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There is an art to letter writing, as anyone who has ever written one with heartfelt feeling, or received one with the same sentiment, knows very well. When the letter writer happens to be the youthful, future-legend Patsy Cline with her whole life yet ahead, the impact is more melancholy- as we all know, Patsy died in a tragic airplane crash, long before her time.

Fortunately for those of us who care about Patsy Cline, and appreciate her zestful spirit and unique musical style, she kept up a correspondence with her friend, fan, and fan club President Treva Miller for many years. Treva, just a teenage girl herself when she met Patsy, kept 21 of those letters hidden away in her jewelry box. Many years after her untimely death, those letters were found, and sold to a Memphis-based couple named Cindy Hazen & Mike Freeman.

Hazen and Freeman are students of 50's and 60's rock and roll and country music-in fact, they own and are restoring Elvis' famous home on Audubon Drive (Dish visited with Mike and Cindy there. Check out the Homestyle section to see the fabulous Sixties interiors). Fortunately for posterity, they decided the letters were important, and should be collected in a book.

Thus, the touching collection, Love Always, Patsy, Patsy Cline's Letters to a Friend, came to be. Dish spoke to Hazen and Freeman about life, love and Patsy Cline:

 


Were you intereted in Patsy before you found these letters?

"Well, we really didn't know that much about her. We knew about 2 or 3 songs. Then these letters came into our lives, and there was an opportunity to purchase them. Once we read them, we got sucked in, and we started learning about her as the letters progressed."

When did you find them?

About 2 1/2 yrs ago. We went out toKnoxville, TN in June of '97 to buy the letters from a relative of the person Patsy wrote to. Patsy wrote to Treva Miller Steinbecker, who created the first Patsy Cline fan club. Treva died in 1960 and they've been in the hands of relatives ever since"

What do you plan to do with them now that you've got them?

"Obviously, we have sold some, but we don't want to sell them all. That's not really the first goal. The first goal was to create a book, which we did. So now everybody can read all the letters. The second goal is to work with the Hall of Fame and create an exhibit of the letters and some other Patsy belongings that it owns or that Charlie Dick (Patsy's husband, see above) owned and put them out for people to see. And then, after that who knows..if people want to buy the letters, we'll sell them, but that's not really what we're after."

Cindy, as a woman, were you inspired by what you learned about Patsy ?








  "I was really struck by her determination. I mean, it just took an incredible amount of stamina and guts and determination to succeed. She really had to work hard for every little success she had. In reading the letter, she's talking about car trouble on the way to gigs, flat tires, money problems, how she has to cook supper before she goes out to sing. She was juggling family and career."

People say that Patsy was bold and brassy. What do you think?

"In her letters, she didn't come across that way. She's had a reputation as being very bold and brassy. But I think that was just one part of her personality. It's also probably true that she had to be kind of bold in a male dominated business if she was going to succeed. She had to get right out there and say what she wanted."

Have you ever talked to Charlie Dick about their romance?

"We've talked to Charlie quite a bit. I don't know if we specifically talked about their romance. I think it's safe to say the feeling we've gotten from him was that they were crazy about each other."

You've handled these letters for 2 1/2 years. You must feel a certain intimacy with the real Patsy Cline. Who was she?

Mike:
"She was just a...I don't want to use the word simple, but sort of a... She was not slick. She was not trying to be someone she wasn't. She was a very blunt, straight-forward person.
  Small town girl, not much education, you could see that in the way she spoke. A very rather ordinary taste in what to eat, in what were her experiences in life, but she had this tremendous talent. She had this great gift."

Cindy:
"I thought she was very warm, very caring, very loyal. And you can tell in reading the letters how much she cared about people. She was constantly referring people to Treva, that she thought she could help to promote. She was mentoring other young artists. I think that's what probably impressed me most about the letters."

What do you think about the fact that she was always broke?


Mike:
"Well, our letters are from a point in her life where she had a bad management deal and bad record deal. She wasn't getting the hit songs, and the songs that were hits, she wasn't getting paid for. It's the same story you hear about in Rhythm and Blues and Country where the artist is the last to get paid and the first to get ripped off. It was a tough business in the '50's. The ones who made the most money were the hard-nose promotors and managers. Then our letters stopped. In '60 and onward she got a new contract with Decca..had hits songs..and her financial future then was good. She was doing well.

In our presentations, we always read from the letters where Patsy tells Treva about how her first marriage broke up. It was obvious that Gerald, husband number one, was jealous of her singing. He wanted her to be home, cook,



 

  do all the house-wife things, And not have a career. ..and she would have none of that. If she wasn't going to sing, she wasn't going to live with him. He said, "If you're going to sing ,you can't live with me"..so she went back to her mother's house so she could sing."

In her last letter she refers to the first song she ever wrote, which wasn't recorded..have you ever heard of this?

Mike:
"Well, no. I don't think anyone's ever heard it.

Any other thoughts you'd like to share about Patsy?


I think Patsy is going to endure. In a way, she's immortal. She only lived 30 years. Because of those songs, she can live forever and always be a part of us."

"I think Charlie and Patsy's relationship was exaggerated for entertainment purposes..now, Charlie will tell you that they did have their moments, when they argued and got on each other's nerves, but they clearly loved each other. She threw punches harder than he did probably.

The Kansas City gig was a last minute thing. It wasn't on her schedule. They decided to do it. Fate has it...he goes home...didn't want to pay a babysitter for that long, didn't want to be away from the kids for too long..then she does one show and never comes back. Kinda sad and tragic."
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 3 - September 6323
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