Grandfather Harry Snaps One Of Those In BombayTuesday, July 31, 2012
|Autochrome circa 1899 by Harry Waterhouse Hayward|
But one way or other houses of ill repute have been around for me.
It all began at the end of the 50s when my mother and grandmother rented a second floor apartment on Avenida Insurgentes Sur in Mexico City. The apartment was over a gun shop run by our ex jai-alai player friend Daniel Guridi Árregui and a Lazy-Boy Furniture store. Next to it was an old 30s house that was a show room for lawn furniture.
We were visited by my beautiful first cousin Dolores Humphrey Tow. She and I were into astronomy, or so we convinced my mother and grandmother. We would go up to the roof with my 4 inch reflecting telescope. I had built it from a kit from Edmond Scientific up in Texas where I attended a Catholic boarding school.
Dolores and I quickly lost interest in the moon’s craters and the very small images of the planets. We preferred to point the telescope down (and with the Barlow lens attached to double the magnification) and peek through the windows of the lawn furniture business house which was really a clandestine house of ill repute. But in all the times we looked, whenever action was finally going to happen the curtains would be drawn and we never did see anything.
On early dawn our doorbell rang insistently. My grandmother went down to open the door. A drunken man demanded, “Madam I am here to inspect your girls.” My grandmother instantly caught one and slammed the door on the man’s face. We moved to a better location within the week.
|"House of ill repute" - Main Street|
Vancouver circa 1998
In 1974 before Rosemary, our daughters and I moved up to Vancouver we visited Veracruz where my friend Felipe Ferrer Junco (not yet the chief of police in Acapulco) had a big job as a lawyer with the Mexican Social Security System. Felipe insisted that I could not possibly leave Mexico without first peeking into a house of ill repute. We entered the nondescript place and sat down to drink some cubas. I suddenly noticed a lovely young woman dancing very closely with a man. I looked at Felipe with a question in my eyes. Felipe immediately whispered, “Don’t even look in that direction. Notice that he carries an automatic. He is the chief of police here in Veracruz. He is very violent and very jealous.”
Years later in Acapulco Felipe, now the judicial chief of police of the town took me to the most famous whore house in Mexico, La Huerta before it burned down in the late 80s.
|Dolores on the roof, the |
telescope was stashed in
With visions of these houses I photographed a couple of friends in an apartment on Main Street in the late 90s which I dressed to my idea of what a Mexican house of ill repute looked like in a bedroom.
You must then understand my delight of finding the picture you see here that my grandfather, Harry Waterhouse Hayward took in a trip he made to Mumbai (Bombay then). He worked as an agent for a British shipping firm. After his return from India around 1899 he and his then common-law wife (my grandmother Ellen Carter) and son Harry moved to settle in Buenos Aires.
In my father’s trunk I found this old Autochrome (an early colour process invented by the Lumière Brothers) of what must be certainly a prostitute in Bombay. I find her charming.
My only question is, did Grandfather Harry just take a picture or did he indulge?