Mother Memories

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Mother Memories
pk Scrapbook on his mother — Norma Knatz
with a Mother Norma links menu coming

Boyhood’s End

Love. That’s what moms are for, right? That’s where their genius lies: billions of us, covering the planet, going into space, carrying culture, argue for the intelligence, the wonder, the success of that genius.

Boy, did I ever love my mother. What a bond. So mutual. Giggle, hug, smooch.

Norma Knatz

I remember when the snake came into the garden: it was early morning, beautiful light streaming in through the windows: eastern exposure. I was in my ‘jammies. I’d slept in my own bed (western backyard), but now I’d slipped into her bed, snuggled under her covers, insinuated myself into her arms, was hugging and kissing and wriggling with her. And suddenly she went cold, ridid, pushed me away, said things I didn’t understand. In the sixty-five or so years since I’ve tried to digest, to interpret, to understand: did I kick her in the breast? in the belly? maybe I hit her with my head, my elbow? Did she think I was getting an erection? (I didn’t know what that was!)

In any event, the temperature plunged to Normal. I was banished.

Oh, I don’t mean she threw me out of her bed. No, she just went cold, I think I volunteered to leave, and I never leapt into her bed again. Oh I hugged her and kissed her and squeezed her; but standing up, fully dressed, in the kitchen, in the living room, the more public rooms; no more romping in bed: something we’d always done, without thinking about it: I mean I didn’t. didn’t think about it.

PS. Understand: it was easy for me to romp as a boy in my mother’s bed: she’d thrown my father out long before: he romped in too many beds other than that one which my mother believed — wrongly — was exclusively hers. My parents had been Anglican, not Mormon. Bigamy was not sanctioned in Rockville Centre, Long Island, not in the 1940s.

Sanction: there’s an insane word: opposite meanings. Isn’t human language wonderful? I love it: the way I love American’s “freedom”! and “education”!

I’ll rescan, enlarge that pic of Mother, look for others to add.

The Late Mrs. Knatz

Mom died fifteen or so years ago. But even then, in the 1940s, 1950s, she was called “the late Mrs. Knatz”: by her boss, by her escorts: because she was always late. Standard joke about any woman, any girl on her way to the prom … My mother passed that joke around herself: a joke on herself spread by herself.

Her boss was also her escort. Mom threw Dad out. Dad paid no support. I don’t think Mom anticipated that eventuality. She sued him, the judge said, “Pay!” Dad was a lawyer, Dad knew the judge. Maybe they were drinking buddies, whoring buddies: Dad ignored the judge. The judge, the law said, You can put him in jail!
Uhh, I don’t think so. Dad won that game of chicken.

Gus Knatz @ Columbia '26

I love my father, no matter what damage was done to me. The law that Britain (and US) enforced by war, by controling land, production, markets seemed natural to me from infancy through my teens. I, my sister, my mother (the judge) were my father’s rightful property: property carried no responsibility: my father was the OT God: if he wanted to smear me, torture me: eat us, my mother, my sister, the society, that was strictly his right, his business. We were responsible to him; he was no responsible to us.

Dad knew, rightly, that the law didn’t apply to him.
(He paid, we all paid, for that victory: but he won it first, before he lost everything. But then: we’ve all lost everything, we’re just too dull to know it yet.)

But back to her boss, and escorts: Mom had attended Hunter College for an hour, a day, a week. But in terms of accepted training for this economy, she was just a housewife, however supposedly of a privileged class: He went to Columbia, he went to NYU Law … So, hungry, with two hungry kids, Mom scrubbed floors for a bit, learned stenography, then got a job: a clerk first, then a “secretary”.

Jeez, there’s another word. Joseph Stalin was Secretary of the Soviet Union, John Hurt Fsher was Secretary of the Modern Language Association: ephemism for dictator. But in most usages secretary means the dumb broad who puts up with everything, Kneel under the desk, Monica, for a nickel in pay. Anyway, my mother became secretary to Darry Sylvester, Sylvester Insurance, specializing in marine insurance, translate as fancy yachts. He kept an office in lower Manhattan, commuted in his car from Freeport, Long Island (before moving the office to Main Street, Freeport): Darry picked Mom up on his way. (“In a minute”, she’d call out the window at 7 AM.)

You notice how bosses dock you for clocking in a minute late but don’t even notice when you stay late, working? Darry noticed if Mom didn’t dash out the door till 7: 05, joked about it, for years; but then Darry didn’t bring her back home till 7:30 at night: 8:00, 8:30 … or later! She carried typing from the office home with her to spend Saturdays on too.

Beth and I were lucky to be fed at all.

I do believe though that Mom might have done best, her marriage going bust, to bash both Beth and me over the head, dump our bodies somewhere, and try to attract a new husband. Better one healthy woman with a roof over her head than three skeletons cowering as the power is cut off every other month.
The tom cat kills all the kittens when the old tom dies. Females typically try to keep everybody alive: that’s I believe, a mistake: one that governments carry to toxic extremes.
Don’t lift a finger to keep people who OD alive. Don’t lift a finger to bail out Chrysler. Having let the white people in, don’t lift a finger to keep the brown, yellow, or black people out. …

It was really funny to grow up in an obscenely rich town but with the taxes unpaid and the phone cut off. My friends(‘ families) summered on yachts, had chauffeurs to drive them to the theater, gave champagne-fountain parties for a first menstruation … bought cars for kids years before they had a license. I could walk into a friend’s house, take a steak from their freezer, cook it, eat it: no comment, they’d just refill the freezer. But if my sister’s friend ate a doughnut, cooked a single egg, we never heard the end of it. My friends didn’t expect to be invited into my house: I kept them outside, safe.

Alienation by Steps

I started us off all warm and cuddly, then remembered a chill. Here’s another:
Men and women are different. (Vive la difference!) Adults and children are different. Vive! Brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends, all different. This guy and that guy. Hell, my theory of Macroinformation is specifically based in difference! Mom chilled at my affection? time to be weaned anyway? Jeez, one day the pup has the nipple, then one day he doesn’t: were it not for frustration who would ever get out of the bath?

I went off to college. It wasn’t my idea, I was pushed: maybe I did want it a little, but only a little. It’s absurd to grow a kid on power cut offs and then put him in a class verticality even more radical than the friends on yachts: friends a Columbia had origianal Miros on the dorm walls, rented castles in Spain for Christmas, bought Mercedes gull wings on credit cards: before credit cards existed! But never mind all that: the difference between Paul in high school and Paul at Columbia that I want to emphasize has to do with reading. My father knew Dickens, my mother belonged to the Book of the Month Club. I was given books. Maybe I wanted a Dixieland record, what I got was James Fenimore Cooper, illustrated by NC Wyeth.

James Fenimore Cooper, illustrated by NC Wyeth
thanx thebluegrassspecial

Mom had George Bernard Shaw on the shelf, and War & Peace … and Plato! Mother and I read the Symposium aloud together! and funny dirty letters by Ben Franklin! Hugs, kisses, and Cooper: all very nice. But:
But: I went off to Columbia: I came home for Thanksgiving talking about Plato, and Homer, and Aeschylus! I came home for Christmas talking about Luther! and Nietzsche! OK, fine: Mom loved it! But: just in the middle of a paradox, she’d stop, turn it all off, shut it all down: say, “Well and good, but I’ve got to make dinner.”

Jeez! a barbarian. I don’t care about dinner; we’re talking about the Nature of Good and Evil! We’re talking about the essence of Man! & God! She could turn it on; once on, she could turn it off! I could turn it on, I could get turned on: but turned on, I didn’t want to be turned off: I didn’t want anybody to be turned off!
Somebody’s got to pay the rent? No! the rent doesn’t have to be paid! These ideas have to be worked out!
Earth may not interrupt Heaven!

Earth must not interrupt Heaven!

I’ll hurry back to tell how Mom disowned me in the late 1960s, perhaps the early 1970s — when I had founded and was running FLEX full time:
Preliminary Word: I became a disciple of Ivan Illich. I regard Ivan Illich as the greatest Christian saint since Saint Francis: actually, greater, much greater, maybe the greatest of all. But mother is a conventional Christian: Jesus-inspired conviviality struck her as Marxist! Communist!!
Illich saw the Church as evil (in one of its manifestations, one side of the coin); I see Christianity as “99%” evil: conventional Christianity as “100%” evil.
I see Marxism as mostly evil, 100% evil since Stalin: and I see Christianity as cut from the same cloth: coercive, authoritarian, not at all humble: not very convivial: a failing.
Well, now I see us all as failed: me too.
But (unlike the rest of you): I tried!

Mother Norma Links

Knatz Name
Brown vs. Mom
Doctor Don Stories
pk Patrons
English, Compulsory
Mother Knows Best
Mother’s Wish
Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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