Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Are They Doing to Mommom Millpond's Boob??

As you may remember, I've been collecting pictures from my childhood from everywhere I can find them, and scanning them in for posterity. Most of them are pretty ordinary, but recently I found this odd picture in a box of old photos and it is definitely one of my favorite finds of the Summer of 2009 Great Scan Project. I couldn't not share this with you. I mean, look at it. Look closely at this photograph. Here we have an old man and a young woman apparently feeling up an old woman at Christmas, and apparently preventing her from having the drink in front of her or a slice of mincemeat pie over to the left there.

I wish I could act like I don't know who these people are, but I am all too familiar. Allow me to introduce my great grandparents and my mom. The back of the picture said that this was taken at Christmas of 1981. It is at the home of my great-grand parents, Poppop Henry and the unfortunatly named Mommom Millpond. They always had Christmas at their house because they had a wood paneled rec room that had a pool table and a bar and they used to actually serve the food on the pool table. Because I come from fancy folk.

I can't believe I haven't introduced you all to my great-grandparents yet, because Lord knows they were some characters. Mommom Millpond is (was?) Memere Marie's mother and Poppop Henry was her second husband and therefore Memere Marie's step-father. I never met my real great-grandfather. His name was Robert, but I'm pretty sure it was ro-BEAR, because that's french for Robert. Things didn't go very well between Mommom Millpond and ro-BEAR. I once heard that he burnt the house down and all the kids got sent to orphanages. Memere Marie was raised by an aunt and uncle in upstate New York. Apparently, Mommom Millpond, whose name was Geraldine, although people who weren't her grandkids called her Peggy, was a very wild woman. I don't know how someone gets Peggy out of Geraldine, but people called one another strange things back then. Take Dot for example. Growing up Memere Marie didn't know her mother, who had somehow made it to Millpond and married Poppop Henry. He owned the town junkyard. Memere Marie met her husband, my mother's father (Poppop June) because he worked at Poppop Henry's junkyard. When Memere Marie turned eighteen she wanted to meet her mother (Mommom Millpond) so she came to Millpond to visit. She ended up falling in love, staying and getting married. Are you confused yet? I know. If only people in my family could have had normal relationships and stayed in them it might have been simpler to explain who I'm related to and how and why, but then I wouldn't have anything to write about.

When they were little, my mother and her siblings named their two grandmothers after the places where they lived. They named them this against their wills. Mommom Peggy became Mommom Millpond because she lived in Millpond in an old house in the colored section of town near the junkyard (in the 70s they moved to the fancy new house off the highway with the rec room and paneling). Mommom Ethel (their dad's mom) was named Mommom Elmwood because she lived at a crossroads, not even a town, called Elmwood. Mommom Ethel was single, so there was no Poppop Elmwood to go with her. She had had a husband, also not my grandfather's father, for a short time. The kids called him Poppop Jones and my mother describes him as the most wonderful man, but he died suddenly at a very young age. I never got to meet him. My grandfather never knew who his father was and Mommom Ethel never revealed the truth, even on her death bed. Poppop June was named after the doctor who delivered him, which means that two generations later, I am named after a country doctor from the Eastern Shore who probably delivered more livestock than actual human beings.

But anyway, back to Mommom Millpond and Poppop Henry. When I was little they lived in the wood paneled house pictured above. I hated going to their house because it stunk. They had two mean German Shepherds that had to be locked away when people came over because they were junkyard dogs who would kill and eat anyone besides Poppop Henry and Mommom Millpond. The male was black and brown and the female was all white and dog hair was all over everything. The offensive odor of their home was a complicated blend with top notes of dirty dog, blended with subtle hints of casserole, rancid oil and Emeraude. There was an after-smell of generic decay, and possibly dog pee. It was awful. I can still smell it if I think hard, but I don't want to.

Mommom Millpond had a unique decorating style. If you've ever been to a Mexican dollar store or have an Italian or Puerto Rican grandmother who lived on Staten Island in the 70s and 80s you're probably familiar with it. I call it Bucca di Beppo chic. My great grandparents had a gold velvet sofa. Their color scheme was an odd Rasta-like combination of red, gold, green and black. There were numerous Catholic shrines throughout the house, elaborately displayed with spot lights, stage-like red velvet curtains and statues of saints painted in life-like colors. There was one where you could flip a switch and it would cry real tears. Plastic vines abundant with soft, hollow rubber grapes wound around the archways and over the gilt frames of reproductions of Italian Renaissance masterpieces on velvet. There was a lot of velvet in that home. And fringe. Mommom Millpond liked fringe. She also really liked angels, so there were many of them in paintings, hanging on the walls, on elaborate plaster urns. The whole house was one great monument to horrifically bad taste Catholic style and it occurred to me as an adult looking back, that the crying saint wept over the hideousness of her surroundings. As a child, I didn't understand why my great-grandparents' house looked like this. I remember feeling a great unease and an unusual sense of perhaps theater. One time I had a nightmare where Mommom Millpond and Poppop Henry's house was a ride at Disney World where I rode slowly through each room in a small cart that wove silently around the ottomans, slowing down as it glided past the shrines, pivoting so that its rider could get a look at the Last Supper cast in the bordello-like glow of the red glass sconces on either side of it. That dream was so unsettling.

Mommom Millpond kept crucifixes in every room. She seemed to like them the bloodier the better - Jesus, rare as a sirloin. Perhaps these added to the horror I felt about visiting my great grandparents. She also planted plastic flowers in the ground outside her house, to save her time gardening, so that they would always look perfect, maybe. I don't know if anyone ever asked her why she did this. The plastic leaves and petals faded in the sun and I remember driving by their house after a blizzard and seeing the stiff fake blooms dusted over with snow and bent from tiny icicles. All these things bothered me.

Poppop Henry bothered me too. He was a gigantic old perv. While Mommom Millpond decorated the house with her kitschy relics of white trash Catholicism, Poppop Henry took over when it came to the rec room. Jesus and Mary were strictly banned. It seemed like Mommom and Poppop had some kind of agreement about this, where he could do what he wanted in the rec room as long as it didn't cross over into the rest of the house where the portraits of the Pope could see the sin. Where the rest of the house was Vatican City, that rec room was Vegas Baby. Running a junkyard for several decades, Poppop Henry had amassed a collection of strange, sexual artifacts. He liked anything with a showgirl or a titty on it: lamps, neon signs, old cigarette machines and beer advertisements. He had an entire closet full of vintage porn and posters of pin-ups papered its walls. I used to stand in front of it and open the door for quick seconds. It was as if I felt like that closet ,with all those dirty magazines and pictures, would hurt me if I looked in there too long, but at the same time I had a vague sense that maybe it would be a little bit of a good hurt, though terrifying. Poppop Henry had a slot machine and a roulette wheel. He had any number of stupid, nasty toys and nick-nacks like a wind-up penis that jumped and spun across the tabletop and a statue of an Indian chief with a huge erection. My favorite, and I am ashamed to admit this, was a set of drinking glasses. When empty the glasses depicted various busty models in bikinis. When filled with a cold drink, the bathing suits would mysteriously vanish, revealing naked women. I could never get over that - completely naked women and they had tan lines, obscenely large nipples and dark, fluffy patches of pubic hair between their legs. Like the closet, I wanted to look at the glasses all the time, as they dripped condensation all over the coyly posed women, but it felt so terribly wrong and I didn't want someone to catch me staring. The longing was almost painful.

And I am sure that when this picture was being taken, that little me, at seven years old was nearby, perhaps peeking into the stacks of 1960s Playboys or trying to sneak a glimpse of bare breasts on a novelty glass. I love how Poppop Henry in this photo, is wearing a completely red outfit from head to toe. I guarantee you he was wearing red leather, zip-up ankle boots to match. Now who on earth would wear a completely red outfit? I suppose it was Christmas and all, but still. And really, I have to address the elephant in the room. What are they doing to Mommom Millpond's boob?

Is it what it looks like? Are they squeezing the old woman's breast through her shirt? Could that be? I mean, Poppop Henry, as I said, was a filthy old lech, but my mother? She wouldn't do that to her own grandmother, would she? It has to be something else. Maybe they're laying their hands on her to heal her. Maybe it's an illusion and what looks like her boob is something white that they're holding up in front of her. I have no idea. Mommom Millpond was around eighty years old when this was taken, so maybe they're helping her out, picking her boob up off the floor so she wouldn't step on it and hurt herself. Lord knows.

All I know is that I'm so grateful that I come from such a long line of ridiculously free spirited, half crazy (sometimes whole crazy), hilarious individuals and that I got to know so many of them and their stories.


TK said...

Maybe it's a falsie as a gag gift???

I mean, it looks like she's wearing a knit pullover, so I don't think it's her real boob out, but it's certainly pale enough. You need to scan that one at a higher resolution!

Yes, Poppop is a little scary. Men seem to get weirder and more debauched as they get older.

Nicole said...

They're definitely not grabbin just boob, because she's wearing a sweater...but it could certainly seem that way! It looks like they're holding something on her chest, maybe? I dunno. I think I looked too hard and it's now time to go read my Phlebotomy textbook to get it out of my head.

Luna Sea said...

Ok, I am just going to think that they are admiring a very tiny kitten in a blanket. That is the only image that I can deal with. It's a kitten, yeah, a cuddly little kitten. Where's the brain bleach?

Anonymous said...

It's one of those ceramic, boob shaped creamer containers... still doesnt' explain the *why* though???

Anonymous said...

I laughed over that description of Poppop's man cave vs. the rest of the house. the stories. As a mom - every time you post, especially if it's like this one or the "Gym Series", I just want to pin it up on my refrigerator with a magnet because it makes me smile and shake my head. Not that it's quite like the adorable scribbles of a kindergartner, yet it is packed full of such creativity and adorable in a grownup way. You are an outrageously talented writer and your parents/husband/family must be very proud. Well, I just had to say all that because I am constantly amused and proud too of my own daughters (16 and 26) and it's important to let people know these things. BTW, your special list of Blogs is excellent, I am hooked on most of them now ...better reading than online news. Reminds me of a old fashioned gathering of artists and writers in a parlor, but you've collected them virtually.

Unknown said...

I haven't even read the whole story yet but I must say... you look so much like your mom! Very lovely.

Heather said...

Yours is my favorite blog and this post ranks up there as one of the best you've ever written. Hilarious. I was dying at the description of their decor.

I always try to figure out where Millpond is. I have it narrowed down to two states. One of these days I'm going to crack it!

mcgrimus said...

You need to submit this to

Oh, and I'll have my crucifix well done, thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

It looks like an onion to me-- perhaps they thought it was funny that an onion looked so much like a boob so they had to photograph it---

Sounds good to me!

Anonymous said...

Your mom's pretty. If you look like her, you must be pretty too.

Alessandra said...

Ok, I just had to look closer. And I noticed... something. A little dark spot on your great-granma´s boob. With another small white circle around it. Very much like a pop-up thermometer.

WL, I regret to tell that you Mommon Millpond´s tit is a chicken.

laura said...

"Mommom Millpond kept crucifixes in every room. She seemed to like them the bloodier the better - Jesus, rare as a sirloin"

I cannot stop laughing!

Unknown said...

It almost looks like a really big egg that they held up to her as a gag. But then when I looked close it almost looks like there's an eye on it. This is so weird, I can't figure it out, and it's really bugging me! Whatever it is, I think it must have been a joke by the way your mom is smiling.

Consultant Calamities said...

"One time I had a nightmare where Mommom Millpond and Poppop Henry's house was a ride at Disney World where I rode slowly through each room in a small cart that wove silently around the ottomans, slowing down as it glided past the shrines, pivoting so that its rider could get a look at the Last Supper cast in the bordello-like glow of the red glass sconces on either side of it."

AWE.SOME!!! :-) LOVE the description of the house. especially this sentence. WHAT a sentence!!!

You look like your mom, at least from the picture of you at 13 that you showed. You are both very pretty!

that photo is just...disturbing!!! I wonder WHAT is going on. Could your mother tell you???

Anonymous said...

Ted looked over my shoulder and said, "What the hell is that?"

I never realized how much you look like your mom!


Zwolsche Diva said...

When I zoomed in, it looks like a bird, is that possible?
Kind of a small parrot, maybe a pigeon? Your mom is keeping it in place, your greatgrandparents are looking at it.. Explains the looks!

Sinclair said...

In front of your mom there is a little bottle cap with some sort of dispenser. I rather think it is a little chick and they are nursing it back to health.

Or, do they kill their meals in Millpond? That would explain the size of the wine glass.

the Bag Lady said...

Whatever she is holding has a handle on it - makes me think it's one of those gag coffee mugs that were shaped like a boob (everyone had one back in the '80's!)
Have you shown it to your mom and asked her? Of course, that might spoil the fun.
Great post, as always!

Dyanne said...

You look just like your mom!!! And you are both beautiful...

redb said...

My dad and step-mom had crap like that in their house, including a pair of ceramic frogs that, when turned over, came complete with human genitalia. I often sneaked into their bathroom to turn them over. I'm pretty sure that was how I learned what genitalia looked like.

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