Sam’s story comes to an end

Samuel Reuben

Highland Park, Ill.

February 18,1978

My dear Shelly,

Congratulations! On the marketing of a $200 item. Now, you are a writer, which no one can deny. It may be a step forward for you, but is a big step and I am proud of you. I am enclosing a circular from a publishing Co. about writing for children ~ See what you think of it. Your fingers must be cold with all the bad weather you have been having lately. We have been having quite a lot of snow over here.

Chucky is a busy boy – he works at a printing firm here in Highland Park. He has his own hours to a certain extent and he is learning the publishing business. His boss, Mr. Singer, is 81 years old and is still publishing a newspaper weekly.

You probably know that if you produce 5 articles at $200 a piece, it will be $1,000. But there is the matter of counting your chickens before they are hatched …

Today, Sunday, our accountant is coming in to go over the books. Chucky is going out for a camp-out next week.

Well Cheerio and lots of love,

From your Dad and Mom

AUTHOR NOTE: And here is the last letter that my father ever wrote to me. The “Fire Department” referred to was the Fire Department of the City of New York, where I was researching a book and where I met Charlie King, the man who was to become my husband.

June 15, 1978

Dear Shelly,

We are glad that you are busy having a good time with the Fire Dept. of N.Y.C.

I once read in a book that the fire engines in the large cities spend 75% to 85% of their time making false alarms – but I guess that it is still a big help.

Lots of Love, Mom & Dad

The last words that I ever knew my father to write were at a birthday party for my mother, just before they moved to California. By then, his Parkinson’s disease had progressed to a point where his mind played tricks on his eyes, and he had difficulty aligning letters on a page. However, he was able to scrawl a few words on the card he had picked for my mother, and to the very end, those words were true to his spirit, to his love of her, and to the poetry in his soul.

On her birthday card, my father had written:

“To my darling wife

~ May your tribe increase.”

Shelly Reuben is an Edgar-nominated author, private detective, and fire investigator. For more about her books, visit

Copyright © 2009, Shelly Reuben.

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