1919 , - ( - www.monaraemiracle.com)
Norma Jean with Bernice Miracle (her sister) Norma Jean with Bernice Miracle (her sister) Norma Jean with Bernice Miracle (her sister) Norma Jean with Bernice Miracle (her sister) Norma Jean with Bernice Miracle (her sister)
Norma Jean with Bernice Miracle (her sister) and friend Norma Jean with Bernice Miracle (her sister) and friend
      Berniece and Marilyn at Santa Monica beach ,       Berniece, Marilyn, holding Mona Rae and Gladys at Santa Monica beach
Berniece, Marilyn, holding Mona Rae and Gladys at Santa Monica beach with Bernice Miracle BirthdayCard from Norma Jean to Bernice from Norma Jean to Bernice
     - Bernice Miracle, Monroe"s sister.  -
       Berniece likes to shop with a stuffed animal in her buggy Berniece Baker Miracle e Mona Rae Miracle, My Sister Marilyn
Berniece Baker Miracle e Mona Rae Miracle, My Sister Marilyn Berniece Baker Miracle e Mona Rae Miracle, My Sister Marilyn Berniece Baker Miracle e Mona Rae Miracle, My Sister Marilyn    
Berniece Baker Miracle

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


My Sister Marilyn


I remember waiting at the train station in Detroit for Marilyn to appear that first time of course, then she was still Norma Jeane. We had been writing to each other over the years and had exchanged pictures, but we had never met face to face. Shed told me shed be wearing a cobalt blue suit and a hat with a heart-shaped brim, but I worried that I wouldnt recognize her when she stepped off the train.

There was no missing her! She stood out immediately from all the rest of the passengers, so tall and pretty and fresh. We were excited to finally meet, and we couldnt stop staring at each other. We had the same dark blond hair with a widows peak, the same mouth, but our eyes were differentmine are brown and Norma Jeanes were blue like our mothers. I was so happy to have a sister. And so proud.

But when I was growing up I didnt even know if my mother was still alive. And I didnt find out about Norma Jeane until she was twelve and I was nineteen.

Kentucky, 1923

Four-year-old Berniece Baker clutches the cold steel rail of the bridge. The wind flails strands of her blond hair against her face like tiny whips. She squints her eyelids against the wind and watches the two women nearby. One is her stepmother. One is her mother by blood.

The stepmother, bony and dark-haired, leans with the stiffness of middle age. The wind blows her straight-cut bangs away from her forehead, revealing deep frown lines. At twenty-three, the other woman has the unlined face of a girl. The animation of her petite body matches the erratic energy of the wind, The child watches this young flaxen-haired stranger gesture angrily and turn on her heel. Her shoulders grow smaller and disappear below the crest of the bridge.

The gaunt older woman turns and stoops, folding her arms about the child for a long moment. She takes the childs hand, and together they tread across the rough planks of the bridge, their shoes making faint hollow taps, the taps carried away by the wind.

Gladys Monroe Baker, the young fair-haired stranger, disappears just as mysteriously as she had appeared in the lives of her ex-husband Jasper Baker, her daughter Berniece, her son Jackie, and Jaspers wife Maggie. As time passes, year after year without a word, the family will wonder if she is still alive. But Gladyss incredible energy and anger simply propel her from Kentucky back to California with a determination to resume her life there anew.

At the film lab where she works, Gladys meets a co-worker with whom she has much in common. Grace Atchinson McKee, age twenty-nine, is also divorced, also a film cutter. The two become best friends and roommates. Their arrangement lasts until Gladys, at the urging of her mother, accepts the proposal of Edward Mortensen. They are married on October 11, 1924. On the marriage certificate, Edward lists his name as Martin E. Mortensen; his age as twenty-seven; his occupation, meterman; his birthplace, California; his marital status, divorced. Gladys lists her age as twenty-two, although she is actually twenty-four.

On May 27, 1926, Gladyss mother Della (widowed in 1909 when Gladyss father, Otis Elmer Monroe died, and now married to Charles Grainger), dispatches a picture postcard to Kentucky from Borneo, where her engineer husband is on assignment. Addressing that card to Berniece, and evidently unaware that Gladys had broken contact with the child, Della writes:

Dear little Berniece, This is the kind of big snakes they have here. They are big enough they could swallow you and Jackie and so could the alligators. They have lots of fun here hunting them. This is your mothers birthday. Do you and Jackie ever write to her, write to me. Your Grand Mother Mrs. Chas. Grainger

Five days later on June 1, Gladys gives birth to her second daughter, Norma Jeane Mortenson. (Though Gladyss husbands name appears as Mortensen on their marriage certificate, on Norma Jeanes birth certificate the spelling has changed slightly.) On the birth certificate, Gladys indicates that this is her third child but falsely states that it is the only living one. Mortensons address is listed as unknown, his occupation as that of baker. He has left Gladys before the birth and disappeared.

Gladys is completely without means. Norma Jeane was born in a charity ward, and Gladys must find someone to care for her infant daughter so she can return to work. Dellas neighbors in nearby Hawthorne, California, agree to board Norma Jeane. Gladys pays Albert Wayne Bolender and his wife Ida twenty-five dollars a month.

Gladys visits Norma Jeane on weekends and takes her for outings, including sleepovers at her apartment in Los Angeles. When Della returns to Hawthorne, ill with malaria, often delirious, suffering fevers and delusions, she is unable to care for Norma Jeane. So the boarding arrangement continues. Norma Jeane is fourteen months old when Della dies at age fifty-one in August 1927. Gladys handles the details and expenses of Dellas funeral, placing Dellas grave alongside that of her first husband.

Norma Jeane begins kindergarten at Washington Avenue School in Hawthorne. Her closest companion is Lester, a foster child of the Bolenders, whom they eventually adopt. Norma Jeane is healthy, strong, athletic, and keeps pace with Lester in their backyard contests. As she builds memories, she banks the fond affection of the Bollenders, the delight she feels wearing the fancy dresses that Ida sews for her, and a sense of accomplishment as she takes piano lessons. Her lifelong love of animals begins with her mutt Tippy. She suffers terrible grief when Tippy is shot by a neighbor.

In the fall of 1933, Gladys realizes a dream she has worked toward with endless overtime hours. After scrimping for seven years, she has finally saved enough money for a down payment on a home for herself and Norma Jeane, a two-story house near the Hollywood Bowl. To help meet expenses, she rents rooms to a British couple and their grown daughter, all movie stand-ins. Norma Jeane, who is seven, now transfers to Selma Avenue School. Gladyss special gift to Norma Jeane is a piano to call her very own, a black Franklin grand, once owned by Frederic March.

Gladyss friend Grace McKee advises Gladys not to buy the house because their future at the film lab is insecure. And Graces forebodings are borne out. Recent years have been stressful for Gladys divorce, desertion, the death of her mother, separation from two of her children, the frustration of dead-end dating, the toll of working overtime, and now a strike at her company just when she has taken on the huge financial obligation of a home. The accumulated stress results in a breakdown.

Gladys must be hospitalized and is diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Grace takes responsibility for handling Gladyss affairs, becoming guardian for both Gladys and Norma Jeane. Graces sister and brother-in-law, Enid and Sam Knebelkamp, and her aunt Ana Lower help care for Norma Jeane. Gladyss house is sold and the furniture auctioned off, but Ana Lower buys Norma Jeanes piano to hold in safekeeping for her.

Grace is responsible for handling Gladyss company insurance money, and, as Gladyss illness continues beyond the term of coverage, Grace must transfer her from the hospital to a state institution. It becomes apparent that Gladys is not going to recover in the near future, making it necessary for Grace to place Norma Jeane in the Los Angeles County Childrens Home. Grace promises to honor Gladyss plea that Norma Jeane neither be adopted nor taken out of the state of California.

When nine-year-old Norma Jeane moves to the childrens home on September 13, 1935, she must once again transfer to a new school, this time Vine Elementary. Norma Jeane remains at the childrens home until Graces circumstances improve. She leaves on June 26, 1937, at the age of eleven, to live in the home of Aunt Grace and her new husband Erwin C. Goddard. Doc Goddard is an engineer and amateur inventor. He is divorced, with custody of his three young children. Norma Jeanes siblings now include Docs daughter Bebe, age nine; son Fritz (John), age seven; and a daughter Josephine, age five. A family of Persian cats and a spaniel round out the large, active household. Norma Jeane attends Sawtelle Elementary, and then Emerson Junior High School.

The echo of staccato, syncopated taps fills the cavernous three story stairwell. Blond-haired sixteen-year-old Berniece Baker clatters down the steps of Pineville High School in Kentucky, improvising a tap dance. Below, her audience leaps and shrieks. Niobe Miracle and two other friends are enthusiastic and raucous.

Berniece lands in a split at the bottom of the stairs. The girls clap wildly. Berniece grins, breathless. They haul her up, laughing, and bounce together through the open back doors, not really worried that the principal may be striding down the corridor to investigate this explosion a half hour after school has been dismissed. The principal has heard this noise before. In the spring, she will smile to find the thundering energy transformed into a song-and-dance routine performed to the popular tune College Rhythm.

I won First Prize in the talent show that year. I wore black slacks and a white satin blouse, copied from a movie I had seen. I didnt stick to the steps I had been rehearsing, but it was pretty good, and the audience loved it. I was thrilled with my five dollars prize money. I thought it was a fortune! So did everybody else in 1935.

College Rhythm tinkles out of radios from coast to coast. Three thousand miles away another slim blond girl, this one just eleven years old but equally interested in music and mirrors, is groping through some confusing times after her move from an orphanage in Los Angeles to the home of her mothers best friend Grace and Graces new husband. Norma Jeane finds that listening to music lifts her spirits. Hearing tunes spun by the disc jockeys over and over again gives a pattern to her days, a pleasant order and familiarity.

She wonders if she will be allowed to resume the piano lessons that stopped abruptly when her mother became ill. It would be nice to get beyond the keyboard exercise books and play something like the popular tunes on the radio. Like College Rhythm.

Going to the movies on Saturdays becomes Norma Jeanes favorite pastime and, as she enters adolescence, fantasy life fills her private moments. She experiments with makeup for hours, and she acts out roles she has seen in films. Yet she has more success at school with athletics than with acting. Norma Jeane wins a track medal but is not cast in a play, although she does perform in a talent show.

Paris Miracle and Berniece escape the monotony of school one rainy day, squeezing into the back seat with a carful of noontime hamburger stand seekers. I have a ring for you, whispers Paris. A tiny blue box materializes. Paris opens it, slips out a solitaire, and twists it onto Bernieces finger. Bernieces reply is lost among the screams of the cars teenagers, as the driver makes a 360-degree skid on the rain-slick mountain road.

Back at school, Pariss sister Niobe attempts to scratch the window of their home economics classroom to discover if Bernieces ring is a genuine diamond.

When Norma Jeane has lived a year and a half with the Goddards, Gladyss condition begins to improve. She shows some interest in the outside world and begins a fragile renewal of goals. Gladyss first goal is to reestablish contact with Berniece and to encourage her to correspond with Norma Jeane. A dramatic new element will be added to Norma Jeanes life, one that will enchant her as a blend of reality and fantasy. Gladys has asked Grace to reveal to Norma Jeane that she has a sister.
Berniece Inez Gladys Baker (born July 30, 1919 in Venice, California) is famous for being the half-sister of Marilyn Monroe.

Their mother Gladys was married three times. By her first husband "Jap" Baker, she had Berniece and her brother Robert, both born in Los Angeles County, California. Berniece"s father, kidnapped her and her brother after their mother, Gladys, divorced him. Berniece grew up in Kentucky, and married Paris Miracle on October 7, 1938; their only child, Mona Rae, was born on July 18, 1939.

Meanwhile, Gladys after a short time in Kentucky, returned to Los Angeles where she married a second time, and eventually gave birth to Marilyn Monroe.

Berniece did not know she had another sibling until she was 19 after receiving a letter from Gladys; they met for the first time in 1944. Berniece worked for many years at the University of Florida. Her and Mona Rae"s book, My Sister Marilyn (1994), not only shed new light on their famous relation, but on the family"s history of mental illness.

My Sister Marilyn, Miracle, Berniece Baker and Mona Rae Baker. Publisher: Algonquin Books; first edition (1994) Hardcover: 238 pages ISBN 1565120701 fiction

*External links
Mona Rae Miracle"s web site
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berniece_Baker_Miracle"
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