Randy Bryan Bigham


Status
Not open for further replies.
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Hi! Well, it's interesting to find out that 2 of the guys signing in on this new "Introduce Yourself" column-idea are from Texas, too! And if Phillip Gowan joins in, there'll be another Texan (though an uprooted one which sometimes doesn't count with die-hards "round these here parts"). And bless poor Phil Hind; he's the lone Brit so far!

Anyway, I feel kind of funny trying to describe myself. I often think when people start talking about themselves they end up sounding boring or pretentious and I'm afraid people will think I'm both!

First off, I'm 32 but I'm proud to say I still look (and friends tell me I still act) like a kid. I was born in Texas and though it seems I've lived everywhere in the interim, I'm back here again and - so long as I don't keel over from the heat wave we're having - I intend to stay a while this time.

As some of you might have guessed I work in the design field - presently as a writer and researcher. I studied art and costume history at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I've contributed articles to "W," "People," "The Voice," and amazon.com (though lately only sporadically). I've served as consultant on exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery (London)and the Musee Galleria (Paris)and worked as research assistant to author Raye Virginia Allen for her book "Gordon Conway: Fashioning a New Woman."

My current project as some of you may have figured out is a pictorial biography of the designer "Lucile," whom you all know better as Lady Duff Gordon. This has proved a major passion (that is to say obsession) over the last decade. Have any of you ever seen the movie "Somewhere in Time?" That's what I feel like sometimes about Lucile. The mss is now finished and is being agented in the UK.

This work has been an odyssey I can hardly describe - getting to view and touch her designs in museums, examining her original watercolor sketches, and most rewarding of all, meeting (and even making friends with) her grandchildren (both now sadly passed on)and other descendents have been such emotional experiences for me I think I'm going to tear up just mentioning them now! Pouring over her scrapbooks, reading her notes and letters, and recently being given a surprise package by one of Lucile's great-granddaughters of lovely swatches and ribbons that once belonged to Lucile were incredible opportunities to live a little in the past. I really did feel like I was bridging time as I sat looking at these treasures.

Well, that's enough of sentiment!

On a more earthly plane let me say that I'm not quite a Titanic fanatic but I love that period in history and I see the Titanic as an ideal portal to the events and people of those days. Of course, my research into the Titanic episode in Lucile's life has brought the horror of the event close to home and so I feel strongly about it which is why I have been so vocal in earlier posts about my opposition to the salvaging of items from the wreck.

More personally, in my spare time, I'm an avid (again read obsessive!) collector of antique clothing, vintage fashion magazines, theatre memorabilia, etc. I'm also a total silent film buff. Love classical music, 18th century French court history and art (Fragonard and Vigee-Lebrun are gods to me). Yet, in loose moments I am a reluctant Democrat, listen to alternative rock, am a shameless "Ab Fab" reruns fan and a "Blair Witch Project" nut! I won't continue as I'm sure my credibility has just crashed!

I hope I haven't alienated too many folks but if so, oh well...

I'll be going back to school - to Central St Martin's in London next year and hope to live there for good thereafter.

OK, let me shut up before some of my friend Inger's critics jump me for trying to outdo - what did they call it? - her "verbose posts?" (As Dorothy Parker liked to say, "Pull-ease...")

PS) Oh, I have a cat too - her name's Hallie.
 
Y

Yurisingleton

Guest
Randy!!

Your post is longer than Pat's, and he's the writer! Thats ok. It only looks long and isn't it true what they say about things in Texas being bigger anyway.
On a local opinion, Ennis seems like a very rural town for a peson of your travels and experiences to live. You must commute to Dallas often to work around the Apparel Mart area. Am I correct?
If the occasion ever arises to join up and see something Titanic related around here, I hope you'll give me buzz.

Yuri
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Yuri,

Now wait just a minute. I think Pat Cook is great - and I just looked at his interesting site and he does by the way look like Capt. Smith! - but I am a writer, too! I would call Pat Cook an "author and playwright" rather than just a freelance writer like me, though I bet he's too modest to call himself that.

No, I do not commute to Dallas. I was a buyer for a store that's famous there but I'm no longer with them & am glad of it! Luckily I have enough to keep me 'til I get back to school next spring and so I am "at leisure" for the moment tying up loose ends on the Lucile project.

And as to your observation - yes, Ennis is very rural for me (not that I'm too good for it, obviously, 'cause here I be!), but my family's here and it's cheaper than Dallas living which I can no longer afford!

As to the Apparel Mart, yes, I used to work there! And I took some classes at Miss Wade's, the merchandising school housed there.

As to my writing (locally) - I recently did a review (in the "Dallas Morning News") of the Victoria and Albert Museum's "Black in Fashion" exhibition which I went to in London while I was over there in April for the memorial for Tony Halsbury, Lucile's grandson. He was 92. The review mentions Lucile whose designs were featured in the exhibit. It was in the Wednesday, May 10 issue of the DMN's "Fashion!Dallas" section, if you get a chance to look it up. If you can also get the book/catalog for this show, which just came out (called "Dressed in Black"), there's a really great bio of Lucile and a full page picture of one of her gown designs, which is a mourning dress, very apropos for the time I was seeing it.

Are you with the Titanic Historical Society? I wrote a 2 part article on Lucile for the THS journal back in '91. I was thinking some day we could meet up at one of their conventions.

I've never been to McKinney.
 
Y

Yurisingleton

Guest
I'm not yet a member of any society. I've long desired to become one but I continue to suffer from acute procrastination you know. Indeed, I misread your bio. and I thought you were a fashion consultant or something of the type. Sorry for the misinfo.
Where does the THS hold its conventions?

Yuri
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Dec 13, 1999
1,007
8
313
THS, April 26-30, 2001, Halifax
BTS, April 6-8, 2001, Southampton
TI has a cruise to Halifax next week, 8-27 to 9-3, 2000.

I've heard a rumour that THS is having their April 2002 convention at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. That's where you guys from Texas can come and meet us'all from Californi.
 
Mar 10, 1998
1,128
6
313
Hi Randy,
And thanks for all the complimentary statements-I appreciate your confidence and your friendship. Glad to hear that you made it by the Risien graves in Oakwood Cemetery. My grandmother is buried just east (within sight) of that location and my father's older sister is just down the same road to the west.

When I think of Ennis I think of all those good looking Czech girls with weird last names like Zmolik, Sulak, and Trojacek- (though I used to hate the polka music on local radio stations). Is Novy's Miniature Golf Course still there? And hey, Ennis has a Whataburger!

Take care,
Phillip
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 26, 2000
1,277
6
313
Wow, this is like a Texas hang-out.

And regarding those 'good looking Czech girls' that Phil just mentioned, Hell, son - I married one! Try on the last name of Lastovica! Her father, when he retired from the Air force, went to work in the post office. My wife still thinks he should've written a book called "The Czech's in the mail!"

Oh, Randy, I too am a free lance writer (thank you for your kind words). You can order any of my plays from the publishers on my webpage. (However, if you email me privately, I'm sure we can work something out. [email protected])

Best regards,
Cook
 
Y

Yurisingleton

Guest
Mike,
The Halifax cruise sounds fun. I wish I could make it but I can't. Southampton is just a little too far on the other side of the pond for me right now. But, when I do make my pilgrimage to the old world, I bet I can time it to attend a meeting.

Thanks,
Yuri
 
E

Elaine Barnes

Guest
Hi Randy, Thanks for reading my bio. I'm an Army Brat, so I was "borned" in Brooke Army Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, TX. For those interested, it's outside San Antonio (Remember the Alamo!)
My father still lives in Texas (May,TX) and all his family all over Texas.
When I was a child we lived in Temple while my father was in Viet Nam.
Other than that, we lived all over the US, so it's been a while since I've been to Texas. Thanks for your interest,
Sincerely,
Elaine
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
67
398
Randy -

I did't manage to exceed your post? Snort! I must add an addendum! ;-)

As a 'diplomatic brat' I can somewhat relate to your background. And with an interest in historical clobber (er...forgive brief burst of Aussism there...) I've thorougly enjoyed your posts to date. Mind if I ask what exhibitions you provided consultancy services for at the National Portrait Gallery? It's one of my favourite haunts in London.

Ing
 
Mar 10, 1998
1,128
6
313
Elaine,
Your dad lives in May???? I didn't think there was anything there except their grain elevator (May Agribusiness I think it was called)?? (Just kidding). When I was in college (in Brownwood) May was about 20 miles away and some of us that lived in the dormitory would go fishing out there. Couldn't believe someone else on this forum would even have heard of it--just a wide spot in the road.

It's a small world.

Phillip
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Dear Inger,

Thank you for your kind words. I think you may be one of the few who think I have anything worth while to say if some hurtful private e-mail I just got is any indication of most people's view of the Duff Gordons and my projected book on Lucile. I know I haven't contributed to the overall story of Titanic as much as you and Phillip Gowan and George Behe, both of whom I revere just as much as I respect you, but I have devoted more than a decade of my life tracking down the authentic story of a subject I think is very worth while - and not just to Titanic history but to the history of early twentieth century fashion and theatre.

As to the National Portrait Gallery, I worked with Terence Pepper, photos curator, on the 1998 exhibition "High Society: Photographs, 1897-1914." I supplied biographical info for guess who? - Lady Duff Gordon - for the profile that ran under her picture in the show and in the catalog. I was able to get a special invitation to this exhibition sent to her grandson and his daughters. I also have worked with Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye, curators of the Costume and Textiles dept. of the V & A over a considerable time. I'm hoping to get the job of helping catalog their very large collection of Lucile fashion publicity photos!

Inger your message has bucked me up. You see I'm not thick-skinned like you. I don't take criticism well - I'm too sensitive to what people think. Thanks for your support. It means a lot. And you know I'm always in your corner. Keep up your great research. I can't wait to see your work!

All my best, as ever

Randy
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 12, 1999
1,473
10
313
Hi Randy:
I have your article from the Commutator and was wondering what you thought about Lucile's account in her biography? Would you say she made good use of dramatic license?
Mike
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Mike,

Oh, yes, Lucile certainly added what she would have called "odds and ends and bits" to the story. I'm afraid she had a very theatrical nature. However, the "dramatic license" you speak of, insofar as the Titanic is concerned, was confined to the drama of the sinking itself. She exaggerated the confusion and added things like hearing an officer shooting (which she may have heard from the lifeboat but not while on board since boat 1 apppears to have left well before this would have happened) and that she witnessed women and children being trampled underfoot.

She probably heard stories later from others who may well have witnessed such things and just incorporated them into her own story. We have to understand that there was no scholarely approach to Titanic then and all sorts of stories were widely believed. I don't think she ever thought the disaster, horrible as it was, would ever be seen as it is today as such a huge event in human history or else I think she'd have been more careful over her version of the story.

By the way the Titanic chapter in my manuscript, of which the THS articles were an excerpt, is very much expanded upon now and there are many new revelations which her family have approved my telling at last which I'm hoping will come close to clearing the air over the lifeboat controversy and the ordeal of the hearings. I have always thought most Titanic enthusiasts would find this of interest as it figures so heavily in the story of the disaster's aftermath but I'm not so sure now. It seems not a few people are quite satisfied with the simplistic view of the Duff Gordons as villains.

You mention only the one article - there was a part 2 or epilogue. Did you read that?

Thanks Mike and I really do appreciate your interest - especially today.

Randy
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 12, 1999
1,473
10
313
Hi Randy:
I have both and enjoyed reading them . And a friend sent me the pages from her book, ' Discretions and Indiscretions '. That is why I wanted your take on it. Although she is very descriptive in certain parts of her account. Like describing her cabin or meeting the Meyers'. I am surprised some of the small, but interesting details of her account are never used. BTW, other than the letter tha Fraancatelli sent after the disaster- did she ever write a separate account of her adventures with the Duff Gordons'?
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Mike,

RE: Francatelli, I only know of the letter you already know of.

RE: LDG's book - yes, I agree she makes some great observations of life on board and it's a shame no one ever mentions what she wrote. Her description of Captain Smith is stellar, her memory of Ismay in the dining room, her talk w/ the Meyers is especially poignant, as you point out. Also her colorful description of her "merry Irish stewardess" is intriguing - who was she I wonder?

Randy
 
Mar 10, 1998
1,128
6
313
Mike, Randy, et al:
At long last Francatelli is found--I know I sound like a broken record but I like to gather all pertinent information/documents and attempt to located next of kin before I make the info public, but the good news is that what happened to her is no longer a mystery. I have her birth, marriage and death certificates and it does appear (as all of us had thought) that she had no children. I base that solely on the fact that she was somewhat older than usual when she married, seems to have lived in a number of countries with her husband, and her death certificate's informant is a sister instead of a child. More info. will be forthcoming.

My best,
Phillip
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
5,343
67
398
Randy -

Unfortunately, your experience with an unpleasant private email from someone who doesn't happen to like your choice of historical personages or your interpretation is regretably common. Just ask anyone who expresses an interest in Ismay! While he's not a particular interest of mine, I know others who have received vicious private correspondence when they've tried to correct some of the more grotesque myths about the man. It isn't even necessary to become a proponent- the moment you move away from simplistic assessments, you're challenging the cherished hero/villain polarity, and some people take great offense at that (goodness knows why). Once again - I've enjoyed your work tremendously to date, and look forward to seeing more of it. Am sorry I missed the NPG exhibition — sounds like a splendid one! We’re also currently working with a project at the V&A (special collections), but that’s from a rather different angle than the creative one you’ve worked at.

Ing
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads