Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Mame Thurber Make A Big Impression
James Thurber writes in the Thurber Album “Almost all my memories of the Champion Avenue house have as their focal point the lively figure of my mother.” He goes on to describe two incidents that live on in infamy.
The first was the visit of Aunt Mary, a woman who hated the two Thurber dogs, Judge and Sampson, an irritable old pug and a restless water spaniel, and Thurber says the dogs hated Aunt Mary too.
Thurber’s mother cajoled the old lady to come back to the house for a second time, and also cajoled her into feeding the dogs. What the old lady didn’t know was that Mame had gathered every dog in the neighborhood in the cellar of the Thurber home.
Thurber writes, “I thought we were going to keep all the dogs we rounded up. Such an adventure does not have to have logical point or purpose in the mind of a six-year-old, and I accepted as a remarkable and natural phenomenon my mother’s sudden assumption of the stature of Santa Claus.”
Aunt Mary opened the door to the cellar. “There was a snarling, barking, yelping swirl of yellow and white, black and tan, gray and brindle as the dogs tumbled into the kitchen, skidded on the linoleum, sent the food flying from the plate, and backed Aunt Mary into a corner.” The dogs ended up in every corner of the house, with Aunt Mary beating at them with a broom.
When the last dog had departed and the upset house had been put back in order, Mr. Thurber asked Mame if she was satisfied. She was.
Another incident, which also involved the boy James and a cousin of Mary’s, was a posture to buy a moldy old house belonging to a friend of the Thurbers. The disguised trio knocked on the door at night and confronted the man of the house. He did not
recognize them, and thought maybe he had a buyer, however eccentric.
Mame upped the price of the house and the furniture from the asking price. She swirled through the house and picked up a vase, as traveling clock, and few books. Later, she would have these things delivered back to the house, with the note, “From Mame Thurber, with love.”
“I felt that this twisted hour marked the occupation of my mind by a sense of confusion that has never left it,” wrote James Thurber.