Published in The Orange County Evening News on Thursday, March 24, 1966 when I was selected as a Youth Day Publisher of the large city newspaper. My older sister recently sent this to me and the first time I read it since it was published. I’m sharing it unedited as part of this blog’s purpose of contributing to my memoir.
I was given an hour to write something for publication by the Publisher. It did create a bit of controversy from the school Student Government. As Editor of the school paper I was challenging them to become more compassionate and responsible and used the opportunity to share my thoughts without mentioned them directly.
Stand Up and Be Counted
“Stand up and be counted,” apparently is becoming easier said than done nowadays.
Sure, everyone was discontent at one time or another, but not everyone has, or will have the initiative to lay down the tracks enabling things to get rolling.
The reactions that I observed from the students that had a part in “putting out” this youth stay issues strengthen my original thoughts, which were, “if you want something done, go ahead and do it yourself.”
But if you don’t want to take the time, then you probably didn’t want it done seriously enough.
Through journalism ideas can not only be expressed, but doubtless projects can be, and will be obtained,
Too many people have too little knowledge or too much conformity.
This is not only evident in big government, but is also sprouting up in student government at local high schools.
Then again, what does a high school student in particular senior, to look forward to after graduation?
Let’s face it, if the senior, in this case a boy, hasn’t already been drafted immediately after his “independence” from education he must have the situation to his growing pains.
The possibility of acquiring a dependable job becomes slimmer I every passing day. Together with this, college requirements are becoming tougher.
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize the type of person one will be as an adult, has a lot to do with the type of education he receives in school, of which high school has a most important part.
Some students “get away” with doing very little schoolwork. Others “get away” with dominating elections by “power clicks.”
If young people, as he occasionally referred to by adults, find it easy to get away with something at an early age, that what will become of them as they mature?
For this reason I’m glad such a thing as Youth Day is offered to many local “adults of tomorrow.”
In this way, maybe, just maybe, these problems can be sought and destroyed before engulfing the young men and women involved.
Such things as the Watts riots might be averted through more publicized announcement showing their discontent and offering suggestions to counter act this feeling of uneasiness between races.
How can the problem be solved if is not known that it needs to be solved? It can’t course.
if a person is been brought up are trained to believe something in youth, to him it is good, and anything else is bad.
The “good guy” always rides a white horse and sings, while the “bad guy” always rides a black course, as a mustache and snarls.
Real-life situations are not that simple and pose confusing problems.
With more chances for students to learn and understand the “outside” world, such as through Youth Day, much of this confusion can be averted.
Recently I was out photographing nature and wildlife and found an unexpected cemetery located in the country. Mature trees, tall grass, brush, and shrubs grew around the stones. Each of the tombstones dates from around the middle to the late 1800s.
With fascination, I have always wandered around graveyards, and especially older ones reading the epitaphs inscribed on a monument, headstone, marker, or memorial that is a message for or a message about the deceased individual or individuals. Usually, they have the deceased’s name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message or prayer details in stone relief. Additionally, I take numerous photographs.
I was admiring the stoneworking artistry of the ornamental carving face of the stone headstones and monuments. As I read the gravestone inscriptions, I imagined who they were and how they lived their lives and what eventually brought them to this cemetery. I considered the drama and tragedy they express.
While walking down the uneven rows of tombstones, I came to one that was not lighted by the sun. By using a pocket mirror to reflect sunlight onto the unlighted stone, I was able to read the inscription. Inscribed on the face of the stone headstone are my name, date of birth, and date of death on the stone relief.
I am nearing completion of my science fiction historical mystery novel, Ancient Alliance, planned for publication in 2020.
On December 15, 1900, mariners in the area claimed they saw a ghost ship crewed with skeletons through the sea fog.
On December 26, 1900, the Hesperus arrived as usual on the lee-side of the main island to find no one waiting on the jetty. There was no light from the tower for the first time since it was built a year before.
Mystified, the skipper sent a man ashore to find out why, and he soon returned with the news that the lighthouse was deserted entirely – all three beds and the front door seem to have been left as if just for a moment. The lamp, throughout, was working correctly, the reflectors were polished brightly, and the oil reservoir was full to the top. In one room, they found a slate where Ducat, the head keeper, had made his last log entry, dated December 15, and timed 9 a.m. But the men had disappeared into thin air.
All remained ominously mysterious. To this day, what happened to the three lighthouse keepers remains one of the sea’s unresolved riddles. Or is there an unimaginable explanation?
After an extensive evaluation process including submission of my writing style and photography ability, I received an email today that I am now one of their freelance contributors & photojournalist for Western Colorado’s leading monthly news magazine for adults 50 and older with over 50,000 readers each month.
My first paid job was in high school taking action photographs of county-wide high school sports events and writing an accompanying brief news report for a large newspaper.
I am currently editing several fiction and nonfiction books and a coffee table photography book with 2020 as the publishing date.
Since I was drafted out of college at the height of the Vietnam War which deterred me from my journalism major, this Freelance Contributor & Photojournalist brings me back full circle to my first passion.
Early Writer – I was writing short stories on an old Underwood typewriter by the time I was four years old. In junior high school, I wrote two plays, Old Glory and Adelante! I was asked to have these play presented to the student body while given some director responsibility.
Avid Reader – I began reading at a very young age. Throughout elementary school, I read novels in class and ditched school to spend hours at the library near my home.
Editor in Chief – I was the editor of both my high school and college newspaper.
Rebel – I created and wrote articles and satire for an ‘underground’ newspaper I had the U.S. Army distribute in Vietnam during my fourteen-month tour of duty. I was nearly court marshaled and ordered to stop after two issues.
Columnist – For several years, I wrote a weekly Southern California newspaper column on diverse subjects.
Magazine Publisher & Editor – I published and edited a monthly literary, photography, and art magazine for several years.
Writers’ Conference Director – I organized and directed two national writers’ conferences in Oregon and Washington.
Writers’ Group & Workshop Instructor – I created and taught numerous writers’ groups and workshops, resulting in publication for some participants.
Many years ago, I was the Publisher and Editor of the Arizona Literary Review, a monthly literary, art, and photography magazine. Today I was sorting through some of my papers for better organization when I found a copy of the June 1992 issue of the magazine. It was a bit of nostalgia to look through Arizona Literary Review.
While looking at this June issue this morning, I valued high-quality literary, art, and photography that people submitted. When I created the magazine, I imagined that it would eventually reach across the country. I had no idea that people as far away as Paris, France would subscribe and send their submissions, including well-established authors. As a writer, artist, and photographer It was a pleasure providing opportunities for contributors to be published, some for the first time. Decades later, I happened to meet a neighbor who reminded me that I published his photography in the first issue of the Arizona Literary Review. This visibility started his professional career, and he became a renown photographer.
I read an article in the issue that I wrote in my column, From the Publisher & Editor titled, I Fell in Love with Marie Antoinette, about imagination, creativity, and sometimes not taking ourselves too seriously. I would like to share this with you in my blog post as I believe there is still some relevance.
When we fall in love, I believe that the latent characters who normally reside passively within our psyche suddenly emerge. Our emotions intensify creating illusions of reality. Romantic songs play “just for us,” and the world revolves around our immediate needs and desires. You know the sense when the flowers are brighter, the air is crisper, and the birds sing sweeter.
With creativity, passion is also aroused and inhibited, equally often without satisfactory resolution. The quality of this relationship to creativity determines how we share our passion. Sometimes it is expressed by writing, photography, painting, dance, or music.
There are moments when I can recall a furtive glance by an inquisitive squirrel; the whooshing sound of wind embracing the tall pines; the distinctive aroma of summer blossoms, and cherished memories for a high school sweetheart. The haunting words and melodic rhythm of the 60s song, We got to get out of this place, revive the indelible melancholy and mania for my 14-month tour of duty in Vietnam. Then these memories vaporize just as suddenly.
My passion is to understand how this lingering tenderness in such sensorial experiences manifests itself in unrestricted drawing, painting, writing, and photography. I feel drawn into and captivated by this intimate involvement with my raw emotions in an undefined desire for creativity.
The arduous process of establishing an authentic relationship with creativity is an intimate, passionate process. Having our work published is a collective external experience. Poetry, fiction, photography, music, dance, and drama caress the heart soul and spirit. As an artist, writer, and photographer I appreciate the creative depth from others who also enjoy these mediums.
Relationships real or imagined are a wealth of resources for story, character, and plot development. Several years ago, I indifferently requested a book on Marie Antoinette through a popular book club. To my astonishment, I identified with her struggles, dreams, losses, adventures, letters, and trauma dramas.
I began writing a historical novel reflecting on the essence of Marie Antoinette. The positive elements of her life and personality that are less known. Sometime during that year, I fell in love with Marie Antoinette and rediscovered my creative passion soon after I published the Arizona Literary Review. Many years earlier as Editor-Chief of my college newspaper I produced the weekly publications with great enthusiasm, but without as much passion.
I believe that we stimulate our inspiration when we experience the unusual in the familiar. In my thirties, at an airline terminal, I sketched on an imaginary drawing pad the divergence of passengers waiting to board a flight. I observed their mannerisms, conversations, and facial features which I committed to memory for later retrieval in one of my novels.
Startled out of my reverie of character sketching, I heard the last few words of my flight’s departure announcement in the loudspeaker. Reaching for my portable art bin, I remembered that the drawings and art supplies were imaginary.
Feeling chagrined, I hurried past all the passengers to the front of the line along the tarmac towards the America West Airlines aircraft so that I could get the window seat that I preferred. At that time no one had assigned seating. Unlike at many airports today, everyone walked along the tarmac and climbed the mobile stairs to board the aircraft.
Consumed with my recent creative energy and overly stimulated imagination, I climbed the portable stairs leading to the aircraft’s forward cabin ahead of the other passengers. On the aircraft at the top of the stairs, a uniformed Flight Attendant politely greeted me and asked to see my airline ticket. With a curious appraisal of me, she suggested that this was not the correct aircraft that I wanted. Trying to nurture me through my confused gaze, she said that the flight I wanted was on the other side of the aircraft.
With a slight half-smile, she pointed to the last of the passengers on my flight who were on the tarmac walking to the other side of the aircraft. I couldn’t help myself I and asked if she was sure that this aircraft was not my flight. Once again, with a measure of infinite patience and smile, she said that she could assure me with absolute confidence that I was not going anywhere on this aircraft.
When I was in my late 20s, I had an unexpected experience with a noted cardiologist that touched my heart and soul. Consider playing this video as you read the post, before or after.
I was the Executive Director of a mental health agency in California. One afternoon the President of the Board of Directors asked to meet with me in my office. Although not uncommon to meet with me, she sounded excited rather her usual calm. After a warm greeting, she said that a close friend of hers was the Director of Cardiology at a major Adult Cardiology and Heart Surgery Hospital. I had recently written and received a large grant for the mental health agency, and she wanted me to meet with the Director of Cardiology and discuss my writing a grant to expand their Adult Cardiology and Heart Surgery departments as soon as possible. That same day I called the Director of Cardiology and scheduled an appointment to meet with him the next day as he was very eager to discuss the possibility of a grant.
I expected an administration staff member to initially offer a tour of the hospital and especially the Department of Cardiology. And then I’d sit down with the Director of Cardiology to casually discuss what the medical needs were, and the time frame for the grant. When I arrived at the 900+ bed hospital, the Director of Cardiology was nervously waiting for me in the lobby. He was exuberant in his appreciation of my willing to write a grant.
He ushered me into a large wood-paneled conference room with many men and women physicians and staff sitting around a large rectangle oak table. The Director motioned for me to sit at the head of the table, as he leaned against a large laminated Anatomy of the Heart Anatomical wall chart.
He introduced me as the Executive Director of a mental health agency who was going to use my grant writing expertise to obtain enough money for expanding the Adult Cardiology & Heart Surgery departments.
“Stephen, please give your presentation to the department heads and staff about how you are going to bring us an abundance of money for the hospital to better serve our patients.”
I must admit I was a bit stunned and not quite prepared to provide a formal presentation. I had also dressed rather casually. I didn’t have any appropriate background information on the hospital’s needs to intelligently address acquiring money through a grant. Not to mention, all the pairs of eyes looking at me with glances and stares representing everything from curiosity, hopefulness, and suspicion.
I took a long pause and a deep breath trying to figure what I could share. I briefly described the process of writing a grant and the large grants that I had written and received for the mental health agency. I explained that I would need more specific information about the needs of the hospital and especially the Adult Cardiology and Heart Surgery departments before I could provide them about what would be involved in the grant and the timeframe.
“Does anyone have a question for Mr. Bruno?”
One physician understandably asked if I had any medical experience. I told him that I was in the medical field with the Army in Vietnam for fourteen months and that I had an experience as a combat medic. An administrator asked about the size of grants and how much governmental red tape was involved. Another physician inquired about the time it took to receive the money once a grant was submitted. A staff member asked if the money had to be returned at the end of the fiscal year if grant money remained. I responded to these and other important questions.
The question and answer process seemed to appease the group who believed I might have the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully write a grant. The Q & A seemed to be a turning point and I began to feel more comfortable. At the end of the meeting, the physicians and staff approached me at the coffee machine sharing that they were appreciative of anything that could be done to make a difference for the Adult Cardiology & Heart Surgery departments. I could feel the compassion and genuine caring that these people had in their excitement for the possibilities of obtaining high tech medical additions and more physicians and staff.
The Director then took me to lunch in the cafeteria and shared a bit about his personal life, his family, how he got involved in cardiology and all that he looked forward to in the future. I grew fond of him and respected and valued his commitment to compassionate service for more than four decades. His heartfelt caring for all the patients was refreshing. In some ways, he reminded me of Dr. Schweitzer and his commitment to patients.
After lunch, he gave me a thorough tour of the entire hospital while introducing me as a cardiology Savior to each medical staff much to my embarrassment and probably theirs. The Director’s energy, enthusiasm, and excitement for the medical possibilities was contagious. I too began to feel the same way and couldn’t wait to learn more and get started on the grants.
When we came to the Cardiology and Heart Surgery departments, the Director became more reflective and serious. He described some of the situations of cardiac issues he handled with patients. It was clear that he still felt deep emotions about the people who did not survive their surgery and his elation for those who went on to lead a lengthy fulfilled life after surgery. I’m not sure if it was more my commitment to him or the hospital in general that inspired me to want to write the best grant that I had ever prepared.
Before I left the Cardiology and Heart Surgery department, I hesitantly mentioned to him that I had experienced some symptoms he described with his previous patients, that had me concerned about my own heart and that I never had a thorough cardiology exam.
“Since you are going to write a grant for us the least we can do is to provide you with a thorough cardiac examination without any fee. I will personally perform the tests and examination along with our best technicians.”
He asked me to return in the afternoon the next day to begin the exam and tests. I expressed my gratitude, and I felt reassured by this generous offer.
I returned to my office thinking about the meeting and trying to figure how in my busy schedule as Executive Director I could have the time to write one or more sophisticated medical grants. I sorted out my options for continued mental health services, and time for the grant and the deadlines. I decided that there were ways to do this with mutual benefits.
The next morning, I received a call from the President of my Board of Directors. She sounded rather solemn.
She asked to meet with me at the office, and I told her to come right over before I left to meet the Director of Cardiology at the hospital. When she arrived, her demeanor was congruent with how she sounded.
“The Director of Cardiology that you met with yesterday suffered a cardiac arrest during the night and died.”
While we both stared at each other, I had to take a few minutes to process what she had said and considered the irony of this doctor so committed to helping people with cardiac issues had suddenly died of one. I thought of his family that he had discussed and their loss and the loss to the hospital. I felt the loss of a new valued friend.
I learned a lot from that experience. I remember him as the epitome of what we would like our doctor to be especially with something as serious as cardiology issues. I have thought about him over the years, and I’ve looked for other doctors who exemplified the same attitude for my personal care and care of my loved ones.
I continued my service on behalf of people needing mental health with a renewed vigor and commitment. I remained at the mental health agency for about another three years before leaving the state and moving on to other mental health services. One thing that never left my mind is how tenuous and precious the moments of our lives are, and how you can’t always prepare for sudden dramatic traumas. I previously learned this in my gang days in East Los Angeles and certainly in Vietnam in the medical field.
I sometimes play one of my favorite Oldies, Heart, and Soul, which reminds me of how much a difference we can make by lightening the load for others, being enthusiastic and hopeful, and sharing joy, like this compassionate doctor who cared so much from his heart and soul.
Years ago, I finished directing my well attended second national writer’s conference, in Washington. After so much work it was time for me to get back to my writing. I was working on a suspense novel when I heard about an opportunity for citizens to learn police procedures and develop better harmony with the police and the community.
I signed up and attended the initial meeting held at the police department. Our small group of about ten men and women received a cordial welcome and introduction by the police chief, followed by a 45-minute tour of the facility with a uniformed police captain including being fingerprinted. Already I found the knowledge of the police department would benefit my novel. I take meticulous care to present my fiction with a well-researched foundation of fact.
The police chief told us that after the weekly meetings, we would have an evening ride-a-long with a police officer in a squad car. I was especially looking forward to that experience in a police squad car, even though it was not my first time. But, that’s another story I may share in a later post.
Several police officers were invited to teach their specialty which included arrest procedures, submitting evidence for physical analysis, missing persons, fingerprinting, search warrants, gang investigations, internal affairs, fundamental prisoner safety and security, booking procedures, examination of crime scenes, and special issues involving handcuffing.
During the discussion on handcuffing a suspect, the officer stood in the front of the room and looked solemnly at each of us sitting around the large oval oak table. I knew that he was going to demonstrate the appropriate way to handcuff a person and immediately thought I would be the suspect.
I was not surprised when the officer asked me to stand. He approached me authoritatively and told me to place my arms behind my back. He slapped the handcuffs on me rather firmly and very tight, telling me to remain standing behind my chair while he continued to discuss the procedure and then stating the Miranda Rights.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
The writer in me wondered if this was really a set up to arrest me for actions I may have participated in while a member of a violent East Los Angeles gang in my youth. And yes, that’s a different story for another time.
It was a curious sensation to be standing while handcuffed as the other participants hesitantly glanced my way offering a supportive nod or smile and a few suspicious squinty eyed considerations, as the officer continued to teach. He then dismissed the group, and as they walked to the door, a kindly woman asked if was going to release my handcuffs.
“Eventually,” he said with a serious look my way and a wry smile.
Since I am completing a novel of humanitarian literature that I began several years ago and because I drink a lot of tea while writing, I decided to order this great working typewriter tea kettle made in the UK. I wrote the text printed on the lid as I believe in world peace and humanitarian literature to help us get there. As for my opportunity to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, you just never know what can happen when you embrace your passion and commitment for a better world.
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