After a weekend that’s been . . . uh . . . dominated by Fifty Shades of Grey, I can’t resist submitting a Valentine to my many namesakes, the Beverly Grays of the world.
Beverly Gray is the moniker I was given at birth. To be honest, the surname Gray does not go very far back in the annals of my family. When my father was a young man, his parents legally simplified the name they’d brought with them from the Old Country. Though not a bad name,
it was longer and far more difficult to pronounce than the all-American “Gray.” (I doubt they realized how often it would be misspelled.)
When my mother married my father, she was delighted by the simplicity of her new last name. My given name, Beverly, honors some long-lost relatives, but I suspect it also reminded my parents of Southern California’s glamour locations: Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Beverly Boulevard. Just by happenstance, we ended up in a subdivision called Beverlywood. And one day, when I was still tiny, my parents were surprised to spot a young-adult novel titled Beverly Gray’s First Romance. It turns out there were 26 entries in the Beverly Gray Mystery series, published by Clair Blank between 1934 and 1955. Beverly was a beautiful (of course) red-headed reporter -- someone on the order of Nancy Drew, though slightly older -- who solved mysteries and tracked down criminals all over the world. As a budding journalist myself, I enjoyed scouting out these volumes, which today are considered collectors’ items. It’s slightly embarrassing to me now that if you do a Google search on my name, most of the references are to my literary alter-ego.
But the Internet shows me there are living Beverly Grays too, along with a number of dead ones. (I’ve stumbled across several obits.) Some are writers, among them the Beverly Ann Gray who has written a number of scholarly books about present-day Africa, like The Nigerian Petroleum Industry, A Guide. I’ve also discovered, via Amazon, a Beverly C. Gray who keeps churning out volumes in the Black Knights of the Hudson series, and another Beverly Gray (definitely not me) who has published The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North.
The Beverly Gray who wrote and marketed sentimental verse seems to have disappeared from view. But I often see references to a Beverly Gray who’s respected as the coordinator of the Southern Region Ohio Underground Railroad Association, headquartered in Chillicothe, Ohio. I once got a friendly email from a Beverly Gray in Florida. Presumably she’s not the Beverly Gray who was arrested in that state on April 23, 2014. (I have a link to her mugshot.) I’m pleased there’s a Dr. Beverly Gray who’s an obstetrician in Raleigh, North Carolina, but I don’t know how I feel about the Beverly Gray who’s married (according to Twitter) to an “Awesome Man of God.” One Beverly Gray is a cello teacher in Scotland, while another is a prize-winning equestrienne in Utah. Facebook tells me that Beverly Grays go to church, like the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, groove to Willie Nelson, work for the IRS, and are students of the University of Life.
If you’re in show biz, it’s important to have a name that’s unique, which is one reason some actors shed their birth names. (Julianne Moore, for instance, was born Julie Smith, but discovered another professional actress had gotten there first.) On the Internet Movie Database, I’m happy to be the only Beverly Gray. But there’s actually a crew guy named Gray Beverley. Go figure.