Sunday, January 23, 2011

52 Blessings – Cousins

Cousin One experience:  I bought this book on Thursday at the Friends of the Library sale for 50 cents.  It just seemed the thing to do. 

More than likely I’ll take it into the office supply store, have them cut the binding, replace the pages with new cardstock, then bind it with a spiral ring.  I’ll probably make a cousins’ journal out of it and include inspiring stories like that of Willard and Rebecca Bean.  What I do know for sure is that it isn’t every day you see your name outlined in gold for 50 cents.  Fifty cents won’t even buy a candy bar unless I'm at Grocery Outlet.    

Cousin Two experience:  A couple of weeks ago Leigh made a random comment on one of my blog posts that she had just finished reading A Lion and a Lamb, a book about Willard and Rebecca Bean.  I responded and told her they were cousins of mine and thanked her for telling me about it.  I ordered the book and read it within the week.  I’d heard the story through family lore, but the details were fuzzy to me.  I enjoyed reading the real story and found it inspiring just as Leigh had.

Willard Bean, "The Fighting Parson"

Willard had been a United States middle-weight champion boxer.  He and his wife Rebecca (who was 23 years his junior) were called to serve a mission to Palmyra, New York to reintroduce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the area.  It is near Palmyra where Joseph Smith received a vision and our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him.  Not all people welcomed Joseph’s testimony of what he saw and the Smith family was eventually forced to leave the area.  Nearly one hundred years later, Latter-day Saints still were not welcome in Palmyra.  In fact, soon after Willard and Rebecca arrived, neighbors hung a sign on the door to their home promising a $5000 reward to anyone who could get rid of them.  While Rebecca used her voice and disposition to try and win the hearts of the people, Willard used his boxing skills.

Willard put on a boxing exhibition and challenged anybody in the community to go the rounds with him in a temporary ring they constructed in an old opera house.  The night of the exhibition at least seven men came to challenge Willard.  The first opponent didn’t even make a hit and lasted less than fifteen seconds.  The second didn’t last either – nor the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth.  Not one made it through a round.  The eighth man changed his mind about boxing Willard and no one else took the challenge.  Not only did Willard easily win the matches, he did back flips and other gymnastic stunts while he waited for the new opponents to enter the ring.  This completely entertained the crowd.  He was 46+ years old at the time.  He was always friendly and helpful to each opponent and this free show helped him to win some respect, if not a few friends.

I started to re-read the book again on Friday.  This time aloud to a friend.

Cousin Three experience:  On Friday I received a cd in the mail from my cousins Arnold and Arlene Hill.  I’m one of the younger Chadwick cousins so it always surprises me when the older cousins remember who the younger cousins even are.  It's not like we lived in the same state or saw each other often.  

Grandpa George is on the right

            Arnold and Arlene acquired Grandpa George’s mission scrapbooks at a family reunion last summer.  They took the photos home and restored, digitized, and made cds for everyone.  The photos are nearly 100 years old and the project took somewhere between 500-1000 hours.  I wrote Arlene thanking her for their work and asked her to tell me one of her favorite memories of Grandpa. 
            She responded, “Grandpa always seemed to be rather a back-ground figure; which isn’t surprising considering Grandma was such an up-front person. Whenever we visited, Grandpa never had much to say. He was gentle and amiable and it seems he pretty much let Grandma have her way. On rare occasions when he put his foot down everyone paid attention and acquiesced to his wishes.  One vivid memory I have of Grandpa George was when we went to visit them in Payette. There was a radio on the refrigerator, not a real tall one, and in the evenings Grandpa would lay his head on his arms on the top of the refrigerator with his head up next to the radio and listen to ball games. He never sat down to listen.  (She wondered now if it wasn't because they had made so much noise he couldn't hear if he didn't.)  
            "The other memory I have of Grandpa George was when we rode with him - he loved his big fancy red Oldsmobile - 'Grandpa what is that beeping noise?' He liked to drive fast and would set something at a certain speed and when he reached or exceeded that speed, a beeper would go off. When the beeper beeped, Grandpa would boost it higher rather than slow down. After he died my brother Larry discovered that his speed beeper was set at 80 mph."
            My memories of Grandpa George are non-existent, so it was comforting to hear something personal about him from someone who remembers him and to see all of those mission pictures from New Zealand.  Arnold and Arlene surmise that he must have been the mission photographer as there were so many pictures of so many big events and people and Grandpa George wouldn't have had funds for the type of camera used.  (Grandpa not having enough money to even buy a stamp is one story I do remember.  I'll share it some other time.)

Cousin Four experience:  A friend and I were talking about books we'd been reading and I told her of A Lion and a Lamb.  When she heard the name Bean she said, "There used to be a very wealthy man that lived in Seattle by the name of Bean."  I asked, "Monte L. Bean?"  She said, "Yes."  I told her that he was a cousin too, and then related my memories of Grandma's description of his house.  Of all she told me after her visit to see him, somehow his bathroom faucets were what I retained best.  Imagine that.  I don't remember the rhino head mounts, the stuffed buffalo, or the hippo, but I do remember he had gold faucets.

Funny how all of these cousins collided this week.  I'm grateful for extended family.  It made my week even better. 


Susan said...

Oh Jane!! What a great find, and what a great set of stories to put into it! I love it when all things collide for good.

Cali said...


I loved reading all those stories. Yesterday I sat for 20+ minutes just telling Ray all the stories I could remember about the Beans and asking him stories about his ancestors. It's kind of funny how you have phases in life where you're interested in different things. My interests seem to be piqued by where I came from lately?

Are you my mother? Just kidding.

I love you.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Yes, yes, Cali. I am your mother. Your mother is not a steam shovel, nor a dog, nor an airplane. Just me. I am your mother . . . even if I don't mind hearing the rubbing together of Styrofoam.

Deidra said...

I love the Bean museum at BYU!

michelle said...

Love the Cousin Jane book!!

This is all very interesting. And my kids are big fans of the Bean museum at BYU as well.

Your memory of the gold faucets reminds me of a time Max and I went to visit my parents in PA. He was 3 at the time. He was completely enamored with all of the decorative details in her house, especially the toilet flusher.

Deidra said...

I love cousins (and miss a few of mine like crazy). And Grocery Outlet. :)

Becky said...

This reminded me how much I love about family history. People are so fascinating!

That book was a great find and I love your ideas on how you might use it.

Lovely post, as always!

Leigh said...

I'm so glad I could be part of a serendipitous blogging find. :) It makes me feel a little like I've repaid in kind just a small part of all the great stories and inspiring thoughts I've read from you here.

My copy of book is currently making the rounds among my family and friends. Everyone just loves it. You come from good people, Jane!

Anonymous said...

". . . even if I don't mind hearing the rubbing together of Styrofoam."

Speaking of cousins, this is Cassidy (Payne side). I stumbled upon your blog somehow Aunt Jane and have enjoyed hearing tid-bits about your guys' lives!

But what prompted me to there actually someone else in the world who runs in fear at the sight of Styrofoam?!