Even if you saw The Music Man you may have missed a line in the rapid fire recitative performed by Robert Preston. Speaking about the youth of the community he sang…
They're tryin' out Bevo, tryin' out cubebs,
Tryin' out Tailor Mades like Cigarette Feends!
And braggin' all about
How they're gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen.
My mother's name was Grace Irene Sneathern. By her own admission, she just couldn't follow all the rules. A pastor's wife in a small Michigan town, she drank coffee, purchased her cubebs at Niendorf's Drug Store and vowed she was not going to "grow old gracefully". As far as I know she didn't drink Bevo near-beer from Anheuser-Busch, but she did favor Sen-Sen while claiming cubebs were not a Sin-Sin. She may have been correct since it was approved by Teddy Roosevelt's Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Meanwhile nobody had investigated the coca content of the tasty cola concoction served at the counter.
She was in fact psychic. Not a psychic for money which she said would destroy the gift. Having no phone for communication, it was necessary to walk up the hill to neighbors for verification that, in fact out-of-town friends' home had gone up in flames during the night as she had told us when she awakened. This fairly common experience caused the church ladies to make her feel less than welcome.
After the divorce her penchant for doing things her way led her to Tampa where she was a dress designer, to her childhood home high in the Ozarks tending her ailing mother, on to Miami where she opened a modeling school. As Beth Ann Lee she challenged Hollywood acting with the likes of Sal Mineo and wrote a book, The Blue Onion. Her return to Miami proved as adventurous but the least rewarding. Her Rosicrucian credentials and natural affinity for the works of Edgar Cayce didn't lead to the finances necessary for a satisfying life. Massaging elderly New York expatriate women lounging in Florida led her to the final decision.
The most gut-wrenching experience of my life was flying from my home to Miami, taking her still warm but lifeless small Indian frame from the hospital to the bulkhead seats of a sparsely occupied Lockheed 1011 and back to a Santa Barbara hospital. Her spirit was already gone. Her body failed five days later.
I hear they are still working on laws regarding assisted dying? Mother didn't need any assistance. She just rejected food and water. The coroner's report was death from malnutrition and dehydration. I scattered her ashes from a plane over the waters of Santa Barbara Channel as I suspect she would have liked, if it had ever crossed her independent mind. She really didn't live her life gracefully. And as announced, she did not grow old gracefully. But she did end it her way and I guess you could call that Gracefully. Think about it.
Listen and look as Robert Preston sings all the words for “Ya Got Trouble”.
Image Contibuted by Sage Thyme