The Untold Story Of An Aviator
Flying was only half her passion.....
She approached the small creaking wooden stage for her first singing audition. Her palms were sweaty, butterflies wildy fluttered in the pit of her stomach, and the anticipation excruciating. She realized this was not a show business opportunity, but just a small spot in the Iowa State Fair Talent Show for a chance to win prize money. She had problems speaking loud enough so the judges could hear her and feared her singing voice would not measure up.
“So, what is your name miss?”, asked Franklin, one of the judges.
“My friends call me Millie”, she peeped while running her cool hand through her short, layered hair.
“How old are you?”, asked Betty, another one of the judges.
“Twenty-two”, Millie stuttered.
“What is your talent?”, Franklin asked while getting his pen ready to write.
“Flying high”, she proudly answered. Milly misunderstood the question.
“What is your talent for the show?”, clarified Betty.
“ Oh, Pardon me, I’ll be singing a song”, Mille spoke with the judges appearing grumpy.
“Alright, go ahead”, Franklin ordered while hopelessly shaking his head.
Millie shook the jitters out by shaking her arms and cracking her neck side to side.
“We can’t wait forever dear”, Betty added while removing her reading glasses.
Without warning, Millie belted out her song, straining her voice to reach the pinnacle of sound and the richness of melody. Her beautiful, soft tone left the judges breathless. After about two minutes, she sharply ended her song with the judges love sick.
“Thank you”, Millie concluded. She stood there for a moment waiting a response from the judges, but they were just speechless and bewildered.
Millie thought she had failed getting a spot in the show and made her way off the stage.
“Wait, come back!”, squeaked Margaret, a judge on the panel nicknamed “Mute Marge”. It was rumored that if she spoke, you made an impression on her.
“Pardon me, I thought I was finished ”, Millie whispered embarrassed.
“Forgive me, but why haven’t I heard of you before?”, Margaret questioned with serious concern.
“This is my first time performing in public”, Millie stated without regret.
“Why?” politely queried Margaret, she was interested.
“ Stage fright... also I am only trying out for the chance to win money to pay for my flight classes”, Millie answered bluntly.
“Fair enough, I vote you in”, Margaret confirmed.
“You were sensational, the crowd will love you”, Franklin stated with his approval.
“Exceptional darling, people will adore you. Congratulations, you have made it into the talent show”, proudly announced Betty.
That night Millie, along with fifty other acts took the stage by storm to compete for the seventy five dollar grand prize. The runner up was promised a blue ribbon and a burlap sack of farmer apples.
Competition was fierce as Millie watched from the side stage, she was the last performer. The crowd had their favorites, regulars, like The Italian Acrobat Brothers from Brooklyn.
After the weather grew brisk and the stars twinkled low, it was Millie’s turn.
She stepped up to the stage wearing her worn leather flying jacket and brown rigid boots. The crowd had never seen a woman dress like this before, Millie knew she was under scrutiny, but Millie was determined to give the audience a good show.
Her voice was purely powerful . Millie closed her eyes when singing, feeling the night’s crisp breeze fondle her hair and the sound of the piano enchanting the crowd. When she opened her eyes before the end of the song, she heard the crowd cheer, clap and whistle.
At the conclusion of the song, the crowd roared and kept repeating “BRAVO”. Millie bowed her head and waved in appreciation.
Ten o‘clock at night, fair officials tallied the votes and announced the winner.
“ The people of Des Moines have voted, for the first time in the history of the Iowa State Fair Talent Show Competition, we have a tie for the grand prize. The winners will split the seventy-five dollar prize, each receiving thirty seven dollars and a half”, the show host grinned.
The crowd applauded in approval as they waited for the moment of truth.
“The winners of this years Iowa State Fair Talent Show Competition are the fantastic Italian Acrobat Brothers and the very talented canary, Millie”, the host announced.
Millie could sense the friction from the acrobats, they didn’t want to share the winning prize, but Millie tried to act gracious and congratulate them. In return the brothers snarled at her and stomped off the stage with uncalled for tempers.
It was getting late and Millie had to catch the train back to California in the morning, so she hopped on her bicycle to head back to her grandmothers house, but was halted by a short, black haired man looking to have a word with her.
“I appreciate your kind words Sir, but I am leaving town in the morning”, Millie said while pedaling and the short man stumbling after her.
“I’m an agent always looking for the next big starlet, and you are it”, the short man excited while huffing and puffing.
Millie felt irritated and tiresome, she wanted to be left alone, but she felt sorry for the stumpy man. Millie dismounted from her bicycle.
“Alright Sir, you have my attention”, Millie sighed.
“My name is Lloyd Wright, here’s my card”, Lloyd advertised.
“Are you by any chance related to Orville Wright?”, Millie asked with interest.
“Orville is my cousin from my mother’s side”, Lloyd bragged in deception.
“Orville is the bees knees”, Millie gasped.
Lloyd knew the lie got her hooked so he decided to quickly close the deal.
“Look, come to New York with me. I know some cats who would pay you good wages for starring in their Coney Island show and that’s just the beginning. We are talking Hollywood movies, celebrity parties and champagne”, Lloyd enticed.
“How much is your cut?”, Millie asked, he oozed greed.
“Thirty percent”, painfully uttered Lloyd.
“That’s a bit steep, how would I be able to afford my fly time?”, asked Millie
“Fly time! If you work for me you will be able to buy you own plane and that’s not all. Maybe I could throw in a bonus, a personal meeting with the famous Orville Wright himself”, exaggerated Lloyd, after all he was the most successful crook in the business.
Millie wasn’t convinced, but she needed the money. Millie sent a telegram to her friend in California to let her know she was not coming.
Three days later, Lloyd and Millie arrived in Coney Island to meet with the Production Manager.
“Boys, this is Millie. She is the cat’s pajamas, I brought her all the way from Iowa to meet with you”, presented Lloyd.
“How do you do”, the production manager introduced.
“Very well, thank you”, responded Millie.
“So.... you are the starving little canary Lloyd told us about”, stated the production manager.
“Hardly, I’m here at the mercy of a dream”, Millie corrected.
“Really, well what dream is that?”, asked the production manager.
“To be a pilot”, Millie firmly noted without flinching.
“That sounds a bit bold coming from a woman”, commented the casting director.
“Well Sir, if we can vote, we can fly”, Millie fired back.
“Keep your head, your being rude”, whispered Lloyd while nudging her arm.
Millie prided on being herself, but out of respect for Lloyd, she became docile.
“She’s a bit of a chatterbox, I don’t know if it would work”, the casting director admitted.
“She’s got fire, I’ll give her a chance”, the production manager grinned while lighting up a cigar.
“What do you have in mind?”, asked the casting director.
“We will make her work for a singing role in the show, lets start her out working the props backstage”, the production manager negotiated.
“I didn’t come all the this way to agree to this, you told me I could sing, you told me I could make good wages, you…….”, madly whispered Millie into Lloyd’s ear.
“I beg your pardon miss, but let me handle this my own way”, Lloyd smoothly offered while taking a step forward.
“Boys, I have known you for years and I have always delivered what I promised. Look, Millie may not be quite the dish you are looking for, but she can sing. Now if we can’t strike a deal, I’ll go to Broadway, but since we are friends I wanted you to have the first chance at the winning ticket”, Lloyd urged with his business depending on it.
“Alright, alright, lets hear her sing”, the production manager cringed. He could not take the way Lloyd begged.
One week later Millie was singing with five other girls in a weekly running production called “The Coney Island Cupcakes”.
She was promised a wage of $9.00 for two shows daily. It wasn’t exactly the money she was expecting, and after Lloyd got his cut, she didn’t have much to live off of. Millie became bitter, she missed the open skies and had no time or money left to fly. “What’s the point?”, she would say to herself often.
Every time Millie threatened to quit, Lloyd reminded her of the contract she signed, guaranteeing her participation in the show for one year. Lloyd was also very clever to point out Orville Wright wanted to meet her, but not if she was the type of flapper to not stay true to her word.
Distraught, Millie asked for the help of Norman, a family friend who was a lawyer. She mailed her contract out to California to see if there were any loop holes. Millie also claimed that she was not being paid consistently and was being overworked. After about a month of waiting, Norman contacted her. Norman was convinced that she had a strong case against the production manager and Lloyd. Norman also discovered Lloyd was taking more than his 30% share.
Millie was angry, and refused to perform in the show. Lloyd was scared about losing more money so he confronted Millie about her absence.
“I am through with the show, and you are no longer my agent”, yelled Millie.
“You ungrateful loon, after all I have done for you and you treat me like this”, Lloyd roared.
“You have lied to me from the very beginning. I had a friend investigate you, turns out your not related to Orville Wright and your last name is not even Wright. I have worked very hard to earn money so I could fly again and you just stole straight faced”, Millie lashed out.
“Look, its not what it seems”, Lloyd panicked.
“Tell it to the court, you and the production manager have not fulfilled the obligations on your end of the deal. I am formally giving my notice, the contract is null and void”, confessed Millie.
“You can’t do that”, Lloyd commented.
“I just did…..short stuff”, Minnie noted.
Lloyd marched over to the Production Managers Office with his face pale and broke.
“Sir, I’m afraid Millie has chosen to quit the show”, Lloyd stuttered.
“Don’t be absurd, that little kitten is under contract, we own her”, the production manager confirmed with a devilish grin.
“I know, but she claims she has a lawyer”, Lloyd carefully added.
“As long as it’s not mobster, we stick to the contract”, the production manager calmly said while leaning back in desk chair with his hands behind his head.
“How do we find her, she’s already gone?”, asked Lloyd.
Before the production manager could answer, the casting director came waltzing in with Millie.
“I caught her packing up her things in the dressing room”, the casting director proudly pointed out.
“Let go of my arm chump, I told you, I quit”, Millie shouted.
“You quit, when I say you quit”, the production manager ordered while dominating over her.
“Easy fellas, she may be a pushy broad, but you can’t force her to sing”, warned Lloyd.
“I don’t think you know who you are talking to Sir”, Millie defended while standing up straight.
This was the first time any woman had stood up to the production manger, Millie was fearless and intimidating.
“Really”, gulped the production manager.
“Yes, really”, Millie stated while placing her hands on the desk and leaning forward to be close to his sweating face.
“Fine! Leave, but know this…..you will become nothing without me. You are worthless and waste to look at. You’re a disgrace to mankind. Maybe if you are lucky, a few will remember you as a Coney Island Cupcake”, growled the production manager.
“Do you really think I want to become the next Hollywood starlet? You’re a fool. I will leave with my dignity, I will leave with my voice and I promise you as God is my witness, the whole world will know me…..not as a Cupcake, but as Amelia Earhart, the greatest female aviator that has ever lived”!