Celebrating the life and work of Cape Cod writer, historian and character, Noel Beyle
He took some time in late 1979 to reflect on his methods. In an interview with The Register, Samuel Howe thought that, with all the demands made of people to read (imagine that, even then), “his work must be more than read.” Beyle knowingly responded, “the concept is simple: to make sure that some of the old and new about Cape Cod is caught and put down on high quality paper—whether it takes just the right typewritten word, an old scrapbook picture, or a catchy cartoon.” He didn’t have to go looking for humor. Invariably, it found him.
Still, given the efficiency of today’s digital world, it is hard to believe the quality and prodigious output Beyle consistently achieved in the analog world he worked in. He began writing in 1962 on a then state-of-the-art IBM Selectric typewriter and never looked back. He had an email address but rarely used it. He had a beguiling disdain for cell phones. And website? Not on your life!
Much of his success can be attributed to an old-fashioned idea: indomitable work ethic.
In June 1979 he told the Cape Cod Times, “A lot of people don’t think I work… I run around trying to be funny—I’ve been doing that all my life.” He was 38 years old then and worked between 12 and 16-hour days. Back then it was customary for him to personally type 150 or so personal letters to those on his “Friends” list, alerting them to new booklets and thanking them for their financial support. One letter dated February 24, 1982 wished the addressee a “much-belated new year.” That was quintessential Noel Beyle.
Pat Mikulak noted long ago in Cape Cod LIFE that “Beyle is zany…” and that his “forte is play on and with words, so if you’ve gotten to taking life too seriously, we’re sure he’d suggest that you go out and get a Beyle of his books.”
Each quirky one of them is worth a reread or first read in 2019.
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