“Go to the moon…you Selfish Dreamer”

October 4, 2013

Families are strange…..

I think of those Thanksgiving movies of dysfunctionals…arguing as the father carves the turkey

This week I was privileged to attend the marriage of two of my oldest friends – two men – who have known each other for 34 years…it was at the Beverly Hills Courthouse…it really was sooo sooo Touching…brought a tear to my eye….it was just one of those moments in time that I will Never Forget….

I watched last night Charlie Rose’s interview of the cast from the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie”…Cherry Jones, Zachary Quentino, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Brian J Smith….they are all fascinating but it is Cherry who just moves you to another plane beyond your own present existence…that make me SOO want to see it..

the play is about a family held together by the mother, as the father left long time ago… the daughter is emotionally handicapped by shyness and the son who had always fought with his mother – well – he wants OUT..to create his Own life

as the New Yorker article says; “When Tom, unable to deal with his mother’s disappointment, tries to close the door on the past, Amanda (the mother) says, ‘Go to the moon…..you selfish dreamer!’ ”

This all makes me think of my “Aunt Mimi”…who died last December….her mother “Aunt Mary” “adopted” my uncle and father after their parents were killed in an auto accident when the chauffeur driven car they were in ran into a truck carrying gasoline and exploded leaving Sumner (who was a junior in high school) and Dad (who was a Freshman or Sophomore at Carleton College) ..orphans

I think Aunt Mary really wanted boys in her life….after having a daughter ….

…..Aunt Mary was a WONDERFUL,wonderful woman who created for me the magic of the forest…of small people, fairey stumps, …she was an artist…and Really ……just an amazing imaginative , down to earth woman…one of the first women to direct and produce movies….with sets, costumes, and her daughter as the Star….

her only child Aunt Mimi…was a tad different…more aloof – spoiled – colder than her mother…she married when she was in her late 30’s or early 40’s a man from San Francisco…..a man who disliked ALL of her St Paul friends with whom she grew up……which included her “best” friend – my mother

Aunt Mary was a major stock holder in Polaroid…owned more than 50% of the stock with one other man….was a major investor in Kodak etc etc…

She owned

the mansion that her husband built for her as a wedding present in St Paul on Summit Avenue…that I found ugly and cold from the outside as it was covered in a drab grey stone…….

a flat..since the 20’s … that took up one whole floor,plus another flat below for Hildie who lived for her all of her life and then died a few years ago still taking care of Aunt Mimi – she was a German woman who was her “lady-in-waiting” on 3 East 57th Street in NYC –

an estate with hundreds of acres in Northern Wisconsin “Forest Lodge” ( the picture for this blog is taken from the top of the boat house – where Aunt Mary use to paint)….-

a palatial house in Palm Beach…that Aunt Mimi sold and developed another one on Jupiter Island -in the new chic area

her daughter in the late 50’s built a wonderful Japanese type house out on Long Island with vegetable gardens – green house and care takers cottage – it had a wonderful bowling green . and the pool house – was well HUGE – with kitchen etc

when Aunt Mary died my Uncle Sumner…asked Aunt Mimi for something to remember her by….well Sumner guessed that her husband Jackson must have gone through her gift closet and found this Gold plated soap dish to send Sumner – which arrived broken – and which Sumner had never seen before in his life..as he lived for many years on Summit Avenue in Aunt Mary’s house…that had a marble ballroom – walls imported from French Chateau….hidden passage ways and hidden doors…I was so lucky to have visited there several times..

(an aside…can’t wait to retire and read my old notes of 30 plus years and write my own “Glass Menagerie”)

Uncle Sumner was like a son…as Aunt Mary sent him by train a fully decorated Christmas Tree when he was at Great Lakes Naval Training School…..he knew she loved Meissen china…and bought at auction two “barrels” of Meissen that he found in Virginia when he was attending the University – he was a playboy (back before gay men knew what “GAY” other than Happy was…and could come out)….and after 5 years the dean told him it was time for him to join the Navy ..so he left without graduating with 3 years of credit…..

Uncle Sumner always said “Don’t EVER expect to inherit ANYTHING from Mimi”

Aunt Mimi who had millions and millions and who once said as we were having one of those wonderful dinners at Forest Lodge with servants – the produce coming from the gardens..freshly caught white fish from the Great Lakes…….”I want to make a toast…and just say that I consider you my Real Family”

Aunt Mimi had fabulous hair that she always wore a la 40’s look – ?”chignon”?…it curled under…

but I am sorry to say that at the end of the day…………my sister, her god daughter, did not even inherit a pin from that wonderful hair…

SORRY …… I can NOT help but being a “dreamer”…………as I know my sister Daidie has always been……(sigh!!!)

One Response to ““Go to the moon…you Selfish Dreamer””

  1. susi said

    Yes, Rob, you definitely have the material for your own “Glass Menagerie” – even in the details that you mention above. Yes, there was a certain distancing and coolness about Aunt Mimi. I wish I had known her mother! I reel every time when I hear yet again the story of how Uncle Sumner, who lived with Mimi’s mum as if a son after his own parents died, was allowed only a broken soap dish!??! That also happened to Carlos after the early death of the woman who raised him in her home as a teenager and whom he considered his “real” mom. Her children would allow him to have NOTHING to remember her by….

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