Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Midget Palace at 2:00 a.m.

After an afternoon with three rambunctious children and an evening of watching teens spar and do kata (while I tweaked a novella in fits and starts) and a late night of urging one belated soul to finish homework, I suddenly remembered that I never managed to go to the Midget Museum in Montreal, despite all my pilgrimages to the city. And this seemed a great sadness.

So...

I googled it, and discovered that the no-doubt beloved institution no longer exists. Not only that, but it has left almost no trace behind. In a teeny-tiny post fooling around with that jolly topic, his family cremains, Shane Simmons mentions the museum:

If you ever get a chance to go to a burial for ashes, I highly recommend the experience. Seeing the teeny-tiny grave is worth the price of admission alone. It sort of reminded me of my childhood visit to Montreal’s now-defunct midget museum where they kept all the teeny-tiny chairs and teeny-tiny cutlery and teeny-tiny toilets. It was all so cute. And, if a grave can indeed be cute, then gosh-darn-it this one was downright precious.

And Simmons' link takes us to a letter in the Mirror, where we can learn etiquette:

First, just to make sure that next time you write about this subject, you will avoid insulting some concerned persons: "shorties" and "midgets" are nowadays considered terms not to be used anymore, having been replaced by "little people" or, with a certain reserve, "dwarfs."

However, I note that the loss of good old words like midget and gimp is a sad diminution of the language...

I assert this despite the undeniable fact that I have frequently been referred to with some opprobium or reproach as a midget, owing to the fact that I refused to drink milk when I was an infant, a baby, a toddler, a child, or, indeed, at any other time in my life. And that unfortunate deficit led to an utter--an "utter and complete"--failure to fulfill my doctor's prognosis in the matter of future height.

Even in the bosom of my kin, I have occasionally found not the proper milk of human kindness but an unkind ridicule. Yet I am of a respectable height and taller than many shorties of my acquaintance.

As reflected in the Mirror, the Museum turned out to be a bit grander than I had imagined: I simply want to point out that the Midget's [sic] Palace was no more than a family house opened to the public as a museum.

See there? The Midget Palace.

3 comments:

  1. Your blog is better than most books being published in this country. REading it is a real joy.

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  2. I was in the Midgets Palace in the 1950s.I still have the little booklet about Philippe Nicol.

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  3. "Randall" is a lovely name... Do you know that wonderful sonnet, "Felix Randall," by Gerard Manley Hopkins? ("Felix Randall, is he dead then? etc.")

    If you come back for a visit, please tell about it--a listing for the "Midget Museum" was still in AAA guides to Montreal some years ago, and I always meant to go (but usually was derailed by a rabid desire to make merry on the part of Montreal-going companions.) There's not much published about the Palace, so far as I can tell. And the little book: interesting? I find fascinating the sort of museums where people live or where they once lived--the ones where all their "things" are still in place.

    Somewhere on the site is a piece I wrote about a local woman who lives in the same house her family has lived in since the eighteenth century--that also had that magical "feel" of a live museum.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.