A small town girl finds success - Dedicated to the Dragon Ladies of Welding
custody of you to your father but in investigating further, I have found how difficult your life has been. I had not realized that I also had hurt your father and I fear he has not treated Adelaide right.”
“But how would you know how mother felt. You were not here” Atari commented.
“I have always been in communication with Adelaide throughout the years. I thought your father loved her and they both wished to raise you as their own. I realize I was insensitive but obviously since your father was sleeping with my sister, I assumed he loved Adelaide more. Now I find that he has become an alcoholic and your mother is not happy either but still loves him. When I found that you were working in Carlisle’s factory I had to put an end to this. Do you wish to go to school to become a fashion designer? I am wondering whether you would you consider moving to San Francisco now?” she inquired.
“Yes, I do wish to be a designer. I have been saving money from my job and I have looked into taking online courses with the Academy of Arts until I can afford to move. But how can I leave my parent’s house under these circumstances and move with you? All these years they have raised me and have provided for me and they now need my help” Atari asked.
“Provided for you? Hell, is that what they called it? My understanding is that you have been providing for your self and are even paying rent since you now are working here. I have been sending them checks for your support and they have not even provided you with enough money for clothing and personals. When I found out that your father has pissed away all that money on his drinking problem, I decided that was enough” Madeline stated. “That is why I called Carlisle Stevens. He filled me in on everything which was happening and if you desire, I wish for you to leave with me in a week for San Francisco. My attorney is negotiating the terms of your so called release with your father, who really cannot keep you in this town anyway now that you are 18.”
Atari sat in the chair appearing to ponder the information she had just been provided. She then answered, “I definitely wish to go with you but mainly because it is the opportunity I seek. I have wanted to be a designer since I was a child. Yet this is a bit of a shock for me. I guess I will thank you Madeline for this opportunity of a lifetime!”
“It is for the better, Atari, that you leave with me at once. Carlisle is the only one who knows, besides your father and Adelaide that I am actually your natural mother. Neither Carlisle’s family nor the others in town know you are my daughter and it has been suggested that we keep it that way” Madeline stated.
As Madeline and Atari walked into the lobby, Carlisle approached them. Ladies, I would like to invite you to our home for dinner. Madeline, even Sandra has not seen you since you designed that special dress for her in Frisco. Let’s say, about 7:00 pm…would that be okay?”
“Yes Carlisle, I look forward to again seeing Sandra and your son, who I understand has recently moved here” she responded.
“Yes, and since you are one of the famous women of the area, I have invited the St. Claire family who are friends of ours also to dine with us. I know you will all get along famously. By the way, Atari, will you be moving to San Francisco with Madeline?”
“Yes Mr. Stevens. I look forward to the opportunity”.
“Well that is excellent news. I have taken the liberty of asking Ms. Wright to complete your exit papers. I would imagine that you would like to say your goodbyes to your fellow workers in the factory, while I speak with Madeline for a few more minutes. Your exit papers will then be ready to be signed by the time you return” Carlisle stated. “Let me have Kent first take you the welding office where you can give a formal notice to the manager.”
“Ms. Wright, page Kent and fill him in that Atari will need his assistance in her exit. I want him to escort her so that no one questions why she is talking to the other employees while they are working.”
“Thank you Mr. Stevens for being so gracious about my apparent lack of notice” Atari said as she awaited Kent’s arrival before exiting the office area toward the factory.”
Carlisle told her it was his pleasure as he led Madeline to his office.
It was only a few minutes before Kent was seen barreling toward the door where Atari was standing. “What’s this I hear? You are leaving us so soon? We haven’t even had a chance to spend any time together” he exclaimed.
“Opportunity has knocked, Kent. I will be leaving with my aunt Madeline to San Francisco where I will attend school as well as working for her at the Dupree House of Fashion” she responded.
“I know how much you have awaited an opportunity such as this and I am happy for you. How wonderful that you have such a successful relative in your life. Now you will not have to work in a factory, which is far too dangerous for someone like you to begin with. Yet, it appears, I will have to make trips now to San Francisco to check on you so that you do not forget me” he said. “This is the part of fate I am not happy with at this moment.”
“Kent, it is probably for the better. And, I understand Gigi St. Claire is very interested in you and that the two of you have been dating. Most likely she will be at your house with her parents this evening and I do not wish to spoil anything the two of you have. Oh, you probably do not know, but Madeline Dupree and I have been invited to your home for dinner this evening” she explained.
“Great to know; at least I will accept my parents invitation if I know you will be there. I know the St. Claire family has always hoped Gigi and I would get together, but frankly, she is not exactly my cup of tea. She’s a bit spoiled and other than our families carrying a friendship over the years, I do not have the types of feelings for her that would cause me to enter into a permanent relationship. Things would have to change greatly and I do not believe in changing someone to suit me. I just have not addressed the issue with either of my parents or Gigi” he said. “I had not expected to find someone like you and it appears now it has become more urgent that I express my feelings”.
“Kent tonight is Madeline’s night and it would probably be best to not discuss anything of this nature with those invited to your home. In fact, you could change your mind about Gigi, right?”
“I rather doubt that beautiful. I will honor your request but if Gigi hangs all over me again tonight, I want you to understand my feelings for you are real” he said.
By this time they were at the welding office where he advised the welding manager that Atari would be leaving. He stated it was his father’s decision that she has an opportunity to say goodbye to her friends. He further advised him that he would accompany her through the factory so no one would question why she would be stopping production to speak to her co-workers.
Their first stop was at Ron’s Jenkins’ station. After she shocked Ron with the news, Atari walked through the welding department briefly telling everyone that she had given her notice because she would be moving to San Francisco to pursue her dream as a designer.
She also stopped by the assembly area to say goodbye to her friend Susan who began to weep. Atari told her that she had just paid off her car and she wanted Susan to have it. “Susan, you have depended on everyone else and this would give you a chance to occasionally get out of town” Atari stated. Susan just held her tight and thanked her after inquiring what she would do for transportation in San Francisco.
By this time, the entire factory was spreading the news relating to Atari. Many were wondering what the real reason for her exit was but they all wished her well. The wishes given were kind and warm felt, especially because Kent had joined her and stood directly beside her at every station.
When they came past the forklift area, he asked her to take a walk outside with him. She obliged and they walked hand and hand to the area where he initially had asked her to dine with him. It was there that he held her tight and kissed her forehead. “I personally do not want you to go. I know this is an opportunity for you but for me it will be hell. I have nothing to look forward to in this damned town and you know dad wants me to run the factory at some point. In fact, I will be flying to Japan in a couple of weeks to determine why we cannot resolve some of our problems with the engines the factory there is supplying us. I really do not know how long that will take”.
“It will be fine, Kent. We both have opportunities and I believe in fate. If we are meant to be together, it will happen. For now, I am elated that I can make something of myself and have the opportunity for the education I require” she said “I trust there is a reason that we have met and I am certain we will meet again. And when we do I know that I will have more experience in the world to match yours.”
“I understand, but I must ask, are those tears in your eyes, beautiful?” he asked.
“Yes. I am happy but I am also sad about leaving you before I had the time to really know you. I do not understand why after all this time, I would have to fall for a man who I cannot be with” she said.
As he wiped her tears, he told her that his feelings were mutual but that he would make certain that he would see her as frequently as he could. They held each other closely until it was obvious that they had to make their way back to the office. Ron had apparently noticed the two in an embrace and Kent knew there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. Technically Atari no longer was an employee of the factory nor did either one have to answer to a manager. They walked back through the factory doors, holding hands as they made their way toward the office.
Kent left Atari in Ms. Wright’s office while he made his way toward his father’s office. The door was open as he noticed Madeline and Carlisle were having a toast to their renewed friendship. Kent then closed the door to his father’s office and told them he had something to tell them.
“What is it son, did you have a problem with Atari’s exit?” he said.
”Yes as a matter of fact I did, but not for the reasons you may think. Just recently I had met Atari on a personal basis. We dined with Bill, Todd and their wives at the casino last Saturday and I fear that I am in love with her and I barely have had a chance to know her” he said.
Madeline’s eyes became wider as Carlisle stated “I have heard about this through the grapevine and I was wondering when you would mention it. I wasn’t certain what your actual feelings were until now; but I suspected if Atari was anything like her mother, you were probably enamored with her at first sight” Carlisle stated as Madeline started to blush.
“Carlisle, please do not say any more” stated Madeline.
“Kent then looked at the two of them and said “I assume you are speaking of Ms. Dupree, father and because of the way you are looking at her; let me guess, you have always loved her from the time you met. Is that correct?” Kent inquired.
“Yes, and you need not question me like an attorney son. Only her father, Adelaide and I knew that Atari was Madeline’s daughter. And since my feelings for Madeline are not something I would wish for you to discuss with your mother, I hope that you will retain this information privately” Carlisle asked.
“What’s this? Atari is your daughter!” he said as he looked at Madeline. Then turning to his father he said “I knew it father! The way in which you are looking at Ms. Dupree, says it all. I am just thankful that Atari is not my sister, but obviously the two of you have never acted on your feelings. I have no problem retaining the family secrets and I will do as you ask, father, but understand, I will wish to see Atari occasionally…That is if it is okay with you Ms. Dupree?”
“I will welcome you to my home, Kent, if Atari so desires. Yet, I ask that you honor her desire for a career as a designer. Will you do that, Kent?”
“Yes, Ms. Dupree. Her desire to be a designer is the reason we have discussed taking our relationship very slowly” Kent explained.
“Well this must be serious indeed. Not to pick on my son but this is the first time I believe I have ever heard him consider a female’s desires before his own” Carlisle stated.
“Thanks father for giving me such frank acknowledgment. Yet you are correct and I do not know why, but Atari has been forever on my mind since the day I met her” Kent stated.
“I know why, but I can tell you with the St. Claire’s coming for dinner this evening, you had better keep this between those present here. You know how your mother keeps forcing you on Gigi and frankly Gigi is not the type of girl I hoped you would end up with. But I have to keep your mother happy” Carlisle stated.
“Not a problem father. If you have hidden your feelings about Ms. Dupree for all these years, then I can hide my feelings for a night or two about Atari” Kent stated, at which point his father appeared to blush.
Madeline then thanked the Stevens men for their assistance and bid them ado until the evening dinner. She told Kent that he could secure her Nob Hill address and phone information from Carlisle. Then she went directly to Ms. Wright’s office where she apprised Atari that as soon as the paperwork was completed they would be going directly to see her father and Adelaide. Her attorney had texted her that the additional paperwork had been signed.
Atari’s home was only a few minutes away from the factory parking lot. As she and Madeline made their way toward the entrance, her father stopped them at the door. He told Madeline that she was not welcome and that she had ruined his and Adelaide’s life.
Madeline became unhinged and told Ken in no uncertain terms that she was accompanying their daughter to secure her belongings. She further asked where all the money she had sent for Atari’s support had gone because it obviously had not been spent on her. Adelaide began to cry and Atari went toward her to comfort her. Atari explained that Adelaide was the only mother she had known and she loved her very much.
Ken became angered and stormed out of the house toward his pickup truck. He told Adelaide that he was going to the Rusty Pail and wasn’t certain if he would be coming home.
As Adelaide continued to cry, Madeline told her that she should leave him and come to San Francisco with Atari. Then Adelaide continued to cry even harder. “I love him. I know he always wanted you more. I was his excuse for getting to you…but I love him and I hoped that someday he would love me.”
“Adelaide, you do not have to hope for love after all of these years. There are others who would love you for who you are, instead of treating you poorly. I never loved Ken nor did I ever give him such indication. I am going to set up a fund for you so that when you are tired of this treatment, you will have the money with which to escape. I am serious my dear sister. This is not the right way to live and I love you too much to see you in this situation” Madeline stated as she hugged her sister.
The females then segregated the items Atari wished to take with her in a separate part of her room. Madeline made the arrangements for the local moving company to pack the items the following day and have them shipped to her California home by UPS.
In the meantime, Atari packed her personal items and clothing in luggage Madeline had purchased. They had approximately two hours before they would be expected to arrive at the Stevens’ home. She advised Atari that she had rented adjoining rooms, so that each could have their private space. Soon they hugged Adelaide and told her they would see her sometime in the following day prior to noon. By doing so they could be at the house before the packers and truck arrived to pick up Atari’s belongings the following afternoon.
Once at the hotel, Atari quickly showered and found a royal blue suit she had designed with ruffles adorning the entire jacket. The skirt was narrow with small slits on each side. She chose a white silk blouse she had sewn which had a high beaded neckline. By the time she knocked on Madeline’s door, Madeline was already dressed and waiting for her.
“Atari, I love the design of your suit which I assume you have not only designed but have sewn as well”. As Atari stated she had, Madeline continued “I have the perfect jewelry to go with your attire” as she handed Atari jewelry box which contained a necklace with hanging blue sapphires.
“Oh, Aunt Madeline, I couldn’t possibly wear something so expensive.”
“I want you to have it, sweetheart. It will look better on you than it will on me”, she said as she hooked in place on Atari’s neck.
At that time there was a knock on the door, and the Carlisle’s chauffeur explained that the car would be waiting in front of the hotel whenever they were ready. Madeline and Atari stated they were ready currently and they followed him out toward the vehicle.
As the car left the hotel area, it traveled through the hilly area of which there were few hills in the valley. The driver suddenly slowed the vehicle at a large gated area. As the gate opened, one could see the large white pillared home which lay ahead. Atari had never seen such a lovely home in the area and it was similar to many homes she saw in magazines pertaining to the south..
There was one additional home in this area, which was separated from the Stevens’ home only by bushes. Atari felt that home was especially beautiful but haunting with its gothic brick design. She could see where Madeline could not take her eyes off of that home and suddenly she could sear tears in her eyes.
“Aunt Madeline, is there a problem? Do you know the people who live there?”
“Atari, it is the house in which Adelaide and I was raised. I have not been back to this area since my parents’ funeral” she explained getting back her composure.
Atari then placed her arm around Madeline as the vehicle made it down the winding road to the Stevens’ house.
Sandra Stevens greeted Madeline and Atari into her home. She told Madeline how pleased she was to give her a tour. As if she was embarrassed about her living conditions, it was explained that homes in this area are not quite the same as the homes on Nob Hill but yet their house was one the best of this area. The St. Claire family was seated in the living room, enjoying cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres, while conversing with Kent and Carlisle when they were introduced to Madeline.
When Gigi noticed Atari, she moved closer toward Kent who she was sitting by on the couch. It was then that Kent excused himself and asked his mother whether he could assist her by showing Ms. Dupree and her niece the garden and grounds while she made the final preparations for dinner. He said that he required a walk. Gigi offered to join them and he firmly stated that he could handle it on his own. Knowing his stern look she was reluctant to join them and decided to inquire whether Sandra required help in the kitchen.
After a short tour, they returned to find that dinner had been announced. Soon everyone was seated at the table. Mrs. St. Claire was enamored with Madeline’s stories about the fashion industry and Sandra couldn’t say enough about her tour of Madeline’s home at Nob Hill.
Gigi then addressed Atari. “Well you certainly will have an interesting life, Atari. It appears you will be going from rags to riches when living with your famous aunt. Are you certain you can handle it?”
“I believe I will be able to handle it perfectly fine, Gigi. After all, I had already decided to move to San Francisco to pursue a fashion designing career, prior to my knowledge that my Aunt was in the industry” she answered.
“Well, I wish you luck. Living with a drunken father must have not been easy for you. After all, you are kind of a country bumpkin. I bet you have not even travelled out of this town much less to another state” Gigi exclaimed.
“Gigi, I do not know why you are being so unkind” Mrs. St. Claire commented.
“I’m not being unkind, mother. I am just stating facts” replied Gigi.
Madeline then said “Gigi, it is so nice of you to be concerned about Atari. But I can assure you that Atari has great breeding and genetics. She is probably one of the most intellectual and creative young women I have ever known. I am so proud that she is my niece. She will adapt easily to her new surroundings. You cannot imagine what a beautiful collection she has already designed. It will not be long before her collections hit the runways in San Francisco, if not in New York and Paris.”
“Well doesn’t it take time?” Gigi asked.
“Of course, dear, but if she is as talented as I was at her age, I cannot imagine it will take but a year or two. Plus she can still continue her education while designing. The difficulty is that I know when my people view her, they will probably wish for her to model rather than design because of her exceptional photogenic features” Madeline explained.
“But she is not you and she is not your daughter” said Gigi to everyone’s dismay.
“You have been showing in Paris yearly as well. Am I correct” Carlisle asked, changing the subject.
“Yes, my collection is seen in Fashion Week, bi-yearly for the spring and fall collections. It is a very romantic city and I know Atari will love it as I do” Madeline stated. “When my parents were both younger, we travelled to Paris once every five years. One of my father’s business clients had a château in the countryside” Madeline stated. “We would trade homes and they would either come to the country house or the house in San Francisco. You will recall that Carlisle, because your parents also knew them.”
“Yes, Madeline, but it has been ages ago and I believe I only was in Paris once” he said.
“Well”, said Mrs. St. Claire. “That must have been wonderful for you. Since your family obviously had some money, why is it that your sister lives in such squalor?”
“My sister is a wonderful woman. Even though our parents at one time had money, it was not her or my primary focus. My parents did not leave their estate to their children, but rather left it to business associates and charities. Instead my father provided us with life’s tools and what we made of those tools was to be our successful legacy. My sister has great wealth in her love and consideration for others. That is something which is rare. As for me, I am designing as I always wished to do and I am thankful for my sister in supporting me and caring for my daughter.”
“Daughter?; But you were never married to my understanding” stated Sandra. “Does that mean you had a child out of wedlock? Since you were such close friends of Carlisle, it wasn’t his child was it?” at which point Kent almost choked on his wine and had to get his composure.
“You are correct, I did have a child out of wedlock, but not with Carlisle who was a neighbor and always a close friend.. It is not a known fact except to those of whom I consider close friends. Atari is actually my daughter and my dear sister Adelaide cared for her throughout the years. Yes, Gigi, now you know why I am so assured Atari has my attributes and talents.”
“But, no one seems to have known this throughout the years. You have certainly kept this secret hidden” said Sandra.
Years ago, it was very difficult for someone to care for a child and carry out a career. It ruined one’s reputation, especially if one did not have a husband. Today, things have changed and it would not have mattered. Yet I am forever grateful for my sister’s help but I have always provided support for my daughter, if that is what you may be questioning Mrs. St. Claire” as she looked at Madeline as if she was a lesser person.
“I didn’t ask. I was just curious and I guess you read my mind” Mrs. St. Claire stated.
“My God, Atari. You are a bastard child” exclaimed Gigi. “I can’t wait to tell the old gang from school”.
“Enough” said Kent looking directly at Gigi. “You are not only unkind but ridiculous. Atari had a family and whether you approved of her family or not is irrelevant. It shows me how narrow minded you really are, Gigi. That is one of the reasons I would never consider sharing my life with you.”
As he turned his attentions from Gigi, he stated “Mrs. Dupree, I so apologize for our guests’ discriminatory remarks. They obviously do not have the breeding your family has”. Kent then placed his napkin on the table and started walking out of the room.
Gigi then went running out after him and he commanded her to be seated at the table with her parents. “I do not wish to see you. I have had about enough of your attacks on our guests.” He then told Mrs. Dupree that when she was ready to leave, he would be happy to drive her and her daughter to the hotel since the driver would not be available.. He stated he would be in the drawing room.
Madeline stated she was ready now. She then thanked Mr. and Mrs. Stevens for their wonderful hospitality and advised them that whenever they came to San Francisco, they were welcome to stay at her home.
“Mr. and Mrs. St. Claire, I apologize if I have shocked you. I am a top designer who now owns my own company mainly because I had a wonderful sister who cared for Atari” Madeline stated. “And, if your family travels to San Francisco, I hope that you also will look me up.” She, however, noticed the look of distain Mrs. St. Clair seemed to have for her from her body language but it did not matter.
Karin A Fleischhaker-Griffin