PRIDE COMETH . . .
My father's advice to me, when I began to date, was, "Agree with whatever your mother and I tell you—and do what you know is right. That way we can go to sleep each night knowing you'll be safe and home by a proper time. If refreshments are served late or you start gabbing on a park bench, enjoy the evening and don't worry about trying to race home or finding a phone, we'll be asleep." But in reality my proper British father was loath to let loose his daughter on the world.
In December of 1948 I was seventeen, confident and if my parents, friends, relatives and previous suitors were to be believed, beautiful. I was also anticipating a Christmas vacation in Mexico with my mother and father. When my grandmother fell ill, shortly before we were to depart, my mother insisted my father and I make the trip without her, as my mother's conscience would not let her leave her ailing mother or make us forfeit our trip south.
On our first night in Acapulco, while I dressed and primped for the evening, my father chose to wait for me on the hotel's verandah. A pleasant breeze refreshed him and the other patrons of the hotel who sat there. Before long he was deep in conversation, discussing Mexican history with a local man. By the time I had finished preening and made my entrance the two men had established a fine camaraderie.
Arturo, as he was introduced to me, was a dashing, older man of thirty-five. He was tall, broad shouldered, lean and meticulously dressed. His shimmering black hair was parted on one side and carefully combed into place. Following the edge of his top lip was a perfectly shaped, coal black mustache that had been trimmed with the precision of an expert. Arturo's deep brown eyes were penetrating, and when he spoke his English was elegantly flavored with a perfect Spanish accent.
Most evenings, on our way to dinner, my father and I would happen to meet Arturo on the hotel's verandah. On one such evening Arturo invited me to go dancing at the nightclub atop the Casablanca Hotel which overlooked Acapulco Bay. After much negotiating and assurances from Arturo, my father reluctantly gave his consent and I hurried upstairs to change.
I carefully chose a full skirted, navy blue, heavy taffeta, ballerina length gown and a demure bolero, which had a white satin ribbon hand woven into its Peter Pan collar. I tied the ribbon in a tiny bow and let the long ends coyly flutter about my waist. But once I was out of my father's sight I would remove the bolero and reveal a plunging neckline on a form-fitting bodice — and cleavage accentuated by a silver medallion! Short hair was fashionable among my peers, but I wore my long chestnut hair curled into a seductive mane. I did not need to look into the mirror to know how magnificent I looked. I saw the gleam in Arturo's eyes when he saw me return.
My father waved at me as we left and I wondered briefly if he noticed Arturo's driver turn in the opposite direction to the Casablanca Hotel. I was curious about the route we were taking, but not concerned, certain he just wanted to share the romantic sights of the city with me — until we pulled up to a hospital.
We were there only briefly, to take a small electric fan to Arturo's friend, a well known cliff diver of the Quebrada. The unfortunate chap had miscalculated a wave and injured himself.
The rest of our detour took us along the waterfront of Acapulco Bay where Arturo proudly pointed out his sailing yacht tied to its mooring.
We arrived at the Casablanca Hotel and I saw that the roof-top dance floor was open to the stars. It was an enchanted evening I spent dancing the Latin dances I knew so well, in the arms of a magnificently handsome Latino. To a young admirer of Ricardo Montalban, the evening was a dream come true.
Close to midnight Arturo sent for his car to return us to my hotel. As his driver slowly wound his way down the hill, Arturo leaned toward me and whispered softly, "Chula." then he kissed me — again and again. The car stopped in front of the hotel, but before Arturo let me out he passionately spoke to me in words my Spanish course had never taught me, ending with, "Ay Carlotta." One last kiss and I floated out of the car, fancying the drama of the moment and the rustle of my lovely gown.
I alighted on the hotel steps to the stares and murmurings of the hotel's guests and staff who were milling about. "Oh Chardy!" my father wailed as he spotted me and pulling away from the throng, "Thank God you are out of that man's clutches and back safe! We have all been so worried since we saw you leave!"
For a moment I stood indignantly before him and the hoard, and then dramatically I drew a deep breath and shot my father a withering glance. With the force of a Flamenco dancer, and the gall of a teenager, I stomped my heels on the tile floor as I stormed past him and the concerned crowd, leaving Arturo to account to all.
Once in the privacy of my hotel room I ran to the window, trying to salvage the magic of the dream-like evening. As I stared past the palm fronds, out to the black sea and star filled night sky, I slipped back into my enchanted mood. Slowly I turned and danced across the room to the mirror, wanting to enjoy one last look at my image — as Arturo had seen me — as all had seen me. To my horror I discovered not the glamorous beauty I expected. Instead I saw the glamorous beauty all had seen petulantly strutting through the hotel sporting a coal black mustache smeared across her upper lip!
Posted by Charlotte Madison at 11:05
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|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?