stands for the Young Blondes Christian Association. YBCA's can be found in every Culverian city, for blondes who are newly arrived and have not quite yet found their footing, This one is a large pink stucco structure informally known as the Starlet Arms because of all the perspiring starlets who stay there. Its not exactly the El Lay Biltmore, but a blonde can rent a room for a dollar a night for thirty days, then she must find some other place or go home to her mothers. So Esther and Carmen and I are now sharing a room for thirty-five cents a night each. We spent most of the day unpacking and ironing and picking up on private beauty tricks where Esther left off with curling eyelashes, then we met all the other blondes on our floor, then we three went to dinner at a Walgreen's (that's a big chain of chemists that also serves meals at a counter that a girl on a tight budget can afford).
But, La! You won't believe this, but everypette at that Walgreen's counter was a gorgeous blonde! It seems as if every blonde in El Lay is about to be a movie star or is one already. Tomorrow I shall do the round of the studios, and shall be out of the Starlet Arms within a week! I'm quite confident of it.
Last Monday my blonde mother and I went to the couturiers. Yes, really and truly. You know that I leave finishing school in June, when I'm nearly seventeen? Well, I do quite like it there, Miranda, and I like the other girls and I enjoy the lessons. We are taught deportment, flower arrangement, embroidery, cookery, literature and poetry, the social graces, and all the things a girl should know in order to manage the hestia. It's a blondes-only school, my brunette mother insisted that it should be.
We were sitting in the drawing room after dinner, and brunette Mummy and I were both reading, and blonde Mummy was listening to the Imperial Home Service. When Mummy switched the wireless off, she said to my brunette mother, "Dear, I think that it is time that Charmaine had a formal evening gown, and perhaps a wrap or a stole." I looked up from my book. I have an evening frock which I wore when Marinetta took me to dinner, made by Mummy's dressmaker, but that is not a formal evening gown. I held my breath while I waited to hear what brunette Mummy would say. She laid her magazine aside, and looked at my blonde mother. I think that she had not thought about it before, as she had an expression of mild surprise upon her face. I had not thought about it before, either. Although I have always tried to follow brunette Mummy's precept of not thinking about worldly things a great deal, but to think of Dia and to protect my blonde purity, oh, Miranda, I must confess that my heart beat a little faster at the thought of an evening gown! I fixed my eyes upon the floor and tried not to think about how very nice it would be, for if I show any undue eagerness in a conversation which concerns myself, brunette Mummy will send me out of the room while they discuss it, and sometimes she won't even tell me what they have decided, or mention the subject to me again, even now that I'm older. I think that I mentioned to you that brunette Mummy is a little Arcadian in her ways.
Brunette Mummy looked at blonde Mummy, and then nodded. "Very well, my dear. You know best in these matters. Take her to a good house, and buy whatever you think best." And then she gave a quick little glance at me, and bit her lip. I could tell that she was trying to stop herself smiling. "Well, Charmaine, you have my permission to stop attempting to look uninterested now." Oh, girls, I was a little vexed and embarrassed that she knew exactly what I was thinking, as I had tried hard not to show it. She saw my embarrassment and then she did smile. "Charmaine, dear, if you think that a brunette can live for twenty years with a blonde and fail to know that it is not in the most demure blonde's nature to be uninterested in clothes, why then, you are mistaken!" Blonde Mummy laughed, and brunette Mummy looked at her with a twinkle in her eye and said, "Darling, why don't you have something made for yourself while you are in the fashion house, to keep Charmaine company?" Blonde Mummy blushed and said that she had had a new evening gown last season, but brunette Mummy smiled at her, came over and put an arm around each of us and said, "I have two little diamonds, and they should be set in gold." which made both of us blush and giggle.
I was so thrilled. Imagine, girls, a proper formal ball-gown! I was so excited when I went to bed that night, imagining it and thinking of the places that I might be taken to which require that kind of dress. It's very strange, girls. Life seems to go on as normal, and then one day--it almost seems as if it is overnight--it changes. A whole new world seems to open up. Last year Mummy would never have dreamed that I should have that kind of dress.
Blonde Mummy took me to Madame Farge's. It was a tiny bit intimidating, really. We sat on little gilt chairs, and the mannequins came out and showed us the styles that Madame Farge had created. All of the dresses were so lovely that it was very hard to choose. Mummy was quite at home here, as she told the assistants which ones might perhaps be suitable, and which ones should be brought out again for her to see. Mummy chose a beautiful pink silk frock for herself. It looks very elegant on her, as her hair is so blonde. Madame Farge has a furrier in the house, and a beautiful stole was ordered for me. Oh Miranda, you would love it! It is very lovely. It is a small one which drapes around the shoulders. My first fur! It is a beautiful colour, almost stripey with the variation from light to darker.
The gown my mother chose for me is heavenly. It's funny, I would never have chosen it for myself. I thought it was a little daring. When Mummy said, "That's the one we shall have, Madame Farge, if Charmaine likes it." I was a little nervous. I said that I thought perhaps I didn't really know enough to express an opinion. I was rather worried that brunette Mummy wouldn't approve of it, but blonde mummy said that I was growing up and that the dress wouldn't be ready until May. She said that brunette Mummy would not disapprove, because she had discussed it with her before we left the house. I rather thought from her manner that it was a little more than that, that blonde Mummy had told brunette Mummy exactly the kind of thing that she was going to choose for me, but I didn't say anything.
I thought that I should quite like to have it in lemon, but Mummy said no, that as it was my first season I should wear white. So it is to be made in white.
When we went home, I felt so overcome with all of the changes that I wanted to have tea with blonde Mummy, so we had tea in the drawing room in front of the fire, just the two of us, and I made the toast with a toasting fork. It was very homely. I can hardly imagine myself in that gown, when I think about it. I can do better than telling you what it is like, as I have a picture of the mannequin curtseying in it. Madame Farge took it so that I could show my friends what it is to be like. Mummy insisted that the mannequins curtsey in all the gowns so that she could see how the skirts hung. It is bright red, but I expect that you can imagine how different it is in white. Do you girls like it?
Daffodil, what you are saying about being good at some things reminds me of a saying of my grandmother's. I can't remember her exact words, but the meaning was, know a little about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things and you'll be prepared for any situation the fairies may throw your way! My grandmother was a very smart pette indeed, for no matter who she was conversing with, she knew intuitively how to put them at ease and could always find something to discuss, no matter how varied their background. Many people thought that my grandmother was an excellent seamstress and cook, as well as many other things. The truth of the matter was, she could sew a button on a blouse, and she made some of the prettiest quilts you have ever seen. Anything beyond that and she was in over her head. As far as cooking went, while she made the best pies and desserts you've ever tasted whenever she tried to cook a roast, tee hee, well the fire wagon had to be called out!! She set the kitchen on fire so many times, the fire pettes teased her about getting a truck just to keep outside her house. How did she manage to make everyone think she was an expert at all these things?? Well, my great grandmother knew how to find the best seamstress, the best cook and of course, the best in ladies maids. At socials, she would always bring a dessert and proclaim she made it herself and from there, well people just automatically assumed she was an excellent cook. She was always dressed in up to the minute fashions, which couldn't be procured in the town she lived in. She would look at fashion magazines, and take them to the best seamstress, tee hee, that the NEXT town had to offer!! My great-grandmother was definitely a very sharp lady! I think this Imperial Fizz must really have firewater in it after all, for I am rambling on like a silly!
Thank you Annalinde and you too of course Daffodil for the movie titles that Lucille Ball stars in. I can't wait for these movies to come to my home theatre!!!
No barpette, thank you for the offer but I really don't think I need another one of these drinks!! My head is positively swimming from the first one and I think I will just run on home before I get any sillier!
With love to everyone,
It is also rather hot. That is because, even though Arizona is at almost the same latitude as Norway, Arizona's coastline is washed by the Gulf Stream which sweeps past all the volcanos in Central America picking up heat on the way. So that little fact, with which most pettes are not acquainted, together with all the fields growing hot chili peppers most of the year, make Arizona a much warmer place than Norway, even in February. The old lady selling stuffed jackalopes on the platform at Casa Grande is who told me, after she told me what a jackalope is - its a jackrabbit with rabbit ears and dolly little antelope antlers, you see, very rare, they only occur around Casa Grande, but if a girl has $2.95 to spare she can buy one and it makes a dolly jewelry rack. Of course, I had $2.95 to spare but no place to pack a stuffed jackrabbit with antlers.
So I bought some cactus candy instead. Here is a picture of the pette who makes cactus candy at the Cactus Candy Factory. Her name is Gloria Haley. Cactus candy is delish, but awffy sticky (no, not the needle kind of sticky, sillies, Miss Haley pulls those out and sends them off to Vintesse for playing phonograph records). So a girl should definitely not wear gloves while eating it, even Kisslavs.
But, La! How can I show you a picture of the Cactus Candy Factory without showing you a picture of some proper cactus, which is the most common flora in Arizona?
Cactus grows everywhere chili peppers dont, it seems. There are many different kinds of cactus, even a kind that the jackalope lady said throws its thorns called a porcupine cactus, which it is a jolly good idea to avoid. So here is a picture postcard of a cactus vista just before sunset. Little cactus owls live in holes in the big ones.
Besides cactus and chilies, there are also a lot of Indians in Arizona, mostly Navajo Indians, who wear long dresses and silver jewelry studded with turquoise. Navajos are famous shepherdesses and weavers of blankets and reckon their wealth in numbers of sheep. Here is a Navajo girl holding a lamb. After a girl reaches twelve, if she is a blonde, each birthday her mothers will give her a new heavy silver-and-turquoise loop to add to her necklaces, until she is married. So young blondes have their youth and a scant showing of necklaces, while older blondes have much more jewelry - a dowry with sort-of compound interest, so that everything balances out between youth and jewelry. There are probably no old blonde maids in Navajo country, as they would have trouble getting about.
Last, here is a Navajo shepherdess in a long blue dress driving her sheep home at the end of the day past some cottonwood trees and willows. If one looks very closely one can see two black sheep!
We are just now pulling into Phoenix, where I must change trains again, this time to the Santa Fe line. The overnight train into El Lay is called the Golden Rocket and is painted gold and orange - then in just 18 more hours I'll be there and can get right down to becoming a starlet! With all the exciting things to see here in the Southwest I quite forgot about Hollywood.
Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
And here are LOTS of delightful girly places to go
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