Dear Mr. Goldberg,
Or may I call you . Bernie?
"Crazies to my Left - Wimps to my Right" --- what a GREAT READ! Yours
is a wonderful and refreshingly "right on" commentary on our sick culture today. Your personal history rings amazingly and personally true with me also.
Your writing caused me to laugh often, and I also cried from renewed common or similar-to-my-own-gut remembrances . and I heard myself adding at almost every page . "Yeah, Bernie just said it really good! Damn-it YEAH! Damn it. That's it!".
Thanks Bernie. You raised my blood pressure and lowered my heart rate!
Some days that is good ... other days, the other way around is best ... but you are good for the heart and the mind every day.
Now you have invaded our most private bedroom, as often I read your
book out-loud to my [trophy] wife- Pati. We were married 48 years ago and she is today, still a knockout! [Of course, that declared "knockout" status naturally comes from living with me and joyously renewing her unique wifely position to and for me, for all these excitingly fantastic years! I assume you know how these things come about.]
Bernie, our paths almost crossed in Miami yers ago. I was a few years before you at Ch 4. We likely did walk down the same halls at Channel 4-WTVJ-CBS [at the then renovated Capitol Theater Building] in the old business district near downtown Miami. Could that be right?
During 1955-56 I was in high school working weekends and summertime at Channel 4 WTVJ in Miami . I think that was a few years before you were
there, following your college years at Rutgers. I later attended Florida
State University and WTVJ was forever out of my life. But a short and memorable season in pioneer Miami TV. I grew up in "old Miami" and in "the old Grove".SW 25th St, Shenandoah Elementary, 62nd Ct, Ponce de Leon Jr Hi, and La Playa Blvd in the old Coconut Grove known then as "the Village" from 1938 to 1963. My should-be-sainted [divorced] mother came to Miami alone [late 1938] with her four very young children [I was the youngest @ age 1] as she quickly took up secretarial work opportunities at the Pan American Airways -Dinner Key "Clipper-ship" seaplane base in Coconut Grove. Soon WWII "war-plant-factory work duties" then led to post WWII friendships with then current Pan American Airline executive bigwigs. My beautiful and vivacious [now VERY single] mother never re-married as most of her special man friends were themselves already married. She later settled upon a wonderful and gracious single man, but never married him either. She was an especially socially attractive persona in every way possible and also attractive to the locally connected corporate and social upper-class Gentry. Hers' is another and separate fantastic "great story". Of such was my
background and heritage.
In the mid 1950s I was a crew-cut high school kid from "the Grove", [living in a rented and rather dated house three blocks from Coconut Grove's typically called "Colored-Town" which included Booker T Washington High School] but I was gerrymandered to the brand new Coral Gables High School, due to the total race segregation of the day. Serious and excellent College prep was my surprise portion. Meanwhile, my mother's best friend was Aunt Shirley, [a co-worker at the PanAm executive secretarial pool] and an equally aggressive and beautiful blonde gal [who soon did marry a very rich industrialist]. but my mother - "Tudi's" other best friend was Miss Gussie Burris, a young Black cleaning woman who shared her life and her innermost dreams [whilst cleaning and ironing my jeans and shirts] with her now best and dearest friend, my-ought-to-be-sainted-mother - the radical and free-spirited Ms. Tudi Woodhull. My mother modeled and taught me that true friendships and the heart of God was mostly about loving and valuing every person, and ignore what the neighbors think. It was a timeless and forever learned moment for me. For THAT was how God gets his Truth to people. Through real people in real circumstances. Your folks apparently did the same. Let those with eyes and ears, see and hear. Happy Mother's Day ladies!
In the summer of 1956 I worked in the WTVJ stage prop room and on the stage floor [behind the camera as a local TV Stage Mgr] for Ralph Renicke, Chuck Zink, Jim Dooley and the other [pioneer] local Miami TV talents of the mid-1950s. During my high school senior year [1955-56] I was the designated WTVJ Saturday night telephone switchboard operator [Sat 11pm to 7am Sunday morning], therefore was the only weekend night watchman for WTVJ. If on any given weekend night, the evil
Russians did bomb us [those were the days of backyard bomb shelters] our Government required that someone be ready to turn the TV station
transmitter back-on and play the pre-recorded "ATTENTION ! We are under attack" tape. "Stay tuned to WTVJ for reports and instructions from the government". We all knew it was a crock and a thoroughly useless enterprise. Just who was up at 3am starrring at the TEST SCREEN?
But it was our government bureaucrats in their majestic best action mode.
And it gave me a needed job and source of income!
Even I knew this was a silly government regulation. My actual job was to say good-night to the "Late Nite Movie" sound room crew, re-lock all the
exterior doors [re-checking same every hour or so and then stand sleepy
guard at the WTVJ lobby telephone switchboard, vigilantly poised to immediately answer THE CALL from Washington DC. Meanwhile, all the TV screens in Miami went to the famous fuzzy-static-snow filled rotating Test Screen .until the 6am local news, sports and weather folks reappeared. The CBS network feed followed and the world was only then ready for another day.
Little did the world know that Alec Woodhull had been at the switchboard
[and hovering over The Switch] all night, watching and listening for word
confirming trouble from the Russians Bombers or local Bad-Guys! Actually I hoped something would happen so I could call the Miami Police or the station manager . as it was really scary inside the darkened downtown building - what with creaking floors and rattles from outside or was it from INSIDE? And it was increasingly so as the darkness and my lonely wait for dawn continued. Very rarely would the phone ring . usually a wrong number, a local hooker seeking a late night-very early morning trick, or my brother-in-law [a wounded Korean War combat veteran] and/or selected favorite others of my high school buddies, willing to secretly join me in my lonely vigil. Nothing exciting ever happened. But I did get to read some good books and start to appreciate life issues, which started my thinking about things beyond [here's a paradox] my 1950s Happy Daze World or my highly personal heartbreaking challenges of my family [Momma's] health issues and resulting economic circumstances.
Bernie, our personal life timing was somewhat different . only a few of the
external situations matched, but internally and emotionally you were writing about - I lived again - key parts of my story. And you told your story [therefore, OUR story] with grace and humor as only a fellow-journeyman could do. I am grateful and blessed by your work. .
Best wishes for you and to all near and dear to you.
Alec [and Pati] Woodhull
3725 Day Road, Rockford, TN 37853
PS. We all live with serious and very dynamic tensions as we try to help
make sense of all things as we do live among and between the Crazies and the Wimps. Thanks again for your very broad-based treatise. You spoke Truth at many levels, and many of us are very appreciative and grateful for your excellent work.
Bernie, What is next?
Please write and speak more.
America needs you!