Irving Berlin - Lew Beech

One of our most notable residents was Irving Berlin who wrote "White Christmas" and many other songs that are recognized by everyone. Until last year White Christmas was  the largest selling song ever. Below the story is my experience with Irving Berlin.

The Irving Berlin Story - by Harold Van Aken

I knew of Irving Berlin in Lew Beech when I went to High school in the 50's and 60's but he was always sort of a recluse and nobody really knew him because his house was quite isolated and he didn't socialize with too many locals. He was mentioned with others such as Kaplan, the diamond cutter, but he was "out of reach" of most people in the Manor and very few got to know them.

Fast forward to 1963 when I worked for Alan Gerry in Liberty. I was fixing TV's and worked on his cable system during the summers. I was working at home repairs when I got a call (from Alan himself) to go up to Irving Berlin's in Lew Beech to see if I could do anything to get him better TV reception. He had a line that ran close to a half-mile on the mountain behind his house and got very poor reception. I spent most of the day there and put in the latest line boosters that were available at the time and fixed up his line. His reception was drastically improved and he was thrilled. In fact he was so happy that he said he had a color TV (remember 1963) that he didn't want because he didn't like the color. He said "take it - I don't want it". I'm not sure how much they cost at the time but I happily took it home and used it for many years. He found out that I was a fisherman and my Father worked for the fish hatchery and he invited me up several time to fish in his private stocked pond/stream for fishing. I had invited him up to fish in the Willowemoc (Mike Friedman's hole) and we were all set to go but he became ill and couldn't make it so we never did it.

So this is my claim to fame with probably the best-known person in the world.

You might ask that if I worked for Alan Gerry why am I not rich and retired. I remember after I got out of college and the Air Force, I stopped in to see him and he invited me to come and work with him on his cable system (1969) and I told him I wanted to go into industry where there were more opportunities for advancement. Well --- the rest is history.

How some more stories about Irving - I'm sure I'm not the only one who got to meet him


and more ....

That is a very nice item on Irving Berlin!  I remember one day when I went sort of AWOL from Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp and hiked down that washed out old track that ran down past his house. The last building I saw at Beech Mountain was one of the creosote-stained cabins up where the rifle range used to be, and then, a couple of miles later, on the right hand side, if I remember correctly, was this white house that snapped me back to reality.  My immediate reaction was that it was WAY too fancy to be "ordinary people" living up at the end of a dirt road. I didn't meet him.  I didn't meet anybody.  I just turned around and walked back up the trail to Beech Mountain, and nobody had missed me. Later, somebody told me that was Irving Berlin's house.  But what did a 13 y.o. know about Irving Berlin in 1954?


Geoff Brown

My sister used to be picked up several times a week by Berlin's chauffer to be taken to his estate to play with his granddaughter...I remember the 'limousine' very well, an old, wood-paneled station wagon.

Bill Merritt

Yes, Harry Ackerly was the driver and my father Ray Banks always use to drive Mr. and Mrs. Berlin a lot of
places. He also drove their children and grandchildren.


Good evening Friends,
Does anyone in the group happen to remember the Irving Berlin review that one of our upper classes held at LMCS some years ago. What a superb performance this class did. The music was wonderful and I know everyone attending loved every moment. What I remember best about the evening was when, I believe Helen Steinman (Please forgive me Helen for my poor spelling) who served as MC, at the end of the performance and the curtain closed the announcement she made "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Mr. Irving Berlin". Mr. Berlin stood up from the very middle of the audience. I don't know how many people knew he was among us that evening but I'll never forget how everyone was so moved by his appearance there.
Wayne Levitt

I do wonder though just where did Irving Berlin live? Can his house be seen as you drive out on Shin Creek Rd? I was wondering if it was that large old one set back in off the right side of the road as you head out (east I guess). on Shin Creek Rd.  The road heads then up a hill and there is a high fence on the rt. so you can't see much anymore. Look like there is an old water wheel and mill there as well. (if not then whose house is/was this one?) This house is quite large and I'd say a very early one.