Monday, August 11, 2014

Remembering Moselle Schaffer


This is my friend Moselle Schaffer with one of her pet Siberian tigers.

Moselle, who died July 31, 2000 at the age of 75, was about 50 when I shot this photo.

She was an elegant, witty, strong woman with a sharp sense of humor and tons of Southern charm. She was eccentric in spades and lived life precisely on her terms. If you can track down her quirky, funny book titled “Camel Lot: The True Story of a Zoo-Illogical Farm,” by all means, buy it.

Moselle also did a lot of freelance writing and she gloried in animal stories. She wrote several for The Indianapolis News at a time when I was chief of The News' Metro North Bureau, covering the two north suburban counties that included Camel Lot, her exotic animal farm and bed-and-breakfast on 50 acres in Hamilton County. Her menagerie included tigers, llamas, zebras, ostriches, monkeys, goats and camels.

I also discovered along the way that she had been a close friend and confidant of the late Frances Farmer, the ill-starred actress whose tragic life included a final chapter as an afternoon movie hostess on the former WFBM-TV in Indianapolis.

Before she died of cancer in 1970, Frances gave Moselle a charm bracelet she had received when she was featured on the old Ralph Edwards "This is Your Life" TV show. All of the female subjects of the show, which was a kind of precursor to today's "Biography" but featured surprise reunions with people from the subject's past, received a charm bracelet with miniature representations of important places or events in the woman's life. She confided to Moselle that she never liked the bracelet. Miss Farmer is entombed in a Fishers, Ind. cemetery mausoleum.

Moselle also held a commercial pilot’s license and was a member of the Aero Club of Indianapolis.

She is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Ala.

No comments: