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Tue, May 20, 2003

Coffee, Tea, or... WHAT?

Trudy Baker + Rachel Jones = Don Bain?

Another fantasy bites the dust: the 1967 cult classic, Coffee, Tea, or Me?, by "Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones," wasn't, in fact, written by them. The two women, who traveled the country promoting the book, weren't even really named Trudy Baker Rachel Jones. That little deception can be overlooked; the loss of a favorite, long-held fantasy is harder to deal with.

There was a lot of truth, we believed, in the pages of Coffee, Tea, or Me?, as the two Eastern Airlines stewardesses partied around and generally brought smiles to the business-class men who comprised the majority of air travelers at the time. There is one bit of actual, real truth, though, that gave us a clue to the real author's identity and also shows how little attention anyone (other than those named) pays to book dedications. A thank-you was given "To Don Bain, without whom this book wouldn't have been possible;" and that's the truth: Don Bain wrote the book.

Joe Sharkey, writing in the New York Times, notes that the work, originally published by Bartholomew House, will be reissued in June by Penguin Books. He wrote, "In the new edition, Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones are still listed as the authors -- though this time the words 'With Donald Bain' appear below theirs."

Bain also noted to Sharkey that one of the "stews" eventually changed her name, to coincide with her promotional efforts. Most of the book, Sharkey reports, came out of Bain's head.

By the way, Bain dedicated the book's sequels, and a half-dozen other, similar (but non-stewardess) books, to himself. As Sharkey reported, Bain said, "They're all dedicated to me... I always wondered if somebody was going to look at them all and say, 'Who is this guy who all these young women are dedicating books to?'"

Nobody, it seems, reads those dedications.

FMI: www.donaldbain.com; www.penguinputnam.com

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