Look and Listen
I wanted to be a writer since I picked up a pencil. In elementary school, when we were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, I drew a picture of me at a desk with a pencil in hand. What did we know then of the coming age of computers, let alone know what the manual typewriter could do? I don’t know how old I was when my parents bought me an ancient Royal or Underwood typewriter where you had to press down hard on the keys and the ribbon blocked the view of the paper. But I used that typewriter almost through college. My writing and interest in sports merged and I made up baseball, football, college basketball and ice hockey leagues and wrote about the “games’ almost daily and tried writing in different fonts! Thus began my first paper clutter. Curiously, before I even stepped foot in Norway, I undertook immersing myself in learning about the country before we left. My father told me Norway won the most medals at the 1968 Winter Olympics. I was in fifth-grade in 1968-69 and for the December holiday program, the theme was “The Winter Wonderland,” and we had to dress in the costume of a different country. I chose Norway and wore three sweaters and sweated under the hot stage lights. A year later, I would find one Norwegian “genser” under a coat usually sufficed in cold and snowy Oslo. I announced to my fifth-grade class of my impending trip by writing and presenting a report on Norway. The school in Oslo provided a tutor for my brother and I to learn this new language. Snow days were not a concept, since people could ski to school and work. I enjoyed the “free-dom” of the massive park around the corner, where on a small patch of ice I taught myself to skate. I would attend the world speed skating championships, and Holmenkollen Ski Jump world championship. Holmenkollen is attended by 100,000 people, and we walked 1 ½ hours uphill in the cold and snow with thousands of Norwegians to get to the event. During the year, I also penciled an 84-page book “Wendell the Football.” In addition to the cleverness of a football that could talk, see, feel and have favorite players who treated him well, the book also reflected the effect of the political tenor of the times on an 11-year old. I asked my eight-year old brother to illustrate the book, resulting in debates about who could tell whom what to draw. I discovered Art Buchwald on the back of “The Herald Tribune,” and began writing political satire on top of the imaginative sports leagues. In 9th grade back home, I helped start the school newspaper. I began writing news and op-eds, but you couldn’t keep me from the sports pages. I was Sports Editor in my senior year. In addition, I wrote about my high school sports teams for the local newspaper for three years and I got paid for it. At Rutgers University, I started on the daily from day one. I was Associate Sports Editor as a junior, and Sports Editor as a senior, and responsible for innovative changes. My career has included medical writing; a sports writer for a newspaper chain covering women’s sports; and sports information director at a small college, where I undertook a couple of national media campaigns. I took a break to earn an Ed.M in Educational Technology, and then became Director of Communications at a private school. Among the highlights was the 300th anniversary of the school and the visit by Rosa Parks, for whom I held open the door when she entered the gym. I went on my own in 1999. In 2003, I received The Home-Based Business Advocate of the Year award from U.S. Small Business Administration for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Region III (PA, DE, MD, VA, WV, and DC) as well as The Communicator Award Crystal Award of Excellence in Feature Writing, its highest honor and an international award. The Print Media competition drew over 3,500 entries from the United States and several foreign countries and only 12% received the “Excellence” distinction. I am President of the local business association. I haven't had any sports clients and don't mind. I live in Philadelphia with my wife, Lisa, and seven-and-a-half-year-old boy-girl twins, Matthew and Devra. I operate my own public relations and web site design business focusing on authors and small businesses. I have read my book to Matthew at his request and Devra likes writing stories. I’ve also made presentations in their classes. You can listen to podcasts of my appearances at: http://podcasts.beyondthecold.com and my book web site is http://www.beyondthecold.com and professional site: http://www.kleinerprweb.com.
My father and a colleague published a book, I think in 1964. That was very exciting seeing his name on the books, so that might have been the first inspiration. When I attended the Jewish Children’s Folkshul, there were electives and I naturally gravitated toward creative writing. Letta Schatz, who was the mother of a classmate, was the teacher. The Schatz family had spent time living in Nigeria and Letta wrote children’s books about Nigeria. I was being taught by a writer! I wrote poetry, short stories and plays. At the time, bar/bat mitzvahs would be scheduled on the same day as holidays. My bar mitzvah coincided with Chanukah and I had written a Chanukah play, which my class decided to perform. I have the distinction of presenting my bar mitzvah and then going to the wings of the stage directing my play. After all these years, I handle publicity and the web site for a Jewish organization my parents belong to. My contact on the press releases is Letta. My maternal grandmother was a great influence. Over and over again, she would tell the grandchildren from the time we were young until we were young adults, the story of her being the oldest (@12 years old) of four orphans after a pogrom in Russia killed her parents and some siblings. She told us how she threw beads at a judge at Ellis Island when he wanted to send the two brothers back. Letta also taught about the Jewish immigration to the United States. At the time, our grandparents gave us a link to that past. We interviewed our grandparents in front of the class. We wrote these histories and made a booklet, which I still have. My grandmother’s stories encouraged my interest in Jewish immigration, history, oppression, and influenced my interest in equality, justice, and importance of family. I also found I enjoyed interviewing people and writing about their history. At my grandmother’s funeral, five grandchildren voluntarily spoke and we each mentioned her telling of these stories, yet, each took it in a different direction. In writing, I have found a route to popularity. With the difficulties at school in Norway (I had three different main teachers), the alienation and treatment I endured ended after an essay I wrote. I would have to write in English and translate into Norwegian. An essay topic was the school in 2070. I wrote a very humorous story where the teachers were the same as were their idiosyncrasies. The teacher read it in Norwegian to the class and the boys roared with laughter. In high school, when I covered my high school sports teams for the local paper, players and coaches looked forward each week to the newspaper coming out. I received the moniker, “Scoop.” Since I had that put on the baseball championship jacket, the nickname continued through college. The men’s lacrosse team at Rutgers became very special to me. After the last home game in my senior year, the coach shocked me by presenting me with a game ball and telling the team to dump me in the showers. At high school reunions, I am still called “Scoop,” and asked “Are you writing?” I don’t know if I have favorite authors, but my favorite book has always been Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” comes to mind. Favorite quotes: “The main thing in life is not to be afraid to be human.” (Pablo Casals) and “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” (Langston Hughes) Now that I have written a memoir myself, I am interested in helping others write their memoirs and histories. I can write it, promote it, web site it.
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