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Though I was born in the snowy state of Wisconsin, due to the untimely death of my father, my first childhood memories are of Southern California where my mother relocated in order to try marriage a second time. The small town where we lived was idyllic with plentiful orange groves, canyons with waterfalls plunging into grateful ponds, and a view of the San Gabriel Mountain range with Mount Baldy gleaming on top.
But that was not all of my childhood for my mother had the movie bug, and my younger brother and I spent much of our time in Hollywood learning the entertainment arts. Yes, we were movie kids, and being adjustable like most children, we took it in stride.
After high school graduation at age 16, I joined a dance ensemble in Las Vegas with the Tony Bennett Show (Tony was a newly rising star then) at the Sahara Hotel (called "The Jewel of the Desert") on the Las Vegas Strip in order to raise tuition for the esteemed Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City, which I decided to attend to become a serious thespian. While in Las Vegas, however, I formed a most rewarding and unusual friendship with the world's most famous gambler, Nick the Greek, that became the subject of my first published book, My Friend Nick the Greek: Life in Las Vegas in the '50s. After some years working in theatre, I took an about face and enrolled at NYU, majoring in psychology. A teaching career followed, and later a stint as public relations director at a small book publishing firm.
Taking an early retirement, I returned to my roots and, having an aversion to LA smog, settled in the Colorado Desert with a stray dog I had encountered on a walk some 14 years earlier. Beau was a cocker mix and the first animal that I bonded with in my adult life. But our mutual desert adventure was to be short-lived as sweet Beau died of a stroke within a month after our relocating.
My latest book, Once There Was A Street Dog That Followed Me Home: The Beginning, relates my numerous experiences in animal rescue and adoption during the years that followed, learning of the plight of "The Throwaways," many of them seniors, firsthand. Of course, it was painful knowing we had so little time together, but the ultimate rewards outweighed any consideration of sorrow.
Where there is love, time is never wasted. And I'm happy to say that love of the lost and abandoned became the highpoint, as well as the foundation, of my life.