Scorpio x 10, part 2
(For those who may have missed Part 1: https://vpendragon.medium.com/scorpio-x-10-part-1-4d599337267a)
NANA & POP-POP
Long ago, Marie and Edgar, aka Nana and Pop-Pop — Polly’s mother and father — had produced three children: two boys and a girl. Pop-pop had come from a very, very troublesome background. His parents had died before he was even school-age and he had been raised by one of his aunts who was, Mouse could only gather from the stories she would later hear, not a very nice person who also took a lot of medications.
Pop-pop was smart, though, and had studied hard in school. He was especially interested in electrical things and ended up working with a man named Thomas Edison. Eventually he became involved with moviemaking and made a great deal of money. He had one home in Beverly Hills, another in the mountains in Pennsylvania, and another on the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey. He had many wealthy friends and became used to a standard of living that was much, much better than the situation he had endured as a child or, for that matter, much, much better than most people in the country.
But the financial crash of 1929 had ruined him. He lost the home in Beverly Hills and was forced to downsize the mountain home to an apartment in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He established his three-story home at the shore as his main residence, renting out the lower two floors to pay the mortgage. That was enough to get by, but he felt as if he needed more, so when he became involved in a car accident one day that had been serious enough to have landed him in the hospital briefly, he left the hospital on crutches and never walked without them again… at least, not where anyone could see him. In private, in his workroom, which was windowless, he hung the canes up on a hook on the wall and went about his business like the fully functional person that he actually was. He collected insurance payments for the rest of his life on the grounds that the accident had crippled him. He never drove again; his wife would always chauffer him in their Cadillac. His wife had been born into a wealthy family, and nothing less than the best car that they could buy would suit either of them.
When his children came of school age, he informed each of them that they were to become doctors and that if they did not attend medical school, he would disown them. His reasoning, he explained, was that he did not want to see his children ‘suffer’ as he had, and that, as physicians, they would never be put into a position where their income would be in danger.
Aside from that, he seemed to have treated his children with as much respect as he had ever treated anyone, which is to say that he felt free to use them as pawns. His daughter, Mouse’s mother, who was called Polly by everyone, had been a brilliant child, easily outstripping her classmates in school. Her father saw this as a plus when it came to her ability to generate income more quickly and, whenever he could, insisted that her teachers allow her to skip a grade… or, perhaps more correctly, that they allow him to have his wish that she skip grades regularly. That had never been Polly’s wish and she was miserable. Her diary revealed a very sad child who had few friends because she kept having to leave them behind every time she was forced forward and she’d ended up years younger than her classmates. She spent more time studying than doing anything else. Only in the summertime did she get a bit of a break. Since she’d known practically no one in her own class at school as she was “too young” for them, she was limited to “summertime friends,” These were the kids whose parents took them to the shore for a few weeks or, as in the case of her “best friend,” Grace Kelly, people whose families would spend the entire summer there. Grace’s family lived in a marvelous, Spanish style home that was also just off the beach and just down the road from Polly. So, at least for the summer months, Polly had a friend.
When the Second World War broke out and Polly’s brothers “joined up,” their paychecks were sent home — for safekeeping — to their parents. Polly’s parents, though, spent the money. The boys never saw a dime. Pop-Pop used to money to fund fabulous trips for himself and his wife, cruises, mostly, and expensive jewelry.
These were the people with whom Polly and Memo had chosen to leave their infant child. It should have been no surprise that when they went to Ocean City, New Jersey, to reclaim their by-then almost year-old baby girl, that she had none of the usual baby skills that infants develop. Most infants, by then, will make attempts to push themselves up if they are lying on their tummies; many will show signs of preliminary crawling motions. The baby they met, wrapped tightly from the neck down in a small, lightweight blanket, had never been allowed to develop those rudimentary skills.
She “wiggled too much” said Polly’s mother, and that was annoying to them, so Mouse had been, for months, kept tightly swaddled.
This is the end of Part 2. Part 3 to follow on approximately Sept. 26, 2022.