( Okay, they're not sketches, and they were folded, not kneaded - but I wanted the acronym to work! )
Part One of this story found HERE
As we pick up from our last episode I was looking forward to receiving the three original, early 1960s children's reader illustrations being shipped from what I imagined was Gerry Lazare's fabulous penthouse studio in Toronto to my home base on the west coast of Canada. The art was VERY securely prepared by Mr. L, with many layers of illustration and matte board inside of four heavy-duty layers of corrugated shipping cardboard and tightly sealed in brown paper and packing tape all-round. In fact compliments from Gerry's local UPS outlet on the swell packaging were handed out. Full ( costly ) insurance and priority shipping was purchased and the treasured illustrations were passed into the capable hands of the United Parcel Service.
Or so we thought.....
A day and a half later and the package arrived into my hot little hands. All seemed well, a signature was scrawled and I hurriedly headed inside with my new purchases. As I started to open the parcel carefully from one end I noticed a fold in the brown paper on the back of the package. I cautiously turned the parcel on it's side to reveal what appeared to be a fold through the entire length of the well-packaged package...
At this point a small wood troll decided to take up residence in my stomach, booking the room for the next few hours and inviting all his buddies over for a swingin' bacchanalian shindig.
I carefully opened the parcel from one end and slowly removed all three pieces, two of which ( matted together by Gerry for an art show in the 1960s or 70s ) had been folded / bent / mangled nearly in half. The illustration board and matte board had been almost snapped in two, and the paint had cracked, chipped and lifted in a line though the left hand side of one illustration and nearly down the middle of another. I was devastated. After surviving against the odds for 45 years these wonderful illustrations had been nearly destroyed by 36 hours in the loving care of UPS. I think it was a safe bet from that point on that said carrier would not be getting a Christmas card or top Better Business Bureau rating from little ol' me.
Immediately I set about tracking down and filling out a lengthy online claims report for the cost to repair ( as best as possible ) the damage to the two pieces. Since this would likely exceed the cost of the pieces themselves I claimed their full value. An automated response told me to expect contact from an actual representative within a day. I wrote Gerry and broke the sad news to him. He was understandably shocked and angry. I started documenting the damage with photos and over the next ELEVEN WEEKS Gerry and I dealt with one UPS representative after another, most of whom seemed not to have had any information passed along from the previous one. I sent and resent dozens of photos and had one exasperating phone call after another with clueless claims representatives. They went a lot like this......
UPS: "So was it the frame or the glass that was damaged?"
GM: "No, as I said in the two claim forms I sent you and on the phone to the other two people I talked to at UPS, the artwork wasn't framed - but matted. Both the matte and the original art were folded in nearly in half."
UPS: Oh, so the frame wasn't damaged?"
GM: "No, there was no frame, just a matte board."
UPS: "Oh, okay. So can you get another copy of the art?"
GM: "As I explained the two pieces are original illustrations from a 1962 children's reader and are one of kind."
UPS: "Yes, but can we find another print?"
GM: "No, these are the ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS. The ACTUAL ART used to make the book. Not copies or prints. They can't be replaced."
UPS: "Hmmm... so it'd be hard to find replacements copies?"
GM: "As I've said over the last five weeks THESE ARE ONE-OF-A-KIND AND CANNOT BE REPLACED. ONLY REPAIRED, AND EVEN THEN NOT COMPLETELY."
UPS: "Okay then, so the glass WASN'T broken?..."
GM: ( Sounds of hair being torn out, gnashing teeth, head pounding against wall, etc. )
Will our heroes prevail in their righteous fight against the UPS Empire? Will the illustrations be repaired? Will Caitlin leave the unconscious Hunter for Diego, the man who pushed him off the mansion's roof, even though baby Krystal is actually Juanita's half-stepsister twice removed which young Doctor Brad discovers whilst trapped in a Steamytown General Hospital broom closet with nurse Susan, who only he knows is actually his identical twin brother Brent?...
Tune in next time for the thrilling conclusion!