I was helping my mom get ready to move and going through some of my Dad’s things when I found an odd pamphlet, published in 1949, entitled “Memo-Prop: A Super Memory for Everyone” by M. A. Ree.
My mom didn’t want the pamphlet, so I decided to look into whether I might be able to sell it. There was no ISBN number and google searches on the title and author revealed nothing. But the publisher of the book was listed as “Bijou Hollywood Studio” and when I googled that I found this ad from a 1953 issue of Popular Mechanics.
I found the same ad in Popular Science and Amazing Stories. I then found a copyright archive from 1953 that listed Emery (aka Emmerich) Josef Bernauer as the author. The same guy copyrighted several musical compositions.
Curious about Emery Bernauer, (and, frankly, curious whether this pamphlet might be a collector’s item of some value), I googled versions of “Emery J Bernauer” along with “Hollywood” and found an archived newspaper article from 1959. It had been scanned and converted to text, which is how google was able to find it. However, the scanning process rendered imprecisely and the document was riddled with misspellings and typographical errors. It read (in part) as follows:
“Television child star Evelyn Ruclie decided she would like to visit President Eisenhower in Washington, she took the way she thought quickest. The nine-year-old girl, residing in California, took $150 from three piggy banks, bought her own jetliner ticket and headed east… The youngster said she wa: able to crack her piggy ban! and make good her dcpartur from her home yesterday morning because her parents, Mr and Mrs. Emery J. Bernauer were “good sleepers.” With a giggle, she also explained that she had forgotten to leave a note she had written explaining her exploit.”
Now curious about “child star Evelyn Ruclie,” I did some more digging and found that “Evelyn Ruclie” was actually Evelyn Rudie—and that the scanning process had resulted in a misspelling of her name in the converted document. Evelyn Rudie’s real name was Evelyn Bernauer and she had been famous for playing a popular character named Eloise in the 1950s.
After a bit more research, I found an Evelyn Rudie listed as the Director of the Santa Monica Playhouse in California and corresponded with her as follows:
Subject: I am trying to reach Evelyn Rudie Bernauer about a book that I think her father wrote…
I am trying to reach Evelyn Rudie Bernauer. I have an odd little book that I found. I did a little internet research and I think her father wrote it. I can find no other info about the book so it seems to be a bit of rarity, perhaps a collector’s item. I was hoping that Evelyn might be able to shed some light on it. Or at least confirm or deny that it was written by her father.
Could you please forward this email to her?
On Sep 22, 2017, I received a reply:
This is bizarre! Yes indeed, my dad wrote the book. The little system is very helpful – I use it sometimes when I’m on stage and want to remember notes for the technician or the other actors, or for myself – I sort of keep it in the back of my mind and when the show is over, everything is there in my memory.
The internet sure is an amazing place – one can find out just about anything!
So I wrote back to Evelyn:
Wow! Yes, the internet is an amazing place…
I found this in my father’s old books. It looks self-published. I’m not sure where he got it or whether he used the system. I’m surprised that I couldn’t find any information about the book online. To be honest, I was just trying to list it for resale but there was no information about it. Was there ever a reprint?
I presume you have a copy. But if you don’t, I’d be happy to give you this one. Let me know if you would like it.
The exchange continued:
It was definitely self-published. He had a mail order business – he had two books like this MemoProp and Medical Scrapbook (which was just a compilation of the latest medical discoveries). Perhaps your father purchased it that way. My father advertised the books in a lot of different magazines. But that was ages before the internet (probably 50s and 60s) so there would be no information about it.
I used to have a copy, but the earthquake of 1994 destroyed most of my books, scrapbooks, etc., and much of my father’s work as well. It would be awesome to have a copy again!
Thank you so very much! Do you live in Los Angeles? Or ever visit? We’d be delighted to invite you as our guests for a show here at Santa Monica Playhouse if you’re ever in the neighborhood!
I live in Canada and my father spent most of his life in Toronto, Canada. I noticed during my research that the book was advertised in Popular Mechanics. I think my dad purchased it through a magazine like that one. The book that I have was published in 1949 and it was probably in the early or mid 50s that my father purchased it. He was an up-and-coming young business executive at that time and probably thought he needed an edge to get ahead. He did all right so maybe the system helped him!
I am sorry to hear about the earthquake and I am more than happy to send you this copy. To what address should I send it?
If I am ever in Santa Monica, I will remind you of this and claim a couple of tickets for a show. Thank you!
PS: During my research, I was googling various combinations of your father’s name when I came across an article in which he was named. The article was about one “Evelyn Ruclie”, child actress, who flew out east on her own to meet the president. Google searches for “Evelyn Ruclie” were fruitless until I realized that the article had been scanned and the “cl” was probably a “d”. That is how I found you. I wasn’t able to access the entire article so I don’t know exactly what happened. Did you meet the president?
Yes indeed, I remember him advertising in Popular Mechanics. I was born in 1949 and when I was five and six, I used to help him with his mail orders. He paid me 5 cents an envelope to open the ones that came in, and type the addresses to the ones that went out. That’s how I learned to type (hah! Didn’t need to take typing in junior high school, and wasn’t a total clutz when computers came on the scene).
About the president – to make a long story short, I was a “child star” in the 50s. As such, I made a lot of public service spots that were shown in classrooms all across the nation. Most of them were for Savings Stamps – at the time, there was a drive in schools to have kids purchase savings bonds. They gave you a little booklet with slots and every week you put in a quarter (25 cents) and when you had accrued $18.00, you were able to purchase a $25.00 savings bond (in the 40s they called them War Bonds, but after the war, they didn’t want to stop the process, so they just changed the name to Savings Bonds). The bonds matured in 10 years, so when you finished high school, you could cash them in. I made several of those spots with The Lone Ranger, and several with Jack Webb (of “Dragnet” fame) and since the government isn’t allowed to pay you to do a “public service,” they rewarded me by inviting me to Washington, D.C. They gave me a key to the city (still have it), they made me an honorary member of the Secret Service (still have the card somewhere) and I met Mamie Eisenhower, who took me on a tour of the White House, and I met the then-Vice President, Richard Nixon, who gave me a “congratulations” pin (don’t have that anymore). And that’s the story.
Hope to meet you here in Santa Monica someday!
I have not yet visited Evelyn at the Santa Monica Playhouse. I did, however, mail “Memo-Prop” to Evelyn with a note wishing her the best. She seems like a very gracious lady and I hope to someday take her up on her offer.
Evelyn Rudie is currently developing a musical about her father’s life. The working title for the show is “My Father’s Trunk.” The musical will be written and performed by Evelyn, who will portray her mother. Her husband/partner Chris DeCarlo will play her father. The show is slated to debut at the Santa Monica Playhouse in 2019.
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