henrietta was found by one of my uncles in an abandoned town house in the south end. in the late 60s and early 70's, the area wasn't the bourgeois gay male real estate mecca we've come to loathe. it was run down and very much part of the ghetto it borders. there were lots of rooming houses of the flop and boho variety- all the arty straight girls my gay uncles knew lived in the cheap but more respectable ones. once the neighborhood was what was referred to as ' lace curtain' irish ( now you know why the cathedral is there)- not the savage pagan lower class raggamuffin micks like my mother's lot- upper middle class almost acceptable save they were celts who would never be allowed into the holy and ancient sphere of upper class anglo-saxon protestant boston.
when i was young we did something called ' munging' ( middle g is hard and email addresses didn't exist back then) which was basically taking small mr.mittens along to jump into salvation army bins and extract, hopefully, goodies. by the early 70's, which was when henry was found,munging extended into exploring all the abandoned properties that were then just starting to come to the attention of developers. as those elderly inhabitants of all those wealthy townhouses started to die off, leaving no heirs, their belongings were often just left in place. people squatted. people destroyed things . my uncles went in and saved some amazing items- art deco nick nacks, hand beaded dresses from the 1920's, paintings- and Henrietta who was locked into a closet with her kittens in one of these places. i was quite young when this happened and do not know what happened to her kittens but he had henry until well into the 80's. she often came to visit and briefly lived with me. i remember her as a shy buy very sweet cat who was absolutely gorgeous- such unusual markings and such very soft fur. when living briefly apart from her person , she transfered her trust to me. when she sat in my lap for the first time i felt truly blessed.
this photo was all i could find of her- taken with a god awful instamatic and poorly developed- it was a sickly orange hue. the scanner did a decent and not too invasive job of fixing it.i was not living at home and was perhaps not even in contact with my family when Henry passed so i do not know the particulars. i have such a soft spot for cats like her to this day- the shy rather withdrawn ones. they are the sweetest cats who have in most instances been the unfortunate victims of reprehensible human neglect and cruelty.
i really wish i had more photos of these cats i have been posting-lord knows i've more then made up for it with the new girls. memory and vision are concepts i've been think a lot about lately. often i feel the need to prove to myself i had a past as it seems my memories are a silent film featuring someone else.