Grandma's Bottle Village Transcript

Grandma's Bottle Village Transcript

-(Tressa Prisbrrey) Oh, I take life as it comes now. I don't figure out why or when or anything. It's a great life if you don't weaken, but who the heck wants to be strong? That's what I think. I used to be in politics in North Dakota, and I had 17,000 pencils when I come from there. It was my hobby. I went to get cement blocks to build this house for my pencils. My God, they were so expensive, so I went over to the dump. And I thought, "I'm gonna make it out of bottles." And every place we went, and I seen those plated bottles, you know, I picked them up, and I counted my bottles here a while ago. I took two days off and counted them, and I have 1,000,015 bottles. That's quite a lot. I ain't got that many now. They're broke, but that's what I had. Oh, I get a lot of bottles. You should see the bottles I got out there now. Oh my God, I don't know where they got all those bottles. Oh, bottles, bottles, bottles.

Well, I don't know if you call them huts a building or not, but I've got about 15, I think, or 16. And I enjoyed it. I didn't think this would work. You know, I built that pencil hut. Well, that wasn't big enough, and I built another one. That wasn't big enough. And so I kept on building. And when I bought this place, there was no driveway out there. There was a ditch. And I put a pipe in for water and put more, covered up the dirt. And a fellow drove along with a big fancy car, and he never said a word, but I went over, and I said, "What can I do for you? You stayed too long?" "Well, by God," he says, "I haven't saw a woman shovel dirt in years, and I'm enjoying this." Ain't that crazy? There was a man who come in the other door, the other day, from over there, and I was coming from here, and I got about halfway, and he said, "Are you the crazy woman that built this place?" I said, "I guess I am, I'm the only one here." You know, nobody, if they're in their right mind would build a place like this, especially an old woman.

I was 55 years old or 60 when I started it. Oh, I just took a notion. But I done everything here. Well, that's a cinch. Nobody ever done anything for me. I can see how ambitious I was. My God, did a lot of work keeping a place like this, besides having so many visitors. When we get all through showing the people around, I bring 'em into the meditation room, and we sit down, and I sing a little bit. Did you ever hear, "Let the Rest of the World Go By?" I'll sing it for you, huh, 'cause I can't play it on the piano.

♪ To a ball I did go where gowns were cut low ♪

♪ Held up only by a strap ♪

♪ There was one I liked best ♪

♪ It was odd I confess ♪

♪ It was made out of a map ♪

Now he sings a chorus.

♪ Her back was Brazil ♪

♪ Her chest was Bunker Hill ♪

♪ And just a little bit below was Mexico ♪

♪ And both her knees was Japanese ♪

♪ Around her waist, why, there was Greece ♪

♪ Just then I spied my wife ♪

♪ And to save all future strife ♪

♪ I let the rest of the world go by ♪

Now, that's all right, isn't it? "Cleopatra's Bedroom," I don't know. They asked me why I named it. Well, I don't know. It just come to my mind. There's some millionaire lived down the hill, you know? And she said, "I've got a bed and a dresser that my mother gave me 28 years ago." So I took it. But I was offered $1,000 for that bed and dresser. I said, "Oh." I find wonderful things down at the dump. You know what them are, bottles? They're full of... Well, they're full of water now, but they were full of whiskey on the airplane, you know? They didn't allow whiskey on the airplane, but they had them on the airplane full of whiskey.

Yeah, oh, it's, I tell ya... When I look around and see the stuff, God, I don't know how I got it. Oh, I tell you funny things happened here. Oh, imagine me, look, putting all them things on there. That takes time, I tell you. I was 15 when I got married, and I married a man 52 years old. And I lived with him till he died at 72, and then, oh gosh, was it... Then I took my seven kids and took off for Seattle after he died. And I married a man. He never smoked. He never drank, and he never worked. He bought a team of horses for $100, sell it for 200. We lived good. I had seven kids, too. Six of 'em died. It's too bad I... I lost four boys and two girls. That's kind of hard on me now.

I had my daughter staying out here, a girl at 35 years old, and was dying of cancer. And she liked roses so well. So I said, "I'll go down to the dump and get you some headlights and make you a rose garden." So I did. And I put about 20 rose roots in there because I wanted them to bloom before she died. Well, she lived a year, but she seen 'em. One morning she come out here to see her roses. They died the same morning she did. Can you imagine that? Nobody knows why. I think those headlights are pretty when the sun shines on 'em, don't you? I gotta watch my step, I tell ya. Well, that's just a house. My son lived in there. He was 57 years old, and he was dying of cancer. And one day he come out here, and he took a drink of wine, and it stopped the pain in his chest. The next day he took another drink, and that stopped the pain. The next day he took another drink, and he talked foolish. I said, "You can't do that here because it's a public place, and I won't allow it." And well, "Mom," he says, "What's the difference? When I die, they'll never take me to the graveyard. The hearse will be broke down." And five months later he died, and we took him down to the Catholic church, and when they put him in the hearse, it broke down. Can you imagine that? I can't either. That's two things I can't understand.

So a lady getting ready to go out there, and I just got through giving her a tour, and I says, "Now I've told you my troubles. Now you tell me yours." Well, she said, "After listening to you, I haven't got any." Now that's the house I lived in when I was 15 years old. That's my mother and dad. But you know, when I got married, my husband built on to that house and bought new furniture. I was sold, I think, don't you? And I looked just like my oldest daughter, and she was beautiful, but I never knew it when I was young. You know, I just took it for granted I was looking the way I was. And I dressed good. You know, I dressed pretty good. But I just never knew I was good-looking. Can you imagine that? When I think of that, I... I had 600 dolls in there. That's where I had the 300 dolls stole out of there. And I've been dressing them up, you know. I ain't got much ambition, but I dress up a couple every day.

No, sir, I had a doll on a chair with an nice necklace, and a lady wanted to buy it the other day, and she said, "I'll give you $5 for it." And I sold it and put a blue one on there. Sometime I wish I drank and smoked. That's the only trouble. Well, they never done that years ago. A woman had to go in the back room when she took a drink or a smoke. And now, my God, you see it all over. I'd get drunk, and I'd have a good time. But I guess them days are gone forever. Well, there's me and the man I was gonna marry. He was a sheriff on pictures. Kirk, his name is, Jack Kirk. He went to Alaska to see about something, and he died up there. And then about a year later, I was going with another guy, and I thought I'd marry him. And he went to some foreign country, and by God, he got killed. So I thought I'd give it up. Diamond Jim's, Nevada Club. I loved to gamble. I built those down there in the ground, a heart and a spade and a diamond, and a, what you call it? A club. I must have done that when I come back from Las Vegas. You ever see a sign like that, San Francisco World's Fair in '39? You wasn't born then.

But they make such remarks about my walk. You know, the men think more of that walk than they do of any house because everything I found at the dump, you know, I've got guns and everything in there. I saw a woman sitting here on the porch, and I thought she hurt herself. I got a towel And it said, "We got French salad dressing" on it. She was sitting there with a paper and pencil and copying it off. I gotta put something in there. Places like that, you know, they step in and might tumble down. And here's another one. Here's a dish. Oh, it needs a lot of fixing up, I know, but I get tired.

- [Interviewer] You gotta keep patching it all the time, huh?

- (Tressa) Yeah. Not all the time, just when I feel like it. I've been something, I don't know, a movie star or not. You know, you get awful tired being a famous star, too. You know, so many people come and want to talk to you. I'm not used to it. Of course, if I was brought up, you know, young, well, I might get used to it. It wouldn't bother me. But I'm getting too old now, you know? 84. There's too much bothering, too much work. Now to tell the truth about my sister, "Well, my God", she said, "I'd be tickled to death if I was famous," so. Tell me what you've been doing all week. I haven't saw you for a week.

- (Hattie) A week? I haven't been over here for a month, I don't believe. Well, we get together quite a bit and go out, you know.

- (Tressa) Well, we had until you sold your car 'cause you got crippled. And then I haven't seen her on a-

- (Hattie)Don't say crippled.

- (Tressa) Well, why not?

- (Hattie) Kind of handicapped.

- (Tressa) Oh.

- (Hattiel) This is good tea.

- [Tressa] Well, you had a good man, too.

- [Hattie] Oh yeah.

- Everybody liked him.

- (Hattie) Good man is hard to find, huh? Well, what are you eating, chicken?

- (Tressa) Yeah.

- (Hattie) This time of the day?

- (Tressa) Well, what difference would it make what time of day it is?

- (Hattie) Well, I belong to three card clubs, so I-

- (Tressa) She goes to all of 'em, too.

- (Hattie) I what?

- (Tressa) You go to all of them, too. I don't belong to any, and I don't go to any.

- (Hattie) Well, you don't have time.

- Oh.

- (Hattie) You're a busy woman, where I don't have anything to do. All you do stay home and take in money. I wish I could do that as easy as she does.

- [Tressa] Yeah, but not so darn many people at one time, 40 people.

- [Hattie] Well, I can come over. I can come over and help you. I can be the cashier.

- Oh. I had about 15 senior citizens here the other day in the morning before you came. They were here, and they scattered all over, and one gave me... I only charged them 75 cents to get in. And they all give me quarters and nickels and dimes and dollars. And I had to have the change in my pocket. Oh God, and they were scattered all over the place.

- (Hattie) And that hurts her feelings when she gets all that money. Oh, she's doing all right.

- (Tressa) Well, I'm looking out for myself anyway. I made this house 'cause I've got 17,000 pencils, or 18,000 is the case, yeah. Let me set this thing here. Go on in, go on in.

- Oh.

- Go in.

- [Hattie] She just needed a place for her pencil collection, so she was just gonna build one bottle house and put her collection of pencils in it. And when she finished that, then she wanted to build a house for the dolls, and that's the way she kept on. So she has 15 bottle houses here now.

- (Tressa) Don't think I'm tight when I stagger around because I've got arthritis in my legs and feet, and I gotta watch my step. Did you ever see a fence like this made out of television picture tubes? And what I found I didn't want, I put on there, glued it on. Oh, I've gotta clean them off, too. My God, they look awful. I don't know why I put those water bottles in there. We never intended to come out and sit down. "Well," they said, "If you clean that table off, we could sit down and have a beer." Well, did you ever hear of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? There's a leaning tower of the bottle village. I always take 'em in here, you know. I used to play the piano, but the last rain swelled the keys, so I have to have it fixed. But there was a... What was I gonna say? Something. I forgot it now. A fool and his money are soon parted. Who got yours? And there's one. "Owing to the high cost of living, we eat every bean and pea in your soup." Oh, I got a lot of signs.

- [Hattie] She's getting rich.

- (Tressa) Rich. It's taking something out of my system that I'd just as soon go without, let me tell ya.

- [Hattie] She's not poor like I am.

- You're poor, got $100,000 house and talking about being poor.

- [Hattie] Yeah, but I have to live there.

- Well.

- (Hattie) I can't eat it. And where would I go if I sold out? This plumber that we-

- (Tressa) She talked about going to the rest home. If she goes to the rest home, I'll get her head examined.

- (Hattie) It's hard to believe that she made 'em, built all this. When you look at all this work, it's wonderful. And she wasn't a spring chicken when she started it either. And here she's way younger than I am.

- (Tressa) Yeah, but she oughta be proud. She's old. Ain't many people get to be-

- [Hattie] Well, no one should be proud about it.

- (Tressa) Well, there ain't many that get to be 91 years old.

- (Hattie) When she first started, she came over and borrowed my wheelbarrow, and she used to mix cement in that with her hands. And then she'd put it on the bottles by hand and put 'em up on the wall, and that's the way she worked.

- [Tressa] Then I got educated to a trowel, or I wouldn't have had no hands left. But I done all that.

- So...

- [Tressa] How many years ago was that?

- (Hattie) Oh, that must have been 20 or 25 years ago.

- [Tressa] Oh, it's longer than that.

- (Hattie) Oh, yes.

- (Tressa) You know, I'd like to put up a bottle house. I've got so many bottles now. I'd like to put up a bottle house just for my pictures that I've got taken in the past few years. I could have a good-sized house full of pictures.

- [Hattie] Well, can't you find room?

- (Tressa) No, there ain't room out here to build a back house, if you don't mind my...

- [Hattie] You shouldn't say that.

- (Tressa) Oh, that's right. Well, are we on television now? I didn't think so.

- (Hattie)I don't know. Well, anyway, I suppose we can talk even if we are.

- (Tressa) Well, I've heard worse things than that on television.

- (Hattie) Yeah. Well, there's a lot of things that I don't like on television, but.

- (Tressa) Oh, you're more for news and society and all that dumb stuff.

- (Hattie) Well, I like "60 Minutes." Something that's facts, not-

- (Tressa) "60 Minutes," and there ain't a thing you can learn on there.

- (Hattie) I like facts, not fiction. You know, something that's true and live.

- (Tressa) Ain't nothing live on that, it's true, "60 Minutes."

- (Hattie) Well, anyway.

- (Tressa) That's the craziest show I ever saw. There's nothing to it at all. But then that's all right. It's a good thing we don't like the same things. Ah, but business must go on.

- (Hattie) Well, I guess she'll be busy with her business here. And me, I'm retired. I'm real tired.

- (Tressa) I didn't think it was anything out of... I wasn't doing anything strange. I thought it was all right. You know, people compliment me, and I wondered what for. I was having fun. Yeah, oh, I've had a lot of fun, too. When I built this place, I didn't know what I was doing or what was gonna happen. My God, I never would've built it. But I had a dump close by, and that helped. I tell you, we had the best guy down to the dump you ever saw. He'd put everything on the car for me. I found a whole two boxes of square tile like that down there. The box had never been opened. "Well," he said, "I don't want 'em. I'll put 'em on for you." Put 'em on the truck. You know, help like that counts. Don't you think it does? The people used to help me a lot, so I kept on going, and people kept coming. And so I kind of ended up by having this place, and now look what's happened to it. My God, I'm known the world over here. That's something.

And I was just a poor country girl when I started. I tell ya, if you got ambition, you can do something, and I must have had ambition. They sold the dump for an airport, and they closed up. So I took my Studebaker. I had a Studebaker pickup. So I went down there the last day, see what I could find, and boy, did I ever have a load. But I was coming down the pike there, and I saw a red light and heard a horn. I knew what that meant, but I didn't stop. I come home. That's resisting an officer, you know? And I said, "Now what have I done?" Well, he said, "You got a license to carry that stuff?" I said, "No, I haven't." He said, "Your back window's broke." I said, "I know it." He said, "You haven't got no taillight." I said, "I know it." He says, "You haven't got no muffler either." I said, "I know it." Then he went and opened the door where I get in at. He says, "You haven't gotten no horn either." I says, "I know it." He says, "You haven't got no emergency brake either." I says, "I know it, and I haven't got no license either. Do you know that?"

Yes, that's the round house. That's the only one I got that's round. Looks better round, don't it? But my, it was an awful job. I've got 17,000 bottles in here. They made it two feet and a half in the ground. The lady says, "You had no business doing that because you had to shovel out all the dirt. That's no job for a woman." "Yeah, but I said, " I wouldn't have to climb, so I had to put the roof on." And she thought that was all right then. See, I've done all the framework myself. Even the men tell me they don't know how I done it. I don't know how I done it. That's a mannequin I found at the dump. But I put a dress on her, a velvet dress, oh, and a plushy, and a mink stole, and went out there one day, and both her arms were broke off, and her mink stole was gone, and the dress was gone. Well, now, they didn't have to do that to break her in two. You know, it's awful when you can't trust anybody.

I never heard of a round bed, my God. I lived in the country. Didn't see much. And I found that at the dump 20 years ago, and I wonder who had that there. It's, well, I don't know what it is. Do you? And they look at everything, you know, don't mean a thing to me. You know, there's a lady here, and she saw that bottle there. She said, "I've got a hobby too." I says, "What's your hobby?" "Collecting glass corks." "Well," I says, "What good is a glass cork if you haven't got no bottle to put it in?" "Oh," she said, "I get the bottles, too." The next morning I come out here, and I had 15 bottles, and the glass corks were gone in every one of them. Now, wasn't that a nice thing to do?

Well, I didn't know those blue bottles were worth something, but I get 25 and 50 cents a piece over there. But I put 'em in there. There's a fireplace, and I've got a nice fire screen made out of intravenous feeding tubes. Once in a great while, I get to go to the Catholic church here. But you know, I can't leave things like this and go. They'll steal everything I got. That's what makes me so darn mad. But it don't do no good to get mad, does it? But I try to live up to my... Well, I don't do nothing wrong. I don't lie. I don't steal. I don't burglarize or anything. I don't know. Outside of that, I think I'm all right. Yeah. You live alone, and they don't pay much attention to ya, you know? But I don't know. I don't like to live alone. Well, I ain't got nobody to boss me around or anything, you know? So, but I guess I gotta take it. I don't know what else I can do. I don't wanna get married again. I don't want another man 'cause we're getting too old for that. I was 84 years old last month. That's the trouble with me. I forget things that happen. I don't know why I should, my God. Oh, you know it's terrible when you forget things.

I don't know if it'll stay or not, but maybe I could have got a little straighter, I don't know. For an old lady, I guess so. They're not really straight anyway. Well, I'm all done here. Well, I don't know, I've done so many pencils, I can't think anymore.

♪ Darling, let me fix your garter ♪

♪ Just an inch above your knee ♪

♪ If my hand goes a little farther ♪

♪ Do not put the blame on me ♪

♪ The hair on yours has turned to silver ♪

♪ The hair on mine has turned to gold ♪

♪ Put the two of them together ♪

♪ Silver threads among the gold ♪

You can't print that song. Hey, don't you wanna see what's in here? You know, I made a rule around here. The last person out of the building has to shut the door.