We Will Never "Bea" Apart Again

Part 5 of the Judy Tomaini Rock Series

 

Jeanie Weeks was a headliner.  She had a very good act and the masses flocked to see her. They mostly signed on to store front museum shows, Huber's Museum for one. Like the flea markets of today. They take an empty supermarket or a closed Wal-Mart type building and have an indoor Sideshow. There were many back then and they were much easier to work than a tent show. They could even work in the winter months since the buildings were out of the elements.  The rain, snow and cold were easier tolerated. The dime museums were popping up all over the north.

And a lot of the tent shows were deserted, for the comfort zones of the store fronts. The acts in the store front windows, were the come-on to the shows inside. Like the ballys on the tent shows. The teaser, to "more to come on the inside".

The work was hard, 15 or 20 shows a day maybe even more. Long hours, but the pay was good.  This is where Lizzie Weeks took Jeanie. She was only allowed to perform and not allowed to speak to anyone. As Lizzie was always on the lookout for someone who might come and steal her charge.  Then the big easy money would be gone.

Jeanie was not treated badly, just not very good.  She had food, a roof over her head, and mental torture, every day of her life.  No matter what she did she was reminded how much Lizzie had done for her, nice costumes, fame and the like.  Her home life consisted of staying in her room and going to work.  Jeanie had thought many times that death was the only way out for her.  But being the spiritual person she was she had God on the other hand reminding her it would not be a peaceful death as taking your own life was as bad as taking someone else's life.

If only she could see her brother Donald. They had been the closest of any of the kids.  Donald always looked after her. Where was he now when she really needed him the most. She wasn't aware that the dozens of letters she had written were never sent.  The people at the orphanage had no record of who adopted her, the judge saw to that.

The brothers searched for a long time for her but always came up empty.  It was like she vanished.  They looked for Bea Smith, they didn't even have any idea that her name had been changed.  That was one of the reasons they never found her, they had been so close at times. 

As Lizzie had made sure she never played a town close to Ft. Wayne. Who would ever thought her name would have ever been changed. 

Lizzie, had so many ways to torture Jeanie.  When Jeanie prayed for guidance she received it.  She would play a game in her head so she wouldn't go insane.  She was not allowed to go out to a restaurant to eat as Lizzie told her no one would be able to eat around someone deformed as she was it would sicken them.  The real reason was that she didn't want anyone looking at her for free.  So when it was time to eat Lizzie would get takeout food, yes they had takeout then too. Jeanie discovered if she ordered tea she would get coffee if she ordered milk which she hated, she would get juice. So the game had begun.  Jeanie never did care for mashed potatoes and would gag at the sight of beet juice running into them.  When Lizzie saw this she made sure that they put beet juice on the mashed potatoes daily.

So Jeanie would read anything, she could get her hands on to read but mostly it was the Bible.  She spent her time in this hell prison reading the Bible and praying for her brother Donald to find her. He was also searching for her on every show that came to town.  She was in New York, Ohio and any of the other states around Indiana.  Donald was getting older and started to drive so he could search farther away, which he did.  He had an old photo of her which he carried with him every where he went.  Then one day when talking to people on a tent show, they said they knew someone just like Bea, but her name was Jeanie Weeks.  They also told Donald where she had been and what area to look in for her. He was so excited, he had finally gotten real close to finding her and had something to go on. 

Donald still lived with the people on the farm that had adopted him.  They were wonderful to him.  The work was hard but he didn't mind, as they were the parents that he grew to love and they loved him.  He even kept in close contact with them and their other children when he was a parent and grandparent.

The winter was deathly cold with ice, rain and snow.  It was the weather that makes for the worst blizzards.  Lizzie had company coming and was so worried about someone stealing Jeanie she tucked her into bed that night. She decided she better sleep outside the door to Jeanie's room.  Who knows, they may try to steal her and then they would have her cash cow.  Well, that wouldn't work so she made sure the window to her room was closed tight and being on the 2nd floor there was no way they could get to her.  Jeanie was tiny at the time just a pretty little teenager and the guys loved her.

Totally innocent and such a sweet spirit.  She would have been dead long ago had she not played this silly game with Lizzie in her head.  She knew that Lizzie would be sleeping out side of the door.  So it was time to get even for some of the pain that she had suffered over the mental torture that Lizzie had put her though.  There was a dresser in the corner of the room and the high old fashioned base boards. Which gave Jeanie an idea of how to get even without causing physical harm to anyone. When she was little, she would play hide and seek with her brothers by getting under the dresser and lifting herself up on the corner base boards. That way when they would come close to look under the dresser they couldn't see her. So she planned it out in her head, she would open the window and let the room get really cold.  Then she would hide behind the dresser like she had done at her home so many years before when she was young.

It took a while to get the room cold enough for the cold air to seep out from under the door and awaken Lizzie.  As soon as she felt the draft she started screaming and ran in the room.  All she could see was an open window and an empty bed.  She looked under the dresser and the bed, nothing...  Jeanie had been stolen, by her visiting relatives.  She ran screaming down the stairs.  Her meal ticket had been stolen away in the night.  Jeanie decided she would hurry and get back in bed and pretend to be asleep.  So when Lizzie's husband, who was a real nice easy going guy, went in to look again he would find her sleeping in the bed.  That chalks up one for Jeanie....

When the winter chill was turning into the fresh breath of spring air.  It was time to hit the road again. At this time they had booked on a tent show which would be playing around the old homestead in Indiana.  By now the family had surely given up on ever finding Bea Smith.  She was known far and wide as Jeanie Weeks.  She had her hair different, and her costumes were also were different.  But in her heart she was still and always would be Bea Smith.  The first place the show set up was in Fort Wayne, Bea Smith's home town.  That is where Donald finally found her.

 

After the many years of separation Donald never failed to go to every sideshow that came to town and look for her.  The first show of the day Jeanie spotted him as soon as he walked into the tent.  He walked over to her stage, ruffled her hair and said "Hi Sis, where have you been???" like she had just been gone for a day or two.  She asked him why he never wrote to her, not even once, since they had been separated.  They had a lot of catching up to do.

The bond that they had formed as small children is what held them together.  They made a pact that they would never be torn away from each other again. Even when Donald was dying of Alzheimer's disease he remembered her and ruffled her hair, but never said a word....

 

2003 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

Published with the permission of Judy Tomaini Rock

 

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