MAGPIE TALE: The Marking Down of Beauty
She has even reverted back to her original name, Agnes Blanchburn.
Edna Cosgrove and Coeta Healdton whisper over the lime aids and pimento grilled cheese sandwiches Agnes serves them. They can remember the days when Agnes was better known for "putting on airs" after she came back from elocution and posture lessons from a tutor in Evanston.
Agnes always tried to present herself as the artistic type ever since she won the contest of Miss Studebaker of Kendall County and that artist from Ann Arbor breezed through town and painted so many portraits of her. He said he was going to submit some of them direct to the Studebaker designers and insist that her likeness should be used in the design of the hood ornaments for the 1932 model. Agnes had visions of dozens of chrome versions of herself coming down Michigan or Park avenues, glistening in the sun.
It was Detroit not Hollywood that came calling for Agnes when she entered the contest for Miss Buick 1935 but came in only fifth place but was featured as Miss August in calendars in the men's rooms of dealerships in the Upper Midwest. It was then that she adopted the name Latrice to avoid too much scandal back in Joliet. Soon she was actually off to California and making films, but in Encino not Hollywood or Culver City.
She adopted a number of other names -- Lillian Lushmore, Bernice Babcock, Colleen Coobaugh -- as she made a series of increasingly squalid potboilers. And before she knew it, she was 35, a marginally employed "actress" who primarily supported herself working at Van de Kamp's. Finally, she got a speaking role, albeit one line ("I think he went that way.") and in a B-picture, Revenge of Tarzan.And now, here she is back in Joliet. "This job at the counter is just transitional," she tells Coeta and Edna who nod in polite albeit mock understanding as they struggle to quiet their condescending giggles. "I think I will either teach acting or piano lessons. And I still have my ceramics. I could always pursue my craft in ceramics. I find glazing much more rewarding than the glare of the spotlight these days."