Newport Blues, A Salesman’s Lament
Dedicated to a salesman with mixed reviews
If you look at the dedication page of NEWPORT BLUES, A SALESMAN’S LAMENT, you will see the name of Austin Love Wright. Austin is no relation; I never even met the man. So why did I dedicate the book to him?
Well, it goes like this. Back in early 2004, I was working on the concept for the novel: formulating a plot, creating a cast of characters and looking for my central theme. On February 11, 2004, I was reading The Oregonian when I opened the obituaries page. As good fortune would have it, the lead “Life Story” was of Austin Love Wright. I was drawn to it out of curiosity since the man had my last name.
The photo was of a mostly bald male face, with a prominent nose, wearing wire-rimmed glasses and carrying a smile with a full set of choppers. I wondered what were his big achievements that merited this favored slot in the paper? Most of the time the Life Stores were of noble accomplishments that warranted a plaque or statue.
But the words I read of his life jumped off the page, not because they resounded with acclaim, but because they were all about the character I was developing. Here is an excerpt from the piece about Austin:
“The father of eight worked all of his life. When the first few of his children were tiny, he worked multiple jobs to support them. He became a traveling baby photographer, opened a photo studio, sold Encyclopedia Brittanica and Kirby vacuums. The he became a rep for Art Instruction Schools (the “Draw Me’ home-study art school). He got submissions in the mail and made sales calls.
“He was on the road more than half the time. Often he was either out of work or out of money, but tried to keep the family together as they moved from Oregon to Idaho to California to Utah and back to Oregon.
“He would not take welfare, but once his wife, Millie, had to accept wood for the stove, and the couple once sold blood to feed the kids oatmeal and baloney.”
When you get acquainted with Sidney Lister in NEWPORT BLUES, A SALESMAN’S LAMENT, please know that a big chunk of what he did in his life was inspired by Austin Love Wright. Thanks to Millie Wright for approving the words of my dedication. “Well, that’s the way he was,” she said.
In memory of
Austin Love Wright
for his life of trial and
error but never quitting.