Day Nine Hundred Fifty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah made the first move. Through Reuben’s good judgment he identified the guard with the most influence with the other guards. One who has resisted the despotic bent of the prison’s commandant. And no longer kowtows to the creeds and dictates of the world government headed up by Stan.

By the end of their meeting Elijah gave Magwich what he most desired, the removal of the mark.

At this change of status he immediately offered himself to his brother guards for incarceration.

This they refused to do, instead they joined him.

The word spread throughout the prison and the commandant finding no one left who was aligned with him, barricaded himself in his office (and his despondency) and hung himself.

Day Nine Hundred Fifty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are still in the dark. It was a day of waiting and hoping for something to happen. But no one reported any contacts from the outside (for most cannot conceive of it as happening otherwise).

With the number of guards dropping again today, it seemed that an opportune time to put a plan into motion had passed us by.

And Reuben has deepened the mystery by his revelation that the fact of their disappearance has not been reported beyond the walls of this prison. Though there is little mystery as to why our jailers would prefer it that way, (their very lives no doubt depend upon hiding it), it further clouds how it was accomplished.

And can it repeat?

Day Nine Hundred Fifty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The boot of our oppressor has ever so slightly been lifted off of our necks. It gives us hope that we will soon have more freedom of action. And eases my suspicion that knowledge of our identities had been rediscovered.

Elijah found a place apart and held up there all day. While I kept in contact off and on with the leaders to discuss future plans. But really there was little we felt we could do until we hear from Reuben, the guard who is working on our behalf.

Later we heard the most shocking news from him. The Hamashiachite followers of Raj G in the other dungeons of this prison have all disappeared.

Hence the severe crackdown of yesterday.

Day Nine Hundred Forty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our fellow prisoners swarmed around Elijah. I recognized many from the hospital of the coastal town we visited so long ago. I talked with two who remembered me. They were very solicitous to know any news about Raj G. How they were gladdened to hear my report.

It was a late night, that culminated with a unanimous vote – Elijah was chosen to make all the decisions going forward. He acceded to their request but only until he can affect their release from this prison and see them safely to the hiding place.

As we sought to implement better communications today, we were stopped cold in our efforts by the sudden influx of guards into the dungeon that they call home.

Day Nine Hundred Forty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We believe this complex is much bigger than what we have seen thus far. And suspect many more people are behind its walls than the small number we have encountered.

Elijah surmises that we are being held outside the general population of the prison. And once we refuse the mark, we will be thrown in with them.

No one has called for our presence. We have blissfully been left to ourselves.

Many people have been paraded by our cell all day long. Each one sporting the mark.  We recognize them from the first day in the holding cell.

Plainly it’s all a piece of theater aimed at us.

Today it’s all been carrot, so I’m guessing tomorrow we’ll feel the stick.

Day Nine Hundred Thirty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah and I are all by ourselves again. Elam dropped us off per our request near to the spot where he had picked us up four days ago.

Jezer continued on with Elam. Not only to continue his instruction about the whereabouts of the hiding place and how to get there, but also to be instructed himself about the water depot from him.

We retraced our track through the wilderness, debating on the way our next step. Elijah wanted to seek out a path to the prison near Jerusalem. Just to see it.

I convinced him to return to the hiding place first to retrieve one of the drones to make the task all the easier.

This time he agreed.

Day Nine Hundred Thirty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

As for Elijah, there was no question over the decision. We were out here and very close to turning up another missing group. And that was the bedrock of his thinking.

Jezer expressed surprise over this decision given the concrete evidence for one versus the scant evidence of the wheel tracks for the other. Even when he added that rumors were afloat that the group in prison was facing capital charges, did nothing to budge Elijah off of his decision.

I was torn seeing the value behind both arguments. So I counseled to wait and pray for direction. My two friends concurred.

Thus we waited, prayed, and watched. And this morning we saw our answer – a tanker truck lumbering along.

Day Nine Hundred Thirty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

It wasn’t a critter or a pesky villager outside our camp this morning. Both Elijah and I startled at the sound of Jezer’s voice wishing us a glorious morning. We rose and greeted our friend, who asked after us and we in turn after him and the others. In particular we were keen to know any news about his search.

He did have news on that score. He and Quasimo had at last located where Raj G’s people were being held. They still form a group and fill an entire prison on the other side of Jerusalem.

This put us in a dilemma. Should we drop our current pursuit in order to go to the rescue of the imprisoned group?

The Stagehand of the Fifth Avenue

The Stagehand of the Fifth Avenue

Walter Theron Coy

Union agreements required that the Fifth Avenue Theater employ a stagehand. I was not aware of this fact,  when I met Walter Theron Coy my first week on the job. I was behind the concession stand concentrating on something else completely when I looked up to see an elderly man emerge from out of the auditorium. It caught me off guard. He was rather shabbily dressed, giving him an unkept appearance. He put me at ease by explaining who he was and what he did around the theater.

His cherubic Irish face, resonant voice, infectious laugh and an enormous mass of keys jangling on his hip made for a memorable introduction. Gaelic charm oozed out of him as well as a stream of patter that he later confessed to be straight out of the days of vaudeville. (At the age of 13 or 14 [1921 or 1922] he had been a candy butcher who operated evenings among a group of three Seattle vaudeville theaters. Incoming acts came to rely on him for intelligence on what routines had been employed by the outgoing performers, so they could adjust theirs accordingly). And prior to high school he even performed on stage, singing popular songs of the day accompanied by the theater organist.

[Aside – In his autobio, Walt states that he learned a lot about show business from the consumate pipe organist Oliver Wallace at the Liberty Theater down on First and Pike. Wallace later went on to work for Walt Disney, writing music for shorts and then features, from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” up through “Lady and the Tramp”].

The more I talked with him over the weeks that followed, the more his life experiences surprised and impressed me. By the time he was in high school, he was playing drums or banjo in speakeasys around town. His love of the banjo led him to share stories about the Banjo King, Eddie Peabody, (aka the Banjo Maniac and the Rajah of Rhythm) who had headlined many of the vaudeville acts at this same Fifth Avenue Theater, from 1927 through the early 30s.

But what really raised my eyebrows was his tales about working as an extra and a cameraman in Hollywood. He had gone down to LA when he turned 20 to try to break into “pictures.” He was an extra at the Chaplin studio on one of Charlie’s films. His description of the action made me think that it was his WW1 comedy “Shoulder Arms,” but upon reading his autobio almost a decade later it proved to be something else altogether (stay tuned for my Research post this Monday).  He then lined up for extra work over at the FBO Studios (owned by Joseph P. Kennedy) for director Erich von Stroheim, who was hard at work on the infamous “Queen Kelly,” starring Gloria Swanson.

Walt found getting work as an actor a tough go. So he switched to the technical side of the business. He had always been adept mechanically, having built his own radios when a youth. He joined the Naval Reserve in Seattle to learn more about radios and sound equipment. (And to fly, for he liked planes). He made a trip down to LA and called on Gordon Sawyer, the head of the sound department at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios to learn all about sound reproduction on film. He used this knowledge to build and sell bootleg sound systems to small theaters throughout the Northwest. (The systems by Western Electric were all by lease only, and unaffordable given the small amount of business these towns generated).

Sometime in the 1930s, Walt joined Local 659, the Hollywood cameraman’s union. He served on the camera crew for Paramount’s production of “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch” with W. C. Fields and Zasu Pitts.

He wasn’t often down in Hollywood to my calculation, for he had many businesses in the Seattle area that he ran – a printing business in the early thirties, a film exhibition company (one theater to begin with) which he acquired in 1937, and the Seattle Motion Picture Studio, a commercial film enterprise that made sound films – advertising, novelties and gimmick offerings. During the Depression, he kept fingers in a lot of pies, for he said, you never knew what would keep you afloat.

At the time I met him (1974), his studio was closed, but he still had some of his gear. He had sound equipment, of course, but he also had a 16mm self-blimped Auricon camera, that did not need a sound recorder as it had the capacity to directly record onto the film stock. A custom built camera dolly which could be cranked up to a six foot crane rounded out his holdings.  And he allowed me and my cinema-struck friends to use them. We just needed to rent some lights. (We used the lobby of the Skinner building and the backstage area of the theater as settings).

I last heard from Walt in 1980, when he sent me a signed copy of his autobio “My Uncle Sam Don’t Like Me.” In telling his life story, he details his trials and tribulations with a vindictive IRS which twice sent him to prison. When people styled him as an ex-con, he disagreed, and said he was just a convicted tax evader, whose case was under appeal. The appeal he won, and the judgement was reversed.

Walter Theron Coy was a true one of a kind.

[Aside – Walt preferred to write his name as Walt T. Coy, but I spelled it out completely so as not to confuse him with an actor that came out of Seattle around the same time. That actor was Walter Darwin Coy. He was on stage and screen, and notably, played the brother of the John Wayne character in “The Searchers.”]