Mr. Beasing lived a block from my home in my hometown. He was a widower. During the hey day when I knew him, I was about 12 years old. I’d say that at the time, Mr. Beasing was about eighty years old. He lived alone in an old stately, two-floor colonial house. He had a corner lot, with a split-rail fence surrounding his yard. In his front yard, he had one of the finest flower gardens in the entire neighborhood. He was my friend.
I remember the time, in the early autumn of 1965 having just started seventh grade, I was walking down to the sweet shop to buy the latest giant Batman comic book. It was a Saturday morning and Mr. Beasing was outside working on his flower garden. As I approached his front yard, he stopped weeding and waved to me. I returned the wave and said hello to him.
Each of us were on our own side of his split-rail fence. Mr. Beasing asked me how I was doing. I told him that all was well and that I was on my way to the sweet shop to buy a comic book. He looked at me for a moment and then asked me how my little friend was doing. I didn’t know who he meant, so I asked him. I remember it like it was yesterday, he said to me, “you know, the cute little girl you walk home from school with.”
I remember that my heart seemed to stop and the words got caught in my throat. I remember saying something like, “she’s doing okay.” Mr. Beasing then smiled at me. It was more like a broad grin than a smile. And then he asked the question that made me shiver inside, “ya’ like her, don’t ya?”
It was as if that dear old man had looked right into the chambers of my heart. Gads! Was nothing sacred? Was nothing secret? I remember how I studdered at my answer, “yea….I guess so. But she’s too cute for me. She’s the cutest girl in my class.” I had thought that the little girl who lived next door to me was too cute for me because, simply put, I wasn’t one of the cool kids. I thought of myself as being painfully think and awkward.
And then old rugged, tough-minded Mr. Beasing got philosophical on me. I remember he stood up, took off his work gloves and walked right up to his split-rail fence, where I was standing. He looked me square in the eyes with the most no nonsense look on his face that you could ever imagine.
“Listen to me,” I remember him saying to me in a most serious and stern voice. “You can take this to the bank……”
There was this split second that I distinctly remember thinking, “what am I going to take to the bank? I’ve only got a quarter in my pocket for the new big giant Batman comic book!” But then, one split second later, the gem of wisdom was spoken to me by dear old Mr. Beasing.
“Remember this boy, even the cutest girl in the class needs a good friend. You be a good friend to her,” Mr. Beasing said to me with his hands on his hips, posed the way Superman does on that old 1950’s television show. Looking me square in the eyes, he asked me if I had heard him. Mr. Beasing knew I heard him, I was just intimidated by the seriousness in his voice.
“Yes, Mr. Beasing, I hear you,” was my simple reply. It was then that I remember that Mr. Beasing put on his work gloves and told me that I had better get down to the sweet shop because the giant Batman comic book would probably sell out soon. We said our goodbyes and I headed down to the old sweet shop.
One of the most precious memories of my days in seventh and eighth grade is that of walking home from school, with one of the cutest girls in my seventh grade class. Today my friend is both a Librarian and Professor in a university on the west coast. From time to time we keep in touch with e-mails.
Looking back, I’m so grateful to the encouragement that dear old Mr. Beasing gave to me in sharing his wisdom that even the cutest girl in the seventh grade needed a good friend. Sadly, it was in my senior year of high school that the good Lord called Mr. Beasing home to Heaven.
Love, peace and harmony, Richard