Here’s Mum, Gladys (Elson) McConnell (1912 – 1996) in her ‘Rose-Marie’ phase. ‘Rose-Marie’ was a film, released early in 1936, starring those screen lovers Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy, involving an opera singer (MacDonald) & a Stout-Hearted Man (Mountie, played by – who else?) who met, distliked each other, sang ‘Indian Love Call’, & eventually succumbed each to the charms of the other. Stout-Hearted Man was after criminal James Stewart (27 years old at the time, in his third film), whose character happened to be Jeanette MacD’s brother, racing & chasing through the Canadian wilds with his men, behaving like the alpha male in a ‘pack of wolves on the trail’…. My parents married in June of that year, & spent their honeymoon at Lumina Lodge on Lake of Bays near Huntsville, Ontario. Today the Muskoka Region in which Lumina STILL thrives is ‘cottage country’, a destination of major proportions for Torontonians of all stripes, & a few Americans including my husband & me. But in those days, it was the Back of Beyond, reached only via miles & miles of dirt or minimally maintained paved roads, or, if you were wealthy enough, by plane. The area did contain some of those ‘resorts’ of legend ~ the rough-&-tumble but still upscale ‘camps’ offering ‘wilderness’ experiences. And in their way, they truly did ~ getting there was not necessarily half the fun. And so Gladys & Charlie set out from Lewiston, NY, & in a day-&-a-half or so, were ensconced in Sunset, one of Lumina’s rustic little cabins. Now by this time, Gladys had seen ‘Rose-Marie’ about a dozen times (Charlie not so much), & she knew every line, every error, every miscue. She could sing ‘Indian Love Call’ most beautifully, & she was thoroughly hooked. Somewhere along the line she acquired this outfit (she had also thought of being a pilot which might account for some of the accoutrements, but she was too short, so by this time she was through college & on the unhappy road to social work), & my dad took this romantic picture of her as she dreamed about her Charlie-cum-Nelson Eddy, Stout-Hearted Men & True, & saw many, if not all, things in an ‘Oh, Rose-Marie I Love You’ kind of fog (she was nobody’s fool, ever, however). As the years went on, Mom & Dad continued to vacation in Muskoka, though when Lumina began to cater to a cushier crowd & cut down a glorious old White Pine to build a swimming pool right next to the lake, they moved themselves to a less dazzling lodge nearer Huntsville. During this time, they met a REAL mountie, retired, name of Trulove. He looked nothing like Nelson Eddy, but he did have an absolute treasure trove of true tales from the Northwest Territory & elsewhere, & he told them, often, with tremendous histrionic flare, & the constant insertion of a bug-eyed ‘You know…’, a sort of half-question, half-statement. He was a fabulous man. We all loved him dearly, & my father could imitate him perfectly. Give me some men who are stout-hearted men, I say. And I close with ‘Here come the Mounties to get the man they’re after … Now!’ HOWEVER ~ having heard wolves howling in the wild on numerous occasions, & having sung ‘Indian Love Call’ with my mother, a feat that inevitably led to our dissolving in mirth, I think I’ll leave the wildwood to the wolves.
More on ‘Rose-Marie’ can be found here . Or more precisely, as I cannot, no matter what I do, get this link to work properly, go to what appears when you click on ‘here’, & make your way from there to The Real Deal….