Jay Beeler

Another year, another Christmas gone forever, but not totally forgotten.

I do remember one Christmas party conversation wherein the gentleman said he had a discussion with Congressman Alan Lowenthal about a specific problem that could be resolved through federal legislation. But that, he claimed, could only be resolved after a campaign contribution was made.

Say what? A Democratic member of Congress expecting “quid pro quo”! Don’t believe for a nanosecond that your elected officials – from the top on down – don’t engage in “baksheesh,” the Middle Eastern term for political corruption or bribery.

I first heard the word in the 1980s in conjunction with payments my neighbor friend would have to make to foreign governments to allow the Yellow Pages to be sold in the Philippines, Middle East and Africa. About that same time U.S. airplane manufacturers were chastised by the feds for engaging in the same practice in competition with the French-made Airbus.

My point is that nothing has changed over the past few centuries and that “horse trading” exists at all levels of businesses, governments and even on the family level. This will continue unbridled with or without impeachments because it’s simply a common sense activity.


Another Christmas party conversation was with Mark Thompson, who wrote a book about an Italian boy who was raised by nuns during World War II. We’ve all heard the stories about how strict the nuns can be and there’s plenty of examples in the book – “Sinatra’s Tailor” – about Umberto Autore having to drop his non-tailored trousers to receive punishments.

East side residents will know the Umberto name from the mens store situated next to Hof’s Hut on Bellflower Boulevard. Although he tailored for Frank Sinatra and Steven Spielberg after immigrating to the United States at 18 years old, the book focuses on those early orphanage years before Umberto learned – as a teenager – that he actually had brothers and a sister.

“While World War II stories are naturally captivating, what separates this one from others is the spirited writing – Umberto’s playful personality radiating thanks to author Mark Thompson’s deft style. The likability of the title character and the quick pace of the story will make you look forward to every page,” said Miles Ryan Fisher, editor-in-chief, Italian-America magazine, the most widely-read magazine in the U.S. for people of Italian heritage.

“Sinatra’s Tailor – An Italian Immigrant’s Story” is a quick read of 248 pages peppered with Italian words and phrases, so that Latin class in junior high school helped. It is available for purchase at bookstores, directly from the publisher, Aakenbaaken & Kent and online at Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble.

You can meet author Mark Thompson and greet the title character, Umberto, at a talk and book-signing event on Saturday, Jan. 11, 12:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, in the Towne Center.


Finally, as we bid farewell to 2019 and welcome 2020, we fondly remember our deceased co-workers, Sean Belk and Gwen (Parker) Depaz. Reporter Sean, 36, died in a Bluff Heights automobile accident in January and reminded us that seat belts do save lives.

Retired advertising executive Gwen, 66, had a litany of medical issues and died in mid-February. Never before did we get a voice mail recording stating, “Jay, I’m dying.” And within 24 hours she was gone.

New Year’s resolutions are often made this time of year. Those two deaths serve to remind us to frequently tell our family and friends how much we love and care about them.

On the other hand, the litany of political ads by Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg need to die a fast death. So, my second 2020 resolution is to keep the TV remote nearby for pushing the mute button. Hopefully both billionaires will be gone from our airways soon and be too poor to try again.

My third resolution is to take full advantage of 2020 hindsight. After all, it has served me well for more than seven decades by adding the cautionary phrase “I ain’t never doing that again!”


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