Friday, April 24, 2009

Aviator Dolly. . .

. . . . . . A Gal With Many Talents

You've read before in the blogs about Randy Trabold, the photographer for the North Adams Transcript.

Randy had an assistant named Dolly. While Randy was a heavy six footer, Dolly working beside him in his darkroom was like a miniature statue, hardly able to see up to the bottom of his neck.

She and I had occasion to work together (but just once) in the newspaper's darkroom and even I dwarfed her. She had to use a platform to reach the developing tanks.

The first time I ever met Dolly was on a steaming hot summer night. She was working in the darkroom in a corner of the newsroom, a tiny closet like enclosure with no windows. I had only recently joined the staff.

I had gone to the darkroom with a few films to print for the next day's paper and knocked on the door to be sure it was OK to enter.

"Come in" called out Dolly. Entering a darkroom of yore, one paused between two curtains in the dark and then entered the actual darkroom with either a yellow or red light burning.

After getting my bearings I walked in and saw Dolly. I gaped. I gaped again. Said nothing. Just looked.

"Whadda ya staring at" finally got through to me. As my eyes adjusted to the red light I saw the lady from the floor up, barefooted, nothing on her legs and . . .

Dressed only in a white bikini. I was still gaping, She was laughing. "Get used to it, it's hot in here, ya know!" At a second bench, I went to work developing my film.

I remarked at some point "it sure is hot, all right, I'm drenched already." I said, continuing to make prints on the enlarger until two hands suddenly began unbuttoning my shirt while a tiny voice said "oh, come on, get comfortable."

I had only two more prints to make. Got them done and got out of there. Never went back in that darkroom when she was around. Dolly was a temptation I did not need.

By daylight, I had other occasions to work with her. There were at least two occasions when there were fires in the nearby mountains of New York and Vermont as well as the North Adams area and also a plane crash.

Editor Phil said one afternoon "go with Dolly, there's a small plane crash" and off we went in her open air convertible - to Harriman Airport. I didn't see any crashed plane.

She ran to a small plane on the tarmac and hollered to me "come on, get in" and moments later we were in the air flying to southern Vermont. I didn't see a pilot and then realized SHE was the pilot.

She found the downed plane quickly and then leaned out a cockpit window and snapped some pictures as the plane banked in a circle.

Then she put the camera down, grabbed whatever steered the plane and headed over the Mohawk Trail where she showed me the place my wife Loretta, Yarntangler and Scrabblebuff later ran a rock and mineral store and a few other sights before heading back to the airport.

It wasn't the first time I had been in an airplane but the first with a lady pilot who didn't give a second thought to leaning out the window and taking pictures while the plane was on its own.

It was only a couple years or so later Dolly began to show signs of being ill and in a matter of weeks she was deceased, a cancer victim. I was an honorary bearer at her funeral service and burial in Southview Cemetery.

At age 36, maybe 37, I don't thnk she had gotten the chance to live a full life

- 30 -


  1. She sounds like a fun lady.Too bad she had such a short life.

  2. I don't think I remember Dolly but she sounds like someone I would have liked.