If you’ve had a chance to view the new weekly schedule for Cinema Dilettante, you’ve seen the description of what each Sunday will be featuring, for the foreseeable future. Because of the many people, including past me, who know little more about Loretta Young than the stories about just a few months of her life, each week I want to share a little tidbit about the Loretta that those closest to her knew. First, I want to thank Linda Lewis for her help with and support of this feature. She’s a credit to humanity, that lady! Second, if you have any stories you would like to share, please feel free to e-mail me at KathrynGraysonFn@aol.com, where we can discuss.
The first offering is from Linda, herself, and it’s one of those stories that doesn’t seem like it should be happening anywhere outside of a movie. In fact, as I was relaying it to a friend, she said, “Is this real life?” Yes, this is real life. Amazing, incredible, explosive real life.
In 1978, Christopher and I were married and living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Loretta had taken a two-week cruise and before flying home to California decided to stop in for a short visit. Well, she arrived with thirteen suitcases (which should have tipped us off)! Her short visit stretched into five eventful months.
She apparently enjoyed our Tulsa lifestyle and decided to stick around for a while and to be “mom” to both of us.
We lived in an older two-bedroom house with one tiny bathroom. The rooms were small, as were the closets. After glancing into the minuscule closet in the guest bedroom, she declared we were going shopping for clothes racks to accommodate her wardrobe. Off to the nearest K-mart, where we bought all the racks in the store!
Once she unpacked all those clothes we could barely fit into the room. The racks surrounded three sides of the bed – but she had cleared a path just big enough so she could turn sideways and drop into bed each night!
In Tulsa, Loretta decided to become more domestic. She wanted to learn to cook and have meals prepared for us when we arrived home from work each night. She did ask if we’d call the house about ten minutes before we planned to be home.
One evening we arrived unexpectedly to find smoke pouring out of the open kitchen windows and doors, the smoke detector blaring, and Mom happily broiling ground sirloin on a red-hot grill. Flames and smoke were billowing! She confessed that she usually needed a little time to clear the smoke from the room and that’s why she liked advance warning that we were on the way home!
We’d been given a set of Wedgwood dishes as a wedding gift and one night as we were preparing dinner, Loretta put three of the plates on the stovetop and turned on the flame. She thought she was ‘warming” them before serving the food, but a few minutes later we heard a tremendous blast and turned to see the plates flying off the stove in every direction!
Loretta had turned the flame on way too high and the plates literally exploded! She repeated this ‘trick’ on several occasions during her visit, so by the time she left town that service of twelve plates had dwindled to five.
I need to take a few moments to let this all sink in, again. Let’s discuss.
1.) Gretchen Young AT A K-MART. Maybe this is funnier to me than most people, but I cannot wrap my mind around one of the most glamorous people who ever lived at a discount chain that often has a snack bar, complete with days old hot dogs on a roller that may or may not have gotten cleaned this week. I don’t know if this one DID, but just try to think about that. TRY.
2.) The plates. Not just that she regularly started small kitchen fires, it seems, but… after blowing up three plates, FOUR MORE HAD TO FALL VICTIM TO THE ACTUAL LIVING NIGHTMARE OF BEING TURNED FROM MILD MANNERED PLATE TO PROJECTILE EXPLOSIVE. I’m just glad that no one was hurt. Though it would make for great conversation, to explain that you have a piece of plate that Loretta Young blew up lodged in your arm.
BLESS THIS WOMAN. In some book I’ve read, or another, I remember that someone said that Loretta was not someone who one would want to reach out and give a hug to. I’m sorry, but after reading this?