I have mentioned many times the fact that I am an avid reader. A bookoholic, so to speak. I'll never forget when I found Beany Malone. I found a book at the library called Beany and the Beckoning Road. After I read it I discovered that it was a book in the middle of a series. The first book was called Meet the Malones. The author was Lenora Mattingly Weber.
Beany was the youngest child in the Malone family. The mother had died and the father was an "on-again-off-again-gone-again" journalist. Even though she was the youngest, Beany took over as the nurturing mother figure, and kept the home fires burning. But every episode had a crisis, and the solutions were full of good old-fashioned, moral common sense. I loved those books as a young teen.
Fast forward to my mid-twenties. I was married with a new baby, a new stay-at-home mom. During nap times, I read. I decided it would be a good time to re-read my favorite series. I checked them out from the library, having to get some of them from inter-library loan. They were so easy to read, and I felt like an old friend had returned to my life. What was even more fun was that more books had been written, following Beany through marriage and motherhood. There was also a new series about two sisters who actually babysat for Beany.
But the most amazing thing I discovered was that they took place in Denver, just a few miles down the road. When I read them originally, I lived in Minnesota and Nebraska. I thought what fun it would be to meet Lenora Mattingly Weber. I did some research and learned, sadly, that she had died just a year or so earlier. I learned that there was a collection of her papers at the Denver Public Library. I really wanted to go down there, but never made it.
Somehow my SIL, Morning Glory, learned of my obsession with Beany. We must have been discussing our favorite books at a Christmas get-together (do you remember, MG?) I mentioned that I found the Beany Malone Cookbook at our local library. It had been checked out maybe twice in the last 10 years. I asked if it would be possible for me to buy it, but of course they couldn't do that. So I just wished for it out loud.
The next Christmas, MG had my name in the family drawing. She was so excited for me to open my gift. I couldn't believe it - the picture above is proof that she had found it for me - in a used book store back East somewhere. I can't remember the details of how she accomplished this, but bear in mind that it was long before the Internet made tracking things down so easy. It's undoubtedly one of the most fun gifts I ever received. It is such a delightful cookbook, full of the things that Beany made for her family. (I just checked and discovered that this book was published the year I was married, 1972).
Fast forward again at least 15 years. I was reading the Denver Post when Beany Malone's name jumped out at me from a headline. I couldn't believe it! One of the columnists had received a call from Lenora's granddaughter asking for copies of the Beany Malone Cookbook. It seemed that they were out of print and some family members did not have one, and they were trying to find copies that people didn't really want so they could each have one. I called the columnist and got the granddaughter's phone number. We connected and I found out that she was the inspiration for Beany. She and her grandma were really close, in fact lived next door to each other. We visited for awhile and it was so much fun to talk to the "real" Beany!
It gets better - there was a woman in Denver who was planning a get-together for that summer for fans of Beany books. Oh, my word. I couldn't believe it! They actually had a Beany fan club going, with discussions about her books on line. This was at the very beginning of my computer use. I joined the group and took part in the discussions until I realized that I was not even close to obsessed compared to these women! They needed to get a life. They were mostly younger women who got all upset about the male/female interaction, especially in regard to Beany and her eventual husband. I commented one day that this was the 50's, girls, and it is just the way it was back then. They didn't appreciate my insight.
I did go to Denver for the Beany week-end. What fun! But again, I couldn't believe these people. I had re-read the entire series to be ready for the trivia game we were going to play. I thought I was ready to win. I could not believe the minutae that these other women knew!
The best part was the bus tour to the spots that were in the books - the high school, the church where Beany was married, the park, the university, places that were still there and had been Beany's and her friends' hang-outs. Then we had dinner at "Beany's" house, which she had bought from her grandmother before she died.
That was enough - I didn't need to belong to this group any more. I felt fulfilled. I think I might have to read the books again, though!
EDIT: I should have noted that, at the time all of this was happening in Denver, they were getting all of the books reprinted by ImageCascade. You can them 14-book series at http://www.imagecascade.com/. This does not include the second series I talked about where the girls babysat for Beany. I wonder if they will someday.
For more Friday Show and Tell stories, stop by Kelli's blog, There Is No Place Like Home.