– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Act One, SCENE TEN – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – (age 36)

[January 1901, Track Room of the Turf Café.  Dan Lindsey, John Selbert, Leo Chenault, and “Judge” sit with beers, gossiping.   Jimmie Gibbons action same as previous scene.]

Judge              Do you boys know we’re about to have a sig-nifi-cant anniversary in the City of Maples?

Dan                 What is the city of maples, Judge?

Judge              It’s Frankfort, Dan!  Didn’t you ever hear of Sanford Goin?

Dan                 No.  Who is Sanford Goin?  And what anniversary, Judge?

Judge              Sanford Goin – starting right after the War Between the States, on his own initiative – planted maple trees all over this fair city so that the future residents – like you – might have some shade.  And the anniversary to which I refer is the murder of our dear late Governor Goebel!  It was just one year ago the end of this month that Brother Goebel was shot down in cold blood, just down the street from where we sit this very minute!

Leo                  A-h-h, there was a man people could look to as a champion of the ordinary man’s rights.  What was that slogan he said so often?

Jimmie            [points finger skyward as he quotes]           “The question is: Are the corporations the masters or the servants of the people?”

Leo                  That’s it!  Best damn state senator we ever had!

[ticks off points on his fingers]

Employers’ Liability law!  School book law!  Antilottery law!  Can’t imagine how Kentucky’d turn out a hunnerd years from now if we hadn’t had Goebel!

Judge              Come to that, Leo, think how Frankfort might turn out if we hadn’t had the Citizens Im-provement Association to clean up the Craw!

Dan                 Haw!  West end of Mero Street ain’t ever gonna be the same!  Y’all hear about that survey the Women’s Club got up?  Said things down in the Craw was even worse than they suspected!

Jimmie            I could’a told’em that.

Dan                 Said they counted 150 young’uns and only twelve was in school!

John                That many?  Craw must be getting civilized.

Judge              Not that civilized, John.  Governor says he thinks Frankfort citizens aren’t safe since them six soldiers was murdered in that dance hall.

Dan                 Well what the hell was soldiers doin’ at a dance hall in the Craw?  Don’t the Army teach its soldiers no sense at all?

Leo                  I can’t say about the Army, but I do know they got that do-good lady from Chicago down here to give do-good ad-vice about how they cleaned up Chicago’s version of Craw.  Then after Judge Hazelrigg got his self elected presi-dent of the Association, they went lookin’ for money to spend on the Craw, and one Baptist lady gave five hunderd dollars!  You know how they spent it?

John                How?

Leo                  Built a bunch of privies. Dug a new well.  Repaired some houses, condemned some more houses… and burnt down the rest of the houses!  Like as if they owned the place, boys!  One old lady lived up in Craw said it just ain’t no fun  no more!                   [general chuckling by all]

Judge              Any change at all in that end of town would have to be for the better.  I hear Rebecca Averill is startin’ a kindergarten up in Craw.  Get them kids off the street.

Dan                 She’ll get whatever wanders in off the street. I heard her little cousin Cordelia Bull has been hired to teach up at Leestown Mission School.  Poor little thing’ll have to go right through Craw every day to get to work!

[pause;  they think]

Judge              Cordelia’s big sister.  Mayme.  What do you hear on her?  That poor girl still waitin’ around to marry the Great Artist?

Leo                  She’s same age as Paul, which makes her about mid-thirties now.  That’s just a sad situation if you ask me.

John                Can’t be anything else!  Paul’s taking care of both his parents now.  All three of ’em living on his income, whatever that is.  I don’t see how they’re stayin’ alive.

Dan                 I see Paul get out as he can and paint pictures around town to try to sell. Street scenes close to home, y’know.  He don’t go out of town much these days, not even very far from home.  His mother’s crippled, and I hear his daddy is getting real hard to handle.

Leo                  Now you talk about a sad case…   The man is gradually losing his mind!  Nat Sawyier went from bein’ a doctor, and president of the mill, and man about town to… just… nutty as a loon!

Judge              Y’all hear about him disappearin’ for two weeks last summer?

Leo                  Naw!  What happened?

Judge              He was visitin’ one of his daughters lives up in Pennsylvania now — Mary Campbell, I think — and left out of there on a train, supposed to be goin’ to visit his oldest daughter, Lillian, up in New York.  But he never got there, see.

John                Where’d he go?

Judge              There was some concern maybe he’d been murdered.  Police from here to New York was all on the lookout.  His daughters’ husbands spent prob’ly two fortunes hirin’ detectives and all.  His travel trunk turned up as unclaimed baggage in New York. Then somebody found his watch at a pawn shop in Cincinnati, and that’s where they finally found him.  Checked into a hotel and layin’ up in grand style big as you please!  So home he was brought to the parsonage and that’s where he’s bein’ well watched now.

Leo                  Parsonage?  Don’t the Sawyiers still live in their Broadway house?

Dan                 Not any more.  With Nat down, their financial distress has got to be pretty common knowledge in Frankfort. You might know Miz Sawyier’s mother had donated the money to built that parsonage behind the Baptist church.  Well, last year they got so bad off, the church offered them the parsonage to live in, and they accepted.  Don’t think they had a lot of choice, because it meant they could at least have a steady income by renting out their big house on Broadway. And that monthly rent is pretty much what they’re living on now…except when Paul’s paintings bring in a little here and there.  Maybe the daughters help some, I don’t know

Judge              I heard Ellen started out sellin’ baked goods every day, try to earn a few pathetic little dollars. Poor thing.  But then Nat was hollerin’ in the middle of the night, she got up to go tend to him, fell over a chair and broke her hip.  Now I hear they’ve had to hire help to come in for both her and Nat, because Paul can’t stay there every minute twenty four hours a day!  I can’t imagine how they’re getting’ by. It’s quite a come down.

Leo                  That big Broadway house could hold a dozen renters.  Don’t it bring in enough?

Judge              Who can say?    [pause]    There is another little item, though…   You boys swear to keep a secret?

ALL:               Swear!   [they all lean toward Judge]

Judge              You’all remember a few weeks ago when the court ordered the sheriff to carry out judgement in the bank’s lawsuit against Nat?  For six thousand dollars?

Leo                  Whole sorry episode has been in the newspaper, if you read the sheriff stuff.  I guess pretty much the whole town knows about it .

Judge              Well the whole town don’t know this one.  At least not yet.  This past September Nat walked into another bank – right here in this same town! – and borrowed another two thousand!

Dan                 What?!  Everybody knows about the lawsuit!  And his mental condition!  Why would any banker in his right mind loan him more money?

Judge              [rubs fingers together]       Collateral!  Thirty seven shares of stock in Kentucky River Mills.  Y’ get it?  Repayment due in ninety days, or else turn over the stocks.  Seems like Nat had some more shares all hid away that he didn’t tell anybody about.  Not the bank that’s suing him, not the court, for all I know not even his wife.  But there it is.  He brought forth some more stocks and walked ‘em right down to the National Bank, where they was only too glad to pawn ‘em for two thousand dollars.

John                Why those dirty low-down…

[Paul enters through side door]

Paul                 A good day to all, my fine friends.  Who’s dirty and lowdown?

Judge              Politicians!

John                Politicians!  Rumor is they’re getting up a bill in the Senate that would put a luxury tax on gold and silver jewelry!  They’d run me out of business!

[Paul sits, Jimmie immediately brings him a highball]

Paul                 Nobody’s going to run Selbert’s Jewelry out of business, John.  That big clock outside your store will still be keeping time a hundred years from now.

Leo                  I saw your name in the paper, Paul.

Paul                 Really?  What for?

Leo                  Had to do with your paintings.  An exhibition somewhere….

Paul                 Probably the one upstairs over John Todd’s new confectionary store, up by the bridge.  The paper said, quote, “Not only was there a big crowd of visitors with compliments galore, but a number of private sales were made to those charmed with his reproductions of nature as found in Frankfort’s environs.”

John                [beat]      You actually remember that to quote it?

Paul                 Artists need to know what’s being said about them.  Any of you seen my other exhibitions?  I have one in the Capitol Trust building.  Another in Frank Stagg’s Hardware.  I’m doing almost all impressionist watercolors now, you know.

Dan                 Yeah, I noticed some of your por-traits hangin’ in the hardware when I went in to buy a rake.  Looked pretty good, I thought.  Are they impressionist?

Paul                 Most certainly not.  Some European artists have applied impressionism to portraits, but I like it best for landscapes and water scenes.  I’m getting a little tired of portraits anyway.  I love putting that soft impressionist touch on places like Elkhorn Creek.  Or the streets here in Frankfort.

Judge              Done any lately?

Paul                 Oh, yes!  I spent some time on a series of paintings that illustrate Rose Terry Cooke’s poem, the one she called “The Two Villages” – about the cemetery up on a hill, and the town down below the hill.  I did those as presents for Mary.  One of my watercolors took first place at the Lexington Fair this past summer!  And, I’ve stayed pretty busy in my new studio at Mattern’s.

John                I remember seeing that in the paper.  Said your studio is the scene of “many Bo-hemian gatherings!”  Said you prefer the company of a few friends to the “noisy pleasures of the town.”  Kinda made me wonder!

Paul                 They can print as they please in the papers.  I’m just glad to have my own studio in a public place again.  The last time was fifteen years ago in Cincinnati!  It helps that H.G. Mattern has been doing his photography there for years.  People expect fine art work to be at that location.

John                Are people coming in your studio?  Are they buying your paintings?

Paul                 Yes, I am selling art!  I love being here in this sweet old town!  I just believe 1901 is finally going to be my year!

[lights fade]        INTERMISSION


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