Tuesday, March 27, 2012

© A Mannequins' Story ©

Hattie Annie

at the appleton inn

An Unauthorized Biography


Carole LeRoy, Artist and Creative Genius


The Appleton Inn
300 W. Prospect Ave.
Appleton, WI (920) 954-0754
The Appleton Inn Facebook.com
Hattie Annie Facebook.com

I will start this tale of woe by introducing myself. My name is Carole LeRoy and my husband is Gordon Schmiedl. Soon after we married in the '90's we purchased a large home built in the 1800's, on Prospect Avenue in Appleton Wisconsin. To our surprise we found ourselves immediately embroiled in a controversy. There was a neighborhood petition we were asked to sign. It seemed that our new home was destine to become a parking lot. We all worked together to save our homes as well forming the “Historic Old Third Ward” neighborhood.

Later that year we opened our first Bed & Breakfast and named it The Appleton Inn. The house was brick with dark brown trim. Our first paint job was to paint the trim HOT pink and teal. These colors brought a bit if attention to this old house so a few years later we calmed the colors down to purple and HOT green. This was to be the beginning of the transition from boring to bold and more.... Through the years that followed, we found that the daily work and upkeep of the Inn was just too much for the two of us to handle. Our lives seemed incomplete without someone to join us in this joyful adventure. Within the next week we actively started to look for someone that could help us with the work load, as well live in and share “this grand old house” with us.

While surfing the internet one fine day my prayers were answered, at least I thought they were, when I came upon this listing. SWF seeking employment and a home in the Appleton area. “ My name is Hattie Annie. I have been a mannequin for many years and found that it was a very lonely profession. My evenings were spent alone in an empty store, studio or stage yearning for that certain something. It seems that I was yearning for a family and true love.”

To facilitate the process, we sent her a plane tickets to The Outagamie County Airport Appleton Wisconsin. We warned her that it had been snowing and she should dress appropriately. We were expecting her the next morning. We woke up the next day and looked outside at our front porch...There she was, sitting in a lawn chair frozen solid. She had evidently taken a red-eye flight and arrived early in the evening while we were sleeping.

She was a bit over-dressed with her New York Style long black coat and a hat with a big black feather plumbing from the brim. At least she had thought to wear boots. I imagine that she pictured that every Wisconsin town was surrounded with fields of cows, piled with snow banks, snow mobiles parked in driveways, trucks with plows anchored on their front bumpers and plastic deer statues on the front lawns. She was right about the trucks. What a way to start a new life in Wisconsin.

We brought her into the house to defrost. I invited her into the front hall and had her remove her boots. I explained that we were a “Shoe Free” B & B, as I handed her a pair of fuzzy pink slippers. She gazed around in amazement and lifted her hand to her hat and removed the black feather. I assumed that she thought it was a bit much. Was she in for a surprise. I set her up in one of our finest rooms so she could rest from her traumatic journey and we planned the interview for the next day.

We stepped into the living room, got comfortable and I started the interview.....”Tell me about yourself and your work history”.. She told me her name... Hatti Annie. She was wearing a different hat, (instant brownie points with me...I love hats!). We seemed to have so much in common. She told me some of her working history. Her past had been like a whirlwind. She escaped from a Chicago mannequin warehouse in the 80's by hidding in a packing case, which was unfortunately shipped via UPS the next day. As the case had been labeled for a fruit packing warehouse in New York City, that is exactly where the box landed. When the miss-shipment was discovered on the loading dock the next morning, the workers were shocked to find a mannequin and not a load of mango’s as expected. They promptly threw Hatti into an empty dumpster.

Sad, cold, lonely and rejected, she looked forward to her next landing, the city dump. In the late afternoon she heard someone pulling up the cover of the dumpster. She blinked her eyes and discovered a homeless man staring down at her with his mouth open in shock. “My name is Albert, he exclaimed, and I was only looking for an afternoon snack, and look what I got instead...a gorgeous mannequin!” It was love at first sight for Albert and he immediately took her to a rescue mission where she eventually got her life together. Unfortunately for Albert, he was the one that now got dumped!

One day while looking for a job, she used her last few dollars and stopped at Manhattan Starbucks for a latte'. A strange man was staring at her and upon introducing himself she found that he was a manager of a Victoria's Secret department store. Hattie was hired on the spot. She started the next day in the lingerie department, actually the only department! After a few weeks, she took off on her own working her way up the mannequin circuit. She just had the magic look, the “it factor”, and had no problems finding work. All of this without an agent. Hatti even did a short stint on Project Runway but couldn't stand the drama and everyone poking her with needles. She became sad and disillusioned with the life she had chosen and decided that a small town and a new family were what she really wanted. Hatti posted her ad, I interviewed, and we bonded immediately. Seeing the sad look in her big eyes was the clincher. I hired her that very day and she moved in, or should I say out. I posted her on the front porch as a hostess greeter.

Hattie Annie is still technically a mannequin but, now she lives on our front porch providing a welcome smile to our guests at the Appleton Inn when I can't be present. She had found a family, a stable job with health and dental benefits and a 401K plan. What more could she want?

As any young manikin would, she eventually became quite lonely even doing this fascinating job. This past fall, I hate to admit, our Hattie Annie began looking for love in all the wrong places. Every evening she stood staring out into the cold winter's night looking towards Prospect Avenue in the heart of downtown Appleton. Neither freezing rain, snow or sleet put a stop to her in her vigil.


Gordie just added to the problem by blowing fresh snow into her face every day.


One cold morning I couldn't help but notice icicle tears streaming down her placid face. I felt much empathy for this great looking chick. I came to the realization in an instant, that all she ever wanted was a true soul mate.

I promptly brought her into the house and implemented a new plan for Hattie Annie. I realized that she had never been taught, and or exposed to, the finer things of life. Until this was accomplished, she would never feel like the totally liberated woman that I knew was just inside that plaster head and those great big fixed fake eyes.

In the spring, I dressed her in the finest Easter outfit I could find hoping she would attract a church-going, honest fella. She sat proudly in our Prius and away we went for Easter dinner at my sisters' house in Grafton WI. My little sister Karen and her grandaughers were quite sudpprises when she showed up in their livingroom after an easter egg hunt!!

She seemed to enjoy the day and the finery...yet none of the church-going men gave her a second look. We did get a lot of looks on the freeway during the trip. You would have thought the most people had never seen a mannequin, sitting in the back seat of a Prius, wearing a seat belt!


I realized that facilitating change might be a long process. Maybe she is so different because of the New York Influence...or my touch with the hats. Go figure!!! Back to the drawing board for me, and back home the front porch for Hattie Annie
We had no idea of the horrific changes that were about to enter our lives. It seems that Hattie had never experienced teenage rebellion and we were about to wittness the process.

To my dismay, the morning after her demure church debut I found her standing in broad daylight holding an empty martini glass in her hand. A morning drinker no less! Oh the horror and shame. What could I expect though because she stared at that infamous tree in the front yard each and every day. I never thought it would influence her so drastically.


I know she climbed the wine-glass tree I had planted in the front yard to get the glass. This tree was intended to attract birds and an occasional butterfly, not to defame the reputation of our glorious Appleton Inn. The empty glass was promptly put back on the tree and we both agreed that the incident was a learning experience for both of us. The matter will never be discussed again. I straightened her hair, gave her two ibuprofen and a tick-tack and hung my head in shame. I was failing as a OM, (Other Mother). So sad...To bad!!

Low and behold, yesterday morning, when I thought things couldn't get worse, I was again shocked with a new discovery. I found a note taped to my front door. It said...

Dear Appleton Inn Proprietor, My name is Hank. I met Hattie Annie yestersday afternoon and again last night in the hollyhock bed. I am a SWM, blond hair and blue eyes and am about 5' 7” when placed in the standing position. I enjoy quiet evenings at home, bubble baths and sharing my fun times with others while recalling my days working as a model at the Fox Valley Mall. I think I LOVE your front porch hostess. She is a bit cold and stand-offish but things could change if you and my owner would help us out with the logistics of a spring fling. I have included a picture of myself. Looking forward to your prompt reply. XXXOOO Hank


His profile picture sent me into a tailspin....Where was it taken??? And what was he in the clinker for???

As a business woman I was shocked that there might have been some

Hanky Panky” going on in our front flower “Beds” that night. Until a neighbor called me and said...

I think you should start paying attention to the shenanigans going on in your front yard after dark, after all we have a reputation to keep in this historic neighborhood.” I was totally unaware that anything slightly amiss, asque or immoral had taken place amid my prize bunch of tall hollyhocks. This is the very spot where my beloved sister and I admired my hollyhock bed. THE SHAME OF IT ALL!!!

I promptly called Hank's owner, Cindy (1-900 969-4469) and let her know exactly what happened when Hank tried to spill some of his wild oats on our front porch. Hattie is chaste young woman with high moral standards, and is as intact as the day she was manufactured. We presented her with a promise ring last year, and as far as I know she has remained faithful to her high standards. She is DEFINITELY not looking for a mere “spring fling“ as Hanks crass comment indicated. I would hope to meet with you before we are both hastily planning a “Shot Gun Wedding!”

I was in shock when I heard Cindy's reply. Not only was she well aware of the liaison of that night, but she had driven by our Inn during the afternoon, took Hank out of her trunk and took the liberty of introducing them to each other. All of this without my knowledge and or permission. What was that woman thinking and where are HER morals and why was Hank in the trunk and not beside her in full view? Cindy also had the audacity to inform me that she had taken pictures of the whole afternoon's event telling me that if I didn't want the Appleton Post Crescent to get the black market photos I had better do things her way.


I was frightened by her words, but what gave me greater trepidation was my vision of Hattie Annie in a wedding gown at such a young age and with such a scoundrel. I’m sure Hanks' visions weren’t of the wedding day, rather “the wedding night!”
My next actions may seem radical to you as an audience, but I was only doing the best I could with a horrendous situation. She was removed from the porch and is serving alone time in my back yard “Woman Cave”. The year before Hattie arrived I converted my potting shed into “A Room Of One's Own”. A retreat spot strictly for me. This space if for reading, relaxing, contemplation and creative’s art and design time.

This might not seem to most to be adequate punishment (the cave is actually quite nice), but my intention is to divert all memories of the illicit liaison from Hattie's disturbed brain.
After serving her sentence in “THE WOMAN CAVE”, I decided that it was time to take some drastic action to save Hattie from a life of being a wife to that scoundrel Hank! I was as committed as any OM (other mother) ever was to save her from a life of drudgery. Washing dirty underwear and watching Greenbay Packers playing football games 24/7 while wearing a cheese head.

My intention is to divert all memories from the illicit liaison, educate her on the finer things in life, and to expand her horizons. She will now work inside the Inn, practicing meditation and using Feng shui to enhance the home with her energy.
We started this journey in our beautiful Appleton Inn and then expand her horizons all through the town. Meeting fine people and finding her calling will be the focus in the coming months.
The first step was to give her a makeover and paint her portrait.
Next were yoga lessons. She seemed to enjoy them and was very flexible. Unfortunately she didn't seem as centered as I would have thought she should be. And her choice of magazines!!!!!! OH well...One Day At A Time.


This Monday I started her on bridge lessons at the Appleton YMCA After a good vigorous swim and workout on the machines, we changed and went to the bridge room for lessons. Her new look was quite sophisticated and worked well with the ladies....,
Unfortunately she kept yelling out inappropriate blasts like: “Yahtzee! , I've got a full house! , and I'll raise you fifty bucks and a pair of nylons!”. I had to take her home in disgrace for me...she was fine with it.

The first thing she said the next day was “Let's go back to he Y.” I had to explain that she probably would not be invited back and I gave her a book, “Bridge for Dummies.”
Since the yoga didn’t work, she wanted to try a class that would raise her heart rate, not lower it. She joined me for my senior exercise class and seemed non reactive to all of the energy in the room while the music of Barry Manilow blared in her ears....one, two, three, four AND REPEAT! Before I could stop her, she was flexing those legs up over her head, much to the shock of the rest of the class. I whispered into her ear.....DONT BE SUCH A SHOW OFF!!!!
In order to bring her back to reality, I was able to show her what her arms would look like when she got older if she didn't work her upper body. I think my flying wings were enough to scare her straight!

My next attempt was to expose her to fine women, literature and art. I took her to the Creative Journey at the Appleton Library for a writing session. The assignment was writing about your goals as a woman in 2012. I shuddered, hoping she wasn't spilling the beans for all to hear about her blatant sexuality, but to my delight, she restrained herself and didn't embarrass me with her tales of promiscuity. Instead she wrote about her new foster parents, Carole OM and Gordie OD and that we surrounded her with opportunities to grow. Ah...I was so proud, nothing like a child to fulfill your life.
Our next Library project was YUPO painting. She took to it like a duck to water or water color to water and everyone in the class responded to her creative spirit . She was learning to make more mature decisions and to get along with others.

The summer progressed and things started to settle down. I took her to the farmers market hoping she might meet some new friends and learn more about fruits, vegetables and flowers,HOSPITALS, RADIO STATIONS, CORN WAGONS, BANDS AND ART.  
She commiserate with her fellow wheel chair buddies.

She seemed to enjoy the Mime best. I have no idea what they talked about, but it seemed to be a lively conversation.

So far I was hoping she was a changed young woman when the following event happened. We had lovely guests from Canada that had ventured here and across the Mid-west on their Harley's. The morning of their stay we finished breakfast and one guest went to he parking lot to see how their bikes were doing.
Next we heard a yell from the parking lot...What the Heck is this??? We ran outside only to see a vision of our lovely hostess on one of the Harley's ready to
Rock and Roll.”
This prompted a photo shoot and Hattie just wallowed in all of the attention. She even was able to borrow a leather jacket from the group, but when it came to her joining the venture....The answer was NO....What would the Hells Angles think if she was riding with them? They would think these bikers had gone all fluffy and stuff!!!!

Back to the WOMAN CAVE to teach her some self control. That evening while watching TV I could hear someone singing...

♪♪“I am woman hear me ROAR!”♪♪

OH NO...Annie....Enough is Enough!

When I went to The Woman Cave to see what was causing all of the racket I discovered that she had a real knack for song writing as well as drawing pictures. Go Figure! She must have learned these skill while working on Project Runway


Stories soon to come:

The Sisterhood of the traveling Mannequins'.

Her past catches up. Eliza Jane shows up at our door looking for her friend from the Project Runway days. She has many stories to tell Carole (OM) other mom and Gordie (OD) other dad. Will they allow Hattie Annie to remain in their home B&B as the stories unfold???

Beam Me UP OM...were' going to travel a bit, and you are not invited.

OM advises that Hattie take some Karate lessons before returning to the BIG APPLE or wherever the two mannequins will land.

Hattie Annie goes for a massage and mellows out on the table.©

Annie awaits an invitation to visit your establishment.....

Or she may just show up.

Wait and see...