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On Fanny Y. Cory’s taste for fine clothes and hunting and turning in the manuscript two days early.

My great-grandmother made it big in New York City in her early twenties, even though her mother had died when she was ten, her formal education had ended in the eight grade, and she had to support her sister who had contracted tuberculosis (and at times her father as well).

In digging into her life I’ve been surprised by how regularly she was written about in the NY Times and other large newspapers. I’ve also noticed from her photographs that she enjoyed dressing nice. Even though she lived for fifty years on a ranch in Montana, with no indoor plumbing or running water, she carried herself with grace and elegance, and liked nice clothes as these pictures testify.

FYC, dressed in fur trimmed winter coat, hat, gloves

She also loved the wild, going on long camping trips, spending days fishing, and hunting too. I hear she was quite a shot. Here is a picture of Fanny Y. a hunting party at the ranch (she is second from the left).

Ted, FYC and unknowns, hunters

And here is a picture of Fanny with a deer she’s shot.

 

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Her story is of a remarkable woman who overcame great odds, motivated by a a deep love for her family and a remarkable gift of art.

And I’m thrilled to share that I turned in the cover and content of her biography to the printer TWO DAYS ahead of schedule. The wonderful, fast-paced, engaging biography of Fanny Y. Cory will be released on Saturday, October 14th at Sunnyshore Studio.

Queen Cover - FINAL

The Queen of Montana Beach Team: Interviews with Toni McCarty (author), Sharilyn Stachler (editor), Jacob Dorsey (layout), and Jason Dorsey (graphic design).

Enjoy these interviews with the “dream team” that brought Toni McCarty’s wonderfully researched and written biography Queen of Montana Beach: The story of artist Fanny Y. Cory to completed form. It will be released on Saturday, October 14th at Sunnyshore Studio, Camano Island, WA.

Interview with Toni McCarty, Author

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Sunnyshore Studio: Toni, how does it feel for you to have Queen of Montana Beach about to be released in a few months?

Toni: It’s the fulfillment of a dream to have Fanny Cory’s intriguing life story available to today’s readers.

Sunnyshore Studio: In our shooting of the documentary of Fanny’s life, I came to the conclusion that her story is worth telling. In your own words, why do you think that is?

Toni: Cory was one of the most sought after and highest paid illustrators in the Golden Age of illustration. However, when she moved to Montana to marry rancher Fred Cooney—and to raise three children—she fell out of contact with publishers back east. Eventually hard times fell on the ranch, forcing her to find a new way to support the family. She came up with the idea of creating cartoons and comic strips and soon became one of the first women to succeed in the male dominated field. She was nationally syndicated until her retirement in 1957.

Always devoted to family, she valued her role as mother above her worldly achievements. Her strong spirit and sunny disposition served her loved ones well–and pulled her through her own personal tragedies. Fanny Cory claimed, “There’s nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it.”

Sunnyshore Studio: How was it for you to work with Sharilyn as editor? Tell us something about the editing process you worked with Sharilyn on?

Toni: Working with Sharilyn was a dynamic and rewarding experience. Her strong skills and infinite patience helped recover “lost” chapters and wayward citations, and her thoughtful suggestions were certainly appreciated.

Sunnyshore Studio: How do you feel about the “look” of Queen of Montana Beach now that you’ve seen it in its final form?

Toni: I was thrilled with the look of the book when I saw the handsome layout created by Jason Dorsey (with help from his son Jacob.) Fanny Cory, an accomplished artist herself, would surely be pleased with the final product—and she’d be extremely proud of her great-grandson for bringing her story to life!

Interview with Sharilyn Stachler, editor

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Sunnyshore Studio: Sharilyn, tell us something about yourself? Who are you, and how did you get started as an editor?

Sharilyn: I am a reader! I taught myself to read before kindergarten ever started, and have been reading ever since.  I love words that evoke images in fresh ways, and I love beautiful language.  A few years ago I offered to help a friend by editing blog posts for her business.  Then her husband started a publishing company and, when he needed more editors, I was delighted to become part of that team. As an editor, I love to organize and order words, while keeping the author’s voice intact.  I was privileged to help Jason publish a pair of art books recently, and he asked me to help with Queen of Montana Beach.   

Sunnyshore Studio: You played a pretty big role in giving Jason the “green light” to do the book. He trusts your opinion, and when you said it was a good story and worth being published he decided to move forward with the project. Why did you think the book should be published?

Sharilyn: While any manuscript is rough on the first read-through, it doesn’t take long to get a feel for the ideas and the language being offered.  Toni’s narrative voice is lively and engaging, and I knew it would be an interesting and appealing read.  And of course, who better to publish the story of Fanny Y. Cory than her great-grandson, Jason, and Sunnyshore Studio.

 Sunnyshore Studio: How would you describe this book? Why does it matter? Why are you excited about it being published?

 Sharilyn: The more I read this book—and as editor, I’ve read it many times!—the more I admire Fanny Y. Cory.  She was an amazing person who lived with intention.  And through it all, she had fun.  Whether Fanny inspires you to live better, yourself, as she does me, or you simply enjoy reading about her storied life, you will not have wasted your time reading Queen of Montana Beach.

 Sunnyshore Studio: What was it like working with Toni and Jason on this project?

 Sharilyn: Jason is fun to work with on any project.  He has so many ideas, with so much enthusiasm and energy to throw behind all of them.  I am truly flattered by his confidence in my work; when we faced some hiccups on this project he simply said, “Then I’ll just trust you.” And Toni gave me a huge amount of trust as well.  It’s a painful thing to let somebody alter your hard work! She was amenable to almost any change I suggested, and quick to respond to anything I asked of her. In the end, I think we’ve created a book that anyone will thoroughly enjoy reading.

Interview with Jacob Dorsey, Graphic Design

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Sunnyshore Studio: Jacob, tell us a little about yourself.

Jacob: My name is Jacob Dorsey, oldest son of Jason and Jenny Dorsey and great great grandson of Fanny Y. Cory.

Sunnyshore Studio: How did you get involved in this project? Was it planned or spontaneous?

Jacob: Near the middle of August, I took a vacation from schoolwork and my summer job during a week and a half vacation in Redmond Washington once my summer class ended. Originally, the book was of secondary concern to me, as my father wanted me to work on an animated logo for Sunnyshore Studio. This changed, however, once he asked me to do some of the technical grunt-work of copying over the 34 chapters from the final draft of FYC’s biography.

Sunnyshore Studio: What did your dad – Jason – ask you to do on the Queen of Montana Beach?

Jacob: The finer details of arranging the chapter number in the correct location, changing the style to drop capital for the first letter of each chapter, and making sure that the font was uniform in style were also part of my contributions to the book.

Sunnyshore Studio: Jacob, what did you enjoy about this project? What do you have to say about Fanny Y. Cory?

Jacob: I have heard tales of FYC throughout the years, most vivid of which are her marriage and of how she went door to door to different publishing companies in New York looking for illustrating work, and I especially enjoyed learning new bits and pieces about her life as I read through a few of the chapters.

Interview with Jason Dorsey, Artistic Director

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Sunnyshore Studio: How did Sunnyshore Studio decide to work on this project?

Jason Dorsey: In the winter of 2017, my wife Jenny suggested that Sunnyshore Studio do a show to honor the artistic legacy of my great grandmother, Fanny Y. Cory. I began to look at dates for that show, and noticed that her birthday was in October (October 17th). I figured out that October 2017 would be the 140th anniversary of Fanny’s birth and we decided to do a show then.

I had heard about Toni McCarty and her book on my great-grandmother. So I contacted her and asked if she would be interested in letting me read it to see if Sunnyshore Studio would be interested in publishing it. She sent me her draft, I read the first few chapters and liked it a lot, but wanted a real professional’s opinion so I sent it on to Sharilyn. Sharilyn said that it was a great story that would have a wide appeal, so I was sold on the project from that point on.

Sunnyshore Studio: What has been most enjoyable about the project.

Jason: It’s been fascinating for me to get to real dive into Fanny’s life. I knew some of the stories but I had no idea. I mean, this woman was being written up in the gossip column of the New York Times and other major newspapers regularly. I had no idea how famous she was, nationally and even internationally. But what I enjoyed most was being able to see some of myself in her. It was like discovering a part of my story.

Sunnyshore Studio: What do you see of Fanny in you?

Jason: Her determination, and she was very results oriented, fast-paced, a mover and a shaker, but all the time she had a deep love for her family and a loyalty to her friends and loved ones. I hope that these things, to some degree, are characteristics of my life too.

Sunnyshore Studio: What was hardest about the project.

Jason: It was super great working with Toni and Sharilyn. They are both amazing and did a great deal of work without me in the loop at all. What was most challenging for me was just creating the basic design of the book and the cover graphic. I know my family paid a price for the stress I was under. But at the end of the day, it was just a joy, a pure joy to be part of this project.

The Story of “My Grandmother’s House” Video by Robert Dodgson

 

This Judy Collins song inspired me to make this video because she said perfectly how I felt about my grandmother’s house.

FYC looking at pet bird, ranch

My first video version of this was done in the early 1980’s using VHS tape editing but thirty years later the old video tape did not transfer well to the digital format. With Sunnyshore Studio’s publication of the new book “Queen Of Montana Beach” by Toni McCarty, I was encouraged to create a new digital revised version using the same great Judy Collins song.

My grandmother and grandfather, Fanny Y. Cory Cooney and Fred Cooney were known to their family as “Meetsy” and “Popsy”.

Meetsy and Popsie, F Y Cory and Fred Cooney

The video opens with Meetsy and Popsy greeting us as we arrived at their Montana ranch on Lake Sewell from our home which was then in Utah. The Cooney ranch had no running water or plumbing and the only electricity was from batteries and a little gas generator to charge them. However to us kids this was the best place on earth. From 1940 to about 1951, my Dad, Dr. Thomas Dodgson, took the old movies of our visits there with a hand-wound, spring-powered, Bell and Howell 8 mm movie camera.

 

You can see how much fun the lake was. There was also horseback riding, camping, shooting practice, story reading, story telling and cousins to play with. All the while that we kids were having the times of our lives, Meetsy still had to keep producing to deadline her weekly cartoon strips “Sonnysayings” and “Little Miss Muffett” for King Features Syndicate. She was a world famous cartoonist and illustrator but we knew her as a loving grandmother and the best storyteller ever with the most dynamic readings of classic books like Ivanhoe, David Copperfield and Tarzan.

Grandkids swim at lake Sewell, Robert, Bud, Margaret, Ted Cooney

Sadly, in 1952 that wonderful ranch was flooded to expand the Canyon Ferry Dam. All that was left of the ranch was Meetsy’s log studio, the old bunkhouse and the windmill that had been moved up to higher ground, and left standing like an abandoned sentinel on the hill, still bravely fighting the ravages of time.

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The white picket gate at the head of the gravel driveway leads down through the evergreen trees to the summer house that Meetsy bought on Camano Island in 1947 and which she made her permanent home in 1952 after her ranch was flooded. This little 630 square foot cottage was on the bluff overlooking the Saratoga Passage. It was on 2-1/2 acres and included 100 front feet of private beach. Meetsy named her new home “Montana Beach” and it was there that she rebuilt her life and continued her cartooning until she retired at 79 years of age in 1956. On Camano, Meetsy continued having outdoor picnics and parties and enjoying the beaches and company of many new friends on the Island as well as old Montana friends who came to visit. I was raised across the street from Montana Beach on my parents’ farm. Meetsy was and still is the most inspirational person I have ever known.

 

This video provides a glimpse into my life during childhood with Meetsy and Popsy and visits at the ranch with my young parents and my siblings. It includes my Uncle Bob Cooney and his wife Carol and their kids. The video then transitions to Camano Island, WA, with Meetsy at her new home where she lived for another twenty years. After she died in 1972, my wife Sandy and I had the opportunity to buy Montana Beach, remodel the house and raise our two girls there where they interacted with their nearby grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Bob and Carol Cooney and my Mom and my Dad, who were then the grandparent generation are shown visiting us, the young parents, at Montana Beach.

The circle of life goes on. Once a small child at my Grandmother’s house in Montana, today I am a 75-year old grandparent myself. Through the generations, all who entered Meetsy’s door were fed, entertained, inspired and enriched by their time spent at my grandmother’s house.

Praise of Toni McCarty’s Queen of Montana Beach: The story of artist Fanny Y. Cory

Toni McCarty has written a wonderful biography on the matriarch of our family of artists, Fanny Y. Cory.  Here’s some of the early feedback we’ve received for this book. Sunnyshore Studio wants to thank Trina, Kirby and Robert for their support and encouragement in this project.

Trina Robbins

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Trina Robbins (born 1938) is an American cartoonist. cartoonist. She was an early and influential participant in the underground comix movement, and one of the few female artists in the fledgling underground comix movement. Both as a cartoonist and historian, Robbins has long been involved in creating outlets for and promoting female comics artists. Among her many accomplishments she is the author of Pretty in Ink, North American Women Cartoonists, 1896-2013. You can read more about Trina in this Wikipedia article here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trina_Robbins

Trina writes this about Queen of Montana Beach: the story of artist Fanny Y. Cory

“One of a handful of early pioneering women cartoonists and illustrators, Fanny Y. Cory has remained undeservedly obscure compared to her more famous sisters like Rose O’Neill (The Kewpies) and Grace Drayton (The Campbell Kids).  She has long needed a book of her own, so that readers can finally appreciate her talent in illustration and comics, and now she finally has one.  Thank you, Toni McCarty!”

Kirby Lambert

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Kirby Lambert is a Western historian, Charlie Russell scholar, and long-time program director at the Montana Historical Society who has advanced public humanities immeasurably. In 2015, Kirby was recognized at the Governor’s Humanities Awards Ceremony with five other Montanans for their excellent work in the humanities in Montana.

Kirby wrote this about Toni McCarty’s Queen of Montana Beach.

“The Queen of Montana Beach provides a delightful look at one of the most captivating figures from Montana’s past. In the middle of the twentieth century, F. Y. Cory’s creations were beloved by cartoon-readers across the country. Today, although her fame has faded, Cory’s art and wit continue to offer engaging, humorous, and high-spirited glimpses of daily life.  McCarty provides a richly detailed, highly personal account of Cory’s life and her beguiling contributions to the art world. This book fills an important dual role of introducing Cory to contemporary readers and helping to ensure her rightful legacy for future generations.”  

Robert Dodgson

Robert Dodgson

Robert Dodgson is a grandson of Fanny Y. Cory and the President of F.Y.C. Publishers, Inc. Robert and his wife Sandra were catalysts in the forming of F.Y.C. Publishers, Inc. who were instrumental in the publication of Fanny’s exquisite A Fairy Alphabet watercolors in book form. You can read more about that here HISTORY OF F.Y. CORY PUBLISHERS, INC. By Sandra and Robert Dodgson, August 1st, 2017   Robert has also unofficially served as a family historian, recording videos and audio recordings of Fanny Y. Cory and others to tell the story of her life.

Robert Dodgson has this to say about Toni McCarty’s Queen of Montana Beach: The story of artist Fanny Y. Cory. 

Fanny Y. Cory’s life was an incredible testimony to what can be done when you refuse to accept your limitations. She had the rare gift of bringing humor out of misfortune and joy out of the shadows. Toni McCarty has exquisitely captured the essence of this loving, resourceful and humble pioneer woman and the world in which she lived. Thank you Toni for your dedication and skill in bringing this inspiring story to life.”

Book cover finished

We are also happy to announce that the cover of the book is now completed. Thanks to everyone who provide Sunnyshore Studio Artistic Director Jason Dorsey with so much great feedback. We were able to get all the above blurbs on the back cover and it looks great!

Queen of Montana Beach: The story of artist Fanny Y. Cory  is due to be released Saturday, October 14th.

Queen Cover - FINAL

 

 

HISTORY OF F.Y. CORY PUBLISHERS, INC. By Sandra and Robert Dodgson, August 1st, 2017

In 1947, a year after her husband Fred Cooney died, 69-year-old Fanny Y. Cory purchased a cabin across the street from the farm where her daughter Sayre and family lived on Camano Island, WA. It was to be used as her part-time residence during the sweltering Montana summers.

This cabin was originally attached to a garage further back in the woods and Grandpa George Dodgson sawed the “cabin” from the garage and moved it closer to the high bluff and built the brick fireplace. Later neighbor Bill Smith added a bedroom.  While Fanny was still in Montana she corresponded with Sayre about putting in an oil furnace and a big picture window. While she was in residence at her cabin, she continued her hectic daily schedule of creating her “Sonnysayings” and “Little Miss Muffet” cartoons.

Fanny moved to Camano Island permanently when her ranch near Helena, Montana was flooded in 1952. Even though her primary residence was then Camano Island, for a number of years she rented an apartment in Helena for extended periods to visit family and friends there. She continued her cartooning career from wherever she was, until the age of 79 years in 1956.

Living in the more mild climate of Washington State suited Fanny. With a longer growing season she grew  flower gardens as well as asparagus and other vegetables and enjoyed the apples from her fruit trees. Mostly she enjoyed her daughter Sayre and her family who lived so close and interacted with them on a daily basis. Her grandchildren fondly remember her homemade Snickerdoodle cookies and her imaginative reading of the classics to them or telling of original stories. An outgoing, social person, she made friends with her neighbors and others in the community and attended the local Episcopalian church. Modest to a fault, she never bragged about her world-wide fame and most of her friends and acquaintances did not realize the celebrity of their interesting, friendly neighbor.

FYC enjoying morning at Montana Beach a

Even after she retired from her career of cartooning, Fanny continued to paint for enjoyment in watercolors and even tried her hand at oils. The location of her cabin overlooking Saratoga Passage toward the Olympic Mountains and views of the woods and her gardens provided her endless subject matter for her many paintings. She was a great encourager of her daughter Sayre in continuing her art education by drawing and painting and encouraged her grandchildren to paint as well.

Over the years, Fanny had shown various family members, along with her other paintings, her original 26 watercolor paintings with verse that came to be known as “The Fairy Alphabet”. She had said how she always wanted to have them made into a book but because of the elaborate colors and the limitations of the printing systems of the time, she had always been told that making them into a book would be too expensive.

Fanny Y. Cory, Daffodils

In her later years, after her eyesight and hearing failed and she could not safely live alone, she went to live with her daughter Sayre and family in the nearby town of Stanwood.

FYC, Stanwood, Mike Cooney

Even though she lived full-time in Stanwood, she loved to be taken out to her cabin on Camano for visits. It still contained all of her familiar things just as she had left them.

In about 1968, in Fanny’s heavy, old sideboard drawer where she had stored much of her artwork over the years, mice had nibbled edges of paintings and in the bottom of that drawer, in a box with a hole nibbled in the corner, Robert and Sandra retrieved the aging but still beautiful original watercolor paintings of the “Fairy Alphabet”. In fact there was an extra “D” painting showing daffodils with girls’ faces that was painted at the same time as the other Fairy Alphabet paintings but because Fanny thought it did not fit in with the other fairies, she painted the Dryad painting to replace it (you can see this painting above). By this time, these painting were about fifty years old and although the paintings had been kept out of the light, the paper was beginning to show damage.

Worrying about the fragility of the original paintings, and with the permission of Fanny and Sayre, Robert made protective sleeves for each painting, hand-press lettered each verse on its sleeve and carefully inserted each fragile painting into its protective sleeve.  It became obvious to him that it would not be long before these beautiful paintings would be destroyed and lost to posterity.  Also there were discussions of what would happen to the Fairy Alphabet originals when Fanny was gone. Some family members thought they should be divided among family members. Thinking about what Fanny had said about her desire to have them made into a book and given Fanny’s advanced age and hoping to get a book published while she was still living and while the originals were still together, Robert and Sandra began to brainstorm as to how to get published  this work Fanny had so lovingly created. With modern printing techniques maybe it would be possible to have them finally made into a book. Thinking that anyone who saw this artwork would be anxious to publish it, with Fanny and Sayre’s blessing, Robert photographed each painting and Sandra agreed to hand carry the photographs and pitch them to a publisher when she was in New York in route to Europe in 1969. She had already researched how to get a publisher and had corresponded with many of them to no avail.

It was not lost on 26-year-old Sandra when she arrived at Grand Central Station, having traveled across Canada and down to New York City by train, and clutching the photos of “The Fairy Alphabet” in her hand, that she was about to embark on the same path Fanny had taken to see a publisher when she was only 18 or 19 years old. With her bags stored in a locker at Grand Central Station, Sandra called a taxi, handed the driver a piece of paper on which she had written the address of the publisher and sat nervously on the edge of her seat as the taxi headed for the derelict Bowery district. She was more than a little apprehensive when the taxi stopped on a deserted city block and the driver pointed to an old tall, dark building. Sandra exited the cab, paid the fare and headed to the flight of stairs leading up to a big, heavy door. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted the door to be locked or not. If it were locked, she could retreat to the cab that was still waiting below and escape this scary adventure. The door was unlocked, however, and she entered into a dark, cool vestibule with another flight of iron steps, steeply ascending to a higher floor.

It was totally quiet and Sandra could hear her footfalls on the iron steps that were worn in the center from so many hopeful souls having traversed them over the years. And they were slippery!  Sandra thought of Fanny’s story about her coming to see this same publisher (Harpers?) to get started as a commercial illustrator and realized that she was now putting her feet in the same footprints previous made by Fanny about 70 years earlier.

From what she could see, the building seemed deserted but when she reached the higher floor, there was a door with the name of the publishing company lettered on its translucent window. As she had prearranged, she met with the publisher and showed him the photographs of the paintings.. She presented all the reasons he should publish the Fairy Alphabet book not the least of which that his company had published her work in the past.

Recognizing Sandra’s naiveté, the publisher kindly explained some of the facts of publishing to her. The biggest stumbling block the family was going to encounter, he said, was the fact that there was no single authority to deal with the publisher. They would need the owner of the material to work with or if not the owner, than whosoever the owner gave such authority to. Also, the age of Fanny being by then 91 years old was a problem for a publisher who would worry there could be some disruption during the publication process. If Fanny were to give authority to someone else, it needed to be in a legal document, naming also a third person who would then have authority to speak for the owner. Sayre was then about 62 years old which the publisher said was also too old to be the sole entity.. “What about you?” he asked Sandra. He explained that having a young person with the authority to sign contracts and negotiate conditions would be an advantage in getting the book published. When Sandra pushed for some commitment by the publisher that if she got all of his suggestions implemented, that he would be interested in publishing the book, he politely declined. It was not the kind of book that would fit in with their current list of published works he said. It was a discouraging setback and nothing further was done with the Fairy Alphabet for a few years more.

In 1972, Fanny died at the home of her daughter, Sayre, and was taken back to Helena, MT, to be buried beside her husband Fred in the Cooney family plot. Fanny’s house and all her possessions including her paintings were inherited by her daughter Sayre.

2004 Dorsey Family Vacation to Yellowstone and Montana 008

In late 1972, Sayre sold her mother’s cabin and property on Camano Island, WA, to her son, Fanny Y. Cory’s grandson, Robert George Dodgson, and his wife Sandra. Because the house was still full of Fanny’s belongings, Robert and Sandra began to pack them up and transport them to Sayre’s house in Stanwood. There had been so many years where no one had lived in the house that the mice had taken over. There was a mouse nest in the back of the stove and at night, little mouse feet could be heard scurrying across the linoleum floor. Although Robert was a full-time and then some, self-employed designer, marketer and builder of model sailplane kits that enjoyed international distribution, he began to immediately remodel Fanny’s 630 square foot cabin of three rooms into a two-bedroom house with separate kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom and utility room. Their daughter, Heather, was two years old when they moved from their houseboat on Lake Union in Seattle to “Montana Beach” on Camano Island. Their second daughter, Megan was born in August of 1974.

The opportunity to have the “Fairy Alphabet” published in Fanny’s lifetime had been missed but living in her house, surrounded by memories of her life there and some of the scenery that inspired so many of her paintings, once again encouraged Robert and Sandra to consider how they could get the “Fairy Alphabet” published. Sandra had seen first hand that her father and aunt had formed a family corporation to handle the real estate and orchards they inherited from their mother. Also she had worked in law offices and  experienced handling corporate documents and  maintaining corporations and was also aware of liability issues of businesses and corporations. The idea of forming a family corporation to publish the “Fairy Alphabet” was starting to take shape.

Sayre repeatedly voiced her great desire to have “the Fairies” published in a book. Having inherited the original paintings from her mother, she offered to give them to the corporation so that they could be made into a book as her mother had always wanted. After Robert and Sandra talked to Sayre and her husband Tom and Sayre’s brother Bob Cooney and his wife Carol, it was decided that the family of Fanny Y. Cory Cooney should form a corporation and act as the publisher to get the “Fairy Alphabet” made into a book. Sayre’s other family members as well as her brother Ted and wife Virginia were invited to join in the venture but they all declined. A lawyer was hired to draw up the legal documents to create the corporation.

F.Y. Cory Publishers, Inc. (The Corporation) is a Washington Corporation, formed in July 1976 by Sayre and Tom Dodgson, Bob and Carol Cooney and Robert and Sandra Dodgson. The Corporation was formed for the purpose of getting published the Fairy Alphabet by F. Y. Cory in book form. To accomplish that end, The Corporation self-published the paintings as 4” x 5” cards and as 8” x 10” art prints to increase interest in the prospective book and to bring some income to The Corporation to meet its expenses. The cards and pictures were printed by Craftsmen Press near the south end of Lake Union in Seattle. Robert and Sandra supervised the process, giving approval at various steps. Each printing could do four designs of the large size and four copies each of the same four designs of the cards. The Corporation got a total of twenty four designs of the twenty six printed. The Shareholders above named each contributed $2,000 to get The Corporation started. Later, different Shareholders loaned money for various printings. After enough product was sold, all the Shareholders were reimbursed with interest for their initial investment and all their loans.

In 1986, Robert, Sandra, Heather and Megan moved from Camano Island to Bothell, WA. The official address of The Corporation is therefore: 21230 Damson Road, Bothell, WA, and Phone Number is 425-776-8067. It is crucial to keep the Montana Historical Society apprised of the current address of The Corporation so as to avoid their automatic trigger of taking of property if they cannot contact the “owner”. The Secretary of The Corporation, therefore,  confirms with them annually the current official corporation address and phone number.

No one in The Corporation received money for all the work they did on behalf of The Corporation through the years. It was an organization driven by the shared desire to see the artist’s work published in a book. The only expenses paid by the corporation were taxes (sales and corporate/annual report/license), storing the original paintings and printing costs, envelopes, plastic card packets and other materials sold for income as well as some postage to mail correspondence and product. The Corporation has not paid for storage of product since the date of inception nor gas money for sales trips to promote its products to individual shops nor gift show fees of thousands of dollars. Members of The Corporation always paid for expenses individually or volunteered their own time and energy: Sandra kept the records and met the legal requirements of meetings, minutes and the annual report. She and Robert manned gift show booths in Seattle and San Francisco and paid all the attendant costs themselves. Carol personally visited shops in Helena and got orders and reorders. Bob and Carol’s acquaintances at the Montana Historical Society stored the original art for many years in a heat and humidity controlled vault at no cost to The Corporation and ultimately published the first book of the Fairy Alphabet in 1991.  They paid a royalty to the Corporation for each book they sold.

2004 Dorsey Family Vacation to Yellowstone and Montana 005

Over the years since the founding of F. Y. Cory Publishers, Inc., The Corporation has made additional income by licensing some of the designs of the “Fairy Alphabet” to be made into puzzles and quilt squares to name a couple products.  A second book of the “Fairy Alphabet” was published in 2011 by Riverbend Publishing and the corporation was paid a royalty for each book Riverbend sold.

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The original six shareholders, all of whom were also directors, traveled to attend the corporate annual meetings. It was also a good time to see family and visit. Often Bob and Carol Cooney came from Helena, MT, to Camano Island or sometimes Robert and Sandra with their family would travel to Helena. For the meeting after Tom’s death, Sayre traveled with Robert and Sandra and family for the annual corporate meeting which was held in Helena. Occasionally the corporation paid for dinner at a nice restaurant for the directors after the meeting. Usually the family who hosted the meeting provided dinner. In later years when neither Sayre nor Carol were able to travel, meetings were held by Consent In Lieu of  Meeting where everybody signed off on the corporate actions taken or to be taken.

Whereas F. Y. Cory Publishers, Inc. had six stockholders when it was formed in 1976, through death and inheritance there are fifteen stockholders forty-one years later. The sole asset of The Corporation remains the original 26- watercolor paintings by F. Y. Cory and the licensing rights of those paintings. The  aging note cards, 8 x 11 prints and their envelopes and plastic packet holders were divided up among the shareholders in 2013. The first book published is no longer in print and is now a collector’s item. The second book can be purchased through The Corporation or other outlets. Robert Dodgson created, pays for and maintains an F. Y. Cory Publishers, Inc.  website online at www.fycory.com.

 

 

 

 

“The Pact” by Ann Cory Dorsey

This was written by Ann Cory Dorsey after her beloved Grandmother Fanny Y. Cory died. It tells of a sacred moment that she and her daughter April shared with Fanny, who the family called Meetsy.

The room was filled with photos of the past and school pictures of the present. There was a yellow painted chair beside the bed holding a large hand wound clock and several bouquets of flowers. The people walked softly and most avoided the room. Meetsy was dying. Certainly she was dying this time. We had thought she was three years before when a neighbor girl had found her unresponsive lying on her couch. The ambulance had rushed her into the room in this big yellow house that had been my other grandma’s while she had lived with us. Meetsy would joke afterward how she’d always wanted to ride in an ambulance but when her chance came she didn’t even know it. But nobody joked about it then. My father, a doctor, and my mother, a nurse, did everything they could. The house was in a state of “emergency” for weeks to help ease her labored breathing and physical decline.

But then, miraculously, Meetsy rallied. She wouldn’t be able to live alone again in her beloved cottage overlooking Saratoga Passage viewing the Olympics that arched up behind Whidbey Island on clear days.

She was confined to a wheelchair because her legs were so unsteady but as she had been remarkable all her life her spirit remained remarkable under adversity. A routine of napping, writing letters or a log of the day’s events with a heavy felt pen and eating became more and more her way of life. I remember her sitting at the kitchen table with the morning sun glistening on her snow white hair. Although much of the time she could not hear, she would tell stories of her life that might well make a toad stool smile or, if she could think of nothing else she considered entertaining enough, she’d relive the characters and plots of anyone of a number of Dickens’,  Scott’s or Cooper’s books. Very little happened in the kitchen about which Meetsy did not know from watching to make sure my mother had on her sweater to exposing the more grave infractions of a visiting great grand child.

Meetsy seemed to be particularly interested when one of her grandchildren was, as she described it, “in a family way.” My mother said that when she told Meetsy that labor had started when the birth of our first child was imminent, Meets had just bowed her head in silent prayer. My mom had tried to remind her that all births were not as difficult as hers had been. Meetsy had agonized for hours with her first child but because she was so small and the boy was so big, Meetsy almost lost her own life and the baby did lose his. She had been an invalid for a year afterward and the doctor had told her never to have any more children, But, as my mom would say, “Meetsy just had to have someone to love” and she successfully gambled giving birth to three more children, one girl (my mother) and two boys.

From the time she had been 17 until well into her seventies Meetsy had been a well known artist and one of the first professional women in her field. Under her maiden name, Fanny Y. Cory, she had illustrated books, designed magazine covers and been under contract with King Features Syndicate for two comic strips, Sonny sayings and Little Miss Muffet. Much of her art work featured babies and children which she depicted with great insight. I remember remarking that she must have loved children to be able to draw them so beautifully “No, but I did love my own.

She also loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren. The proud day I laid our three day old son in her arms the years seemed to vanish from her face and the softness of motherhood filled the silence. She was remembering her own and smiling softly she said it had been so long since she’d held a tiny one. During the next few years following Meetsy’s confinement at my parents we all hoped and prayed Meetsy from one event to the other. Days flowed swiftly into months and seasons like a handkerchief chasing tears. But now she was dying for sure. After a fall she’d been bedridden and stayed so almost, it would seem, by choice. Indeed her evening prayers had often carried the petition that she be “released” and each night she faithfully kissed the small photo of her beloved sister, Agnes, who had died when she was twenty five in Meetsy’s twenty year old arms. She had hemorrhaged from the mouth as a result of tuberculosis and Meetsy in telling the story would say that when the doctor finally came and announced Agnes was dead that she had told him, “I Know. I saw the life go out of her eyes.”

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Indeed it seemed Meetsy had grown weary of what had become to her a lonely, limited world. My dad often said in that last prolonged month when she couldn’t or wouldn’t eat and hardly swallowed even water that if she would try to get well as hard as she was trying to die, she would recover. I don’t know; All I knew was a brooding sort of sadness that wanted to run to Meetsy’s house once more like I did almost every day after school when I was a girl and eat her cookies, lemon drops and gum she kept for grandchildren. I would spend the rime laughing, visiting, playing cribbage and listening to her read an exciting book until the sun set over the water and lights would start shinning one by one on Whidbey. Then we would finally bestir ourselves and break the spell for another day.

When my other grandmother had died the entire family had been there. I was still living at home that morning Daddy called me down to say grandma’s heart that had been weakening had given out and she was in a coma. She never awakened from it and the family watched and prayed as within a few hours she passed through the gates of eternal life. But, oh dear God, Meetsy lingered so. My mom and dad cared for her physically and when she had the strength at the beginning of that last sickness she would fight them vehemently for disturbing her rest. My dad felt bad for my mom and mom understood that it was not really “mother” anymore.

I didn’t get too close too often because Meetsy seemed to sleep most of the time and I didn’t want to incur her wrath. But there were sweet times too during those endless days when she was herself and so happy that someone cared enough to visit her. Still she got progressively weaker and we could only marvel that she lived at all. Her hear that had worked for 94 years seemed reluctant to let her go and so she stayed. She seemed only semi conscious much of the time but once in a while you could tell she saw and knew like the Saturday before she died when my sister rubbed her back and shoulders while visiting with her. You could tell that Meetsy was pleased.

Later that same day when I was relieving my mom so she could get some groceries, I got up my nerve to go in all alone and just sit on the bed in the shade drawn room hoping that perhaps Meetsy might be comforted just sensing someone was there even if she didn’t know who it was. We didn’t speak. She, of course, couldn’t and my heart was so full that all I was able to do was stroke her hair that was carefully brushed off her neck forming a white sculpture on the pillow, hold her hand and hope she saw only my smile and not the tears because, oh God, she knew it was I. Meetsy knew I had come. She observed as I went to get our three month old baby who was crying and when I brought her in Meetsy reached out and watched April try to touch and slap her hand. As the three of us were together I felt a voiceless identity with eternity. It was as though one small piece of it had been given to me in those precious few moments that hung like pearls being knotted on a necklace. I was with a woman whose involvement with me hung heavy with fulfilled love and dreams –and I held a baby who gurgled with sweet promises. They both belonged to me in a special way and though the two were so different, they were somehow the same as I bonded then to each other. I sensed a pact was made that day between the three of us –a pact of love that transcends years and mortal life itself. My grandma knew, April didn’t know and it had been put in my trust.

Soon Meetsy wearied and slept. April and I slipped out of her presence quietly as though she had been delirious with fever instead of age. A few evenings later while my mother was caring for her Meetsy’s breathing became further and further apart until it at last ceased. Meetsy’s prayer had been answered. She was released. Her soul had lost the confines of her small, frail body and soared to her Creator and the long anticipated rendezvous with her beloved Agnes, husband and infant son.

Following Fanny (3): The Vault at Montana’s Museum of History and some concluding reflections

On Monday Julian and I rose early. I took a “spit bath” since our campsite didn’t have showers; Julian held the outdoor spicket on so I could splash myself and laughed at my contortions trying to get clean. I wanted to freshen up because we had a meeting set at the Montana Museum of History in Helena, known as Montana’s Museum. We ate breakfast, packed our tents, and headed to Helena.

Montana’s Museum is impressive. It sits next to the state capital.

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We were early so I stopped by the bookstore while Julian took photos and video footage outside. I chatted with Rodric, the Museum Store Manager. When he heard that we were shooting a documentary on Fanny Y. Cory, and that a biography on her life is going to be released in October, he said that they would be interested in having her biography at the Musueum bookstore. He also said that there might be an opportunity in the future to do an event where we show the film and make the book available at the Museum. That was, of course, encouraging.

We had time to take a quick peak in and see the western art of Charles Russell, who was an artist and illustrator based in Montana around the same time Fanny Y. Cory lived here.

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The main reason we were here, however, was to meet Amanda, the Curator of Collections at the museum.

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Amanda led us downstairs, into the heart of the museum. She opened a vault into the room where the Museum’s permanent collection of Fanny’s illustrations (over 200 of them!) are stored and preserved.

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She had spread out many of those artworks on the table. We say Fanny’s Sonnysayings, Little Miss Muffett, and many other illustrations I didn’t recognize at all.

The second vault we entered led into a much larger room where many of the Museum’s historic artifacts are collected and stored, and where new displays are prepared. On a table in this room Amanda had set out 5 (or so) of Fanny’s original Fairy Alphabet paintings.

I had never seen these originals before. All I can say is that they’re breathtaking, exquisite. It would be so amazing to see them all displayed together in a show.

Amanda did a great job on her interview, which will be part of the documentary.

After finishing up at the Museum, and finding out that our interview with Jacquey Cooney had to be canceled, we headed back to Redmond.

Here are a few concluding reflections on Julian and my trip.

It was so great at so many levels that Julian and I were able to do this trip together. Many years before we had taken a similar trip. In 2004, Jenny and I and our kids, Mom and Dad, and my siblings April and Jed and their families had spent a week of vacation in Montana.

Just like Julian and I had, we camped next to and played in the waters of Canyon Ferry.

Like Julian and I did, we had enjoyed the colors on the distant hills.

And photographed the moon over the waters.

2004 Dorsey Family Vacation to Yellowstone and Montana 192 (1)

As Julian and I did, we had visited St. Joseph’s church where Fred and Fanny had been married.

And Mom and Dad had even tracked down the owner’s of the land where Fanny’s studio sits and had been able to take a tour of it. I was too exhausted at the time to go with them to see the studio.

Mom and Dad had also stopped at the Montana Museum. They had seen some of the original Fairy Alphabet pieces, and mom had her picture taken next to her grandmother’s photograph.

FYC honoring at Helena State Capital, 2004

They had also visited Fanny’s grave.

Back then Mom’s pilgrimage didn’t mean as much to me as it does now. And I’m sure it doesn’t mean as much to Julian now as it does to me. Time and life has a way of deepening our appreciate of our forebears and of their legacy in our life.

Nevertheless, what a beautiful thing that Julian was willing to go with me, and serve the project as our photographer and videographer. It was a sacred three days we spent together.

Julian’s middle name is “Cory” after Fanny Y. Cory. I can’t wait to see how he lives into the legacy of culture making that is his.

I’m honored to be the grandson of Fanny Y. Cory and that I get this chance to help tell her story. She faced so much suffering with courage, grit and zest; out of death and pain she brought joy and beauty and life. She somehow combined the hard work of ranch life with a continual stream of creative illustrations, bringing joy to thousands daily through the newspapers where he cartoons were syndicated.

And I’m honored to be able to partner with great institutions like the Montana Museum to preserve and share the remarkable legacy of Fanny Y. Cory, one of Montana’s most beloved illustrators.

Fanny Y. Cory Cooney