Who is Marie Beynon Ray?

In last week’s column, I waxed nostalgic about snow–the big snows of my childhood and the infrequent snow of my adulthood.
And I quoted Marie Beynon Ray: “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand–and melting like a snowflake.”
Now the snow is gone, and all I have is a memory and a question: Just who is Marie Beynon Ray?
I found the quote in a half-finished column about snow. A column begun years ago, so I had no idea where the quote came from.
But I wanted to know about this wise woman. When did she live? Is she still living today? What else did she write? Or was it just a single quote from an important woman?
So my research project this week was “Marie Beynon Ray.”
I found hundreds of websites referencing her important quotes, but little biographical information.
I did find that she was a prolific writer, writing books on a wide range of topics, from “Doctors of the Mind: A History of Psychology” to “How Never to Be Tired” to “The Five-Minute Dessert, A Cookbook by a Non-cook for Non-cooks.”
She also wrote magazine articles, and was editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Her husband, Oscar W. Ray, was an inventor and a successful businessman.
As for when she lived, I found only two clues: 1). Her books were written between the 1930s and 1960s. 2). Her daughter Ruth Ray, a noted artist, was born in 1919.
Sadly, all of her books are out-of-print. So I was delighted to find “Doctors of the Mind: A History of Psychology” in an online library. But when I tried to download the book, I realized it was an Australian website and only Australians were welcome!
Finally, I found a condensed article on fitness in Reader’s Digest, reprinted from a 1933 Collier’s magazine.
For this article, Ray interviewed Joseph Pilates (1880-1967), who introduced the popular Pilates system of exercises. She quotes Pilates as saying, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
Pilates once said, “I’m 50 years ahead of my time.” And the same was true of Marie Beynon Ray.
Long before the current exercise craze, she suggested that if you want to look younger, forget about face-lifts and just exercise.
“It isn’t the face that grows old first,” she wrote. “It’s the body, which slumps and sags and develops the middle-aged spread and the housekeeper’s droop.”
Of all the many books and articles that Marie Beynon Ray wrote more than half-a-century ago, this article was all I could find.
You could say she is forgotten. But how can you say that when two of her inspirational quotes are mentioned on hundreds—even thousands—of websites in many languages. Two quotes that will increase the quality of life for any person who chooses to follow their advice:
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand–and melting like a snowflake.”
And “No one grows old by living, only by losing interest in living.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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