Trial and Error & Blue Clay at Hugh Beaumont’s Cabin

5/5/2016 –

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Dear Henry,

Early today – after hours of editing my previous letter to you – I attempted to make air dry, porcelain clay to finish my project. It didn’t work. I have to make another batch of paper mache clay. It sucks because paper mache clay can take up to a week to dry. I wanted this project done by Mother’s Day. I am not going to spend money I don’t have on purchasing Sculpy. My husband jokes when I have had paper mache clay pieces and beads drying under several lamps before we go to bed, “Shut off the lights to your easy bake oven.” (only people who grew up in the late 70’s – 80’s and 90’s might know what an easy bake oven is. I’m unsure if they still make them.)

 

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I now have to cut up cheap toilet paper into tiny, itty-bitty pieces. I use toilet paper so cheap that you don’t want to wipe your ass with it. It’s amazing how I can transform it into clay with the right mixture of ingredients. The process seems long and tedious to me. I’m not really pleased with paper mache clay. I like to use cookie cutters and it doesn’t work so well with this type of clay.

I want to tell you, Henry, about my first love affair with clay. When I was a little girl, we lived next door to a very loving family – The Peeks. My mother has no blood related family in Minnesota – most live in South Korea. They treated my mother as if she was their daughter. My older brother, my younger sister and I called them Grandpa and Grandma Peek – until they passed on.

These wonderful people with large, open hearts owned a small cabin in the deep woods of northern Minnesota, near the Canadian Border. My family would spend a few weeks every summer at their very austere, rustic cabin. This cabin was serenely nestled between two beautiful lakes. One was very deep and the other one was very shallow. I played a lot on the beach of the shallow lake. I was too afraid of the really deep, murky lake, fearing big fish would eat my toes.

This cabin used to belong to Hugh Beaumont – aka Ward Cleaver – from the vintage television series, “Leave it to Beaver.” When Hugh Beaumont retired as a Hollywood actor – he owned a Christmas tree farm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where Judy Garland was born.  His cabin was still a distance away from Grand Rapids. I loved spending time at the cabin. There was no electricity, no television, no bathrooms – only outhouses- and no running water. If you wanted to drink water, cook with it or wash up – you had to pump icy, cold water from a rusty, red well, outside. I hated peeing in the outhouse-yuck – smelly – gross!

I often got really bored on those long, summer days and would walk through a gorgeous meadow, where deer elegantly leaped like ballerinas in the early morning or at dusk, leading to the beach belonging to the shallow lake. Several feet from the shore there was a giant pit of blue clay. I would wade to my favorite destination, and squat, plunging my hands into the water and pull out as much clay as I desired. I would be entertained for hours. I was also highly allergic to bugs, especially deer flies. I would slather that blue clay on my bug bites to soothe the sting and lessen my reaction to the toxins it released beneath my sun tanned skin. One time a deer fly bit my foot. It swelled up until it was three times its original size. I barfed for 3 days, until I could be taken to a physician who I believed prescribed me Benadryl.

I recall overhearing my family talk about Hugh Beaumont retrieving clay from the lake and gentle creek that flows serenely in front of the cabin – right before he passed on. I also heard that there were people who wanted to turn the cabin into a tourist trap. Grandma and Grandpa refused. I believe the cabin still rests quietly in the deep, northern woods in Minnesota.

What I loved most about retrieving the blue clay from the lake was that it was completely free – didn’t cost a dime. I really wish I could travel to the cabin today and get some of that beautiful, soothing, blue clay to create with.

I must get back to work – back to the drawing board – trial and error – trial and error

Bisous, Mon Amour,

Mia

“Sometimes my work as an actor presents a conflict with my ideals as a clergyman. I don’t believe in the old saying that the end justifies the means, and no money that I can earn as an actor can accomplish so much good that I would feel justified in violating my ideals to earn it… If the question ever arises in a serious way, of course I would have to give up my acting.”
~ Hugh Beaumont

In honor of Hugh Beaumont, an American actor best known for his role as Ward Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver, who was born on this day in 1909.  He was an ordained minister with a Master of Theology degree.

Hugh Beaumont was a deeply religious man and obtained his Master of Theology degree from USC in 1946. He only turned to acting after he was assigned as pastor to a community that couldn’t afford to pay him. To supplement his income, he first did ads and serials on radio. When he made the transition to television, he was usually cast as the “bad guy” until Leave It to Beaver came along. Beaumont was always professional on the set and friendly to the kids, but he harbored a deep sadness that he blamed on the show. He lived with his family part of the year in Minnesota, and he usually drove his crew to L.A. when it was time to work. However, because filming on Beaver began rather abruptly after the pilot sold, Beaumont had to fly to California, leaving his son Hunter to drive Beaumont’s wife and her mother out west. Hunter lost control of the car along the way, and Beaumont’s mother-in-law was killed in the crash

 

 

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