Monthly Archives: January 2011

A picnic? You mean today?

After having struck out on my own — trying to survive by publishing my own weekly newspaper in suburban Chicago, I returned to the Meadow City, in 1964.

My smartest decision: re-enroll at Highlands University, the institution I had left five years earlier, following grades less than many-splendored. Pell Grants and lottery scholarships hadn’t been invented yet, so most students took a part-time job.

There was an opening at Groth’s Grocery on 10th Street in Las Vegas. I’d long been aware of the family name, my having been a classmate of Jane Groth at Immaculate Conception School. But I found out the elder Groths, Ed and Emma, no longer owned the neighborhood store; they sold it to an Ignacio Flores, and the Groths had taken jobs at the Highlands Bookstore. Groth’s Grocery, familiar to many, became the last place that delivered groceries. People like former HU President Thomas Donnelly, Dr. H.M. Mortimer and J.S. Torres would call in their food orders, and by noon get home delivery. Continue reading

He hasn’t been assassinated yet

An exchange, ongoing for years, has caused me to run for the dictionaries, all because of a single word: assassinate.

Bruce Wertz, a clerk for the Las Vegas City Schools, has assured me he’s still alive by giving me an unusual answer as to his health. I’ll ask, “How you doing, Bruce?”

Invariably, he replies, “I’m OK. I haven’t been assassinated this week.” Then he tacks this on: “And if I had been, I wouldn’t be telling you about it now.” Really?

Let me digress:

I had a friend who once asked me, “Are you on the wagon?” Well, yes and no. It’s like asking, “Have you stopped beating your wife? Give a simple yes or no, please.” Continue reading

Sweatin’ to the newbies

It’s around this time of the year when people’s visits to doctors increase. And doctors often say such an increase is expected around the holidays. We overeat.

‘Twas the season to gormandize on turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, yams and the full spectrum of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s edibles.

It’s impossible to visit anyone this season without being offered bizcochitos, usually made with real lard. On that note, I had a couple of visitors/relatives from California, who wanted to browse the Bridge Street area around Christmas. That was several years ago, when my friend Pete DuMont opened a bookstore-coffee shop on the south side of Bridge. My two guests inquired as to the ingredients. “We try our best not to consume any lard at all,” one of them pontificated.

Pete walked them to the front of the store. “See those viejitas on the sidewalk?” he asked, pointing to what looked like a church crowd, average age 80. They looked fit. “I’ll bet every one of them had lard in their diets most of their lives. And I’ll bet each of them eats bizcochitos made with pure lard.” Continue reading

Tell me model, make and year

As a child, I’d spend a lot of time waiting for my dad to get off work at B.M. Werley Auto Co., then the Ford Dealership on Grand Avenue.

I knew all the front-office staff and most of those in the garage. Remember, in those days, new cars were guaranteed to break at least once on being driven for the first time. That kept the backshop full and the crew busy.

In the front were my dad, J.D., the owner, B.M. Werley and his son Jack, Ross Bancroft and Jess Gallegos. Once, in the parts department, in front, I noticed a typed poem that Jess or Ross had taped near the cash register.

It read in part:

I work behind the counter of an automotive store;
Sometimes I’m called a genius; sometimes I’m called much more.

It ended with: Continue reading