the way it is...

Friday, January 19, 2007

a fugitive


One of my favorite films is “The Little Fugitive”, 1953, photographed by Morris Engel, written and directed by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel, and Ruth Orkin. It is a story about a 7 year old boy who flees to Coney Island after a misunderstood mishap with his older brother. I think in the past year I have purchsed eight or nine copies and have given them as a gift to those who are new parents to a baby boy.

My husbands name is William. I call him Bill, as does his family. His friends call him Willie, and on some days, so do I. My name is Gwendolyn. Growing up I was called Wendi, I am not sure when I started spelling it with an “i” because there is evidence in some children's books where I signed my autograph “Wendy”. Later documents indicate that I tried to sophisticate it a bit by spelling it “Wendi”, and this is how I remember spelling it. After high school I switched to my full birth name “Gwendolyn”.

I was born in 1963.

Bill returned home after spending a long weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico visiting his brother. While he was there he went to a used bookstore, as he is a collector of rare photography books. He usually has a book in mind but during this visit he did not and was just there to browse. He came across a book with black and white images that reminded him of the film “The Little Fugitive”. He purchased the book and waited to thoroughly engage himself in it for his flight home. It was then that he noticed who the author/photographer had dedicated the book to.

I sat in our chase lounge chair with Bill at my side and looked at the cover and read the title “WILLIE”. I was instructed to start in the front and look at every single page. I had to be instructed to do this because I always look at books and magazines back to front, and Bill finds this a bit odd, and sometimes a little frustrating if we are looking at something together. I opened the book and read the following words on the inside of the dust jacket:

In the upper left corner is price sticker which reads: $14.50, out of print, 1963

“The book of WILLIE celebrates the exuberant spark of life in a city child for whom the world is four years old and one block long. Photographer Ken Heyman observes with a clear and compassionate eye. Writer Michael Mason’s counterpoint is vigorous and perceptive. The result is a beautiful and moving image of the universals of boyhood.”


I then proceeded to turn the page to read the following words:

WILLIE
photographs by Ken Heyman
words by Michael Mason
A Bridge Press Book/ Atheneum

I then turned to the next page and as I reached a quarter of my turn I saw the name for whom the book was dedicated to, by either the photographer or the writer, or perhaps both, in the upper right hand corner. I read the following words:

For Wendy

I looked up at Willie and he said to me “I purchased the book for my collection, but, it looks like it is meant for you”.

So, there you have it.............a book called WILLIE dedicated to Wendy in 1963

about Wendaferd

I was born to a carpenter and an artist/activist/homemaker in Indiana, right smack-dab in the middle of the middle class and white America. I am number 7 of 8. On a really good day my mother called me Wendaferd. I have a sidekick, his name is Willie. On a really good day he calls me Darlin'. I have three caged birds and they still sing, and a dog named Birdi. I am an artist and the founder of SUGAR. My photographs explain what I am thinking. The image becomes a drawing of my conclusions. Within the captured moment lie my notions and opinions about the world I live. Cropping happens in the lens, eliminating unnecessary words, while enriching others that remain within the frame. I trust my instincts and intuitions as if they were logic. Gwendolyn Charlene Skaggs

days gone by

Elephant Ears

By Gwendolyn Skaggs