Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Homer's closet

I believe I have told this story before but it is worth repeating, at least in my opinion it is. At my Grandmothers house she had a closet at the far end of the pantry. She called it Homers closet. I was not to open that door under any circumstances. I didn't know who or what Homer was but I was scared of him. I stayed well away from that closet door. That door had an old black latch on it. You know the type, a simple straight bar that dropped into the catch. It somehow looked menacing to a five year old. It was bad enough going into the pantry. That room was a long narrow corridor lined with shelves on one side. Mom tells me when she was a child that pantry would have been full of home canned goods. When I saw it, it was just old and dusty with a few scattered ball canning jars sitting forlorn on the shelf. I couldn't tell you what else was on those shelves but whatever it was it wasn't inviting. Grandma did keep her bars of Octagon soap out there. She bought that stuff by the case, it is what she washed clothes with. The bluing was out there as well. Mostly she just used that pantry to store the saw horses she placed her wash tubs on. Homers' closet was at the far end.
 As the years went by and I grew older I stayed clear of that closet. At some point, I can't say when, I grew braver and asked about it. Grandma laughed and told me all about it. She explained how the drum of kerosene used to fill the heater in the parlor was in there, along with other household chemicals. She was worried that little ones might open the spigot on that drum and get kerosene on them or on the floor. The chemicals in there weren't anything for children to be around either. So, she called it Homers' closet and told me to stay away. Fact is I was scared to death of that closet ! As I said I don't know who or what Homer was supposed to be but I wanted no part of it. Her plan worked beautifully as I stayed cleared. I might have a few psychological scars but I'm alive !
 I was reminded of this story the other day when I was talking with my mother. She asked if I remembered Homer Collyers room. I laughed telling her I remembered Homers' closet. She went on to tell me the rest of the story. Seems Grandma said that Homer Collyer lived in there. She went on to tell me about the Collyer brothers. The Collyer brothers were, what we would call today,  hoarders. They lived in a brownstone in New York in the 1940's. They gained some notoriety for their eccentric lifestyle. They lived in among all the junk they collected in little cave like spaces. They crawled from one space to the other. It is really quite a bizarre story if you read about them. The place was booby trapped to prevent thieves taking their stuff. Homer Collyer triggered one of his own booby traps and was crushed under a pile of his own junk ! The other brother, who was blind died of starvation because he couldn't find his way out.
 Grandma thought there was so much stuff in that old room that it was equally as dangerous. That is how it got the name of Homer Collyer's closet ! And all these years I thought it was something my Grandmother had made up. I even named a dog I had Homer. That dog wasn't scary at all and wouldn't hurt anyone but I was thinking about Homer's closet when I named him. I have to admit it was a very effective strategy on her part. And it is a story I will keep on telling, maybe to the great grandkids one day.
 If you want to read the story just google Homer Collyer, it is an interesting read.