Anyone who has heard humorist Rose-Mary Rumbley speak knows that growing up as her daughter would have been anything but ordinary. Jill Beam charmed a packed audience on the subject at The Tradition-Prestonwood retirement community, delivering hilarious one-liners as she recollected her childhood years.
“Being the daughter of Rose-Mary and Jack Rumbley was fun and fascinating, because there was never a dull moment!” said Jill. She began with a rendition of “Be Our Guest” on the flute, on which she performs regularly with the Mesquite Symphonic Band.
The music was symbolic of the melodies Jill grew up with as a child, as well as of the overall atmosphere of their household. “We were devout Baptists, and I never heard my parents argue. We never knew misery, and we were always exposed to music,” she said, adding that the melodies were ever happy, from “Don’t Nobody Bring Me Any Bad News” (The Wiz) to “Put on a Happy Face” (Bye Bye Birdie).
" Being the daughter of Rose-Mary and Jack Rumbley was fun and fascinating … there was never a dull moment!"
While the family was happy, her mother frequently reminded them they were poor. “We’re poor because we’re educators,” her mother would say. Jill remembers the family’s one car, a turquoise station wagon that took them to the movies. Once there, she and her brother Phil would ask for popcorn and a Coke. “No, we’re poor,” said her mother. “But we’re thirsty,” said Jill. “Swallow hard” was the answer.
" We were devout Baptists, and I never heard my parents argue. We never knew misery, and we were always exposed to music."
One year, her mother was commissioned to produce the Dallas Baptist Laurel Lane Easter Pageant. One of the disciples became sick, so Rose-Mary said to a man standing next to her, “Quick, get into the Upper Room.” Very soon, Rose-Mary looked up and saw 13 disciples! The first man had recovered!
Rose-Mary performed at Casa Mañana in Fort Worth and in the Summer Musicals at Fair Park, so Jill was one of the lucky “Back Door Kids.” She met Ginger Rogers, who autographed the soles of her tap shoes; Van Johnson; John Davidson and Ruta Lee.
“It was just great,” said Jill with a twinkle, “being Rose-Mary’s baby.”
The talk drew too soon to a close, and more than one person left thinking that old adage, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
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