Teri Vance: Going to the movies to see my grandma
My mother’s mom died before I was old enough to remember her. But I’m hoping to see her Tuesday — or at least catch a brief glimpse of her.
The Carson City Classic Cinema Club will be showing “Westward the Women,” as its featured film this month. My grandma, Nedra Swapp, and her sister-in-law, Irene Johnson, were extras in the movie.
I called my Uncle Jon to get the details so I’ll know what to look for.
(Full disclosure: My mom and her siblings can’t always be trusted to get their facts straight. They even say things like, “We respect the truth so much, we rarely use it,” or “We don’t like to ruin a good story by sticking to close to the truth.” But Uncle Jon swears to the details he gave. “If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin,’ and I’m not even sick,” he assured me).
“You’ll see her walk across the dance floor,” he said. “And she looks exactly like your mom, a dead ringer. You can’t tell them apart.”
The movie was filmed mostly in Johnson Canyon, about 15 miles east of Kanab, where my mom’s family is from.
It was set during the “Old West” when women were severely lacking in California. The movie follows 138 women who are making the move west.
Uncle Jon was about 4 at the time, but says he remembers once when his mom washed her costume between days filming.
“They had a fit, so they rolled her in the dirt a couple of times because they wanted her dress to be dirty,” he said.
While I’ve always heard my grandmother was in a gun battle scene, shooting from behind a wagon wheel, Uncle Jon says the best place to see her is on the dance floor.
“She’s kind of waltzing across the floor by herself, then she hooks up with some dummy.”
In addition to the screening of the movie on Tuesday at the Brewery Arts Center, the son of director, William Wellman, will be giving a presentation.
William Wellman, Jr., will give a brief overview of his father’s career before the film and a Q&A session after the movie. He will also hold a book-signing, with copies of his book, “Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel,” for $40.
Doors to the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, 511 W. King St., open at 5:30 p.m. Discussion and film intro begin at 6, film at 6:30.
General admission is $5. Students and seniors (55+) are $3. Popcorn is always free.
The Carson City Classic Cinema Club uses classic film as a platform to raise money and awareness, in support of youth arts education. Monthly screenings are the first Tuesday of the month.
For more information, visit http://ccclassiccinema.org.
Hope to see you there … I’ll introduce you to my grandma.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at email@example.com.