Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Osa Johnson Earns Her Name

The public is always fickle about what it likes and dislikes, and the Johnsons soon found that films about cannibal headhunters had lost their draw. People craved films about animals instead, so Osa and Martin next traveled to Africa to film wildlife. Now, Osa’s role changed. Not only was she an integral part of the movies, but her ability as a marksman became essential to feed their crew and to protect Martin’s life while he filmed charging elephants, rhinos, and lions.

But this skill didn’t come all at once. African light was different, and Martin had to learn how to compensate for it during filming sessions. It seemed to have a similar effect on Osa’s ability to shoot. Distances were mis-judged, and heat ripples played havoc with accurately getting a bead on dinner. The status of the safari headman and gun bearers rested on the shooting ability of the hunters, in this case, the Johnson’s. It didn’t help when Osa and Martin found themselves in a ravine with buffalo and ran away when they thought the animals intended charging.

The Protectorate’s chief game warden, Blaney Percival, set the Johnson’s up with John Walsh, a hunter who supplied game to the Nairobi restaurants to help them find animals to film. This proved expensive and the Johnson’s needed to eventually go it alone. But practice helped and, while Martin became better with the camera in the African light, Osa became a more proficient hunter, providing their men with meat.

Martin liked to film action and sometimes got too close to his subjects. If the animal could retreat, it did, but sometimes they charged. That was where Osa came in again. Most of the time, firing in the air altered a dangerous animal’s course. Once, she ran shrieking after an elephant and chased it away, a stunt not highly recommended. But sometimes there was no choice, and Osa’s sure shooting brought down an elephant or a lion before it mauled Martin. It was when she brought down a charging elephant just yards from Martin that their African crew named the petite Osa, Memsahib Kidogo, or “little missus.”

NEXT WEEK: INSIGHTS FROM THE GREAT MANHATTAN MYSTERY CONCLAVE; MANHATTAN, KS.

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