Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicken Ranch anniversary (plus news): Miss Edna (1928-2012)

It is officially official: the publisher accepted my withdrawal of my manuscript this morning, so my book is officially back on the market. That's not exactly good news, but it is better than signing a bad contract that would essentially tie up all rights and interest in the book with that publisher forever. If they were offering an outrageous advance, that'd be one thing, but they weren't. Life goes on.

And speaking of going on, and on, and on, I have accepted an invitation to be a guest speaker at the Noon Lions Club in La Grange on March 19. Time is limited, so I won't be giving my full-blown dog-and-pony show, but I'll bring along some rare photographs and copies of Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch for anyone so interested. It should be a lively Q&A session--this is the first time men from La Grange have invited me to speak, as my previous three appearances were for women of the town. And if anyone knows of organizations or libraries in need of speakers, I am available.

As for the anniversary, on this date in 2012, Edna Milton Chadwell, better known as Miss Edna, passed away at the age of 84 in Phoenix, Arizona, where she'd lived a life of quiet anonymity since the early 1980s. She would've been 87 this year.

Her final days were tragic. The previous October (or September--my memory is imprecise) she was involved in a car wreck that left her hospitalized with an array of injuries. From what I understand, her memory was affected, and her brain stopped converting short-term memory into long. In practical terms, it meant somebody could introduce themselves and begin a conversation with her, but five minutes later she'd have no recollection. Over the previous three years I feel I've gotten to know her as much as any person alive today who wasn't related to her. She enthusiastically supported my book project and graciously invited my wife and myself into her home for hours of interviews. It is my everlasting regret that I did not complete the book in time for her to have her own copy.

She never lived the kind of life she'd wanted, but she still carved out a place in Texas history for herself. For that, her memory will endure.

Now Playing: Stan Getz Stan Getz vol. 4
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