By Harry Saltzgaver, OutskirtsPress, 2013
Reviewed By C. MacDonald
"Salt" is a necessary ingredient for life and we all should be getting our regular dose of salt from the good doctor, Harry Saltzgaver, the Long Beach-based Gazette Newspapers' Executive Editor and columnist ("A Pinch of Salt").
But Harry's more than a "medicine man" (with observations from his columns), he's an entertainer, an educator, a saint, a sinner, a realist, even a pugilist.
He bobs and weaves, circles, attacks with a flurry of jabs, then retreats before returning with a combination to the head or heart. He doesn't pull punches but pulls at your heartstrings, taking readers inside the ropes, with stories about love, his wife Maria, his son, Alex, life, death, ex-wives, stepchildren, cats and dogs and the inner workings of a big city. He also takes you through his heart attack, stopping smoking, faith and favorite places, like the Queen Mary and Aquarium of the Pacific.
You can't help but love this guy, who looks like a tough 35-year veteran reporter and editor, but really has a caring sensitivity with a real passion for his family (past and present) and adopted city (Long Beach).
The former Colorado resident, is not afraid to be "a straight shooter," to take a stand for what he deems right. He covers several controversial topics, like "taking Christ out of Christmas."
One of his columns starts out: "Merry Christmas. I know we're not supposed to say that. It's not politically correct anymore. Now it's supposed to be Happy Holidays." Harry says he's going to stick with "Merry Christmas" as his Holiday Greeting. "In today's hectic, self-centered world, anything that makes us think of the other person first has to be a good thing."
He's not afraid to "call it as he sees it." Talking about Mayor Beverly O'Neill, he wrote, ""¦she guided a cantankerous, often pettily self-centered group of council members to a common vision for the city's future."
He's not afraid to smile, explaining how his dear 80-year-old Grandma Dorine whipped him in golf.
You'll sit in rooms, some in hospitals (where family members are in dire straights), others at home (where he tries to install a ceramic ceiling shade). You'll learn why he praises his ex-wives and how he feels bad about some specific errors that made it into print.
It's no wonder regular readers of his popular column know so much about this jovial chap. He treats them like members of his family, and most are proud to be.
Harry's writing often is succinct, to the point, and easy to comprehend. His new book is an enjoyable, enlightening read no matter where you live. You can catch his words of wisdom every week in Gazette Newspapers or on gazettes.com