Beaumont is a small high desert city in Southern California’s “Inland Empire,” about 80 miles east of Los Angeles on the road to Palm Springs. I don’t know anything about the community’s literary and cultural climate and certainly don’t mean to slight residents when I say that it doesn’t strike me as a place where one would find many Woolfophiles.
But hey, I could be selling the heartland short. When my writer/musician friend Bill Bell, who lives in neighboring Banning, was prowling around the Beaumont swap meet one day recently, he too was surprised to come across this one-of-a-kind treasure. Happily he thought of me and generously paid $2 to buy it for me. It’s a wooden paintbox, about 12” x 16.” Both sides are painted, one with a whimsical winged elf. The other side is a fair-to-middling copy of the Beresford portrait of young Virginia Stephen next to a quotation I wasn’t familiar with. I traced it to Jacob’s Room:
It’s not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases that age and kill us; it’s the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of the omnibuses.
I wonder how someone, having created this gem, could bear to part with it, but it’s found a good home here in my study, surrounded by my books and an assortment of compatible Woolfiana.