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This is heightened and even more extraordinary when thinking, as Kathy and I are wont to do, about adoption reunions. Because sometimes all it takes to break up a fledgling relationship between reunitees is, “No, you’re wrong. Magazine articles, lectures and even moving pictures may have made the Mannix-styled actual history-ing familiar to quite a few but many more will discover a great deal of entertainment in the curious goings-on this husband and wife traveling team stir up. Daniel Pratt Mannix IV was an American author, journalist, photographer, sideshow performer, stage magician, animal trainer, and filmmaker. The Mannix family had a long history of service in the United States Navy, and Mannix’ father, Daniel P.
Mannix was also a skilled stage magician, magic historian, and collector of illusions and apparatus. Mannix and his wife and sometime co-author Jule Junker Mannix travelled around the world and raised exotic animals. In this exquisite memoir, Julie Mannix von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield recount the stories of their lives. Julie and Frank von Zerneck are the owners of Portrait of a Bookstore— a tiny, independent bookstore, which is now nestled inside Aroma Cafe in Studio City, CA. In addition to books, we carry the best greeting cards in town, children’s books and toys, jewelry, gifts for the home, gifts for readers and writers, gifts for the heart and soul, even gifts for people who have no more use for gifts. Julie takes several unenviable and arduous trips throughout the year to New York, England and France. In the middle of writing an entirely different guest post at Julie and Kathy’s request, I received news that Oliver Sacks has terminal cancer. It is the human curse, being reminded of the sanctity of life only when it is threatened, only when we witness its end. When I gave birth to Kathy and had to say goodbye, it was my love for her that gave me the strength for it. Today, Valentine’s Day, I want to thank my daughter, my co-author and partner in crime, for finding us.
And my children’s children (and their children), who are gifts I cherish every moment of my life. And my friends, and our supporters, and the readers of Secret Storms, whose own stories inspire Kathy and me every day. What would you do if you were a writer and there were inescapable demons right outside your window? She ran loose about the farm the summer of her second year, and established a blockade around the house—no one was allowed in or out without enticing her with treats. My father began collecting wild animals from an early age and kept them at the very far end of his grandparent’s estate.
In my father’s book, All Creatures Great and Small, he describes what happened soon after the incident with my brother. It broke my heart when the enclosure in my room was disassembled and a chest of drawers took its place. When my baby monkey, Jupo, jumped out of my arms and onto the branches of the 80-foot tree, my heart stood still. I watched in horror as she agilely made her way from the outside branches towards the center of the tree. While my parents both watched Jupo, who was now tilting back and forth on the top of the tree, I ran into the house and called the fire department.
According to the encyclopedia, when a spider monkey sees a human approaching, it barks loudly, much like a dog. When Jupo saw the two men climbing up after her, and all the others behind them, she was so terrified that she let out a piercing howl.
The following morning, my mother, Jupo, and I went out into the orchard, picked dozens of apples, and made half a dozen pies, which we delivered to the fire station just in time for lunch.
Spider monkeys have coarse hair and it ranges in color from ruddy gold to brown and black; their hands and feet are usually black. My mother had moved back in time to catch the dear old lady, who was on the verge of fainting. Jupo, the baby spider monkey given to me on Christmas Day the year I was twelve, popped out of the wooden crate she was in, just like she was a jack-in-the-box. Our family had a set of encyclopedias, and my parents suggested I use it to find out about my new pet. We lived out in the country in an old stone farm house which was in the center of twenty five acres of manicured lawns, eighty-foot trees, rolling green pastures, an apple orchard, a pond, and a great big, old wooden barn. Spider monkeys primarily eat fruits, the encyclopedia said, but will occasionally consume leaves, flowers, and insects.
That’s when, out of the blue, Jupo suddenly detached herself from my shoulder and, without even a glance in my direction, jumped onto the branch. It never occurred to me when I was a little girl growing up on a farm in Philadelphia, that a person with both a vagina and a penis was terribly unusual.
During the three years he spent swallowing swords and eating fire, he lived and performed with freaks.
There was Priscilla, the Bearded Lady, her husband, Emit, who had alligator skin, and their children. Yes, when I was seven and eight I did think that my father’s friend, Francis-Francine, was perfect. The meeting between, in our case, an adoptee and a birth mother, is a meeting between relatives who are strangers to one another.
As we research reunions for our next book (stay tuned for more information about that!) we are more and more convinced of the wisdom in slowly getting to know each other rather than jumping in headfirst, spurred on by the euphoria of the ‘honeymoon period’. His best-known works are the 1958 book Those About to Die, which remained in continuous print forthree decades, and the 1967 novel The Fox and the Hound which in 1981 was adapted into an animated film by Walt Disney Productions. His books ranged from fictional animal stories for children, the natural history of animals, and adventurous accounts about hunting big game to sensational adult non-fiction topics such as a biography of the occultist Aleister Crowley, sympathetic accounts of carnival performers and sideshow freaks, and works describing, among other things, the Hellfire Club, the Atlantic slave trade, the history of torture, and the Roman games. In 1957, he was one of the 16 charter members who co-founded the Munchkin Convention of the International Wizard of Oz Club. He contributed numerous articles to The Baum Bugle. From 1950 onward, Daniel and Jule Mannix lived in the same house in East Whiteland, near Malvern, Pennsylvania. Mannix died on January 29, 1997, at the age of 85. A time when I was so undersized that when I lay down on it, I was positive my shadow was not mine. Before Julie Mannix von Zerneck grew up and became a TV actress, she was a scared, pregnant Bryn Mawr teenager whose parents had her institutionalized till the baby could go away. As this is almost certainly the world’s smallest bookstore, our hand-picked selection is always vibrant, current, and worthy of the praise of any astute bibliophile. She returns trailed by exquisite antique books, vintage jewelry, antique china sets, typewriters, Victorian writing slopes, paintings… the list goes on. For those unfamiliar with his work, he is a neurologist and writer, famous for books that contain incredibly interesting case studies of some of his patients. While his realm of study and practice is neurology, and the kind of healing Kathy, Julie, and all those with similar stories, must engage in has more to do with psychology, his insights are no less relevant. Because we think that to always be open, to always be aware, to always be in awe… would kill us.
As a culture, we come together and, despite the part about buying stuff, we all find ourselves with something to say about love.



When I spent the subsequent years pining for her, it was Frank’s love that gave me the strength to go on. She went from being a loving little angelic tangle of shy, brown fur in my arms into a two-year-old with the pluckiness and strength of Godzilla. Deliverymen who came carrying milk, bread, vegetables and fruit, trembled in their boots as they got out of their trucks, looked around, and then ran for our shed door. His father was a captain in the Navy and during the many years he spent on active service, he and my grandmother, Pretty Polly Perkins, were often away. His summer days were filled with the pleasure and joy of collecting animals that he found on the property or that people gave him. She would sit in my lap when I was doing my homework and make a chattering noise when she thought it was time for me to pay attention to her. I couldn’t sleep for weeks because I missed the soft sound of Jupo’s snoring at night. She had never left my side before, except to go into her enclosure some nights, or when I went to school during the day. When a spider monkey walks, even a baby one, its arms are so long they practically drag on the ground.
It climbs to the end of the branch it is on and shakes it vigorously to scare away the possible threat. I had her all wrapped up in a soft pink baby blanket, which had a triangle flap at one end that I used to cover her face. Smiling, I answered, the sweet old lady, “Certainly.” And as I did, I proudly lifted the triangle flap aside so she could get a good look. Spider monkeys, I read, come from the tropical forests of Central and South America, and from southern Mexico and Brazil, as well.
I carried Jupo across my front—her arms, legs and tail would wrap around me and she’d hold on tight.
In the time it took me to open my mouth and let out a gasp, she had climbed to the top of the 80-foot tree.
The fetus possesses identical sexual glands that will eventually, in most cases, become either ovaries or testes. And I am glad now, as I look back at my young self, that the seed of acceptance of the strange and wonderful was planted early in me, no matter how unconventionally. Last night, at a family gathering to wish her well, conversation, as it often is when we’re all together, was lively and veered in quick succession from one exciting topic to another. While we recognized each other as family the moment we set eyes on one another, that had little bearing on the kind of relationship we would have.
And that she can get along with a husband whose writing and love of animals impose strange and unexpected demands. I have papers of hers, phone numbers and receipts from all over the world, that go back to the 50s. The most amazing thing, however, is that they all fit inside this cozy little haven— a home away from home for so many. The 1990 film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, called Awakenings, was based on his book of the same name.
It is, after all, whether we admit it or not, human beings’ favorite thing in the world. When I was racked with guilt and pain, it was my love for my other children, Danielle and Frank, Jr., and their love for me, that gave me the strength to be a good mother to them.
What has remained constant, however, is the strength it has infused in us to face life, and bear all it gives and takes away. Cleverly though, Jupo learned to conceal herself in the drainpipe above the door by laying flat as a pancake when she heard a vehicle come up our long gravel drive. If, for instance, I was passing though our kitchen, she might hurl herself onto the kitchen counter where a set of small ramekin bowls of custard was settling. She rode around on my arm, her tail wrapped securely around my waist when I did my chorus morning and night. I also longed for the way she would reach out her little hand and search around in the dark until I took a hold of it in mine. She had never been out in the wild alone. Infants rely, the encyclopedia said, completely on their mothers until they are twelve months old. It shakes the branches with its feet, hands, or a combination of the two, while hanging from its tail. Leaning out to the edge of the branch she was on, just above one of the firemen’s head, she began to shake it fiercely, while still hanging on to the narrow trunk with her tail. My parents had all sorts of wild animals—a cheetah, an American bald eagle, two coatimundi, several ocelots, pythons, hawks, Guinea fowl, peacocks, a baby fox, a coyote, some bats, a tarantula, a pair of kinkajous, and an otter.
Spider monkey mothers are very protective, and they put their young on their backs when teaching them to navigate from tree to tree.
An estimated 1 in 2,000 children, however, are born each year as neither boy nor girl— they are intersex. He was born with a body, however, which was beautiful and delicate like a woman’s, but also had masculine characteristics, with the vitality of a man. I am grateful that I grew up aware that the possibilities in our world go much further than what many of us imagine.
Having recently traveled to London and witnessed some surprising fashion trends, I brought up the subject of the burqa. If I perceive nighttime as the time when I wake up, have breakfast, and live my life, and I have a husband for whom the same is true only of daytime, chances are we won’t get to grow old together. It recounted his efforts to help patients suffering from a debilitating disease called encephalitis lethargica, which rendered them effectively comatose, to regain neurological function. His appeal as an author is an uncanny ability to explain complex neurological concepts and conditions in a way that is interesting and accessible to the layperson. Today, because of love, because of the hope that love wouldn’t allow us to give up, we are great-grandparents to a little boy born to the daughter of our long-lost daughter.
From chandeliers to bookshelves, from standing lamps to picture frames on the wall that fell and shattered to the floor, she dangled, swung and swerved to her heart’s content. Hidden from sight when deliveries were made, all she had to do was reach down with her long spidery arm, grab a loaf of bread, a bottle of milk, a peach, a cucumber, or her favorite, a banana or two, speedily seize what was to her liking, and then scuttle across the rooftop before anyone knew. Then he found a nest of baby skunks whose mother had been killed by a neighbor’s dog.  After that, he acquired a tiny porcupine, a crow that rode around on his shoulder, a great horned owl, a raccoon, an opossum family, several falcons and snakes, one of them being a rattle snake whose venom her learned to extract by reading a book in his grandfather’s vast library.
And no more letting her run free outside, unless you are watching her closely.”  Sadly, I agreed. And more often than not, she would stick her head into each one, and race away, her face covered in pudding, causing our housekeeper, Anna, to wave her hands in frustration. When my friends came over my parents suggested I put her in her enclosure just in case one of them has a cold and might pass it on to her. They are highly agile, and, when they reach a certain age, can easily jump from tree to tree.
Since none of them had ever seen a monkey except at a zoo, and especially a monkey stuck in a tree, all the firemen at the firehouse had decided to come along for the occasion.  It was the two youngest ones, trainees probably, who were sent to climb to the top.
I was so afraid that she was going to let go and fall, I had to close my eyes and bury my head in my mother’s arms.
It was on aisle three, I remember, just as my mother was asking if I thought we needed more pickles for the hamburgers we were going to grill that night, when a sweet little old lady came over with a big smile on her face.


With her twinkling blue eyes, the same color as mine, Jupo stuck her head out from the blanket and smiled happily.
They are social animals, and live in bands of up to 35 individuals, but will split up to forage during the day. We also had domestic animals, like horses, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, and a little Cairn terrier named Wriggles. I remember taking her out one June day when she was just eight months old, spreading a red plaid blanket on the lawn, and sitting there with her in my arms so she could look around.
Later, after he’d left carny life to become a writer, when the circus came to town many of the freaks he knew came and stayed with us in our spacious farmhouse.
For those interested, true hermaphroditism is the coexistence, in one individual, of male and female glands, or of gonads containing both male and female cells. At the age of fifteen, Hermaphroditus traveled to the city of Lycia, near modern-day Turkey. But mostly I am beholden to my father for teaching me that the unusual people in this world are worthy of great consideration. Just because she recognized her own children’s features in mine did not mean that she could expect her values to be in harmony with mine. That is, when I can bring myself to lay them all out on the floor in some kind of order, instead of just peek at them now and then.
Mannix, 3rd, his father’s posthumously-published autobiographical account of his life and naval career from the Spanish-American War of 1898 until his retirement in 1928. I have stretched his shadow out flat on the floor and lain down on it, as well, attempting to make it fit, exasperated. He is able to demystify sanity and insanity both, and plunge into depths of the mind in a way that reminds one of a mountain climber scaling a steep cliff. I appreciate his ability to listen in a way that makes you feel what you have to say is all that matters in the world. I, too, hope to straighten my accounts with the world, as well as myself, but also allow for some silliness.
In its many shapes and forms, it’s what drives us, what fulfills us, what, however temporarily or not, assures us that our existence is not in vain, that our living has meaning. He also had a six-foot alligator called Daisy, who swam in the pool at The Hedges twice a day. In an attempt to control her, my father took me to our local pet store one fine day, where I found a snazzy miniature red-plaid collar and matching leash. They gave me a list of things that would be healthy for her to eat, like mixed-together egg, corn flour and meal bugs. I did know, however, that it was possible they had both, because I would occasionally look through a large leather scrapbook my father kept on one of the living room bookshelves. In my young eyes, because of her photograph, which depicted her totally unclothed, displaying both her penis and vagina, she was perfect in every way.
Usually neither the male nor the female gonads are fully developed, but are each present to such an extent that it is impossible to determine the sex of the individual. Perfect hermaphroditism is when a person possesses all the generative organs, properly developed and functional, at least to the extent of copulation. More importantly, it’s what illustrates the true breadth of blind faith we all must have in order to function in the world. But what has always struck me more profoundly than all of that, are his relationships with people. I appreciate that his understanding of the workings of the mind serves his humanity, and not the other way around. To not be afraid of my own mind; to welcome the seemingly unexplainable, the daunting, the things that threaten my tight grip on the world. We had only one car, a venerable Pierce Arrow which no one could drive except the chauffeur and which was only produced on formal occasions such as going to church or an occasional wedding. So it was no surprise to my father or my mother when my dear little monkey, Jupo, began to behave like King Kong. One day, when my younger brother and I were wrestling outside, in between raking leaves, Jupo came down from one of the trees she was in, and, afraid he was hurting me, she took a bite out of his hand, requiring seven stitches.
Clinging tightly to her branch, she was carefully handed down from fireman to fireman, until she was finally safe in my arms again.
It was a book containing photographs of his co-workers, the ones he had befriended right after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania when he joined the carnival as a sword-swallower and fire-eater. I remember stories being told, a lot of laughter, and late night swimming in our pond under a starlit sky.
Overwhelmed with lust for this very exquisite young man, Salmacis tried to seduce Hermaphroditus. When we hear the words I love you, for example, we have no guarantee that the word love represents the same feeling in the person professing it as it does in us. Not only is love the vessel that connects us to others, it is what ensures that our lives do not go unnoticed.
To employ this stately vehicle for such frivolous purposes as driving a boy to a friend’s house was virtually unthinkable.  Nor did the boy particularly want to be driven. The first few days she hated her new collar and she whined and complained bitterly and tried to take it off. There was a sturdy tree branch inside for her to climb on, and a blanket for her to wrap up in. Spider monkey mothers sometimes pull branches closer together so the baby can climb for the first time, feeling more secure.
Francis-Francine, my father told me, earned over five hundred dollars a week, and that was during the Depression. I feel small and hungry for the sound of his voice, and the days when I was six, seven and eight, and he would read to me.
By the time I was fourteen I was six feet two inches tall and gangling; a wretched athlete, and a nonconformist.
So I did that, making a nice little shelf with two branches that she could sit upon safely. Authors like Kipling and Dickens and my favorite, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.
I thought, from a time in the beginning that I couldn’t remember, that there was something wrong with me.
And I do believe that in fact she began to like it because it made her feel safe.  No one likes to be totally out of control.
To which I would have responded, thinking about what affectionate meant to me, yes, and by doing so created in her an expectation of me. Draping herself around him, she kissed him and called out to the gods that they should never again be apart. I have stretched her shadow out flat on the floor and lain down on it, trying to make myself fit.
What are the chances that the way I expressed affection would be in keeping with the way she expected me to express it?
And no matter how much I looked like my mother or my father, I knew I was not like them at all.



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