Letter from Nick Lindsay (2018) to Ervin Beck

Following the death of Nick’s wife DuBose in 2018, he and I exchanged a series of about six letters. I had suggested that he write his autobiography, or at least prepare a chronology of his life and work. I expected something linear, but he included in his letters bits and bobs of his life experience, usually in anecdotes with clear moral or spiritual meanings. The letters were always written in his non-cursive handwriting and were sprinkled with drawings, quotations from songs and, always, with upbeat comments.—Ervin Beck

3 Slash Court
Statesboro, GA
Wed., Aug. 1, 2018

Dear Ervin,

Thanks much & again for Goshen News & to “The Voice in the Whirlwind.” For Life, Beauty & Success–

Beauty & the Beast
Y’all’s Stratford Project w Dan and Joy.

While I/we were at GC I worked for Jim Ryman—a fellow craftsman was Wendell Bailey. His wife—Bonnie [Mierau]. A GC student paralyzed from waist down by botched surgery. Wendell carried her in his arms wherever she went. She made him two/three? Children. They farmed. She taught Amish school. Anyhow—I want to
Tell his wisdom & strength.
He was Polish, changed his name to Bailey, went from Eastern Orthodox to Mennonite.

If he mashed his thumb, he’d sigh, “Thank you, Jesus.” Rain deluged our new poured ruined now concrete? “Thank you Jesus!” Amish school relented and put in an elevator [Briggs & Stratton 1 cylinder gas engine] “Thank you, Jesus! ” Children got 1-week flu/got over it? “Thank you, Jesus!” If there came a political or personal crisis he’d undertake a season (day or two) of fasting and prayer. We (the rest of the crew 2 or 3 men) would ask, if we noticed, & often joined him.

DuBose would re-read the Book of Job: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him.” She’d be 99 by now. The GC students called her “The Beautiful Mysterious DuBose.” I would & still do totally agree. It’s a Jewish name—Second Samuel, the wilderness in its simplicity. LeBose in French is “the true source.” We need no altars, priests, nor kings. This earthy, naked theology & civilization produced the city Lrish (?), Ch 18 of Judges. Biblically they were totally wiped out by Dan. Actually made it to Marseilles—Toulouse—Albi. Flourished there until the Albigensian Crusade against them 1215-1235.

She died from a concussion when she tripped dancing to greet Valentine’s Day. Her last words—I’m holding her, she’s whimpering—I say, “You’re crying. What do you want? What can I get?” She turns her radiant, joyful face full on me, “All I want is to please you. So give me a hug. And a kiss.” Which I !!yes!! am able to do. And she dies. Is gone. Death—called “Old Bud” or “Stepney” on Edisto [p.66, 101, 147 , 155, 226] of the book Esau Lanier.

Thanks again for so many years of glad brotherhood in Comp & World Lit. God guard you all the ways you go, yes, I and us, too.


P.S. Same greeting to Dan & Joy. Of my 20 grandchildren, two stay on Edisto—Nick Jr’s boys. I asked the younger, Jack: “Jack, how does gladness compare with rejoicing?” (He was about 9). He thought a bit, then, “Gladness is you by yourself. Rejoicing—that’s the whole village.” Amen and Amen. Nick, Sr.

About the Author

Nick Lindsay was the performance poet son of the distinguished American poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931); longtime professor and poet-in-residence at Goshen College; and at the time of his death, a resident of Edisto Island, SC and Statesboro, GA.