THE MYSTERY LADY OF HARRODSBURG
WE HAVE A NEW STORY:
As a soft wind blows brushing the grass around it, a white picket fence stands silently in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. A source of passing intrigue for curious newcomers to town, for those who have heard the stories surrounding the fence and the rectangular plot of ground it stands guard around it has become part of the scenery, a thread woven into the fabric of Harrodsburg that is easy to overlook.
But if you listen. If you dare to sit quietly near that grave marker, somewhere in that soft wind you will hear her essence. The woman who swept into town on a warm summer’s evening in the 1840’s, is still whispering her plea to take her home, to give her a name, to respect the fact that she lived and she was bigger than the broken bits and pieces that make up her story.
The story that has been passed down goes as follows: a beautiful young woman arrived in town on the afternoon of a large social event in town. She was shown to a room in the Harrodsburg Hotel, registering under the name Virginia Stafford. Virginia explained that she was the daughter of a prominent judge in Louisville, and with that swept onto the dance floor. Legend has it that she entered the ballroom a few minutes after the event began, but all eyes were focused on this beauty when she did arrive.
The lady danced all night. She seemed carefree. Her laughter echoed through the ballroom. When the final song of the night concluded she leaned in towards her dance partner. Some accounts say he thought he was about to receive a kiss; however, instead she went limp in his arms. He carried her outside for air and laid her in the grass. Within moments it became apparent she was not breathing. Though they tried to save her, she died there in the arms of strangers.
The judge she claimed was her father was immediately contacted. He stated that he did not know her and that he had not daughters. From there a search began in the surrounding area. However, no one claimed her. After five days, she was buried where she died.
Some say the mystery was solved long ago. A newspaper clipping from the early 1900’s stated that a man by the name of James Rupp told the newspaper that when he was 10-years-old a man named Joe Sewell told him that the woman who had danced herself to death was his wife, Mollie (Black) Sewell. He stated that he was traveling and that his wife had gone out for a night of amusement. There also seemed to be some indication that he and his wife were estranged.
So, a 10-year-old boy takes note of this and the name remembers it many many years later as an adult? And did Mr. Sewell even come to visit the grave? Why didn’t he take her home? Why would Mr. Sewell allow her to continue to be buried as “unknown”? Even if he had no feelings for his wife, wouldn’t her family want to know? Wouldn’t the woman who danced herself to death provide a very convenient response for a man whose wife had either left him for another man or if he had murdered her? Aside from the recollections of a man from when he was a 10-year-old boy, there is nothing concrete that would indicate this story is true. It is simply a convenient story.
We all love a good mystery, a story to tell at night that challenges us to think about the unknown, but does this mystery woman actually matter in the year 2020? She may turn out to be just a normal person like you and me. She may turn out to just be someone who was out for a night of fun and nothing more, and one might be tempted to ask, “Doesn’t this give her mystery more value than her actual name?”
Before you ask either of these questions, take a moment and look into the eyes of your wife, your daughter, your mother, your sister, your niece….there is nothing that can replace them and if they were unable to speak, wouldn’t you want someone to speak for them? So, what if they are just normal people. They are people. They are love and live and a part of this human family.
Virginia Stafford, which is the very final name she ever gave anyone to call her, wants to go home. She’s done being a part of a story. Virginia deserves her peace. Her life ended too soon and ended in the arms of strangers. Technology has advanced, the world has changed, but Virginia has still not gone home.
THREE SOCKS MEDIA WILL BE INVESTIGATING THIS MYSTERY. STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES AND CHECK OUT OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL.
You may have noticed that on our COVID-19 page I have announced today that we will be doing "Story Time" for adults. These will be simple little stories to help you laugh, make you think, and maybe sometimes make you cry.
This is the true purpose of Three Socks Media, LLC. In the past year, I've gotten away from my roots: telling a good story. Because of the lock down in my state (Michigan) all productions are stopped and I find myself with time to reflect and think about what matters, and I can say without hesitation what matters is a good story. That should be at the heart of every production, but oddly enough as one embarks on the business side of production, story seems to become less and less the issue.
I have truly missed getting a chance to just sit at my laptop and create, to be immersed in the actual act of telling a story. Making deals, managing egos, (and legal paperwork (oh, and did I mention managing egos?) becomes all-consuming, and it can be easy to forget the simple joy of the story that started it all.
Stay safe. I look forward to 2020 becoming a bigger adventure for us all.
HOPE: Corona Virus
I love a good disaster movie. To be honest, it's one of my personal favorite types of movies. Why? Well, because they ask some interesting 'WHAT IF" questions that bend my thoughts about reality. I suspect that most of us like a good disaster movie for the same reason. Also, much like a horror movie, a disaster movie allows us to face something scary while sitting in a safe environment.
For me, the best disaster movie is made up of the predictable formula: the scientist warns everyone, but is ignored. Then the disaster begins and the main characters unite to survive. And, of course, there are the people who panic and then get swallowed up by the earth. In the safety of a movie theater, it's an enjoyable experience.
What's happening for all of us right now, however, is not a movie. We are living in a rather challenging situation. There is no formula, and we cannot simply get in our cars and drive away. Things are changing around us and they are doing so at an alarmingly rapid rate.
One of my colleagues always tells me that when we have a challenge, we need to begin by taking stock of where we are and what assets we possess. That falls under the old cliche of "count your blessings" but it is a philosophy that works and one that I embrace. So I wanted to focus this blog on what positive things we have right now.
First of all, we live in a world that is more connected than it has ever been. Right now I am reaching out to you. Earlier today, I had several great conversations with people around the globe. We are not alone. We are not isolated.
Second, this down time may give us all a chance for a much needed self-correct. We need to think about the environment. We need to think about our lives. For too long humanity has rushed around too busy to notice the world, and we are long overdue for downtime. But here it is for us all. Right now is your chance to simply just catch your breath and think.
Third, we have the opportunity to tell some amazing stories. We may be feeling out of control at times, but we always always always have the right to tell our own story. We here at Three Socks love stories. Every day we encounter new ones and we stand amazed. Right now I challenge you to think about the fact that you are living in an historic time period and you have the opportunity to tell this story in an amazing way. You can give hope to others. You can be a positive force even from your own home. You can choose hope over panic. As the mother of two daughters, I am constantly reminded how much they look to me for hope. What we say and do impacts others and there is absolutely never a situation in which negativity and panic is productive. This afternoon I was deeply saddened to see a woman I once greatly respected using her voice to instill panic in others. She claimed she was "keeping it real." To her I wish to say, "Do you know what else is real? Hope. Kindness. Love. Our future." The only thing she is "keeping real" is her fear.
We here at Three Socks will be posting new things on this site to instill hope in others. Help us. Go ahead and comment below and share some hope with others. Together we can outshine those who wish to fill that awful role in the disaster movies of "panicked crowd". Together we will be just fine.
A Clear Vision
In the past year, Three Socks has traveled a very long way. In the fall of 2018, I met up with an old friend. I'll call him Marc. He is a wonderfully warm, eternally youthful person despite having retired from his professional life about ten years ago. He constantly tells me that he feels that he has his best work ahead of him, and I believe him. He knows everyone....I kid you not. EVERYONE. Together we have had many adventures in this past year, most wonderful, but some not so wonderful.
You've all heard me say many many times that I do not believe in focusing on the negative. I see no reason to tell a story that keeps me stuck in the past, especially a past that didn't always work out so well. The story I want to tell here is one of realizing when to follow the same path as someone else and when to diverge. Also, when to forgive.
People can come into our lives and be a huge help, but that doesn't mean we should ever stop thinking for ourselves. And the only person who has the answers for your life, your projects, your story is YOU.
This old friend provided some wonderful insights, but reached a point where it became obvious it was time to say goodbye. While we are all deeply-saddened by this, the circumstances surrounding the situation have only served to make our vision stronger. We know who we are. We know what we are. We know where we are headed.
Thank you to all who have aided us in this journey.
All of you know how important it is for me that my company stay focused on the positive and continue to dream big. Nothing has changed there, even in the face of recent challenges. My mentor used to say that if you really want to know the character of a person look at him/her during a time of stress and see who they are in the crisis. With that in mind, I want to share some challenges that we have recently encountered at Three Socks and how we are addressing them.
In October we landed a major investor. We are enjoying a marvelous relationship with that investor, which has caused some people to ask, "Why aren't things moving more quickly if things are going so well?" The answer to that is that first of all, things take time. You'd be amazed at how banks will put holds on transactions, even simple ones. Due to new bank regulations intended to prevent scams and terrorism, many activities that should take 24 hours can now take up to 20 days or more. This has required everyone at ThreeSocks to take a deep breath and patiently go through the process. It hasn't been easy for us at times, but we are making the best of it and using this time to do planning.
Another challenge, which has been far less tolerable is that we have become aware of another production company that has been blatantly spreading lies about us. They had hoped to own the project we currently have in production. This has both frustrated and saddened us. I do not need to go into the ugliness of some of their actions, but I want to issue our official statement right here that ThreeSocks has and will continue to always operate at the highest level of professionalism. We have honored all of our relationships and commitments and will continue to do so. We also once again extend to this other company the offer to work together rather than in competition, but we will not under any circumstances lower ourselves to negative behavior.
If you hear anything negative about any company, do the right thing and find out for yourself. Investigate it and don't simply allow little minds to dictate what you do.
So going back to how we are going to react during this time of stress....we will do what we always do: Think big, seek solutions, and strengthen our resolve to create an amazing project. And for those of you who are newbies and following this blog to watch our progress while you are getting started, please know that no one can walk on you unless you first lay down. ThreeSocks Media will not be laying down.
Three Socks Media, LLC. has gone through some extraordinary changes in the past few months. I realize that we've been quiet on our blog and I appreciate all of you who have contacted me noting this silence. I am so flattered that you missed hearing updates!!! So, let me get right into things.
Before the end of February I will be off to London to meet with investors and then we begin production within a few weeks after that!! Keep checking back and join us on social media....also, your comments are very welcome here on this blog!
A New Three Socks, LLC
Okay, it's been way too long since I posted anything and for that I deeply apologize. I realize it's been almost a year and that is completely unforgivable. But here's the thing...the intern graduated (yes, I did my best to stop it, but you can't keep a good woman down!) Oh, and I've actually been working. My dear loyal readers, things have been popping around here. First of all, I've finished a few new scripts. Second, last fall I met up with one of my heroes from long ago. David J. Willett, president of Associated Newspapers, owned the newspapers that I read when I was in high school. He also wrote a column that I read often. He also has produced Detroit television programs. Well, last fall we met and immediately realized that we shared a love of storytelling....I mean we both REALLY LOVE STORYTELLING. We love it so much that if we're not stopped we will literally tell stories for days on end with no food, water, or rest.
So, where did this lead? David has agreed to be a consultant and a producer on the first project. That means our family has gotten bigger. David brought with him some wonderful people such as Director Brad Graham and former Detroit Free Press Writer, Keith Gave. (In addition, together he and I had lunch with Jane Goodall, an amazing experience! And that's just the start of the adventures we've had.) We've had a wonderful time developing our plans for the company and you're going to be amazed at what we do in 2019 and into 2020.
There are only great things ahead and I promise that I will keep you all updated from this point forward on a more regular basis. I'll start sharing more details over the coming weeks. :-)
Passion for Storytelling
Today I was contacted by someone telling me about a young man named Noah who is very eager to be a film maker. Specifically, I believe he is doing animation, which is not quite my area of expertise, but still he is telling stories. There's something truly amazing that happens when a storyteller finds his/her medium and has wonderful people supporting him/her. I remember the very first script I ever wrote. For years I had been telling stories, but I had never created an actual script. Although I knew very little when I started, that didn't stop me from jumping. I had found my medium and although I made my share of mistakes initially, I didn't care. That's what passion does for a person. It drives him/her to keep going no matter what.
Whenever you are tempted to say, "I don't know what to do next" stop. Just stop right there. Take a deep breath, clear your head, and remind yourself that the next step is always there when you are ready. Sometimes you're not actually ready yet, but in most cases you are and that next step is indeed there. Have you ever been looking for a lost item such as a shoe, a pen, or a book and no matter what you just can't see it? Then amazingly the item turns up in a place where you swear you already looked. What happened? Well, you were so convinced the item was lost that you convinced yourself and your mind obliged. I know this may sound crazy, but the next time you "lose" something, sit down for a moment, close your eyes and say, "I know where it is." Then just release it for a moment. Stop being panicked. Stop focusing on the problem. The same is true of film making. You will encounter challenges. You will lose things and you will feel like you've hit a brick wall at times. But the thing is there is a solution. There is a way around a challenge or through it. Stop focusing on the problem.
This week I also spent some time talking to Dov Siemens, yes, the online 2-day workshop Dov Siemens. He is a firm believer in finding solutions and in the power of storytelling. I promote his classes on this website not because I get any financial gain, but because his classes were my solution early in my journey as a film maker. (I have a firm belief that when someone helps you, you need to be grateful and help in return.)
Noah and Dov were both inspirations to me this week, but I'd be remiss if I didn't add one more name to the list of people I worked with this week who shared their passion. John Gerds, the director for ThreeSocks' production of Traunik reached out to me this week as well. If you ever need to talk to someone who has found his medium and is on fire, talk to John. He has passion to spare when it comes to film making. I am truly honored and very thrilled to have had contact with such wonderful people this week. They are this film maker's greatest resource.
Steps for making a movie
Many of you coming to this site are very new to film making while others are the friends and supporters of THREE SOCKS MEDIA. We're on a journey together telling our stories and I want to take a moment to thank two sources that taught me so much: Dov Siemens who teaches the 2-Day Film School, and John Mashni, an entertainment attorney in Lansing, Michigan. It's important to have great resources, folks, and I plan to devote upcoming blogs to just this subject.
But back to the business at hand...
Coming into 2018 we've gotten a bit off focus, so I want to go back to making a movie. First of all, a few tools:
In my last post, I shared my story. Thank you so much for all of you who contacted me regarding how my story touched your life. I am so grateful to have had the chance to share it. Now we get back to film making. I'm fairly new to the film making community, but I have to say how amazing everyone has been. I've really enjoyed meeting people for coffee, brunch, and late night chats. What strikes me about all of these people is their commitment to storytelling and their unique perspectives.
In a few weeks, I'll be holding an auction of movie/TV memorabilia to raise funds for my next three movies. I'm current reaching out to Michigan celebrities for these items, although I may go beyond, and I am looking forward to a really amazing event. Keep checking back for updates.
For now, I want to talk about the idea of labels. Normally, I tell people not to label themselves and I've got a great story about someone I know who has been wearing a label of victim and failure due to being fired from her dream job, but before I tell that story, I want to share a new twist. In his workshops, Dov Siemens (if you don't know him GOOGLE his name because he is definitely well worth knowing) immediately tells students to label themselves as producers, directors, writers, whatever role you plan to play in film making. I loved that idea and when I took his course, I jumped on it right away. The problem was that I didn't actually believe it. It actually took me a few years before I felt like I could claim the title of executive producer and an encounter this past week has made me wonder about that process. You see, I, like many other people, easily adopt negative labels. It's easy to call yourself a failure. A loser. The list goes on and on. But for now as you are working on your film career, I want to challenge you to take a cue from Dov and call yourself something positive and really mean it.
This past week I ran into a woman who had been my supervisor many years ago before I went out onto my own. She hired and trained me at the company. After working with her for almost three years, I heard she had been fired as a part of a "mass blood-letting" by the company. I want to be extremely respectful to her here, so I'm going to be a bit vague and I'm going to use a fake name, but there is a very important lesson to be found in my recent encounter with her and it's been on my mind all week, which is why I am sharing this.
She was let go, and I was promoted. I was not a part of the decision making process, so I never knew very much, but a few days after she was fired I ran into her. To say she was angry would an understatement. She tried to be kind to me, but I also got a sense that her anger rain over onto me. That was fine, though, because I could easily see where she'd be upset. We chatted that day and I shared my dream of going out onto my own and offered to share the resources I was gathering for my big move. She declined. We parted ways.
I hadn't given her much thought until this recent encounter. There was still a tinge of anger obvious in her, and her life had not progressed significantly from where she was when we last spoke. Hearing this sent a chill down my spine. I remember hearing a quote a long time ago that said something to the effect of having problems means you're human, but having the same problems year after year means you've got a full-blown crisis. I'm not saying it as eloquently as the original quote, but the point is the same. (Hey, if you know this quote, please contact me!)
Hearing the tinge of anger and seeing that she hadn't progressed seemed heart breaking to me, but I understand. I've been there. Years ago I read the book "Forgive for Good" and began to work on the art of forgiving myself and others in my life. Pain can hold a person in the same spot for years...even for a lifetime. The irony is that we get angry at someone or something for ruining our lives and then we make a commitment to this vision and live it out. Getting fired is unpleasant, and the actual firing was possibly out of your control, but how you handle it and how you proceed is 100% in your hands.
I've really been thinking about that lesson this past week. Now, I'm not in that woman's shoes and I can't tell her what to do, but if she would hear me, I'd love to tell her that she is amazing and my time working for her made me a better person. I believe she is capable of great things, but you know what? The only person who can make the decision regarding what she is capable of is her. That's true for us all.
Tony Robbins has taken some heat lately for making a statement about not defining yourself as a victim. I see his point. Being a victim is terrible and I would never want to minimize anyone's pain or struggle, but at the same time, I know for a fact that negative labels limit. So, I will leave you here with the words that my favorite writing teacher used to say to me at the end of class: Get the hell out of here. Go and be amazing. (He was a bit rough around the edges! LOL!)
Lynne M. Smelser is an executive producer and scriptwriter. For more than 20 years she has been an active writer who has won many national awards. She also holds a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University.