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Henry Fonda

"Fonda, the little girl",art gallery image.. And Lady!

I was luckier then some. You see, I was literally raised on Broadway, 
around the theatre district.........

I had a burning desire from a very early age, to perform. 
Being raised around the theatre district, gave me unique opportunities. 
But wait a moment, I'm getting way ahead of myself. 
Lets get back to the early days when pretend, 
was still pretend.

I was a young child when my dad bought home a dog 
for my brother, Richard, or "itchie", as my little sister 
called him in those days. I really loved to play with Lady, 
that's what we called her, Lady. One day, while playing with Lady, 
I was disobeying my mom by going up to the roof to play, 
something she had always told me was a no, no! 
We were playing catch, when the ball, having been thrown 
a little too hard, headed over, and off the roof, 
with faithful Lady hot on it's trail.

My young heart welled up in my throat as I saw Lady 
disappear over the ledge. With that terrible vision indelible in my brain, 
I ran to see what I could, and saw where she had landed on the roof, 
five floors below. Lady wasn't moving! I began to shake, and cry. 
I ran down all six floors, nary touching a step, out to the street, hysterical.

When I reached the backstage alley entrance, of a theatre 
that I was very familiar with, I ran towards the rear of the alley 
and as I approached the stairs that would take me 
to where Lady landed on the roof adjacent to the theatre, 
I vaguely remember seeing the stage manager, Al, 
who always conveniently looked the other way, 
allowing me to sneak into the theatre, 
when the theatre was empty of course, 
so one little girl could pretend, and have the pleasure 
of singing her heart out on a stage that was so big, 
she sometimes got lost on it.

But Al saw that I had other things on my mind this day, 
and I was crying, something Al had never seen me do before. 
Al apparently wanted to reach the roof before I did 
and took a short cut through the theatre, and as he raced 
to his destination, someone else in his path, 
was soon following close behind. When I came within a leap 
of reaching Lady, I found my feet off the ground ok, 
but I was not in control. A man had grabbed me in mid flight 
and would not let go as I struggled ( kicking ) 
and crying that I needed to help my dog.

This calm stranger said, that she, meaning Lady, who was not moving, 
was seriously hurt and might strike out in pain, and that it was 
too dangerous to go near her. Well I was always a precocious child, 
and I would have none of it. I told him Lady wouldn't bite anyone, 
that I was her friend and she needed me, and then I blurted out, 
between heavy duty tears, the story of how it was my fault 
that Lady came to be in her predicament, 
and that my mom was going to kill me 
because I had disobeyed her.

This calm stranger said, if I put you down will you promise 
not to go over to Lady and wait for the vet to get here? 
I said yes, and I meant it at the time. But as he gently placed me down, 
Lady let out a whimper, causing me to react and dash onto the roof 
so I could be with her, and this calm stranger, close behind. 
As I touched Lady she kissed my face, and with that, 
all who had gathered, 

( since there were now several actors, etc, who had broken away 
from rehearsals to come out and see what all the commotion was about, 
and had also watched as the drama unfolded ) 
well, all of them did something very odd, something that a young child 
couldn't begin to understand at the time, 
after all, they didn't know Lady. 
Why were they crying?

By now this nice man was also consoling Lady, as well as me, 
and he decided it was safe to pick her up and see to it 
that her injuries were tended to. She was taken to a vet by cab, 
by someone from the theater who had volunteered. 
I didn't know it at the time, but someone 
had also called my mom at her job, and she arrived 
as Lady and the cab were pulling away. I'm not sure 
what had this disobedient child more scared; 
My mom, who was sure to kill me, 
or the pain in my heart for Lady.

The calm stranger was talking to my mom very intently, 
and she was smiling. Boy! Was I relieved to see a smile on moms face 
since I was still sure she was going to kill me when we got home. 
Mom came over to me and said Lady was going to be fine, 
and we would go see her tomorrow. She then told me that the nice man 
had asked her to go easy on me, and she promised she would, 
since they both agreed, I had been punished enough 
by Lady's terrible accident.

Mom said, "Mr. Fonda, was very persuasive"!

Nuff said?

Story by that little girl, Barbara Costello