Monday, March 19, 2007


Jerrold & Lorraine Beim

We were collecting pictures of my mother. I remember this one. It was Tucson. I couldn't think who these people were, but when my father said he thought there was a picture of the Beims, this one came to mind. It is. It was. They were.

Little pieces of things come back to me. Mother, father, a daughter about my age, two brothers. My mother had made quick and fast friends with her. My father did a job for him and was impressed with his greater knowledge of typography and publishing than my father's own training. They'd held some kind of meeting or event, social or political. Or both. Our mothers talked and as children we must have played, but I don't remember much of it. I was eight.

Jerrold Beim was impressed somehow with my brother, and I, vicariously, felt so honored. This writer, with his stature, watched my brother and listened to his tales of adventure and discovery in our desert neighborhood, and from this he came to write a book on him - "Eric on the Desert" NEW YORK, William Morrow & Co. 1953. And I was so proud. Later I would find it on the shelf in the library and want to tell the world, "This is my brother. This man wrote a book about him!"

I see now that it came out in 1953. But that was after. There's this great gulf before. They were there, and then they were gone. The family drove off to Mexico, all five. There was an accident. Three came home. Jerry and the boys, Seth and Andy--not their sister, and not Lorraine. That must have been in 1951. The citations read, "Lorraine Levey Beim, 1909-1951." I remember that they moved away, he started over, back East somewhere.

We moved, too, the other way. I took with me her dresses they'd cleaned and pressed and passed on to me. I remember their being so pretty and new-looking, starched and stretched over cardboards as they had come from the laundry. One was special--pale blue cotton, with a large white collar and generous lace. The elastic inside one sleeve rubbed my arm sore. Had it also rubbed hers? Or had she even had a chance to wear it?

1957. I'm not yet 14. We keep the newspapers stacked on the back porch till enough collect to tie and take in for recycling. I look through the pile. What am I looking for? I'm reading the obituaries. I come across one--Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 10, 1957, died at Rocky Ridge Farm at the age of 90. Or so I read now. But I'm still looking. Another one takes my breath away. Jerrold Beim. An auto accident. Another stinking auto accident. Does it say or do I just see it in my mind, a winding road, a dark and rainy night.

I trim these two I had torn out and place them on the table to let them know. My mother sees the one and tells me, "I'm so sorry to hear about your author, Laura Ingalls Wilder." But I'm stopped cold to have to be the one to show her that's not the one--it's Jerry's. I don't remember any more. Except thinking, "The boys--now what happens with the boys?"

I see an Andrew L. Beim has renewed copyrights on books by Jerrold and Lorraine Beim. Andy? Is that you?

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