Meet Bessie (aka Willow): my very own figurehead!
If you’ve been reading my posts for the last month, then you know that earlier this year I wrote a short story called “Carving Grace,” which deals with vengeful ship figureheads coming to life and searching for unhappy souls. In order to write that dark love story, I pretty much had to live and breathe in an imagined town by the sea and read all about figureheads every day for at least two months. We even visited the figurehead exhibit at Mystic Seaport (for Valentine’s Day, no less, but Nathan’s always up for my particular brand of crazy).
Like any submission process, when you submit something for a call—unless it’s a specifically done deal ahead of time—you don’t know if it will get accepted or not. So it was thrilling news when I received a “yes” from the New England Horror Writers’ Wicked Creatures anthology, which was what I had, in my mind, been writing it for. Nathan was just as excited as I was.
Shortly after “Carving Grace” got accepted, Nathan found this figurehead in a neighbor’s yard, and after he explained the entire connection between me and “Carving Grace” and Mystic and a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m sure sounded insane, the gentleman agreed to give it to him.
So … meet Bessie (although Nathan has named her Willow). My very OWN figurehead (my husband is what we’d refer to as husband-of-awesome in geek circles).
She’s a little worse for wear, and we probably won’t be able to “mount” her anywhere, but she can always be leaned in a corner someplace.
That said, I did want to learn more about her—where she came from. The neighbor had told Nathan that she’d actually been on a boat, and that he’d planned to put her on his boat. I have no way of verifying if that first fact is true, but my friend Kristina and I did some research one night.
It turns out that Bessie, and many like her, were produced in the 1960s and 1970s for restaurant and home décor—if you were to visit Ebay right now, you’d probably find a few. They weren’t made of real wood, but of a resin, and were produced by the New Rochelle, New York-based Artistic Latex Foam Company of New York (ALFCO). The place is out of business now, but they also produced nativity scenes and cigar store figures.
Here are some screenshots of what was available on Ebay in July of this month:
There’s more research to do, but it was nice to get a loose sense of her history. As of now, she’s still out in my garage, drying out. We want to make sure she’s thoroughly dry before we will get some shellac or something and try to preserve what’s left of her flaking paint.
Posted on October 21, 2021, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, horror short stories and tagged ALFCO, Artistic Latex Farm Company of NY, Carving Grace, figureheads I can find for my house, figureheads that used to be in old restaurants, horror stories set by the sea, stories about monsters, Wicked Creatures anthology. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.