|A Letter From Brazil
June 30th, 2002
|Just the other day I was going through books in the attic and came across the book "Red," about the life of Susan Hayward. My brother gave it to me for Christmas in 1985. I brought it down and have been reading it again, and that prompted me to check out Susan Hayward websites. Today would have been Susan's birthday! She would have been 85...the very same age as my mother, who was born June 9th, 1917. My parents live in Houston, Texas.
The name "Susan Hayward" has been mentioned all of my life because my parents wre missionaries in Congo, Africa, where I was born, and the movie "White Witch Doctor" (with Susan and Robert Mitchum) was filmed near where they lived at the time (in 1953-the year before I was born). The main stars did not go to Africa, but the director and crew went to shoot real African scenes, and my parents, and others in the community, had them all over for a meal, watched a lot of the filming, helped translate for them, etc. My parents still have the guestbook which has all their names in it, including the doubles of Susan Hayward and Robert Mitchum.. In the movie you hear a prayer spoken in the African language of Tshiluba, in a scene where there is a grave. That prayer was spoken by one of our American missionary friends, and anyone living in Africa would recognize that it was not spoken by an African because of the distinct American accent!
I was surprised, just before going to West George College, in Carrollton, Georgia (to study music) when my father read that Susan Hayward had lived in Carrollton. Throughout my years in Carrollton I played the piano at Center Point Methodist Church, just a couple of miles beyond the Chalkley's home and the Catholic church. I often had meals with the people of the church, out in their wonderful country homes, and many of them had memories of "Susan" (as they all called her-never using the last name). Susan loved to have coffee in their kitchens or visit on their back steps, etc. One man, on the adjoining farm, had sold a cow to Eaton and Susan at one time, and he spoke well of them. I remember one man from the church saying to me once..."I saw Susan at the A&P once...and that woman was FRECKLED!" (As if movie stars can't have freckles!!) I was in Carrollton from 1972-1977, and was there when Susan was buried. Friends of mine from the Catholic church attended the funeral, met her twin sons, etc. Whenever family or friends would visit me in Carrollton I would always take them out to the Catholic church to show them the church, Susan's grave, the Chalkley's farmhouse across the road, and the cute little red wooden house right on the road where they lived while the farmouse was being finished.
The Susan Hayward movies I enjoy the most are "I Want To Live" and "Stolen Hours."
Thanks for this chance to share memories. As I said, the name Susan Hayward has been spoken in my family since before I was born!
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