Topic: "Wayne Johnson"(4)
Frodo's travels seem to present him with an inordinate number of opportunities to share a story or two. Stella Thompson is a homemaker whose parentage happens to be Irish, Mexican, Apache, and Navajo. Growing up near White Sands, New Mexico, Stella seemed to be the product of families who were traditionally prolific. The story she shared with Frodo has to do with her Grandmother's 90th birthday, which took place during Stella's 14th year.
Stella's grandmother, a full-blooded Navajo was partially deaf but could communicate, at least to some extent in both Spanish and in Sign Language. Unfortunately, her ability to communicate in her native tongue was an exercise in futility. Aside from that, she did experience some additional difficulty in clear enunciation, such as her continued reference to her favorite TV star, John Wayne, as "Wayne Johnson." It was this worship of her cowboy-vs-indian hero, which made her desire for an autographed picture of "Wayne Johnson" even more surprising.
That must have been exactly the reaction of the Hollywood Press Agent who received a letter, from Stella's uncle, which included a hand-written letter from Stella's grandmother. The Press Agent sent it on to John Wayne, and asked him for an opinion. Wayne asked if some time might be made available in his production schedule, and a visit to New Mexico was set in motion.
Stella's uncle was running a little late, so John Wayne arrived first at the home shared by Stella, and most of her family. When John Wayne knocked on the door, even though she thought he looked familiar, Stella demanded to know "Who are you, and what do you want?" Wayne tried to introduce himself, but was being rebuffed by an overly-protective 14 year-old when her uncle finally arrived and was able to bring the movie star into the home of his biggest fan. "Wayne Johnson" brought a birthday card, a birthday cake, and a large, framed, autographed picture, which was then placed on top of a TV set for all time. For two hours they talked, mostly in Spanish, and ate birthday cake.
Each year thereafter, on her birthday, Stella's grandmother received a birthday card from "Wayne Johnson." The cards arrived like clockwork for 23 more years. For as long as he lived thereafter, Frodo wants to believe that "the Duke" sent a birthday kiss, air-mail.