Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The Collyer Brothers
Mom first found out about the Collyer brothers when she was doing some in-depth research on hoarders, which is a topic she likes to learn about. Then she listened to an audio book called Homer and Langley, which was written by a man named E.L. Doctorow. I couldn't help hearing most of this book, and I thought it was pretty interesting, but Mr. Doctorow lied about a bunch of things that he said the Collyers did. Mom says this is not lying, it is just something people do when they write fiction, and it's okay to do it.
Anyway, the Collyer brothers were pretty ordinary when they were growing up, except for being rich. They lived in a 4-story house called a brownstone in Harlem, at 2078 Fifth Avenue. At that time, Harlem was a fancy place to live, but that changed later on. The father of the Collyer brothers was a doctor who treated women patients, and their mother was a society lady who could sing and play the piano.
The Collyers had their phone disconnected in 1917, and in 1928, the gas was turned off. They used kerosene to cook with and for lighting. They didn't go out in public much anymore, and the last time anybody saw Mr. Homer was in 1932. He had a stroke in 1933, and that made him go blind. Later on, he got rheumatism so bad that he couldn't walk anymore. So Mr. Langley took care of his brother and brought him food and everything he needed.
Mr. Langley was the only person who knew where all the booby traps were and how to get through them without pulling on the wires. Mr. Homer had to stay in bed all the time, so he didn't need to know where the traps were. And his brother brought him food by crawling through the tunnels he had made.