Friday, July 27, 2012

Mollie Carroll

by Rocky Macy

I learned yesterday that my good friend, Mollie Carroll, (aged 66), passed away last December 3rd while I was living in Japan.  I had been back to the States in late September/early October and knew that Mollie was in the hospital and very ill, having just been diagnosed with brain cancer.  I heard at that time that she probably wouldn't know me, and I neglected to go see her, partly because I was rushed for time as I tried to see everyone in just a couple of weeks, and partly because I didn't want what would have been my last visit with her to be under those circumstances.

I wanted to remember her as she was, and I think that is what she would have wanted as well.

Mollie Carroll was a very good friend going back to the 1960's when we were both students at Noel High School in the Missouri Ozarks.  Her younger brother James was my best friend, and he is still a very special person to me.

Mollie was a heavy smoker.  She was, in fact, a smoking fiend who was seldom without a lit cigarette.  Nobody, at least nobody that I knew of, ever lectured her on the dangers of smoking because that's who she was - a constant smoker.  The habit eventually claimed her life, but I doubt that she had any regrets about smoking.  Cigarettes were a part of her life, a definitive part of her life.

Mollie grew up in Noel, the only girl in a family with four brothers.  Her mother was a registered nurse and her father was a mechanic.  She attended Southwest Missouri State University where she became involved with the theater crowd.   (SMSU is a very good school for dramatic arts, having produced some nationally known actors such as Kathleen Turner, John Goodman, and Tess Harper).  When Mollie graduated from SMSU she followed some of that group to New York City where she taught in a Catholic high school for a couple of decades and had a continuing involvement in the theater scene there.

Mollie drifted back to the the Midwest a decade or so ago, living in the Kansas City area for awhile and eventually finding her way back to Noel.  During her last years she lived in a nice apartment in Noel's senior citizen complex.  We reconnected while she was living there.

Every time that I came to Noel in recent years I always found time to go see Mollie Carroll.  We would sit in her apartment where she would chain smoke and tell me endless stories about her youth - or mine, her years in New York, and people she had met over the years.

Mollie had gone to the little airport in Joplin in 1960 to see John F. Kennedy as he was campaigning for President - and much to her eternal delight, she had managed to shake his hand.  Some of Rudy Giuliani's children had attended the school in New York where she taught, and she was thrilled when he was elected mayor of New York City.   Also, she was stepping onto a New York City subway one day and almost walked straight into playwright Neil Simon who was in the company of a "much younger woman."   She said that she was flabbergasted and could only point and say, "You''re..." to which the considerate playwright helped her out by replying "That's right.  I'm Neil Simon."  By then she had regained her composure and said, "Mr. Simon, thank you for all of the laughter."

And there were lots and lots of other stories!

We had our last visit shortly before I moved to Japan in the summer of 2010,  Neither of us knew, of course, that we were saying good-bye for the final time - and who knows, maybe we weren't.  If there is a Heaven out in the great beyond, Mollie Carroll has surely found her way there and is regaling the angels with stories of her time on Earth.   She is also probably smoking, but the angels won't mind because that's who she is!

Mollie, thanks for the friendship.  You were a bright and cheerful part of my life.


Lisa Danbury said...

Thanks for the lovely tribute to Mollie. We kept in touch occasionally after she moved away from Kansas City. Sadly, I had not talked to her for a couple of years. Shocked and saddened to learn that she passed away. She was best friends with a dear friend of mine, Pam Kristian, who we have also lost. I miss them both.

molly. said...

Didn't know she had passed. I'm glad you got to see her again. Sounds like she had a pretty cool life.