Born to an unwed mother, Frank Beazley was given up to an orphanage as a newborn. His difficult life rolled out from there. We appreciated the historical detail the series provides.
Miller emphasizes Beazley’s resilience, generosity and optimism. These themes resonated with readers: “I have never had such a reaction to anything I have written,” Miller e-mailed us. He received over 300 e-mails, phone calls, letters and postings on the paper’s Web site. We asked for some background on the series. Here’s what Miller wrote:
“I met Frank Beazley many years ago, while a beat reporter covering disabilities issues. In 1992 I wrote a short feature about his long desire that his mother, who had abandoned him at birth, finally call him ‘son.’ I re-entered Frank’s life in the summer of 2005, when I was casting about for my next narrative. The hospital where he has lived for almost 40 years had long intrigued me: With its red-brick walls and origins as a tuberculosis sanatorium, it surely had been witness to many stories. As I spent more time with Frank, and learned more of his background—and secured his permission to examine all of his records, which confirm his extraordinarily sharp memories—I knew I was onto something. The series was more than a year in the making, and required an enormous commitment of resources (writing, photography, layout, web design, etc.), but The Journal was up to it. It didn’t hurt that executive editor Joel P. Rawson, who has overseen several of my narratives, was hooked from the start.”
If you’re interested in sourcing issues, you may find the source notes that accompany the series useful.
Read “The Growing Season,” by G. Wayne Miller