Mildred Wolfe

September 18, 2009

Excerpt from Mildred Wolfe interview

Karl and I had never lived in the country [before]. People in town used to say that the Wolfes lived way out in the country. I didn’t know how noisy it was. You know at night, when you are in the deep country, it’s full of noise. The bugs eating each other. The frogs going “boom.” The whooperwills—they were incessant. They started at sunset and kept on. One time my son, Mike, when he was about 5 or 6, went out to the screen door and leaned out and said, “Shut up!” They didn’t mind him; they kept on whooperwilling.

When I first tried oil paints I thought I would never really master it because it would slide and goo up. It was slippery and everything. But Ms. Turner would come along and it would just come alive and I thought how did she do that? I kept on and she bragged on me so much. So that if I stayed over in painting studio and was late for literature class that came after that, the woman who was teaching the literature would forgive me and say, “Well she’s over there painting”. I sort of lived a charmed life that way.

Karl was painting portraits and had to pay so much attention to detail to suit the customer. I remember when I was in high school, my grandmother was staying with us, and I asked her to pose. And I put in every wrinkle, and she didn’t like it.  Instead of painting her jewelry, I made her wrinkles stand out too much.

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