Mark’s middle name should have been “Quirky”
Mark Steinhoff, my youngest brother, is heavy on my mind. He left us on New Year’s Eve two years ago.
His birth certificate said his middle name was Lynn, but it could just as well have been “Quirky” or “Unusual.”
Do you know of anyone else who ties rocking horses to a tree in their front yard? Or attaches his Christmas tree upside down to the ceiling?
I bet there must have been 200 people at his Celebration of Life, and each and every one of them had a Mark story – it might have been about something he did; a kindness he performed; a prank he pulled, or how he touched another human being.
One of my staffers sold Mark a Sailfish sailboat that he hauled from Florida to Kentucky Lake. Later, he gave it to Matt, who hauled it BACK to Florida.
Matt inherited the Spitfire
Mark promised Matt that he’d get the Spitfire some time in the future. Robin made it happen. It’s been refurbed and put back on the road.
He was a pebble tossed in a pond that created ripples that reached out in all directions.
Waking up at 4 in the morning
I rolled over about 4 in the morning thinking about Mark, then a contrasting character popped into my head.
Marion showed up in my office one day. There are some newspaper folks who are great reporters who can Hoover up all kinds of quotes and turn them into “just the facts” journalism, and there are writers who can make their keyboards sing. She was in the latter category.
I loved working with her. We spent almost two weeks on the road doing tourist stories from South Florida up through Louisiana. Cutting through a foggy swamp road late one night, she, like Bobby McGee, “sang up every song that driver knew (and a lot of new ones).
We were investigating one of New Orleans’ above-ground cemeteries when my car was broken into (“You’re lucky you had an alarm that scared off the burglar, usually they hit the car, then go into the cemetery to rob the tourists.”)
We attended a Christmas party in the country’s only continental leprosarium in Carville, LA.. Not everybody can say that. She was also a regular on weekend bike rides with other newspaper people. On a hot day, water frolicking was apt to occur.
“The well is dry”
“I’ve got to come up with a feature this week, and the well is dry,” she lamented.
“Everybody has a story to tell. You just have to find them,” I told her, falling back on one of my favorite clichés. “Grab the phone book and a thumbtack. Open it to a page at random and stab a name. We’re going to find out what that person’s story is.”
We selected Lester R. “Mosley” on Summit Blvd., in West Palm Beach, an address about three blocks from my house. [Last name changed for privacy.]
Mr. “Mosley” lived in an older, one-story home set back on a large, well-kept lawn. When he came to the door, he was dressed in clean, retiree clothes, and, while confused about why we were there, didn’t chase us away.
We talked with him for about 45 minutes and discovered that he was not only NOT like Brother Mark, he provided the exception to the rule that everyone has a story.
Mr. “Mosley” had no interesting tales of work; had no hobbies to speak of; maintained a neat yard, but without passion; didn’t mention any family nor friends.
About the only unusual tidbit he offered up was that he had married his brother’s widow. (I think I remember that correctly.) Beyond volunteering that simple fact, he never told us anything about her, whether she still lived there, had run off with the milkman or had died of boredom.
A Most Peculiar Man
A few lines from Simon and Garfunkel’s song, A Most Peculiar Man, came to mind.
He was a most peculiar man
He lived all alone within a house
Within a room, within himself
A most peculiar man
Mr. “Mosley” seemed to be content with his rather colorless life, so who are we to judge?
We didn’t do a story on Mr. “Mosley”. Somewhere in my files is an envelope containing a couple dozen frames of Mr. “Mosley”, which have probably faded away as much as he did.
Marion needed to find a Mark, and all I could provide was a Lester.
A search turned up a brief obit for a man who could have been Mr. “Mosley.” (His middle name was Rembert). He was born in South Carolina in 1910, and died in Palm Beach county in 1979.
Marion left the paper, moved in with her elderly parents, became reclusive, and died at age 51 in 2002.
Here’s a not-too-brief collection of stories and photos of Brother Mark.