Anyone who has experienced the loss of a spouse at an early age knows how insurmountable even the normal challenges of life seem to become. Having lost his bride of twelve years in 1933, Samuel Bean’s outlook on his future must have been dim, indeed.
Not withstanding that grief-induced cloud that surely hovered over him, Sam was in the midst of an even larger storm: the United States had been struggling through what we now call the Great Depression. At the beginning of the year in which Sam’s wife Maud had died, the country had inaugurated a new president in hopes of conquering a miserable economic downturn that had plagued the country—and the world—since 1929.
Considering the big picture that enveloped the once-promising blind and deaf poet (as well as everyone else who might have bought his optimistic booklets) it is no wonder that there was no word on Sam’s business endeavors in the local newspapers as of late.
Almost a year and a half after Maud Woodworth Bean’s passing in Alameda, California, though, a tiny entry in the November 26, 1934, Oakland Tribune surfaced, mentioning that young father’s name once again. Tucked away on page 12D of that issue, the article was headlined, “Braille Classes to Open in Alameda.” The report was far more practical and business-oriented than the earlier feature stories that seemed to fawn over Sam and his school-year accomplishments.
The article had the fingerprints of that New Deal era alphabet soup of agencies designed to pull America back out of the economic doldrums. The article mentioned a “County Emergency Education Relief Program” and “SERA Courses”—organizations for which I have no clue as to their establishment or mission, but have no doubt they were government-designed to turn around the financial crisis.
Sam, it seems, was putting some of his skills to good use—teaching classes in reading Braille, for instance—and was also able to provide the instruction at his own home. How he managed to sell himself as a likely prospect as instructor, and tap into the new flood of New Deal agencies just then being formed, I don’t know.
What I do notice is that this excerpt from the article provides some clues as to the focus of Sam’s life as he reinvents himself after losing Maud.
Alameda, Nov. 26.—Classes for the blind in reading Braille, chess and typing have been opened at 1807 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda, as part of the county emergency education relief program. Classes will be conducted by Samuel Bean of Alameda.