Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Funny thing about the's opened a whole new world to everyone, whether they're aware of it or not. It's not as big a thing as Columbus 'discovering' America......or might it be? It can be used for GOOD or EVIL. The Internet opens a world of exciting possibilities for all of us. And some not-so-pleasant ones, as well!

During the past year I've heard from a number of family members and friends of just some of those who traveled through the special place in time that I affectingly refer to as the Quadalajara era (1950's thru 1980's). Almost all have come from sons, daughters, nephews and nieces, and grandchildren of folks whose names appear in my book or on the website.

Today, however, I received a short note from the son of Charlie "Grandpa" Ceska. Although Charlie had long since passed on before I discovered this unique utopia in the heart of Mexico, I knew of him and know people who were touched by his selfless dedication to serving his fellow veterans and the community which embraced them.

A founding member of the Mexico Chapter, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Ceska was elected the Mexico PVA's first vice president in June 1964. Affectionately nicknamed "Grandpa" by the "younger" paraplegics and quadriplegics who settled there, this early Pioneer of an almost forgotten moment in time, also went on to serve the organization as its first Service Officer --- assisting fellow PVA members with benefits, medications and medical supplies, hospital visits and much more.

Charlie "Grandpa" Ceska was just one of those many heroes almost forgotten by time..........

(In a somewhat related --- but unrelated --- BLOG post on May 27, 2007, a photo of Ray Clifford and Jimmy Lietz should now be available.)


QUADALAJARA Gets Mentioned On The "Little" Screen

From the 2007 Hollywood Book Festuival : QUADALAJARA gets mentioned on the "little" screen --- "We watched the interview on LA News and I was on for a couple of seconds talking about your book. Unfortunately, the name on the screen was wrong! It was not mine or yours. They put the actress/MC's name (author/actress Michele Dominguez Greene) and after 5 seconds they changed cameras to interview her in Spanish. I was upset, at first, that they did not put my name or your name, but then they talked about your book and resumed my it was okay." - Lucy Bailey Elizondo

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I'm back after an obvious lengthy sabbatical. I can blame it on the weather - caught between the oppressive Phoenix summertime HEAT and my archaic arctic A/C system! For a quadriplegic, Phoenix ain't the place to be during the summer. And to think, if things had worked out I'd have spent July and August in San Diego --- at the beach!

One of life's "Oh well's."

I'm looking at a new old photo taken in the mid-sixties at the beer garden in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco - outside of Guadalajara. In the photo, which I plan to have scanned soon, you can see three couples sitting at a table with a few other men in the foreground or off to the side. On the table are a number of empty and not-so-empty beer bottles. Behind the group you can see some of Jalisco's famous Mariachis, ready to surround you with song from their string and horn instruments that must be experienced to be appreciated.

Even though this photo was taken long before I ever heard of Guadalajara or knew what a quadriplegic was, it appears to be just a typical sunny Sunday afternoon in Tlaquepaque with quadriplegic Gringos socializing with attractive Mexican senoritas.

I only wish that I had received this photo while working on the book. It might have even graced the cover?

I get mixed emotions while glancing at it. I knew some of the people. I heard of others and stories associated with them that have been confirmed in recent years. I know Teresa Beilsmith. Her husband Bob was a good friend, as well as, poker playing and horse track betting buddy who once won a "little" restaurant from a close friend on the turn of a card (QUADALAJARA, page 146)! Crazy times for quads who far outlived their institutional life expectancy!

My good friend Bill Christensen often mentioned a guy named "Cookie" who was instrumental in helping Bill first leave the safe confines of the Hines VA Hospital. Soon "Chris" --- as he became known in Quadalajara --- was on his way to an uncertain future South-of-the-Border. He currently lives in Scottsdale, AZ with his own Mexican senorita from days gone by. In fact, the Christensen's recently became grandparents!

After reading QUADALAJARA - The Utopia That Once Was, Paraplegia News editor/publisher. Cliff Crase remarked, "I always wondered what happened to Cookie?" (I subsequently found out the "Cookie" was Donald "Cookie" Meinberg,.)

I had heard of "Ernesto" Ernie Swanson. One of my early Mexican caregivers had worked previously for Ernie and held him in high esteem. We never met. Until I saw this photo, I had no face to associate with the name. Now I do.

One thing that I did know was that there was tragedy in Ernie's life. One of the pretty senoritas in the photo took her own life --- for reasons that I'd rather not speculate on. Ernie and Cookie had been seriously dating sisters, and the tragic death of one sister would doom the relationship of Cookie and the other sister. Cookie eventually left Quadalajara and lived out his life in southern California.

Bob and Teresa Beilsmith married in 1967 and lived together in Phoenix until Bob passed away in 1995. Which reminds me, I owe Teresa a phone call...........