August 22, 2009

On another beach

Hey. What's going on here? Who's that at the edge of the beach lifting his leg like a puppy?

Me. I was 5. That was just 69 years ago. We lived in one of those white cottages on my left. You had to feed coins into the stove to make it work. That was a drag on our livelihood because my mother made "Mrs. Horner's famous Key Lime Pies" to help with the finances.

This was Florida. My father, who I think took this picture, was still working in New York and my mother, my sister Britt and I were in Florida for the winter.

I don't know whether my parents were separating or whether my mother was there for her health. She had been in a sanatorium in the Adirondacks with TB for more than a year when I was just a year or two old.

Rosalie took care of me when mom had TB. According to my mother, Rosalie told her before she was sick, "Mrs. Horner, you got the widest hips in all of Scarsdale."

We were kids and that always made us howl with laughter. I think my mother took what Rosalie said as a compliment, just as I expect it was intended.

Here's a shot of my mother - hips and all - taken that Florida winter. She must have been the best looking woman in the lime pie business on the Gulf that year. I can't remember how they tasted. My mother confided that she had never made one before we got there.

So how do you explain the "famous" on the posters that we used to walk up the road nailing to utility poles? My father was in advertising, that's how come.

(For more on my mother, see my August 18 post.)

August 18, 2009

Banished from the beach

This photo was taken by a New York Daily News photographer when my mother, Beth Hall Horner, was ejected from the beach for immodest attire.

My father told me that the photo appeared on the front page of the Daily News. Because the photo isn't dated I can't go back to the old newspapers to look it up. I'd love to see the page and the caption.

For his part the officer doesn't look like he's about to handcuff my mother and throw her in the Paddy Wagon. And my mom doesn't look terribly indignant about her ejection.

She was a free spirit when she was young. And throughout her life she was funny, warm, loving and lovely. But she was plagued by manic depression, and it became devastating in her final years.

She underwent shock therapy a number of times.

"It's like being electrocuted," she told me when I visited her in the garden of the sanitarium.

She wanted me to intercede and have the treatment stopped. Foolishly, I believed the doctors knew what they were doing.

It was not a humane treatment. By the time she died at 58, the electricity had largely burned out the spirit that made her a shooting star. That was 44 years ago. I still think of her a lot.

August 16, 2009

Abstract photos

I took these shots this week, not knowing how they would turn out. I'm intrigued by what I got.