Oct 31, 2006

Addams family values

Excerpt from Charles Addams: A Cartoonist's Life by Linda Davis.
Everywhere one looked in the apartment, something caught the eye. A rare papier-mâché and polychrome anatomical study figure, nineteenth century, with removable organs and body parts captioned in French, protected by a glass bell. ("It's not exactly another human heart beating in the house, but it's close enough," said Addams.) A set of engraved aquatint plates from an antique book on armor. A lamp in the shape of a miniature suit of armor, topped by a black shade. There were various snakes; biopsy scissors ("It reaches inside, and nips a little piece of flesh," explained Addams); and a shiny human thighbone -- a Christmas present from one wife. There was a sewing basket fashioned from an armadillo, a gift from another.

In front of the couch stood a most unusual coffee table -- "a drying out table," the man at the wonderfully named antiques shop, the Gettysburg Sutler, had called it. ("What was dried on it?" a reporter had asked. "Bodies," said Addams.) The table had holes in each corner for draining the fluids, a rusted adjustable headrest, and a mechanism for raising and lowering the neck. There was also, Addams genially pointed out, "a rather sinister stain in what would be the region of the kidneys." The table was covered with the usual decorative objects -- a Baccarat goblet, a couple of plates, a miniature castle, a bowl of ceramic nesting snakes.

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