This Is Us

Ramona Quimby and Me

A tribute to Beverly Cleary

Rebecca Coleman
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readMar 27, 2021

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Me, age two or three, 1979.

My childhood library was a mile from our apartment, a route that took my mother and me across an overpass that ran through thick woods, down the quiet streets of a New Deal-built neighborhood with tiny rowhouses and an Art Deco movie theater in the town square. My mother didn’t drive, even though it was the early 1980s and every other mother did, so it was always a walk, pushing my little sister in an umbrella stroller. Whatever books I wanted to bring home, I would have to carry.

We made that walk frequently, and I had no way of knowing, at age six or seven, how thick with ghosts that path would become. Here was the bridge where I’d skip school, 10 years in the future, to meet with a boy I liked. Just up that hill, there was the rowhouse I’d one day share with my husband and kids. On the right, the sandwich shop where, after my divorce, I’d stop and get lunch with my new fiancé. The High’s where my mother got hot dogs for me and my sister, which would turn into a Chinese restaurant long after my sister was gone.

I was a precocious reader, and that was a lucky thing. My class photos from those years all show me looking into the camera self-consciously, obviously ill at ease with my frilly dress and the proximity of my peers. I was good at all the academic parts of…

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