Jay Beeler

Last month I had the opportunity to hear radio personality Larry Elder express his views on politics and his life experiences, thanks to a BBQ invitation from Long Beach Area Republicans member Dorothy Kistler. Normally I avoid getting in the middle of the political discourse due to its volatility – right up there with religion – but it was enlightening to hear his views.


Elder’s radio show can be heard locally on KRLA-AM (The Answer 870), which used to be my favorite station for rock and roll music in the late 1960s.

As a libertarian (he prefers the lower-case “L”) who is also labeled a conservative, Elder enthralled his audience of several hundred dinner attendees with comparisons between the Obama and Trump administrations that predictably leaned to the right.

Elder has published several books, such as “Double Standards,” on politics, “Ten Things You Can’t Say” and “Dear Father/Dear Son,” which described the relationship he had with his father, whom he thought to be a “mean, harsh, ill-tempered guy” who started a café in Los Angeles when Larry was 12 years old. He was expected to work for his dad but did not like it because he would get yelled at and embarrassed in front of the customers.

At age 15 he got sick and tired of the way his dad spoke to him. “The next time he yelled at me I decided to walk out,” Elder told the audience. His dad was furious. Elder said that thereafter they did not engage in a meaningful conversation for the next ten years.

After graduating from Crenshaw High School (he called it a “Crip” school) Elder went on to get a BA degree in political science in 1974 from Brown University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1977. Following graduation, he practiced litigation at a “high end” Cleveland law firm making good money.

But Larry Elder could not sleep with the long-standing personal divide between him and his dad.

So off to Los Angeles he flew to vent his pent-up feelings. “I spoke non-stop for 25 minutes about all he did to me. I was drained and had nothing left,” he said. His dad responded, “Is that it?”

The father started by telling Larry that Elder was not the real last name of his father. “Elder” was one of the many alcoholics who lived with his mother. “A new boyfriend came along and they threw me out of the house at age 13,” his father said. “I took all kinds of jobs. I became a Pullman porter. After Pearl Harbor I had to go where the action was. I loved those uniforms, so I joined the Marines and was stationed in Guam.”

Elder’s father went on to describe a hard life of working multiple jobs with little sleep, cleaning toilets and being a short-order cook, decade after decade, to support his family.

The conversation took eight hours. “My dad got bigger and bigger in my eyes and I got smaller and smaller. We were both crying. I said ‘Dad, I’m just so sorry.’”

His father left Larry with the message that “Hard work wins. You get out of life what you put into it. Bad things will happen to you and how you respond determines – for your mother and me – if we raised a man.”

On his website,, Larry refers to himself as “The Sage from South Central.” Like father, like son.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Copyright 2019 Beeler & Associates.

All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced or transmitted – by any means – without publisher's written permission.