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© 2001-2015 Jeff Gates ISSN 1544-4074


September 12, 2010


Just Thinking Good Thoughts

My mother’s tombstone is so high above my head, it’s hard to connect with her grave. Every trip to Los Angeles is punctuated by a visit with my parents. They’re buried at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, just a few…


June 28, 2009


A Catalogue for Life

I missed Father’s Day. Again. Like last year, I booked a trip to LA only to discover it coincided with the day my family was supposed to honor my fatherhood. And just like last year everyone was happy to celebrate…


December 14, 2008


The Diving Bell and the Brain Tumor

From his vantage point: sewing Jean-Dominique Bauby’s eye shut after his stroke. Still from the film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Today is my mother’s birthday: more accurately, the 87th anniversary of her birth. She died in 1971…


June 22, 2008


Digging Up Artifacts in Ancient Beverly Hills

Unearthing High Quality Threads One of my father’s early buying sprees: two sport coats for under $40, size 44L. Click image for a larger view. Happy Father’s Day! Wait, you didn’t get the memo? I was out of town last…


October 1, 2007


A Veteran of Secrets

Gene Gates in 103rd “Cactus” Division during WW II My father, like many in his generation, didn’t talk much about his past. And, as much as that past fascinated me (as a petulant young man in the 1960s and…


October 29, 2006


I Was a Pre-Teen Pro-Marksman

In the last few days the Republicans have decided that they’re going to win. Everything they’re reading says they’re going to win…Have you ever seen anybody fall off of the roof of a house? I used to be in construction….


October 15, 2006


Cursively Speaking

When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters. Margaret Webb PresslerThe Washington Post…


June 8, 2006


Wanderlust Never Smelled So Sweet

With little provocation, The Wanderlust wisks me away to polluted but exotic places. As I walked out of my office building the other day I was suddenly hit by a faintly sweet and very nostalgic odor. What was that?…


May 28, 2006


The Perennial Good Boy

I had always been a very good boy. I’ve been doing some spring cleaning. My home office is a mess. And after hours of sorting, filing, and tossing my desk is now pristine again. But much still needs to…


June 25, 2005


On Writing That Last Story

Funeral celebrants are part of a persistent move toward therapy and management to handle issues that used to be the realm of religious faith. Dennis MartinAssociate Professor of Historical TheologyLoyola University Chicago When Cliff died unexpectedly at 39 I…


March 26, 2005


On Death and Waiting

Despite Terry Schiavo’s parents’ efforts to keep her alive and despite Congress’ deplorable actions, we wait. Waiting for a loved one to die is a time full of anticipation. Waiting for them to pass —no euphemism can adequately describe…


June 20, 2004


A Final Gift for My Father

I wasn’t impressed with Ronald Reagan’s death. I didn’t remember holding him or his values in high esteem when he was first governor and then President. Yet, why was everyone talking so sweetly about the man’s legacy? Young bloggers…


May 29, 2004


Telling a Good Wartime Story

Sailors: vintage and contemporary at the World War II Memorial, Washington, DC Ten years ago, during my father’s final visit to DC, we were walking towards the Treasury Building to see how money is made. As we passed the…


November 2, 2003


No Pains, But a Lot of Kisses

We’re having Indian Summer in our nation’s capital. Yesterday the temperature rose to 80 degrees (27 C). Today will be the same. It is a day when not riding your bike in padded Lycra® bicycle shorts should be a…


August 24, 2002


Vacation 2002: At a Standstill on Long Island

The overture to our 2002 annual summer vacation conjures up recollections of preparations of years past. As a boy my memories are decidedly child-oriented: the anticipation of getting up before the dawn (what was special then has become a…


August 4, 2002


On Becoming a Man Again

Forty years ago I became a man. In the Jewish sense. August 4th, 1962 I was bar miztvahed. It was actually the 4th of Av, 5722 on the Jewish calendar. And that day actually fell on July 13 this…


May 1, 2002


The Memory Project

My name was Chaim Shmuel Guyetsky. My friends call me Jeff. My father calls me Chaim Shmo when he teases me and Jeffrey when he’s about to invoke his fatherly rights of advice. I’m a Jewish boy in a…


December 31, 2001


The Day Before the Day After

New Year’s Eve, 1972: it was one of those, uh, lonely New Year’s Eves. No hot date and no hot party to go to. I was alone. So how to make the best out of it? Dad and his wife,…


November 29, 2001


An Anniversary of Motherly Proportions

Today is the 30th anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s amazing to think it’s been that long and I’m now older than she ever was. I often think about how Mom would feel if she suddenly came back and saw…


July 3, 2001


Finding the Needle in a Televised Haystack

I found it! The episode of the television show It Could Be You my mother was on in the 50s. I’ve been combing the NBC Master Broadcast Reports at the Library of Congress since March. Every other Monday I’d…


June 17, 2001


Father’s Day: My Present

My wife turned over in bed and said “Happy Father’s Day, honey! Would you like breakfast in bed?” “No thanks,” I replied. “But some early morning ‘p and q’ [peace and quiet] would really be nice.” One of my most…


April 7, 2001


Meeting My Past Once Again

Last week two boxes of family artifacts arrived unceremoniously from my father’s wife. I had half been expecting something as my sister had called a few days earlier to say she’d received a package of Dad’s coffee mugs in the…


March 26, 2001


Looking for a Needle with My Head Between My Knees

Got up early and took the Metro to the Library of Congress today to start looking for my mother’s episode of It Could Be You. The Reference Librarian pulled the microfiche rolls of NBC’s master scheduling list for the dates…


March 19, 2001


Unearthing Family Assets

In the last couple of months I’ve been unearthing some family assets. Since my father’s death last October, I have been writing profusely about our relationship. He was a secretive man and found a place in an equally secretive…