Tuesday, September 1, 2009

can't get this off my mind....

today i heard the most bizarre story. two brothers, homer and langley collyer, holed themselves up in their late father's mansion in manhattan. or as one author put it, 'they opted out' on everyday life. he thinks of them as 'curators of their life and times, and their house is a kind of museum of american civilization.' they simultaneously shut out the world and hoarded mountains of the mundane paraphernalia of the everyday life going on outside their walls. homer had become paralyzed and blind and completely dependent on langley. langely, meanwhile, had constructed all sorts of booby traps out of the mountains of junk and newspaper bundles that reached the ceilings. like a lot of my favorite stories, this one has it's own bizarre irony. langley became trapped in his own booby trap of newspaper while crawling through to bring homer food and died there. homer starved to death several days later.

sad story. but fascinating for the details. 103 TONS of garbage and 'things' were removed from the home after the brothers died. things like...baby carriages, rusted bicycles, old food, guns, glass chandeliers, bowling balls, camera equiement, paintings, the top of a horse drawn carriage, their mother's hope chests, rusty bed springs, more than 25,000 books, their father's collection of human organs pickled in jars, fourteen pianos, organs, banjos, violins, bugles, accordions, records and of course, the eventually fatal bundles of thousands of newspapers.

the mouth in my mind is just hanging open...i can't explain why i'm so fascinated by this story. i'm sure the slightly gruesome and ironic end to it all plays a small part but i really can't stop thinking about the living part of their lives. where did they sleep? did they wake up at dawn? was homer an amazing pianist after all of those years? what riled them up? did they remember their birthdays? did langley gently trim homer's beard? what was homer's favorite season? did langley describe the outdoors in detail to homer after going on one of his long walks for food?

no one will ever know. aha! that's the fascination! it's unknowable. i can fill in the blanks in any way i wish and it will never be validated. that's what i love. that heart-twisting desire to know and the mind-rattling excitement of mystery.

1 comment:

  1. I believe they're making this into a movie... read that somewhere. Great blog, by the way!