Murder She Wrote…by Hildamae

Hildamae (my mother) and I were cruising along Kanawha Boulevard, homeward bound to Rainelle, West Virginia after a shopping spree to Lane Bryant in  Charleston–the Paris, France of West Virginia–when on the radio came a “we interrupt this program” with news of Natalie Wood’s drowning. “Ha,” she exclaimed. “Just you wait and see. As sure as my name is Hildamae Lively, they will find the print of Robert Wagner’s foot on her forehead.” Being suspicious was as natural to her as her baby blues.

By the way, Hildamae loved Lane Bryant. She said she wore half sizes. I never quite understood what she meant by “half size”. Mother came at a generous 5′ 10″ and 230 pounds. For her ‘around the house  clothing’, she would order from the Princess Peggy catalogue. When I was little, I thought Hildamae was a princess because her labels read Princess Peggy. (Looking back, she was way more than a princess, she was Her Royal Majesty, Queen Hildamae, where she oversaw the house of Lively of Lilly Park). And she was into matching every thing. Being a devoted Church Woman, she loved to walk into Sunday meetings dolled up in her suits, matching shoes and purse, hat, AND, of course, her gloves, which served to also protect her lily white hands from getting sun spots. Only field workers had sunspots; and Colin would have been tossed to the wolves if he ever had even the slightest hint of a tan. “declassé”.  I thought it was horrifying at the time that I was the only teenager in Rainelle who was not glowing like a Coppertone model, but now at this ripening age, I am ever grateful.

But I have found, yet again, that Hildamae was right … about sunspots and Ms. Wood.

She isn’t around now to say, “I told you so” about foul play aboard the boat that night. Did they find Robert Wagner’s shoe print on Natalie’s forehead, or did they not?  Perhaps that isn’t important. Or that Jill St. John was a stowaway that night. But the captain is blowing the whistle. Rough water ahead.