Vertically challenged / Verticalmente desafiado

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

BLOGGING FRIEND MARY COMMENTED YESTERDAY it was obvious I got my height from my maternal grandfather who towered over his wife and in-laws in the photo at my Aunt Sylvie and Uncle Harry’s wedding. It’s fun to think about. At his tallest, he was no more than 5’10”, but he appeared so much taller.

Although My Mother the Dowager Duchess always said my own father was 5’10”, as well (and I always repeated that “fact”), she admitted to me when she was 88 years old, 28 years after my father died, that he was at most 5’9″ and probably just barely 5’8″, which made more sense to me given how quickly my sister and I overtook him when we were in our teens.

My mother was perhaps 5’2″ (she claimed to be 5’3″ for a very long time). She and one sister, were the shortest of the seven siblings. The rest were all above average in height. My Aunt Sylvie, born in 1922, was 5’7″, although by the time my mother died, thanks to osteoporosis, Sylvie was shorter than my mother.

My maternal grandmother I don’t think ever reached 5-feet tall. By the time she died when she was 89, she was perhaps 4’5″. San Geraldo met her three weeks before she died in 1984; he’s always said he could have put a bowl of soup on her head and used her as a table. Despite that, she of course immediately fell in love with him. There was a lot of power in that little woman with the big shoulders.

I never met my grandmother’s parents, the ones who owned the house I told about yesterday. But they were both shorter than The Duchess, as were my grandmother’s sister and three brothers (two of the brothers may have been taller, but not by much).

My father (whether he was 5’7″ or 5’10”) was tall for his family. His parents were both vertically challenged, as well. His sister and my paternal cousins didn’t get much in the height department either. My Uncle Artie (my father’s brother-in-law, and my godfather) decided when Dale and I were in our teens that we were tall because The Duchess made us take a mouthful of vitamins every morning (multi, C, B-complex, E, and whatever else was trending at any given time). So, when he was in his 40s, Artie started taking vitamins. He didn’t grow any taller, but in his 50s he started running marathons and did so for the rest of his life. So maybe there was something to it.

Most of these photos are from my bar mitzvah. I had lost any interest in religion by that time, but a party is a party. Besides, any chance to wear a blue paisley brocade tuxedo that matches your little brother’s blue paisley brocade tuxedo should not be missed. Anyway, in my cousins’ generation, I’m the tallest of the men (at around 6’2″) and Dale (at over 5’10”) was the tallest of the women. But most of my maternal cousins are above-average in height.

So, yes, I’m guessing my maternal grandfather had some powerful genes at play. He had blonde hair and silvery gray eyes. I wish I had at least inherited the eyes. Well, maybe the hair, too, not that I cared about being a blond (although The Kid Brother and I were both blond when we were young). My grandfather’s hair was still on his head when he died at the age of 93 (or 91, depending on who you ask).

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AMIGA DE BLOGGING, MARY, COMENTÓ ayer de que era obvio que obtuve mi altura de mi abuelo materno que se alzaba sobre su esposa y sus suegros en la foto en la boda de mi tía Sylvie y tío Harry. Es divertido pensar en eso. En su momento más alto, no medía más de 178cm, pero parecía mucho más alto.

Aunque mi madre la duquesa viuda siempre dijo que mi propio padre también tenía 178cm (y siempre repetí ese “hecho”), me admitió cuando ella tenía 88 años, 28 años después de la muerte de mi padre, que él tenía como máximo 175cm y probablemente apenas 173cm, lo que tenía más sentido para mí dada la rapidez con que mi hermana y yo lo alcanzamos cuando éramos adolescentes.

Mi madre tenía quizás 158cm. Ella y una hermana eran las más bajas de los siete hermanos. El resto estaba por encima del promedio en altura. Mi tía Sylvie, nacida en 1922, tenía 170, aunque para cuando mi madre murió, gracias a la osteoporosis, Sylvie era más baja que mi madre.

Mi abuela materna no creo que haya alcanzado nunca los 152cm de altura. cuando murió cuando tenía 89 años, quizás tenía 153cm. San Geraldo la conoció tres semanas antes de su muerte en 1984; él siempre dijo que podría haberle puesto un tazón de sopa en la cabeza y usarla como mesa. A pesar de eso, ella por supuesto se enamoró de él inmediatamente. Había mucho poder en esa mujercita de hombros grandes.

Nunca conocí a los padres de mi abuela, los dueños de la casa que les conté ayer. Pero ambos eran más bajos que La Duquesa, al igual que la hermana y los tres hermanos de mi abuela (dos de los hermanos pueden haber sido más altos, pero no mucho).

Mi padre (si tenía 170 o 178cm) era alto para su familia. Sus padres también fueron desafiados verticalmente. Su hermana y mis primos paternos tampoco obtuvieron nada en el departamento de altura. Mi tío Artie (cuñado de mi padre y mi padrino) decidieron cuando Dale y yo éramos adolescentes que éramos altos porque la duquesa nos hizo tomar un bocado de vitaminas todas las mañanas (complejo multi, C, B, E, y cualquier otra cosa que fuera tendencia en un momento dado). Entonces, cuando tenía 40 años, Artie comenzó a tomar vitaminas. No creció más alto, pero a los 50 años comenzó a correr maratones y lo hizo por el resto de su vida. Entonces tal vez había algo en eso.

La mayoría de estas fotos son de mi bar mitzvah. Había perdido cualquier interés en la religión en ese momento, pero una fiesta es una fiesta. Además, no debe perderse ninguna oportunidad de usar un esmoquin azul de brocado de Paisley que combine con el esmoquin azul de brocado de Paisley de su hermanito. De todos modos, en la generación de mis primos, soy el más alto de los hombres (alrededor de 188cm) y Dale (más de 178) fue la más alta de las mujeres. Pero la mayoría de mis primos maternos tienen una estatura superior a la media.

Entonces, sí, supongo que mi abuelo materno tenía algunos genes poderosos en juego. Tenía cabello rubio y ojos grises plateados. Desearía haber heredado al menos los ojos. Bueno, tal vez el cabello también; no es que me importara ser rubio (aunque El Hermanito y yo éramos rubios cuando éramos jóvenes). El cabello de mi abuelo todavía estaba en su cabeza cuando murió a la edad de 93 años (o 91, dependiendo de a quién le preguntes).

This huge portrait from 1923 hung over my grandparents’ bed. I didn’t notice until I was in my 20s that my grandmother was standing on a step stool. (left to right: Uncle Solly, Aunt Sylvie, Aunt Lilly).
Este enorme retrato de 1923 colgaba sobre la cama de mis abuelos. No me di cuenta hasta que tenía 20 años que mi abuela estaba parada en un taburete. (De izquierda a derecha: tío Solly, tía Sylvie, tía Lilly).
The Dowager Duchess got a bit teary when she saw this photo. It wasn’t because she was sentimental; it was the first time she noticed I was developing a bump in my nose!
La duquesa viuda se puso un poco llorosa cuando vio esta foto. No fue porque ella fuera sentimental; ¡fue la primera vez que se dio cuenta de que estaba desarrollando un bulto en la nariz!
The photographer had me step a bit away from the camera, so my father would appear taller.
El fotógrafo me hizo alejarme un poco de la cámara para que mi padre pareciera más alto.
Making their entrance again with their usual flare.
Haciendo su entrada de nuevo con su destello habitual.
The candle-lighting ceremony. Uncle Herman (my grandmother’s youngest brother) and Aunt May. I adored them.
La ceremonia de encender velas. Tío Herman (el hermano menor de mi abuela) y tía May. Los adoraba
Uncle Harry and Aunt Sylvie.
Tío Harry y Tía Sylvie.
Uncle Artie and Aunt Florence (my godparents).
Tío Artie y Tía Florence (mis padrinos).
Blowing out the candles. The Kid Brother said: “Don’t do it! They’re gonna ’splode!”
Soplando las velas. El Hermanito dijo: “¡No lo hagas! ¡Van a explotar!”
The Duchess in her platform heels, with her grandfather, at the wedding of another sister (at left, my paternal grandparents). All I know about my great-grandfather is that, according to everyone who knew him, “he was a very fine man.”
La Duquesa en tacones de plataforma, con su abuelo, en la boda de otra hermana (a la izquierda, mis abuelos paternos). Todo lo que sé sobre mi bisabuelo es que, según todos los que lo conocieron, “era un hombre muy bueno”.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

28 thoughts on “Vertically challenged / Verticalmente desafiado”

  1. I love stuff like this! You’ve got your father’s head, Scoot. Ah paisley, may it never come back! I always thought of it as flamboyant sperm.

    1. Deedles:
      Yep, I’ve definitely got my father’s head. I’m a cross between both families. Chucky follows my mother’s family more closely and Dale followed my father’s more closely. And that’s why no matter who I was with in my family, I was told we looked exactly alike. I still have a couple of really elegant paisley ties. The only time I wear ties now is for funerals and these are definitely not funeral ties. Maybe I should send them to Judyshannon and ask her to make me a silk mask (a paisley patchwork). And what the hell is wrong with flamboyant sperm. Those are the ones that get the job done, aren’t they?

      1. Now, now, Scoot! I didn’t say anything was wrong with flamboyant sperm. I just don’t like seeing it splattered all over clothes!

  2. Those are some real cool photos!!!!! And I can now see why some of my wigs and drag queens friends remind you of your family and family friends!!!!! And your mothers dress in the third photo with the beaded sleeves is stunning. The Mistress would wear that for a happy hour night!!!!!! Boy and you sure did have the hair!!!!!

    1. Mistress Maddie:
      I might have to share some “table pictures.” That’s where you can really see the women and styles. You would have a ball reproducing the looks. And, ah yeah, I DID have hair… I mean THE hair. SO much hair. I think I used up my allotment too young.

    1. TexasTrailer:
      Thanks for saying that. She truly was. She was still only 15 at the time. I have no idea what our relationship would be like now, but back then I adored her. And i still miss her.

  3. Love these photos! The one of you and Dale is especially sweet. And the blue paisley – so cool! I like Deedle’s description of paisley as looking like demented sperm, but that is part of the appeal. Colorful paramecia come to my mind. It’s all good.

    1. Wilma:
      Oh, Deedles has such a way with words. Wouldn’t you love to see inside that mind? I thought that tux was the coolest thing on earth in 1967. Couldn’t believe my father didn’t get one to match and instead were his normal one.

  4. I love the old photos and your suit? Stylish even then, though you refrained from pairing it with plaid trousers.

    My paternal grandmother was also five feet tall and so me, at 6’2″ at sixteen towered over her, but she ruled the roost. Tough old bird, said in a truly loving way. When I misbehaved, or said something inappropriate she would crane her neck up to meet my gaze, shake a finger at me, and say,”BOBBY!”
    I miss that!

    1. Bob:
      I didn’t know (or didn’t remember) that you were also tall. I was taller than my grandmother when I was 10 years old. And, yes, there could be so much power in those small packages. One of my cousins-in-law nicknamed my grandmother Saint Sarah the Peasant Queen. I never got in trouble with mine. I can simply remembering her looking me up and down every week and saying, Skeeny Meetch.

  5. both sides of my family are short. I am 5’2″, my sister is 4’11”. my niece takes after her father (that bum) and is 5’8″. lovely photos of dale and the family.

    1. anne marie:
      I spent hours staring at the photos of Dale. Sweet, sweet memories. She was only 15 at the time, but half her life had already been lived. Unbelievable.

  6. Totally enjoyed this voyage down memory lane! You have spun quite a wonderful family history. Your innuendos/observations are perfectly timed and precisely inserted into the dialogue.
    When Is your ‘book’ being published….no pressure.

    1. Anonymous Jim:
      You noticed the innuendo, did you. I was going to flesh things out but I decided passive-aggressive would do just fine. A book? I’ve had one in the works for years, I would so love to move forward, but I need an agent manager to help me figure it out and to tell me what to do with it!

  7. Most of us grow into the nose, nothing to worry about. Great photos, lots of history. I have some old addresses from my grandmother’s records, places I would like to explore – the adventure continues.

    1. David:
      My mother had a gift for pointing out all our “flaws.” My father had a hook (his was called a Roman nose) and she thought he was the most handsome man in the world. Her nose looked like she had a nose job (she hadn’t, but many people didn’t believe her). She made me so self-conscious. THEN she told me her nose wouldn’t look good a man anyway. Argh. Thanks to SG’s genealogy research, we have every address where my great-grandparents and grands lived in NYC from the early 1900s. Many buildings are of course gone, but some are still there. That would be a great adventure for my next visit.

  8. I have always been vertically challenged. I topped out at 5’6″. When I was in the years around 20, I wore cowboy boots instead of shoes because they had big heels. I pretended it was a fashion statement, but I just looked like a short cowboy. Without the hat. I even had a pair of platform shoes when they were in style. Thank goodness they went out of style quickly. I fell off of them more than once.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      Oh, those platform shoes. I had a friend’s wedding in the mid-70s and the only shoes I could find had platforms and 3 (or maybe 4) inch heels. I already looked like I was walking on stilts. Those shoes made me so self-conscious. I never fell off them but I felt like a freak (and not a good kind of freak). And, yes, then there were cowboy boots. I loved them in the ’80s but finally discovered Ropers. Very flat (for jumping off the horse without getting caught in the stirrups after a roped a bull). My life changed.

  9. I love this post and all the photos from your Bar Mitzvah. Especially the one of you and Dale…knowing how important she was in your life. It seems to me that somehow that photo captures it in that brief moment. A lovely treasure.

    1. Mary:
      That photo DOES capture it for me. Thanks so much for appreciating that. I was looking right into her eyes… sincerely. She was looking down because if she looked into my eyes, she burst out laughing.

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