Fuller, Mary Lou 1929-
FULLER, Mary Lou 1929-
PERSONAL: Born January 31, 1929, in Bryn Mawr, PA; daughter of Guy and Corinne (Wood) Jordan; first marriage ended; married Enoch D. Fuller (an innkeeper), 1963 (died, May, 1973); children: (second marriage; adopted) Joshua, Amey Fuller Cole. Ethnicity:
"White Protestant." Education: University of Pennsylvania, associate's degree, 1956. Politics: Republican. Religion: Protestant. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, gardening, hiking.
ADDRESSES: Home—39 Cherokee Way, Rochester, NH 03867. Office—KALM Publishing, P.O. Box 522, Durham, NH 03824. E-mail—[email protected]ast.net.
CAREER: First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust, assistant director of training, 1946-1961; Guaranty Bank and Trust, Worcester, MA, assistant director of training, 1961-1963; Fitzwilliam Inn, Fitzwilliam, NH, owner and innkeeper (with husband), 1963-1973; National Grange Mutual, Keene, NH, assistant director of training, 1975-1980; University of New Hampshire, Durham, business manager for student dining, 1980-1989; KALM Publishing, Durham, partner, beginning 1989. Also worked as manager of John Hancock Inn, Hancock, NH.
MEMBER: Fitzwilliam Historical Society (president, 1970-72; member of board of directors, 1993-97).
A Horse in the Ladies' Room, illustrated by Jim Dugan, KALM Publishing (Durham, NH), 1997.
(And illustrator) Where Lame Donkeys Lie, KALM Publishing (Durham, NH), 1998.
On the Wings of a Unicorn, KALM Publishing (Durham, NH), 1999.
Sisters by Heart: Partners in Aging, illustrated by Jim Dugan, KALM Publishing (Durham, NH), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Mary Lou Fuller had yearnings to become a writer from an early age, and satisfied them to the extent of writing occasional poems and stories for local periodicals or for important social gatherings. Feeling, however, that she needed to make a living at a more stable occupation, she studied industrial psychology at the University of Pennsylvania during the evenings and pursued a career writing and conducting personnel training programs for banks. A first marriage unhappily led to what Fuller once told CA was an emotional crisis. She began a new life in New England in the early 1960s, when she met Enoch "Red" Fuller, a New Hampshire native whose father had once been secretary of that state. Fuller, a diabetic from childhood, had learned to live with his ailment and had established a career in hotel management. After a romance that led to a loving marriage, the couple decided to work together, first in managing the John Hancock Inn in Hancock, New Hampshire, and after a few months, as owners and managers of the equally historic Fitzwilliam Inn in Fitzwilliam. Ten of the best years of the Fullers' lives followed, as they worked hard and harmoniously, sharing their lives fully and adopting two children.
Sadly, Red Fuller died in a diabetic coma in May, 1973, at the age of forty-eight. Mary Lou Fuller continued running the inn herself for a brief period, but when the chef died soon afterward, she decided to sell, and reentered the field of bank personnel training. From there, she accepted a position as business manager of student dining for the University of New Hampshire. Finally, at age sixty, she felt it was time to devote herself to writing. She retired from her university position and became a partner in KALM Publishing.
Fuller's first book, A Horse in the Ladies' Room, was a memoir of innkeeping, largely based on the detailed records her late husband kept of the day-to-day life and business of the Fitzwilliam Inn. To these, Fuller added her own recollections and considerable raconteurial skill. A Horse in the Ladies Room was widely publicized in Fuller's local area and was declared the number-one best-seller by a writer for the Keene Sentinel of Keene, New Hampshire.
A follow-up, Where Lame Donkeys Lie, is also a memoir. Fuller's third book, On the Wings of a Unicorn, was described by the author, while in progress, as being "largely autobiographical"; it also, Fuller added, "pays tribute to the women who have 'passed me from hand-to-hand' sharing their strength and helping me survive spousal abuse in my first marriage and its ensuing emotional breakdown."
Fuller once told CA: "At the age of sixty, I finally succumbed to the writing 'itch' I had been nurturing for decades. Abandoning a successful career, I purchased a word processor and wallowed in the sheer glory of putting words on paper.
"I had studied creative writing in school and even though several poems and a short story had been published in newspapers and local periodicals, I was convinced no one would take my writings seriously; much less, pay to read them. Instead, I dutifully pursued the dry subject of industrial psychology because it would further my chances in the personnel work in which I was involved at the time.
"However, whenever an occasion warranted—Christmas, retirement party, et cetera—I wrote a poem or story to commemorate the event or to extol the virtues of the retiree. This kept the writing 'bug' at bay until finally I simply challenged myself to quit my day job, stop my complaining and 'write, damn it, write!'
"I had a perfect place to start: with the notes my husband had kept during the ten years we owned and operated one of New Hampshire's oldest early American inns, the 200-year-old Fitzwilliam Inn. Although my husband passed away many years ago, his daily records of meals served and popular entrees were intact and each was accompanied by his notations describing the unusual events, guests, or staff members.
"Knowing I should start writing about something I knew, I organized the records into outline form and from this wrote A Horse in the Ladies' Room, which, much to my amazement, became an overnight bestseller in New England. I elected to self-publish because I was impatient to get going at my now seventy years.
"I do my best writing early in the morning—occasionally in the middle of the night as well; particularly if I am lying awake. I snap on the light and jot down thoughts on the pad I keep nearby. I write in longhand first, sometimes only a page or two, and then put it on the computer, print it out, and do a quick rewrite. By whittling away at a chapter or thought in small bits, I find my word choices are easier, more profound or more humorous.
"Writing has always been a spiritual adventure: cleansing, healing and cathartic. I kept journals for many years and these have become source materials for On the Wings of a Unicorn."
Recently Fuller added: "My fourth book, Sisters by Heart: Partners in Aging, is the story of two women in their fifties who met purely by chance. Now, over twenty years later and despite the differences in our backgrounds, we are still moving forward together. The story, a memoir, moves from a difficult transition period following the merging of our households to a series of humorous adventures and misadventures that drew us closer together. I wrote this book to carry forward the theme of my third book, On the Wings of a Unicorn, in which I speak at great length about the importance of the sharing of women's strength. In Sisters, I found the words to describe the emotional attachment my partner and I have discovered: pride in our relationship and accomplishments, how good it is to be a woman, and the importance to share our experiences."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH), February 8, 1998.
Yankee, March, 1998.