October 07,2019


excerpt from

Ash Fork Madness©️

written by

Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison

copyright 2019 Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison


                 DAWN OF MADNESS

“Charle,” Shirley declared, “we had such fun the night we worked on the church pageant, why don’t we do a show for the Ash Fork’ Centennial?”
“What centennial?” I asked cautiously.
Shirley knew she had my full attention, so she let fly in rapid fire. “Come June eighty-two, Ash Fork’ll be a hundred years old! The whole town’ll be celebratin’, an’ anyone who’s ever lived here’s invited to come. Fayrene’s organizin’ a celebration everyone’ll be real proud of. She’s even invited Marshall Trimble home to be Parade Marshall. The fun an’ games’ll go on all weekend, with a dance an’ rodeoin’. But,” she added in a conspiratorial tone, “there ain’t no show planned yet. Now wouldn’t you like to put on a show just exactly like you want? Me an’ Lorraine would do anything to help,” she coaxed, “an’ you have lots a time to work on it. Charle, it’d be so much fun! Won’t you please?”
“And where would we put G.B. while I worked on it?” I asked sarcastically. “Really Shirley, I couldn’t. You know how much work and time it would take. G.B. would never sit serenely by while I filled my days and nights with a show.”
“Well, he lets you paint in the old buildin’ on Thursdays now don’t he?”
“Yes.” I replied grudgingly.
“Well if you worked over there, he’d never guess what you were doin’. Then by the time he did find out — it’d be too late. HA!”
“Sure, too late for me Shirley. It just isn’t possible. Besides I’m a designer not a producer or a musician, and it would have to be a musical. Even if I did agree to do it I wouldn’t know where to start. I’m not like the Newmans. I can’t write music.”
Shirley was familiar with Ray and Virginia Newman, my son, Lee’s in-laws, who overflowed with musical talent and creativity. While I was living in Canada they shanghaied my daughters and even me into their original musical production of Salt Spring Madness,* a historical review of the island on which we all lived.
Remembering Salt Spring Madness and all the people who contributed talent and joy to its creation and success, the parallels to Ash Fork’s community and history flashed through my mind.
“What if I adapted Salt Spring Madness to Ash Fork?” I asked Shirley breathlessly.
Silently we stared at each other, stunned by the possibility.
“Charle,” she drawled, “we have a lovely stage with dressin’-rooms an’ lights, up at the high-school.”
“A real stage?” I asked incredulously.
Shirley nodded once, and then added, “Yeaup, with proper lights, right here in Ash Fork!”
“Nineteen eighty-two.” I muttered, “That’s a year and a half. I’ve designed and executed most shows in six weeks and I’ve juggled four plays and an opera all at once. Surely I could produce one show in a year and a half. If the Newmans would let me adapt Salt Spring Madness we could split the profits with the high school in gratitude for the use of their stage, and then use the rest to buy medical equipment for the town’s E.M.T.s and the fire brigade.
“Yeaup!” Shirley agreed with gusto. “We could get Mast pants, a portable oxygen unit an’ a high grade stethoscope. That’d make the Old Fart proud — when he eventually found out!”
Shirley’s caustic comment about my husband sent both of us into peels of laughter.
Probably I could get my hands on Salt Spring Madness. I did have a year to adapt it, six months to produce it, and hundreds of people in town, the Kaibab and the Juniper from whom I could pick cast and crew. Any idiot could do it in eighteen months!
The next day I was on my way and running. I called Shirley from the stone yard and said, “Listen, G.B.’s with a customer so I only have a minute. I’m not going to refer to the show or spread the word about it for one year. During that time I’m going to adapt the script, write lyrics and choreograph the dances. In January, eighty-two I’ll put up posters in town and I’ll place an ad in the Williams News announcing a cattle call for Ash Fork Madness.”
Without warning a voice resonated down the Mountain Bell lines . . . .
“GOD DAMMIT CHARLE! Can’t a man doin’ business use his very own phone without a-havin’ to listen to you two hens a-cacklin’ on the extension? Ain’t bad ‘nough I gotta hear yall laugh at nothin’ day in an’ day out — NOW I GOTTA LISTEN TO BOTH Y’ALL — AT ONCE!” he spluttered.
Just before I dropped the receiver I heard Shirley trying to stifle an evil sounding snicker. We had to finish our conversation, so I stuck my head into G.B.’s office and asked sweetly, “I have to go to the gas station Hon. Is there anything you want?”
To which he calmly replied, “Well now Sweetheart, why don’t y’all bring me back some donuts.”
I dashed to the car and drove to Shirley’s gas station. She was standing in her doorway waiting for me, with a broad grin on her face.
I pulled up beside her and said, “As I was saying Shirley, in January I’ll cast, schedule and design the show. Until then if you tell anyone, and I mean anyone, G.B. will find out and he’ll pull the plug for sure. If I can adapt, choreograph and design it without him noticing, we’ve got a show! The moment we hear from the Newmans, if it’s a go, book the stage for six weeks rehearsal time and two nights for the show. And remember — keep my name out of it! By the way, you’re already cast as a saloon girl!”
“HA!” Shirley exploded as the full impact of Ash Fork Madness registered in her mind.
“Oh I’ll need a feather boa Charle! I’ve always wanted one of them things. Since you’re the producer, phone Fredrick’s of Hollywood an’ get ‘em to send you a catalogue, then get a boa for me”
“You’ll need more than that Blondie.”
“Yeaup.” she agreed insidiously. “An’ when that package arrives at the post office, Red, that hot stuff for Mister Madison’s wife’ll set the whole town afire.”



* “Salt Spring Madness” written & composed by Ray and Virginia Newman – Lyrics by Lou Rumsey

Posted by Charlotte Madison at 08:03
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April, 2020
March, 2020
February, 2020
January, 2020
For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.

When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.

I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."

For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home

For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.

April Update 2012 Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?