Excerpts from Fred and Mary

(formatted for web viewing)

from Act I, Scene 2 (1876. A restaurant run by the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe

Railway in Topeka, Kansas. FRED has been presenting his ideas to two railroad officials.

As the scene continues…)

MR. MORSE

You’re saying that you can provide better meals than our restaurant currently offers and

charge less?

FRED

No, Mr. Morse, I’m saying I can provide much better meals and charge less.

MR. NICKERSON

What do you think, Charles?

MR. MORSE

If Mr. Harvey is willing to bring his own furnishings, staff, and foodstuffs—not to

mention take the fall when it fails—

MR. NICKERSON

If it fails—I’m not going to embark on an endeavor with no hope of success!

MR. MORSE

—if it fails. Then I don’t see what we have to lose.

MR. NICKERSON

Except our reputation. (MORSE laughs.) Which, truth be told, is miserable. (Laughs.) Not

our rail passage, mind you, our food service.

FRED

48 hours. If you aren’t exceedingly impressed, we’ll go no further.

MR. MORSE

What do you think, Thomas?

MR. NICKERSON

48 hours, Hmnn. (The two OFFICIALS exchange a glance again, agree, then they stand

and reach out their hands to FRED.) Mr. Harvey. I hope this turns out to be a good

business venture for all concerned. (The three shake hands.)

FRED

Mr. Nickerson, Mr. Morse, communities already set their clocks by the railroad. In a few

short years, they’ll set their standards for first-class dining by the railroad too…….

from Act II, Scene 1 (Late 1914. Kansas City. Parlor in the home of Minnie and JF Huckel.

Minnie shares a copy of the San Diego Union newspaper with Ford and JF.)

MINNIE

Listen to this. Front page, San Diego Union. He’s written about the model for our Painted

Desert Exhibit at the Panama-California Exposition. (Reads.) “The little model is an

artistic triumph in itself.”

JF and FORD

Nicely put.

MINNIE

(Reading on.) “It was made by Miss Mary E.J. Colter of Kansas City, who does a great

deal of artwork and decoration for the Fred Harvey system, from an outline and

preliminary plan by Herman Schweizer.”

FORD

That must make you happy.

MINNIE

It does not make me happy.

JF

Why? You keep saying you want to see Mary’s name in print.

MINNIE

With proper respect!

JF

And so--?

MINNIE

“…who does a great deal of art work and decoration?!” Her title is “Chief Architect and

Designer.” “Does a great deal of art work?” “Decoration”?

JF

I don’t know why you get yourself so worked up over a little bit of phraseology, Minnie.

MINNIE

Talk to him, Ford.

FORD

Minnie’s point is that Mary’s talents are not being properly described.

MINNIE

Nor are her accomplishments. She doesn’t just do a great deal of artwork. She designed

Hopi House. She designed the Lookout and Hermit’s Rest. She restructured and designed

the entire interior of the Indian Department.

JF

And it says, “…does a great deal of decoration.” She decorated The Alvarado.

MINNIE

John! Nothing’s changed since those brochures back when El Tovar opened. Her name

wasn’t listed as architect along with Whittlesey’s name. And now, how many years later?

Nine? She’s still listed as— I mean it sounds like she—

FORD

I would think you’d like seeing Mary’s name in print.

MINNIE

Oh, you are so obdurate! I’m trying to explain that—

JF

There’s no end to this, is there? Next thing, women will be

wanting to vote!

MINNIE

John! They got the vote in Arizona the same year it got statehood!

FORD

He knows that, Minnie. He just likes to get you riled up.

JF

No, I don’t. Well, maybe. (Laughs.) But it’s just word choice, Minnie. And you know I

support her.

MINNIE

In the end. Humph.

FORD

I doubt it would bother Mary Jane at all. She’s just happy to be doing work she loves.

MINNIE

You just go ahead and tell yourself that, Ford. She does love her work, but I think she’s

also proud to be paving the way for other women, younger women, so that they can do

the kinds of things they want—even if they don’t have the temerity that she has.

JF

You mean the stubbornness!

MINNIE

(Fiercely.) I mean the balls! (Lights down on the parlor, up on OLD MARY.)

OLD MARY

You see what I mean? It wasn’t ladylike to speak that way back in the teens. I’m afraid I

was a bad influence on Minnie with regard to language. Mine was always considered a

bit salty, for a woman; but then we were doing groundbreaking things back then. The

same year that we did the Exposition, we opened both Hermit’s Rest and the Lookout. I

was working on a design for Indian Gardens, to be built halfway down the Canyon. We

never did build that lodge. We put one at the bottom instead. Phantom Ranch opened in

1922. Those were the glory days for the railway. We didn’t realize that the Great

Depression was only a few years away, and then the automobile. Travel and tourism were

changing. And in the meantime, Ford passed away.

from Act II, Scene 4 (1931. Outside the Watchtower, which is under construction.

It is to be assumed that several masons are at work on the Watchtower.)

ALBERT’S OFFSTAGE VOICE

(Calling.) She’s not in Winslow?

OFFSTAGE VOICE OF MCCAFFERTY

Been here since early this morning.

ALBERT

Criminey! She’s 62 years old! (Appearing from one side of the building with a roll of

architectural drawings under his arm.) Didn’t that car accident slow her down at all?

(ALBERT appears disturbed as he stares for some time at the wall above him. Eventually,

MARY, exasperated, wheels herself around from the other side of the tower. She is in a

wheelchair after being in a car accident.)

MARY

You’re going to have to do something about these boys, Albert.

ALBERT

Miss Colter, McCafferty tells me—

MARY

Hire new ones, most likely. They’re complaining about the scaffolding!

ALBERT

What’s wrong with it?

MARY

They “find it intimidating.”

ALBERT

Intimidating?

MARY

You’ve hired a bunch of chickens—well spoken, but skittish.

ALBERT

Well, they are straddling the very edge of the canyon.

MARY

(Calling to the unseen WORKERS on the other side of the tower.) Do you boys think

Native builders had scaffolding?

ALBERT

They must have had some kind of support.

MARY

They certainly did not. The Indians straddle the top of the wall, building it up row upon

row as they go. I’m sure their ancestors did the same. (Calling to the unseen WORKERS.)

And their walls were much thinner than this one—try 18 inches at the bottom and 12

inches at the top!

ALBERT

Hang on, fellas. Take your time. We’ll try to get you some more support tomorrow.

MARY

(Calling to the unseen workers.) Fraidy cats!

ALBERT

Miss Colter, McCafferty tells me—

MARY

Where is McCafferty? (Calling.) Is it tea time?

ALBERT

Maybe it’s altitude sickness or something.

MARY

What?

ALBERT

I pulled him off the job. He told me you said to fill in that doorway. (ALBERT gestures to

a point on the tower’s second story.)

MARY

And?

ALBERT

We took great pains to build that doorway just the way you wanted it.

MARY

I appreciate that. (Then, calling out to unseen workers.) Boys! I don’t want that rock there.

I want that one there. That one goes over there!

ALBERT

Well, that’s why I had him stop.

MARY

 I have to supervise the placement of every rock.

ALBERT

He’s getting light-headed or something.

MARY

Who?

ALBERT

McCafferty. He was going to fill in that doorway!

MARY

Of course! I told him to.

ALBERT

To do what? Fill in the doorway?

MARY

Yes.

ALBERT

But it’s a doorway.

MARY

Well, yes.

ALBERT

If you fill it in, you can’t go through it.

MARY

I don’t want anyone to go through it.

ALBERT

You know, Miss Colter, I’ve been in charge of scores of buildings, and—

MARY

Make your point, Albert!

ALBERT

In my experience, doorways are things people go through!

MARY

Well, I don’t want them going through this one.

ALBERT

Then why did you have us build it?

MARY

So people could go through it—and they were going to go through it until they heard a

warring party was on its way.

ALBERT

And—?

MARY

Isn’t it obvious?

ALBERT

Isn’t what obvious?

MARY

They had to block all the entrances of course! (Then, looking around.) I had the boys

block the stairs to the kiva’s roof too.

ALBERT

We just built those stairs! (ALBERT stares at the top of the stairs in disbelief.)

MARY

Would you want the warring party to succeed?

ALBERT

(Opening the drawings and examining them.) Miss Colter, the plans you gave me clearly

show an open doorway.

MARY

If I had given you a drawing with the doorway filled in, you wouldn’t have gone to “great

pains” to build it the way I wanted it.

ALBERT

Perhaps you can tell me what else we’re going to fill in later. I presume we’re putting a

roof on the kiva.

MARY

Why would you say that?

ALBERT

Because otherwise the warring party can step over the three-foot high barricade at the top

of your stairs!

MARY

Gracious sakes, Albert. I wouldn’t worry about that.

ALBERT

And why not?

MARY

The warring party was called off!

from Act II, Scene 5 (Winter, 1932-1933. Interior of the completed Watchtower with

paintings not yet been finished. KABOTIE is holding a tiny dab of paint.)

MARY

So that still isn’t the blue you used to paint the deer?

KABOTIE

No.

MARY

Well, I don’t know why you had to use up the rest of the blue paint on the kachina. It took

every last ounce of blue we had.

KABOTIE

It’s an important symbol.

MARY

To you!

KABOTIE

To the Hopi.

MARY

(Grumbling as she adds more blue pigment to the paint, then hands KABOTIE a tiny dab

of oil color.) Never mind. I’m quite sure I’ve got it this time. Take this patch up there and

see if it matches.

KABOTIE

Again?

MARY

Yes!

KABOTIE

I already know it won’t match.

MARY

What’s wrong with it this time?

KABOTIE

It has too much blue in it.

MARY

The last one had too much green in it.

KABOTIE

No, that was the third time.

MARY

Well, go see if it matches. (KABOTIE just stands there.) You said you wanted the deer all

the same color!

KABOTIE

That dab of paint is too small to match.

MARY

It’s all I can give you. We’re short on pigment. (KABOTIE runs up the stairs, frustrated.

JF and MINNIE enter.)

JF

What is that strange shape nosing out of the north side of the tower?

MARY

What shape?

JF

I don’t know, the (He attempts to describe a plumed serpent.) —if I knew how to describe

it, I wouldn’t ask. Long, jagged protrusion—looks like an, I don’t know, a snakehead.

MARY

Oh! The balolookong.

JF

So that’s what you were doing for six months. Hunting bulooloo, balloon—

 

(Of course KABOTIE was right; the paint doesn’t match. Finally, he matches it.) (continued...)

© All text copyright 2018 by Micki Shelton