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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grey Gardens!

Goodness it has been over a week since I last wrote you! In the New Year I had thought that my blogging would get back to a regular routine but not off to a good start as you can see.

You have been in my thoughts though these cold rainy days. In my part of Texas the sun has been hiding so well that at times I thought maybe I had surely moved up North and I had failed to remember the move.

My hat goes off to you up North where the snow is a daily occurrence and freezing temps never let up. As much as I love love Maine I guess God knew something when he had me delivered to this part of the country.

 NO! This is not me hidden upstairs waiting on the Sun to shine. It could be though and that is what has me scared! My son Chad ask me if I had ever seen the documentary Grey Gardens. I did not know anything about it so he filled me in and then we watched this together and it is one of those things that after you watch it you can not erase it from your brain no matter how hard you try.

It is a film released in 1975 about Jackie Kennedy's aunt and  first cousin, Big Edie and Little Edie Beale. The film is entirely of footage shot of these two women at the Beale estate in East Hampton.

 The film captures their eccentricity in manner, dress, squalor. It traces back during the interviews the history of Edith Bouvier Beale and her marriage, her divorce, her feeling abandoned. It also focuses on Little Edie and her ambitions to be a singer, the treatment by her father, her living a reclusive life with her mother. 

The film is a shocking  look at a wealthy American family and its downfall. It shows how they went from being very wealthy to  their reclusive life in decay.

I myself keep asking how does something like this happen to people. Especially if your neice was Jackie Kennedy.

Big Edie loved cats and housed up to fifty cats even though they had no running water and at times no electricity. All the bathroom facilities were broken, along with the sinks in the kitchen. Huge piles of trash scattered in every room but the worse thing of them living there was the cat feces on everything. I noticed in the film that it was even on their beds.

Raccoons chewed giant holes in their ceilings and it shows the younger Beale"Little Edie" feeding the animals bread in the upstairs area. Yet they barely had food for themselves.

The mansion was eventually condemned by East Hampton public officials and Jackie Kennedy stepped in to have the plumbing, roof and heating fixed where these two relatives of hers could continue to live.

One of the men in charge of fixing the home said it was the worse thing he had ever seen in his life. The stink from the home was beyond words.

You must google the Grey Gardens of 1975 and see pictures of just how horrible these two lived. I can't imagine that relatives did not step in and get these women the obvious therapy they needed to help them.

It was not until after Big Edie died that her daughter finally sold this place for $225,000.00 and she moved to Florida to make I hope a better life for herself.

The reason I shared this with you is after watching it I can't stop thinking of this film. Sad but scary too. The daughter calls her Mother in this film Mother Darling and since then Chad has been calling me that. haha I have been signing my emails to him Mother Darling. 
It has made me think I need to get out more and stop living like the hermit I seem to be turning into. lol

Especially when now I have up to three cats and letting two of them hide out from the cold inside my bathroom. The other morning I looked in the mirror and I swear I saw Big Edie looking back at me.

Love to all


♥ Sonny ♥ said...

oh my gosh-- they did an hbo movie of this and it unnerved me so bad I could barely sleep and stayed on my mind for days.
I've never seen the original documentary but now after reading your post, I want to, even though I know it'll mess with my nerves.

stay warm~!


Paula said...

Wow! How interesting. I like to watch The Hoarders and you can be sure it makes me get my butt up and clean clean the next day.Good to see a post from you.

Anonymous said...

I'm watching a long documentary now after having watched two short ones. I read there were 8 cats, NOT 50 and saw very few about. I love this documentary! Big Edie was gorgeous in her prime; ah that voice. As for their costumes, everyone is an individual with different ideas. Did Ms Pearl step in writing this post? I'm saddened by your view of matters as I thought your heart was bigger and you could see how circumstances brought these two wonderful ladies down to their knees over time. Anonymous I be, shuddering to think what you would say seeing my abode.

yaya said...

I can't even stand to let the litter box get a tiny bit smelly...I don't even want any cats when Squeak passes on...Not that I'm afraid of becoming a crazy cat lady! I also can't stand to watch drives me crazy! Mental illness is so hard to understand and also to help someone if they don't want any help. Money can pay the electric but it won't make you happy or sad.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Dear Anonymous I am so sorry if I came off as not feeling sorry for these two ladies. Please know that is why I can't get this documentary out of my mind because of how bad I felt for these two women. I found it sad that no one would step in and give them the help that they needed.
I did not mean this post in an ugly way.
Sorry if you thought I did.

Shirley said...

Hi Maggie, I haven't watched it nor do I think I want to right now. I think I would be like you and not be able to get it out of my mind. Trust me I have enough on my mind right now with hubby still in the nursing home. I don't know when he will walk again. It is a long struggle and with him being diabetic, it always takes longer. We have been cold here, but we are suppose to have a heat wave by the weekend and get up to the 50's. I like that better then single digits and wind chills in the negative single digits. Have a wonderful week. Hugs and Prayers Your Missouri Friend.

Gorges Smythe said...

Humans can be strange creatures.

Kathleen McCoy said...

Oh, Maggie, I know what you mean! I've seen the documentary, too, and I think what stayed with me was that, yes, Little Edie was very attractive and Big Edie did have a very nice singing voice. You see so much wasted potential because of the times, the issues of class that might keep one from an entertainment career and the combination of closeness and resentment that these two women shared.

I think we all fear falling into poverty and squalor. My family was not affluent or high society, but we were solidly middle class and slid into near poverty when my father lost his job at 44 (when I was 13) and was never able to get another one. My parents became hoarders and lived in real squalor in their later years. As a family, we tried every way we could to help, but people with hoarding issues and/or mental illness are very hard to help. They just accumulate more stuff or cats or live without modern conveniences. It was horrifying to see and, especially, to not be able to help. (They would get frantic if we tried to help them clean.) So I watch "Grey Gardens" with a shudder that is not judgmental but is sadness that their lives weren't happier and more fulfilling for them and fear of ending up the same way. Like Paula, seeing it makes me want to go into a cleaning frenzy. And I have FOUR cats and shudder a little when a friend calls me a cat lady!

By the way, there was a Broadway musical based on this documentary that played a few years ago and I've heard the CD. In Act One, Little Edie is a very charming and vivacious young woman with so many dreams. It's so sad.

Marydon said...

Wow! Kind of sad that people live like that Maggie.

Shame on anonymous! You share was well written, sweetie.

Hope all the family is well now.

I've not been visiting anyone much these past few months & apologize as you are such a wonderful part of our lives.

Hugs & love always

Garden of Egan said...

I can't even fathom! There is no stink on the planet worse than cat stink. And I am a cat lover!

Tam said...

Like Marydon mentioned shame on the anonymous comment because I did not read this as something written to be ugly or intentionally hurtful.
Knowing you as I feel I do and having spent time with you this past summer on our short visits to your north forty I know this post was not written to make fun of these two women.
It obviously left a impact on you of how they lived and you were just sharing it with us.
Believe me if Ms Pearl would of wrote this there would of been no doubt one way or the other who was writing.
You have a heart as Big As Texas and don't let this person make you feel like you need to explain yourself.
I have read and seen things about this mother and daughter and like you I found it heartbreaking.
And yes I read an article from somewhere on the internet that there were dozens of cats living inside and outside of the home so you were probably close to saying 50.
Anyway I have not commented in a while mainly because I fell a few weeks back and messed up my hands trying to break the fall.
Keep writing and I will keep reading.
It has been real cold here to in our part of Texas and we got snow again. Twice in a month can you imagine.
Hubby sends his love

Julia said...

Oh my goodness Maggie,You have a long way to go before you are any close to Big Edie. I watched some movie clips off Youtube and it's way past my bed time. It's 12:08 Am. Yikes....

What an interesting episode in Jackie kennedy's life to be related to Big Edie and Little Edie.

I hope I can sleep.
Thanks for this.

Tam said...

I got the card I sent you back so I am going to try and resend it. Don't know why cause I double checked your address.

JOHN said...

New to your blog,Very interesting.Stop by when you get some reading time.Would love your comments

Julia said...

Hi loveable sweet Maggie,
I read your blog last night ,
and before commenting I went to the movie clips on Youtube and got so interested that I watched way pass my bedtime and I was almost in a near panic to get to bed as when I pass the slumber stage, I sty up all night and the next day, I'm like a Zombie. hahaha...

I feel bad that Anonymous has read your post the wrong way. Don't take it personally. Obviously you touched a nerve with this judgemental person. It is her problem and not yours as you are certainly not a judgemental person.

I don't know anyone who like to live in filth like that.
As far as I can see in the documentary, the piles of cat cans, it would indicate that there were more than 6 cats. I'm sure you know how fast cats populate when not neutered and having raccoons living in the house was a little too much.

Some raccoons have gotten in our hay barn and they defecate mercilessly if they are not caught and raccoon faeces are carrying some diseases that affects the brain in humans and dogs. Which could explain their mental conditions. Who knows.

I have deactivated my Anonymous button because I was getting some spammers.
I'm getting late for work. I was waiting until I can see my way to the barn so I don't slip on the ice.

Hugs & love

Arkansas Patti said...

I did see the movie version of this story with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Wonderful acting but it was truly sad. Not sure I could handle the documentary.
One good thing about the movie was that it made me realize I am not all that bad a housekeeper.
Stay warm.

Whimsey Creations said...

Oh Maggie I can't imagine that you would ever turn into a Big Edie! For you are aware of things and it sounds as though those two weren't. I'm going to have to go and see if I can find Grey Gardens - it sounds interesting.

Dan said...

Hey Maggie!

I love Grey Gardens! It is so interesting to see how these women lived. There is also a movie called Grey Gardens with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. If you haven't seen it, you should watch it. I hope you are doing well! As always, I have been thinking of you!

Love Ya,

Tammy said...

Ha! I seriously doubt you could ever become like that. It is possible that Big Edie didn't want help. Definitely some psychosis going on there. And sometimes people like that don't think they have a problem. I can't believe a house could sell for that much money after it had been neglected and condemned. I have to get out for work every day but other than that, I much prefer to be a hermit. Have a great rest of the week. Tammy

Olga said...

I saw the movie some time ago. It is a haunting story. I wonder how they even survivied.

Marla and Steve said...

Maggie, first and most important, you are so loved and you have one of the kindest hearts in all of blogland.

The movie, the story, the lives - all of it is just almost unbelievable and really is haunting.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Whatever ya do sweet Maggie, don't ever let the 'Anonymous' of the world get ya down.

You DO have the biggest heart in Texas. I know these things. :o) Your story was heartfelt and extremely well told dear friend.

God bless and have yourself one delightful day sweetie!!! :o)

Sue said...

What a sad tale that is. I guess it just goes to show that anyone can descend into mental illness...and that a lot of families just don't know how to deal with it.

Not easy.


My name WAS Female, I shit you not! said...

Love your choice of music.
I've danced to more than a few of those songs.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I keep trying to be a hermit, but people won't let me. I don't think I could handle the cat feces though...



Rocky Mountain Woman said...

OH MY! I just went and looked at some of the photos. Makes you wonder how such a thing could happen...

GerryART said...

Oh, Maggie, you're way too social to ever come close to this scenario.

Love ya, sweet friend


From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

Mother Darling is better than Mother Dearest. LOL! Have you ever seen the movie about Joan Crawford? I'm off to google these two women. Very sad.

Cherrie said...

Wow they were Hoarders before they were even called hoarders. I will have to check it out.
I haven't been on blogger much. I hope in Feb. to be on here more. I'm leaving to spend time with my parents for a while! And of cource my sister who's heart is still breaking over the loss of her dear husband. Please say a prayers for her and family.

NitWit1 said...

I will have to Google this. It reminds me of the hoarding segments on TV. I have heard many similar stories involving animals and empathize not only with the animals who usually are also sick physically, and the persons, usually a pet related organization, who have to impose laws which are being violated.

Jennifer Richardson said...

looks fascinating...I will check it out some day.
and much grace to you as you weather the cold....wishing you blue skies
and sunshine aplenty,

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