Jody knew a lot of interesting characters in her life, one of them was Noel Wickman, sculptor, trailblazer, raconteur at-large, whose fascinating story, as much as I know it, I will share with you.
Canadian by birth, Wicky was one of three siblings who early in life watched their mother commit suicide by drinking drain cleaner. Parked by their father in an assortment of brothels until they were adopted (to serve as free farm labor), Wicky had a large repertoire of dirty limericks she learned from the prostitutes who took care of her.
Wicky was a sculptor, she made paper mache figures at half or 2/3 scale. When she died, her partner Susan asked Jody if we wanted Wicky's sculptures. We called her back two days later to arrange to get them, and after a lengthy and very pregnant pause, she informed us she'd thrown them in the garbage. So we never even got to take photos of them. They were quite good. Susan was quite bad.
Wicky was the owner of a music box shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, and was the source for much of the Market material in Death in Seattle.
("The bewildering morass put him in mind of a cannibal-pot, it was so carnal and so mundane; all clamor and tumult with its oyster bars, barbecue, incense and spice, the spiny lobster, the whelk and the prawn side by side with smutty magazines and blatant perishables, the vulgar trinkets of the multitude hawked along sidewalks crammed with bric-a-brac and crawling with loafers, street walkers and dope addicts whose antics Rawlence eyed with scorn; all of this intermixed with steaming cauldrons and smoking grills and always the new faces backdropped by the same old many-colored kites, windsocks, marijuana pipes, tourists in perpetual rejoicing, the strife and babel of polyglot tongues of savage nations (including his own) not to mention drugged teenagers smacking their lips over chili dogs that dripped hotsauce amid the glitter of inconsequential baubles and posters and T-shirts and rings and necklaces and knives of every make, set out on wooden tables open to the wind and the rain, everything permeated by a democratic reek of bakery goods or stir-frying that drifted on the Puget Sound breeze.")
Noel worked in the 60's at The Blind Lemon in Berkeley and once saw Bob Dylan (before he was "Bob Dylan") playing there. Wicky mistook him for a woman and liked the song, commenting, "Not bad, but she can't sing."
They met when Wicky answered Jody's ad for Irondale lots. At the time she was with a woman named Amy. Later when she was no longer with Amy but with Jody, Amy reported them to immigration for being gay. Agents came to the house to investigate, Jody also became freaked out lest that somehow spread to an investigation of her fitness as a parent. You know, because she was a lesbian.
I don't know the details, but Wicky was never deported, and Jody was never investigated. (She was later investigated by the FBI for her involvement in the distribution of an interracial porn film in the south, but that is an unrelated story.)
Wicky was the first female draftsman at Boeing Aerospace Company. Some of the material in I, Vampire about the character Blake Reardon came from Wicky.
("In any big company, a drafting room is a sham. It’s a complete lie! Hypocrisy in motion! You sit and draw pla-pla. Pretend to draw something that might work. Act busy. Then along comes the engineer supervisor. He takes ten minutes and redesigns the whole thing you’ve been working on for six months. Correction: he doesn’t redesign it; he copies it out of the book. Didn’t the old Romans design a thumbscrew pretty much like this one? But the point is, Boeing has got to hire ten thousand bodies, because the government says ten thousand people must work on the project, or else money won’t be funneled into the Seattle plant. It’s a nuthouse!")
Wick was also diabetic. Once when she hospitalized, Jody and I were waiting on bench in Denny's for a land appointment, who was late. We went into a roll of silliness and hilarity while we waited, riffing on anything and everything, cracking ourselves up. After the appointment Jody called the hospital and asked for Noel Wickman's room. "We don't have any patient by that name," she was told.
Turns out Wicky died in the hospital while Jody and I were laughing in Denny's.
We liked to think that Wicky was with us, part of that hilarity, a sort of bon voyage party.
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