Monday, November 24, 2008

My Big Day Out


Knowing my penchant for bottles and cans, and my humming bird-like thirst for the thick red nectar for glamour and excitement, my friend Ellen came over today and carted me to "Bottle Village" in Simi Valley. It's a place created by a woman named Grandma Prisbrey who started making structures out of bottles and other items from the dump to house her collection of 17,000 pencils.

Oh, she lived a tragic life, my people. She married a 52 year-old at the age of fifteen and then had seven children, most while homesteading in North Dakota. Finally, she left her husband, took her children and headed to California. Unfortunately, all but one of her children died while she was alive. Depending on the information you read, there are a couple of theories about why she started Bottle Village. One theory is that she needed a way to work with the incredible grief of losing so many children to death and so she threw her broken heart and soul into creating art out of broken, discarded items that would help her express this unspeakable pain. Another theory is that she started the first wall to help block out the stench and dirt of the turkey farm next door. I prefer the tragic romance of the first theory but totally understand the practicality of the second.

She used just about anything she found in the dump or around town to create walls and walkways. Look down and there are more than few guns and scissors embedded in the walkways alongside ashtrays and dishware. Look up and there are random doll heads strung about. She also often dyed her white cats with different colors just for fun. In other words, she was just the kind of person with whom I would have loved to have spent time.

Unfortunately, Grandma Prisbrey died in 1988 and the structures, which were not cared for in any formal way, were damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The city of Simi Valley which likes to think of itself as a Modern Day Pretty People Family with its Ronald Reagan Museum and Super Sleek New Mall is not quite sure what to do with this awkward crazy, loony aunt. People from out of town keep showing up to visit and they seem to love her!

I enjoyed my big outing today. Regular readers, don't worry. I did not name nor become emotionally involved with any of the bottles. Well, I might have just whispered a few words of encouragement to some of the more downtrodden. It was really the least I could do. Besides, they talked to me first.

Bottle Pics:







Warning: Creepiness factor about to go waaaaaaaayyyyyy up. She also collected dolls from the dump and found over 60 of them which she scattered about. There was one barrel with doll heads on sticks that was more than somewhat disturbing. One brochure called it a "Whimiscal Doll Head Garden." OK. Right....










All you overachievers can get more information on Google by typing in Bottle Village. I tried a link here, but apparently that's not a skill I possess as of yet.

4 comments:

Brian said...

Why, she was the Simon Rodia of Simi Valley! Except for the dolls' heads. And she didn't build any towers. And the bottles aren't all smashed and pressed into the towers.

Bossy Betty said...

Did he dye white cats colors too?

Brian said...

Wikipedia is of no help on this question. The only other person I've ever heard of who dyed a white cat was Laura's old boyfriend Russ back in Rochester. He used squirt guns with different colors of food coloring for a tie-dye effect.

Elissa Caruth said...

The dolls are whimsical, in a nightmarish kind of way.