Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Iris Genevieve Puett Dunn McEwan

Darlings, I'm taking this flogging off. Little Douglas wanted to make a personal posting today, about his late mother. The woman never touched alcohol, let alone drank any, plus she was his mother, so I don't see the point. You won't find me posting any pictures of my mother here, as they were all lovingly burned by historical preservationists. So be warned my darling fans, this flogging has nothing whatever to do with me. Feel free to skip it.

Cheers darlings.

Aren't these two kiddies adorable? That's my mother, whose name is at the top of this post, and her brother, Duncan Albert Puett, in 1923 or 1924. Mother died on October 3, 1997, ten years ago today, and rather than prattle on about my decade as an orphan, I thought I'd share a few family pictures, and remember my mom and her life.

That's Duncan and Mother in 1921, in their house in Ventura, California. Mother was born in California, so I am a second-generation Californian. I left the picture full, as I find their living room of 86 years ago fascinating. Grampa Puett was a grip at MGM back then, where he was friends with Lon Chaney and Will Rogers, and didn't like Tom Mix. Grampa felt Tom Mix mistreated his horse. [Who are you calling a horse? I'll have you know that --- oh wait. I see. Never mind. - Tallu.] (Grampa's relationship with Chaney, one of the finest actors of the silent era [and a total dreamboat. - Tallu.] is discussed in my new book, The Q Guide to Classic Monster Movies, available now wherever small books are sold.) Here's an inset of Mom as a cute baby with her protective big brother.

Here's Mom and Duncan sometime in the early 1930s. Mother was deeply devoted to her brother. He died a few months before she did, and I think their deaths are related. Mother had never known Life without her beloved big brother, and I think his death was the one that took the wind out of her sails for the last time. That was when she gave up and let go. The sharp-eyed will notice Mother holding a large kitty cat in this picture. Mother had cats all her life, which may be why there are two cats in my living room at this moment, waiting for me to get off the computer and feed them.

This next picture is a year or two later. That's the whole Puett Family this time, along with a Boston terrier nearly identical to the one I had growing up. Again, I don't think it's a coincidence that when I got a dog when I was 5, Mother chose a dog for me that looked just like hers when she was a girl. You can see here that Grandma Puett was no looker. Grampa was an OK-looking man, Duncan was clearly growing up to be a hottie, and Mom was blossoming into a beauty, but Grandma was a tad horsefaced. She actually looked better when she was the old lady I knew her as. (My other grandmother was a tremendous beauty in her youth.)

Here's a shot of Mother sometime in the 40s, posing before Yellowstone Falls. This picture was probably taken by her first husband, Leigh Dunn, the father of my two elder siblings, Barry and Gretchen. Mother loved our national parks, and I visited many of them with her, including a return to Yellowstone in 1967.

Here's Mom and my dad, Norman Keith McEwan, in their living room in Redondo Beach in late 1949. You can see here how pretty she was, and may even wonder what the hell she saw in my dad, a good man but nowhere near as hot as she was. They look like a couple from a current sitcom, one of those shows where a fat blob of a guy, say Jim Belushi, Mark Addy, or Doug James, has a ridiculously hot wife. See? It does happen. If Mom looks a little overweight in this shot it's because she was pregnant, with me! I lived my first three years in that house, too young to notice how awful the wallpaper was.

Here's mother and me. This, by the way, is the first picture that was ever taken of me. It's Silverlake, California, in May 1950.

Here's most of our family in 1952. That's me sitting on my daddy's lap, my sister Gretchen, and Mother holding my newborn brother Zack. Conspicuous by his absence is my brother Barry, but maybe he took the picture.

This next one is Christmas, 1955, in our living room in Palos Verdes Estates. Mom is watching me open my new "Engineer Bill" train engineer outfit. Engineer Bill hosted a kid's TV show in Los Angeles for many, many years, and was the first celebrity I ever met. Bill Stulla, who was Engineer Bill, is still alive and well. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was the grandson of Engineer Bill. Not the one on TV, but my dad's dad had been a train engineer, until he was in a horrific train crash in Utah in 1922, where he performed heroic rescue work, and saved many lives. I knew he had been a train engineer, but not that his name was Bill. As far as I knew, his name was Grampa.

This is how Christmas should be. Kids in a sea of presents and wrapping paper. Gretchen is unwrapping something, and Dad is taking our picture, while Mother watches and beams. Even then I knew those drapes were ugly.

This next picture was taken in 1994. Dad was dead by then. This was the last time Mom had what she called "All of my chicks" together, as my brother Zack died a few months later. That's Barry down front, his shirt betraying his lifelong love of aviation. The middle row is Zack, Gret and Mom. In the back row is my youngest brother, Duncan, and myself. I've never gotten completely used to the fact that my baby brother towers over me.

And for a last shot, here's Mom and Dad in Hawaii. They loved their cruises, and took many of them. Here they are, happy. However, I have no idea who the two plump elderly people standing in between them are.

Hi Mom & Dad. I miss you. -Douglas


Liz in SR said...

Gee Douglas, after looking at that last picture I had to go dig out B0b & I's Hawaii picture - sure enough it's also from 1982 & I swear those are the same two islanders.
My one memory of your mother will always be the phrase "Did you say OUR motel room?" said in a shocked tone. Of course, looking back, it may have just been shock that you were sharing the room with a girl.

Little Dougie said...

I just remember her exchanging a surprised look with Dad, mostly shocked at my tossing it in so casually in a sentence she could not imagine saying to HER mother. But they should ahve known by then, that I was past censoring my life to fit in with their outdated ideas of proper behavior.

You'll have to scan the picture and send it to me, so I can see for myself if it's those two pretty islanders.

Anonymous said...

Duncan was my grandfather. I went to see him before he passed in IL.