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Random Observations by Pat Ostrye

After the Fact!

by Pat Ostrye

   As far as journalists are concerned, covering the obituaries is hardly a choice assignment.  However, I never miss reading that page every morning in the L.A. Times. To me, what a source of history!

    Last week alone, several would fit that category.  Milton Wolff who died in Berkeley at the age of 92, had been the leader of a U.S. unit in the Spanish Civil War which took place from 1936-39.  This is not ancient history, but it's news to me and was spelled out in every detail in the Times on January 23rd.  Wolff dropped out of school at the age of 15 and spent most of his life engaged in the struggles of the world.

    Then, on January 24th, the obituary of UC Berkeley Chancellor Albert H. Bowker caught my eye, with the headline concerning getting tough on protestors.  One of my daughters was graduated from Berkeley in the '70s during his days there.  He really cracked down on student protestors, refocusing the institution on its academic mission.  This particular graduation was very different.  Each department, hers was History, had its own ceremony and reception.  The students were allowed to decide whether or not they wanted to wear cap and gown, which they didn't, and Earl Warren, former California Governor, U.S. Chief Justice and Attorney General, who was celebrating his own 50th anniversary of graduation from Berkeley, gave out the diplomas separately to each graduate.

    This was a sharp contrast to the college graduations of three of our other offspring where there were four to five thousand and the diplomas were not presented personally, each department would stand to be recognized.  However, both Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal State Fullerton divided up the departments so that each student paraded up to receive the diploma.  At Fullerton, for our youngest, they even had a photographer taking each graduate's picture receiving it.

    Among other interesting obits last week, were Bobby Fischer, "Bizarre, reclusive genius of chess", who died at the age of 64, Suzanne Pleschette, "Sexy star of The Bob Newhart Show", who was 70 and had a most colorful life, and Allan Melvin who was 84 and had played Archie Bunker's neighbor in All in the Family, as well as in many other memorable TV shows.

     Finally, just last week the family of the late Al Langer, who died last June, celebrated his life and the 60th Anniversary of Langer's Deli on 7th and Alvarado in L.A., now Langer Square, still putting out the best corned beef and roast beef sandwiches ever!!  Over the decades, our crowd spent many enjoyable times there and at Philippe's.

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