Thursday, November 17, 2016



In late November, early December of 1962, three women convicts escaped from the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh.  They were Jalene Naomi, Sally and their ringleader was the fearsome Big Maude Tyler.  They wound up just outside Mayberry where they took Deputy Barney Fife and Floyd Lawson the barber hostage.

There was a reason why Big Maude wanted to reach Mayberry, which she may have not revealed to Jalene Naomi and Sally: she was hoping to contact her older sister, Eleanora Poultice.  Mrs. Poultice, a widow, was a music teacher who also tutored with singing lessons at her home.  Big Maude Tyler was probably hoping she could get Eleanora to give her enough money - and a change of clothes - so that she could elude capture and get far enough away.

After they were recaptured by Sheriff Andy Taylor, with help from Barney, it was decided that the trio should not be allowed to share the same prison again - just in case they plotted to break out a second time.  Sally could have been transferred to Elliott Bay Penitentiary near Seattle, while Big Maude was sent up to the Litchfield Correctional Facility in the Northeast.*  And as for Jalene Naomi, she may have been kept behind at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh.

Big Maude never got a reunion with her sister which was probably considered a blessing by Eleanora Poultice.  For the next two years she did her best to continue her life in Mayberry as a music teacher, but I think her past eventually caught up to her.  I blame that snooty Clara Edwards for finding out the truth about Eleanora's relationship to Big Maude.  And then she made sure all of the women in the church choir quickly learning about it.

Filled with the shame only a small-town resident could know, Mrs. Poultice moved away from Mayberry which left her students - like Barney Fife - without a tutor.  

Her humiliation may have been so great that she felt no choice but to change her name.  I can't say why she chose "Martha Grant" as the name with which she would start her new life - perhaps "Grant" had been her maiden name.  Maybe her mother's name had been Martha Grant and so she found it easier to assume her mother's identity.

The new Martha Grant also hoped that she could lose herself even more by moving to New York City.  In a city in which there were eight million stories, a minor character could easily disappear.  Instead of returning to her former profession, Martha took a position as the housekeeper for a young woman with two small children, Candace and Jonathan.  Carolyn Muir was a freelance writer, perhaps with an eye to writing a novel, and so the thought of moving to a more secluded area where she could give free reign to her writing muse.  And she realized that her children would most likely thrive in such an environment.  

"Martha Grant" was also more than happy for such a move, four years after abandoning her life in Mayberry.  By going with the Muir family, she would be even more secluded at Gull Cottage on the Maine coast.  For Martha, hopefully there would be no way for Big Maude to track her down.

Their last names are different, but I think that's easily splained away.  Of the two, I think it was Big Maude who had once been married; probably to some low-life.  For alls I know, however, there may have been a Mr. Grant in Martha's life, once upon a time.  And that would be why she chose the name.

This will cause nightmares: the thought of Reta Shaw moaning in the dark: "Ohhhhh, Mr. Grant!"


I'm still not convinced that Litchfield is located in New York.  There is a real one there, but I think it's the Litchfield of Connecticut.  That's my prejudice of course, as I'm a Nutmegger at heart.  I guess I'll have to run a search for "Litchfield" in the scripts for 'Orange Is The New Black'.

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