10 Questions I Would Ask Joe Biden With No Teleprompter Nearby

Joe Biden has held media interviews only 43 times since his White House residency, as of Nov. 2, 2022.

In comparison, at this same point during their terms in office, here are the number of media interviews for these presidents:

🔹Ronald Reagan: 97 Note that Reagan more than doubled the number of Biden’s interviews despite being shot in the lung in an assassination attempt shortly after he took office.

🔹George H.W. Bush: 94

🔹Bill Clinton: 89

🔹George W. Bush: 84

🔹Barack Obama: 236

🔹Donald J. Trump: 143

Since October 1980, I have met and interviewed Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the latter two after their presidencies.

If I had the opportunity to ask current White House resident Joe Biden just 10 questions without the use of his teleprompter, these are what I would ask in this order.

1. Is the first and most important priority of the president of the United States to protect the safety and security of Americans?  

2. How does this priority play into your illegal immigration stance and virtual neglect of the alien, crime, human and drug invasion on our southern border and other ports of entry?

3. Who is your boss? Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett or George Soros?

4. Who is their boss?

5. Should politicians like you use powerful government positions to enrich themselves and their families? Isn’t that pure abuse of power that should be investigated and/or prosecuted?

6. Why is your administration blatantly ignoring federal law when it comes to keeping illegal migrants out of America and covid mandates? 

7. Why did the Obama-Biden Administration separate children from parents at the border and keep them in enclosures, cages?

8. Why is the Biden/Harris Administration doing worse than the Obama/Biden policies who gave the U.S. economy the slowest economic recovery in seventy years?

9. As vice president, why did you take so many trips to stay at rental houses owned by Judge Emmet Sullivan?

10. What is your response as to why you inappropriately touch and sniff children in public so often?

What question would you ask?

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

The Frightening Lesson of the CIA From America’s Foremost Investigative Reporter

Why do we begin this article with a photo of presidents John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman?

Wait for it!

A great thrill and privilege of mine was to meet one-on-one with American investigative reporter Jack Anderson in the late 1970s at Texas State University (Southwest Texas State University in 1977). It was a giant dose of reality that transformed my entire outlook about government and the press.

Journalism professors Jeff Henderson and David Yates arranged for the 30 minute meeting–between Anderson’s speeches, visits to classes and formal activities–as sort of a reward for me earning investigative reporting awards at state, regional and national competitions.

Jack Anderson with SWTSU Journalism professor David Yates (right)

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We specifically talked about two major topics of the day. In Texas, Fred Carrasco, known as “The Heroin Merchant” had been captured and imprisoned after a shootout with police at a south San Antonio motel. I shared additional information with Anderson about the broken factions of the Carrasco crime organization.

I was not prepared for his candor as he provided frightening overview of a corrupt Central Intelligence Agency and their “Operation Mockingbird.” It absolutely terrified me.

CONTROL AMERICA’S THINKING

In summary, he said that the CIA was using propaganda and deception to control America’s thinking. He called it “an assault on citizen’s right to know.”

Like so many millions, I watched his reports on ABC’s Good Morning America program for nine years. But on this particular day in a second story office of Old Main in San Marcos, Texas, Anderson looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Thomas Jefferson sought to lay this issue at rest when two centuries ago he argued that the people’s right to know is more important than the officials’ right to govern.”

Then, changing my life forever, America’s best known investigative reporter revealed the CIA was:

🔹shutting down channels of information to the electorate;

🔹seeking to penalize reporters (including him) whose stories could expose their manipulation and illegal activities; and

🔹planting, controlling and inserting ‘disinformation’ to the American public via news agencies.

Anderson wrote a column that was syndicated in over a thousand newspapers, including The Washington Post. He was the subject of a Time magazine cover story under the headline “Supersnoop,” he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972, and he was featured on “60 Minutes.”

Richard Nixon despised Anderson so much that he had his henchmen, known as the “Plumbers,” to plan a way to get rid of him.

Years later, Mark Feldstein, the chair of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, revealed in his book Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, “exasperated, the Plumbers turned to the one method of silencing Anderson that would work permanently—murder.”

🔹H. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, under orders from Charles Colson, met and plotted potential ways to kill Anderson. They interviewed a retired CIA poison expert to determine whether they could poison him without detection. They put Anderson under surveillance to see if there was a location on his regular route to potentially stage a fatal auto accident.

🔹They staked out his home to case the vulnerable points of entry that could be penetrated to swap prescription medications for poison.

🔹The most bizarre consideration was the idea of lacing Anderson’s steering wheel with LSD, thus causing an accident.

🔹Finally, they decided that the best means would be to stage a mugging that would end in Anderson’s death. Liddy later claimed that he had volunteered for the latter and was satisfied with breaking Anderson’s neck. Before his death, Hunt also corroborated the scheme to kill Anderson.

🔹Colson called off the plan to kill Anderson, as the funds had been earmarked elsewhere. Six weeks later, the burglars were arrested at the Watergate complex.

Nixon left office and died in 1994. Anderson passed away at 81, in 2005.

Now, with what I just shared with you, keep in mind that I closely followed Anderson, the topic of CIA’s involvement with clandestine media manipulation and mind control activities for five decades. Consider the following:

“You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.” – CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories.

“The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” — William Colby, former CIA Director, cited by Dave Mcgowan, Derailing Democracy.

“There is quite an incredible spread of relationships. You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are [Central Intelligence] Agency people at the management level.” — William B. Bader, former CIA intelligence officer, briefing members of the Senate Intelligence Committee

“The Agency’s relationship with [The New York] Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. [It was] general Times policy … to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.” — The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein.

“Senator William Proxmire has pegged the number of employees of the federal intelligence community at 148,000 … though Proxmire’s number is itself a conservative one. The “intelligence community” is officially defined as including only those organizations that are members of the U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB); a dozen other agencies, charged with both foreign and domestic intelligence chores, are not encompassed by the term…. The number of intelligence workers employed by the federal government is not 148,000, but some undetermined multiple of that number.” — Jim Hougan, Spooks

John F. Kennedy & Harry Truman

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government…. I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.” –former President Harry Truman, 22 December 1963, one month after the JFK assassination, op-ed section of the Washington Post, early edition

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

Where Did ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother’ Come From?

During World War II (1945), a Japanese boy stood in front of a funeral pyre and waited his turn to cremate his little dead brother.

The person who took the photograph said, in an interview, that the boy was biting his lips so hard to keep from crying that blood was dripping from the corner of his mouth.

It was then that the guard asked him for the body and said, “Give me the load you are carrying on your back.” And the boy answered:

“He ain’t heavy, he is my brother”. He handed over the body, turned around, and left…

In Japan, even today, this image is used as a symbol of strength.

In college during the mid 1970s, I had the opportunity to meet and interview some music entertainers of the times. As the Fine Arts Editor for the Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) University Star, it helped me go backstage for artists like Freddy Mercury and Queen, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Alvin Lee with Ten Years After, and more.

One of my classmates was a young fellow who would sit out in the hall before a business class trying to catch up because he had been out singing late into the night before. You may have heard of him–George Strait.

A special moment was meeting Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina backstage before their San Antonio Municipal Auditorium (now the expanded Tobin Center) concert. I secured autographs, asked a few questions and was allowed to watch their sound check.

From the side of the stage they sat on stools, side-by-side, singing to an empty auditorium that would soon be filled to the brim.

The song was “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” I had heard the recordings by The Hollies and Neil Diamond, but this one time “personal” performance remains in my heart and memories to this day.

It was written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. They only met three times to collaborate before Russell died of lymphoma.

A guy name Reginald played piano on The Hollies’ version which was released in 1970. It was a worldwide hit. You likely know the piano player by another name–Elton John.

The title actually didn’t come from the Japanese picture shown above. It came from the motto for Boys Town, a community formed in 1917 by a Catholic priest named Father Edward Flanagan.

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, it was a place where troubled or homeless boys could come for help. In 1941, Father Flanagan was looking at a magazine called The Messenger when he came across a drawing of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, with the caption, “He ain’t heavy Mr., he’s my brother.”

Today, there is a statue with that phrase that serves as the symbol for Boys Town.

In 1938, actor Spencer Tracey portrayed Father Flanagan in the movie Boys Town, which also starred Mickey Rooney. In 1941, they made a sequel called Men Of Boys Town, where they used the phrase “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother” for the first time in a movie.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

My First Big Interview Was With Elvis Presley

In the early spring of 1976, my Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) journalism professor Jeff Henderson, asked his class on the second floor of Old Main to write down the names of two people we would like to interview if we could. 

When he called on me to reveal my answers, embarrassingly, I said “Elvis Presley and Clint Eastwood.”

Spontaneously, my classmates laughed. Their answers were reasonable…and safe: the police chief, fire marshal, county commissioner, etc. But Jeff held his hand up and looked me seriously straight in the eyes and asked, “Why don’t you?”

WHY DON’T YOU?

“Look, Jack. You just came back from winning Investigative Reporter of the Year Award out of every university in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Association,” he smirked, then grinned. “So, my question to you is—why don’t you?”

I thought of scores of reasons why I couldn’t. Jeff’s question would have profound impact the rest of my life. So, why don’t I? Within eight months, I interviewed both Presley and Eastwood.

I traveled to Memphis during Spring Break with one mission in mind: To do the impossible by interviewing Elvis.

Just a few days after my arrival, staying at a nearby (from Graceland) Howard Johnson’s, I was called in by a local radio station to be interviewed myself because there was much buzz (was that even a word, other than the sound a bee makes, in ’76?) about Elvis.

It was recently announced he’d be performing in his hometown later that summer. Months away and thousands of fans had been camped out for two days in line to buy tickets.

The day before, I drove by the Mid-South Colosseum and was astonished. People were in tents, sleeping bags, lawn chairs and on blankets waiting. Although it was hot and humid, they were happy.

Through the years I’ve found dedicated Elvis fans to be among the happiest people on the planet. Their camaraderie expands beyond man-made limiting boundaries such as race, politics, religion and sex. Generally, they’re united.

Two nights before, I gained quick notoriety among Memphis fans for gaining the “impossible dream.” I scored an interview with Elvis Presley!

As a young journalism student from then Southwest Texas State, I did my homework. The stars were aligned:

🔹Local fans were not swarming around Graceland,

🔹It was a time sandwiched between Elvis’ mother Gladys’ birthday week (reasoned he may leave to visit her gravesite) and Mother’s Day. Yes, it was a long shot, but I was giving it all I could.

🔹With donuts, coffee and burgers from the Hickory Log cafe, I befriended Elvis’ cousin Harold Loyd and other Graceland gate security guards at night…and Uncle Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge and others during the day in between naps (Elvis was a night owl, so I had to be).

Harold Loyd

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🔹The big card up my sleeve was the ace in the hole: I was President of the Texas Chapter of the official Elvis Presley Graceland Fan Club.

Invited to the radio station because of the spike in interest of the upcoming concerts and me landing the interview, the DJ began asking questions in rapid fire.

I answered them as fast as he spit them out, but when he paused for a commercial break, I defaulted to my normal mode of operation–to engage in conversation rather than his Q&A approach.

Elvis’ Bicentennial Harley.

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He started taking live listener calls. It was compelling enough that he kept me on air for over an hour.

I was psyched, of course, but somehow all this excitement calmed my youthful ego. I was very thankful for meeting Elvis, but especially grateful for his kindness. When you hear or read how nice he was to fans, believe me, it was very genuine kindness.

Shaking the hand of the man my parents, my sister Bobbi and I would see on the giant screens of the Trail or Mission Drive-In theaters, watch on TV, or read about in magazines and newspapers, was a surreal and humbling experience.

Meeting Elvis taught me much, including the value of doing homework, being prepared, investigation and a more engaging approach to interviewing.

Most of all, it taught me to never let self-imposed obstacles get in the way of my dreams.

Photos of Dodie and me taken at Graceland, SUN Studio, on June 24, 25 2020.

The following August, I was able to meet Elvis briefly backstage at Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio to present him some official honorary documents from the City, Bexar County and a Texas-shaped award from fans across the state.

Two of my favorite journalism classmates under Jeff Henderson, Janis Johnson and Vicky Highsaw, joined me on the front row center section for the Elvis concert.

Photos taken from front row, center at Elvis Presley’s August 18, 1976 concert.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Remembering the First Men on the Moon

In 2006, Jack Dennis had the honor of interviewing the second man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin.

It’s been over half of a century that earth celebrated one of the most historical milestones in history as United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the moon for 21 hours.  Many Baby Boomers and space enthusiasts today recall Armstrong’s first words as his boots touched the lunar surface: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Dr. Aldrin, (now 92 at this writing), was bestowed the nickname “Buzz” from his baby sister who could only say “Buzzer” instead of “brother” in their New Jersey home. 

Little did they know this would evolve into the recognizable inspiration for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear’s name decades later.

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. stepped on the moon at 03:15:16 Coordinated Universal Time on July 21, 1969. “Beautiful view,” Aldrin simply uttered the first words to describe what he was experiencing. “Magnificent desolation.”

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin, 2006

New information previously not generally known by the public released by Aldrin recently, combined with the 2006 interview by Dennis, is revealed below: 

When probed about Armstrong and him sighting a UFO on their voyage to the moon, Aldrin beamed. “Yes, we saw something,” he clarified. “But you have to remember the times. We could not blare it out that we saw any UFO because everyone was listening and hanging on to every word we said.”

“Delicately, we asked Houston the location of the SIVB (booster rocket) and they told us something like it was 6,000 miles away,” Aldrin continued. “I remember we talked about it as being L-shaped.”

“Over the years, there have been many suppositions and misrepresentations, but we believe now it was a panel left over from the separation of the spacecraft,” winked Aldrin playfully.

The two were on the lunar surface for 21 hours and returned to earth with 46 pounds of moon rocks and specimens.

Did Aldrin feel any pressure to say or not say anything publicly while he was on the moon?

“Not censorship, if that is what you are implying,” he answered. “We knew what we were doing was unparalleled and extraordinary in human history so we took our choice of words into account as part of our responsibility.”

“Just a few minutes on the moon, I did make a statement of reflection asking everyone to give thanks for the moment,” Aldrin said. “And then, with the radio off, I read from the Scripture. Only Neil (Armstrong) heard me.”

Aldrin took a communion wafer and vial of wine from his minister to the surface of the moon.

“I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me,” wrote Aldrin years after the mission. “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.”

“Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.. Apart from me you can do nothing,’” he wrote.

Aldrin continued, “It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin

It is also interesting to note that Aldrin was the first astronaut to earn a doctorate degree. His thesis was the foundation and idea for the docking procedures used in the Gemini and Apollo missions. He was the first astronaut to accomplish a successful spacewalk, while during the Gemini 12 mission of 1966, he was outside the capsule for 5 1/2 hours.

What are Aldrin’s ideas about climate change?

“I think the climate has been changing for billions of years. If it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today. I’m not necessarily of the school that we are causing it all, I think the world is causing it.”

Moon germ worries.

Amid concerns over what germs the astronauts might have brought back with them from the moon, they were kept in quarantine for three weeks after their return to Earth before they could be reunited with their families. The quarantine experience “quickly became oppressive” according to a NASA history of the mission.

The astronauts had to wear “biological isolation garments” before they went into quarantine, where they had to keep themselves entertained with an exercise room, a ping pong table, television, reading material and phone calls to their families. The suits were to ensure that “the lunar dust we brought back wouldn’t give people on earth our moon germs,” Aldrin said.

“I always found it funny that the rags used to wipe us down that were covered with moon dust were dropped in the ocean,” he tweeted. “So the poor underwater creatures got our moon germs instead.”

Aldrin then suggested that the moon dust in the ocean could be “fodder for a Godzilla movie.”

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The ‘Hello, My Name is Jose Jiminez’ Eye Opener

When William Szathmary died on June 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee, millions of fans who knew him, did not know him by his birth name.

Eleven years prior to his death, meeting American comedian Bill Dana was a complete surprise, because I had completely forgotten about the entertainer.

Like many baby boomers growing up in the 1960s, Dana would make America laugh with his signature, “Hello, my name is Jose Jiminez” astronaut routine. It was so popular, another celebrity, a country and western singing star, would adapt his own stage introductions with “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash!”

In 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever) Clint Howard (Gentle Ben, Apollo 13), and Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet). It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with Bill Dana.

“Okay, José, you’re on your way!”


With those words, radioed to Alan Shepard as he lifted off to become the first American astronaut to fly into space on May 5, 1961, Bill Dana’s role in NASA history was sealed.

Because of his popularity portraying “José Jiménez,” Dana was bestowed the title of being the eighth of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

When he died on that June 15th in 2017, Dana was 92.

“He’ll be missed not only by the astronaut family, but many more around the world,” said Tammy Sudler, president and CEO of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. “Bill Dana was lovingly known as our honorary Mercury 8 astronaut.”

First created in 1959 for “The Steve Allen Show” and later appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” José Jiménez held several positions, including an elevator operator, a bobsled racer, a Navy submariner and a lion tamer, but it was as the shiny-spacesuited, reluctant astronaut that the Bolivian character became famous (Dana was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry in reality).

“What do you consider the most important thing in rocket travel?” asked Ed Sullivan, playing the straight man during one of Dana’s better-known skits.

“To me the most important thing in the rocket travel is the blast-off,” said Dana.

“The blast-off…” repeated Sullivan.

“I always take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I would not go near that thing,” Dana quipped as Jiménez.

Dana’s José Jiménez routine was later released on record albums, rising to the Top 20 on the Billboard charts, which drew the attention of the real-life Mercury astronauts.

“The astronauts, especially Shepard, absolutely loved the record, and listened to it in the office after intense training sessions,” author Neal Thompson described in “Light This Candle” (Crown, 2004), his biography of the first astronaut. “Shepard even tape recorded the album and during lulls between training exercises or during test launches at the Cape would play the tapes at full volume near the Mission Control loudspeakers.”

The astronaut and comedian first met at a Cocoa Beach night club, where Shepard — from out in the audience and without the prior knowledge of Dana — took on the role of the straight man, setting up Jiménez’s replies. Soon, fellow astronauts Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton joined in.

Dana, 3rd from left with Mercury astronauts



“The club was roaring as the three astronauts took turns,” wrote Thompson. After the show, Dana hurried to a phone to call his producer in New York.

“‘They know us. They know every word. And they love us,” exclaimed Dana, as described by Thompson.

Shepard and the other astronauts’ fondness for Dana and his character led to José Jiménez becoming the unofficial mascot of the Mercury program.

In addition to inspiring the 1961 launch call between Slayton (in the blockhouse) and Shepard (on top of a Redstone rocket), Dana performed at President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball with Shepard in attendance.

The comedian also inspired a “gotcha” – a practical joke – that Shepard arranged in secret for John Glenn to discover once aboard his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. Opening up a pouch while in orbit, Glenn was surprised by a small stuffed mouse floating free, a reference to the “leetle mice” Jiménez would cite as fellow test subjects in his routine.

Sammy Davis, Jr. Meets Archie Bunker

One of the most celebrated televised episodes of the classic and controversial All in the Family aired in 1972. It’s the tale about the time entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. stopped by to visit the Bunkers.

It begins with a briefcase he left in Archie’s cab and ends with the kiss of infamy. Very few people are aware that the writer of this episode was Bill Dana.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS



🔹Born William Szathmary in Quincy, Massachusetts on Oct. 5, 1924, Dana served as a gunner and mortarman in the U.S. Army during World War II.

🔹He began his career in comedy as a page and a writer for other comedians’ stand-up routines.

🔹Dana was also a screenwriter for television and movies, writing the Emmy-Award-winning “All in the Family” episode, “Sammy Davis Visits Archie Bunker” (1972), penning jokes for the “Donny and Marie” show (1977-1978), and co-writing the script for the “Get Smart” film “The Nude Bomb” (1980).

Dana also showed up as José Jiménez in a number of TV cameos, including as part of a 1966 episode of “Batman,” appearing alongside the late Adam West and Burt Ward.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Interviewing Gentle Ben’s Owner and Ron Howard’s Brother

Or How to Tick Off My Teacher Without Really Trying…

Or Finding My Porpoise in Life

“This time find a book with porpoise, Jackie,” Ms. Nancy Lewis instructed me in 1965.

Purpose?

The previous time I checked out a book from the Harlandale School District Book Mobile, it was a brand new novel by Walt Morey entitled Gentle Ben.

Ben was a big brown bear in Alaska who befriended a boy named Mark. I imagined the boy looked similar to my fifth grade classmate, Mark Kuykendall, because he was somewhat adventurous.

Well, I supposed Ms. Lewis was upset about my book choices because she obviously didn’t think my Gentle Ben skit—performed in front of her fifth grade class in lieu of a book report— was as brilliant as the class did.

“GET MY PADDLE”

The week before, I had seen Ms. Lewis use her “discipline paddle” on Kenneth Andrews. Ken was upset because the recess bell rang– meaning we were to get back to class. It went off just as he had stepped up to bat during an exciting softball game.

I was playing second base when pitcher David Cardenas took the ball and walked back towards the second wing of Gillette Elementary School in south San Antonio that day.

The words that red-headed Kenneth screamed in anger, for not having the ball pitched to him, was dialect unfitting to a 5th grader, Ms. Lewis determined.

“Jackie, go get my paddle,” she directed me.

Why me? Kenneth is my friend. I don’t want to see his butt blistered by her spanking paddle.

I ran to our classroom and obediently brought out the paddle.

“What porpoise does that serve to cuss like that?” she asked Kenneth before the WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

His buttocks were seared. All I knew was I wanted to make certain I had a good porpoise for anything I did around Ms. Lewis.

The next time the Book Mobile came to our school I made sure my book had porpoises in it.

I wasn’t certain what she had against bears, but as long as I never was on the receiving end of the teacher’s paddle, I would learn as much about porpoises as required.

CLINT HOWARD

A couple of years later, Gentle Ben became a TV series and the boy in that show didn’t look anything like the adventurous Mark Kuykendall at all.

The actor was Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron Howard, “Opie Taylor” of Mayberry and Andy Griffith fame at the time.

It was an okay show, but as long as Ms. Lewis wasn’t my teacher anymore it was all right by me.

Fast forward forty years later. It’s 2006, and I finally know the difference between Ms. Lewis’ pronunciation “porpoise” and the word “purpose.” That year I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever), comedian Bill Dana (Jose Jiminez), Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet) and more.

It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with the one and only Clint Howard. Although known to Baby Boomers for his role in Gentle Ben, he was at the Space conference for his part in the Ron Howard movie, Apollo 13.

The real life Apollo Mission control commander, Gene Krantz was nearby and in passing, called out to Howard: “Afternoon Sy!”

Clint Howard grinned and explained his role in Apollo 13 was the part of Sy Liebergot, a key member of the Mission Control crew under Krantz.

Howard loved the role acting with Ed Harris who played Krantz:

Sy LiebergotFlight… I recommend we shut down reactant valves to the fuel cells.

Gene Kranz: What the hell good is that gonna do?

Sy Liebergot: If that’s where the leak is, we can isolate it. We can save what’s left in the tanks and we can run on the good cell.

Gene Kranz: You close ’em, you can’t open ’em again! You can’t land on the moon with one healthy fuel cell!

Sy Liebergot: Gene, the Odyssey is “dying”. From my chair here, this is the last option.

INTERVIEW

Howard was kind enough to place his signature on a photo alongside his brother Ron Howard’s autograph and was willing to be interviewed for a few quick questions. Ready go:

Biggest influence?

My dad, Rance Howard is definitely my biggest influence. He has taught both Ron and I attributes of being a good man of the earth type solid human beings. We’ve learned to apply this to our work, the entertainment business.

The work can be hard enough in the morning but it is especially grueling by the end of a very long day on the  set. Through Dad, we learned to remain focused because all time counts.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this often, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t ask, how was it working with Gentle Ben?

Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve never really heard of that question before (He winked and grinned).

Gentle Ben was really Bruno the Bear and he actually was a gentle bear. I remember he smelled bad and enjoyed drinking Coca-Cola and eating candy, especially lemon drops and sometimes Tootsie Roll.

I was already accustomed to acting and wasn’t starstruck at that age, but co-starring with a bear was cool. My dad was always on set with me down on a ranch in the Everglades, so I was away from my mom for a bit. When we would come back for Christmas break, our house was decorated to the max for the holidays. Good memories.

I would describe you as a character actor, with a diverse set of many different roles. How do you describe your acting persona?

That’s right on. You know, my great brother Ron, five years my senior, basically played all similar roles. There is Opie (Mayberry), Ritchie (Happy Days), Chad (The Smith Family) and the character, Steve from American Graffiti, basically.

We both started very young. By the time Gentle Ben was around, I had years of experience. I’m in my fifth decade of acting and now find myself in the position in my career as a character actor with a lot of experience.

When I walk on set and I think people look towards me, somewhat for some of a bit of guidance and mentoring. Now, I don’t stick my nose somewhere where it doesn’t belong. I’m there to act, my job. Thats my thing. I’m not going to step on anybody’s toes and automatically mentor. It is not my responsibility. But I realize now that some people do look up to me, and respect my experience. So I keep that in mind when I work on any project. I will be a leader and positive influencer for the director, crew, the actors if and as needed.

Like I said, I grew up with wonderful parents. My Dad mentored and I remain grateful.

Note: At the time of this interview Rance Howard was alive. He passed away on November 25, 2017. Clint’s mother, Jean Frances Speegle Howard, died on September 2, 2000.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Under Obama & Now Biden, Living in Texas Border Counties is Like ‘Living in a War Zone’

Before the Trump administration began construction on the Border Wall, almost two-thirds of criminal activity in Texas was gang related and Mexican cartels were escalating their recruitment of U.S. school-age children.

Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment,” an independent study by former military generals Barry McCaffrey and Major-General Robert Scales noted, “They want these kids to do the dirty work.”

“They are sacrificial,” Carlos, a 28-year old man who had escaped cartel torture and death and was working at a downtown San Antonio restaurant, explained. “They pay them $500 or $1000 to cross the border into Texas because they know the patrol doesn’t think American kids are going to smuggle that much drugs in, but with that kind of money, and excitement, they can find students willing to do it.”

“When the other kids see someone driving a car and spending money and buying their girlfriends jewelry and clothes, it’s not hard to recruit others,” Carlos said.

Laredo TX Police Blotter

In just 18 months, six of seven cartels established headquarters in Texas cities during Obama’s last year’s in office, according to testimony form the Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McGraw.

At least 22 murders, 24 assaults, 15 shootings and five kidnappings were traced to cartel activities on the Texas side of the border during that period.

Carlos says “these cartels are very sophisticated and are run like a military or a business.”

“They provide ‘insurance’ to the farmers,” Carlos outlined. “If the farmers continue to harvest and provide marijuana for a very cheap price, then their wives and children will continue to live. That is Mexican cartel ‘insurance.’”

“They pay a few dollars for a pound of marijuana,” said Carlos. “They have up to six levels of people on their payroll who make sure it gets into the U.S. cities because they can sell it in San Antonio or Houston for like $250 or $300 a pound, but in New York or Chicago, it might be $1500 or $1600, and that’s a big profit that no one is going to stop as long as the U.S. allows them to keep on going.”

The generals’ report stated the cartels objectives “are relying increasingly on organized gangs to provide expendable and unaccountable manpower to do their dirty work.”

Smuggling people.

“These gangs are recruited on the streets of Texas cities and inside Texas prisons by top-tier gangs who work in conjunction with the cartels,” the report continued.

During the Obama presidency, Department of Public Safety reports showed that in 2010, the Texas prison gangs associated with the Mexican cartels increased from four to 12.

When Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples released the report, it revealed these cartels were building a “sanitary zone” about one county deep within the U.S. along the Texas border. The plan was use this zone to escape Mexican law enforcement and provide an area of safe movement for drug smugglers and human traffickers.

Texas was the “tactical close combat zone and frontline in this conflict. Texans have been assaulted by cross-border gangs and narco-terrorist activities.”

“Washington keeps telling us our border is more secure than ever, but this detailed military assessment, by two of America’s top generals, offers proof to the contrary,” Commissioner Staples said about the Obama administration. “It’s time to shed the cloak of denial and protect our citizens and national security.”

“It’s time for Washington to uphold its constitutional duty to protect Americans on their home soil,” Staples added.

The report offered a military perspective on how to best use “strategic, operational and tactical measures to secure the increasingly hostile border regions” on the border.

Big Improvements With Trump

Before the Trump presidency, Texas landowners and officials had been witnessing and pleading with the Obama Administration for increased federal support to defend the U.S. border. They are doing the same with the Biden White House.

Under Trump, the border was far better protected.

“The southwestern United States had become increasingly threatened by the spread of Latin American and Mexican cartel organized crime,” said Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret.)

“The violence and ongoing threat to our security reflected a change in the strategic intent of the cartels to move their operations into the United States,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Scales (Ret.) observed back then. “American cities and rural areas now have Latin American drug, gun and human smuggling cartels operating inside our borders.”

Under Obama-Biden it is a War Zone

Their findings indicate citizens living and working in a Texas border county is equivalent to living in a warzone. Law enforcement agencies, civil authorities, journalists and citizens are in continuous and growing danger of attack.

There is disparity between reported and actual cartel activity because the 17,000 local and state law enforcement agencies that provide data to the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), under the both the Obama and Biden Administrations, are not required to categorize these crimes as “drug related.”

Trump had fixed all of that.

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Chilling New Information in the Frightening True Story of ‘Unholy Matrimony” Murder Revealed

Puppies in the doctor’s back yard gave San Antonio police detective Walter Dennis a firm suspicion that the St. Bernards were more than just mere coincidence.

After he knocked on the front door of Dr. Charles James Guilliam’s house, a woman with long, straight blond hair opened it. It was a cool Sunday afternoon, February 17, 1974, when Dennis introduced himself and the other suited gentleman standing with him on the porch of the Tuxford Street residence in northeast San Antonio.

“…and this is detective John Dillmann from the New Orleans Police Department,” Dennis began. The lady shook their hands and identified herself as Dr. Guilliam’s wife, Katherine. “We are here to speak with your husband.”

“I’m sorry, but he is out of town on business and can’t be reached by phone right now,” the twenty-something-year-old woman reacted. The detectives verified with her that Dr. Guilliam was a consulting psychologist currently working on a project in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

“We are also attempting to locate a Mr. Claudius Giesick,” Dennis requested. “Do you know Claudius Giesick?”

“Yes, I believe he is a business associate of my husband,” she responded.

“How about Sam Corey,” the other detective asked. “Do you know a Sam Corey?”

Katherine’s faced twitched. Dennis could hear the puppies barking outside and noticed she had difficulty focusing on the enquiry. She asked detective Dillmann to repeat the name.

Sam Corey

“You know–Sam Corey,” Detective Dennis replied for the New Orleans investigator. “The big, heavy man. He ran for Mayor of San Antonio and owns the Tokyo Massage Parlor here.”

“Oh yes,” Katherine swiftly remembered. “Jim has gone to his parlor for a massage a few times.”

When asked, she had no photos of her husband she could provide the detectives and asserted that her spouse would have to be the one to answer these questions about him. Dennis gave her his business card and asked her to have Dr. Guilliam call him as quickly as possible.

“Look in the back yard,” Dennis whispered to Dillmann as they walked back to the police car. Dillmann said yes, he had noticed the puppies too when they started barking during their questioning of Katherine.

As Dennis drove back to police headquarters, the two officers compared notes. Dennis had received a call from Giesick on Friday after telling the police operator he needed to speak to a detective. He told Dennis a strange account of how he had spent the last two years in virtual hiding because he was in extreme danger from a criminal named Zent.

Unholy Matrimony book (John Dillman)

Giesick said that his bride, Patricia, had been killed by an oncoming car while they were enjoying their honeymoon in New Orleans the previous month. He wanted to let the detective know that the New Orleans police may be notifying them. Should New Orleans make any inquiries into this death, Giesick was requesting that the SAPD tell them he had to disappear because he was their police informer against this violent gangster, Zent.

Detective magazine account of the Unholy Matrimony case (W. Dennis)

Dennis, suspicious of this bizarre request, went to a nearby office to run a computer check on Giesick’s background. When he discovered there was a warrant out for passing hot checks, Dennis instantly arrested him. Dennis then contacted New Orleans and reached Dillmann, who flew into San Antonio Sunday morning. By then, Giesick had been released. Someone posted a bail bond on his behalf. Dennis discovered that someone was Sam Corey.

When Dennis picked up Dillmann at the International Airport Sunday morning, he had already arranged for a 10 a.m. meeting with Corey at the police station downtown. They took a formal statement in which the more than 300 pound Corey wrote that he “emphatically and positively” did not know Patricia. He did not know if Giesick has worked in any massage parlor. He claimed to hear of her death some days later from the bride’s mother who called him from New Jersey. Corey admitted he knew Giesick and had actually met him in Richardson, near Dallas, since the death.

If Corey had known that Dillmann was working on this case for a couple of weeks, he may have been more truthful. The New Orleans detective, by this time, knew that pretty, strawberry blond 24-year-old Patricia Ann Albanowski had been employed in a massage parlor and had been heavily pursued by Giesick.

Two different insurance agency investigators had concerns. Giesick purchased insurance policies totaling over $300,000 on the day of their wedding, prior to embarking on their honeymoon flight to New Orleans.

Patricia’s mother said that in a New Orleans hotel room, the night of her death, her daughter called very worried. Her new husband had left to take their rental car back for some kind of repairs.

Patricia told her mom that Giesick was a psychologist, but didn’t have an office. He often had to go undercover and disappear because he had helped the federal government arrest a major gold smuggling organization. The government was so concerned about his safety and reprisals from this smuggling gang, they had provided Giesick with a new identity. The name he said the Feds gave him was Charles James Guilliam.

Unholy Matrimony movie starring Patrick Duffy and Charles Durning

When the detectives called Patricia’s mother to confirm information, they learned more startling clues. Patricia, or Trish, as her family called her, commented that Giesick said had been married twice before. His first wife, a former Miss Texas, was killed in a hit-and-run accident along with their only child. His second marriage ended in divorce.

But what she revealed next alarmed both men to the core. On January 2, 1974, Claudius Giesick and Patricia Albanowski were married. Their pastor’s name? Sam Corey.

Before they left for their New Orleans honeymoon trip on January 13, Giesick presented his wife with a wedding present: a St. Bernard puppy.

The detectives soon uncovered information to prove Sam Corey, in a scheme to save on taxes and protect his massage parlors from police troubles, became an ordained minister with the Calvary Grace Christian Church of Faith. He filed a request with Bexar County to change the name of his business from Tokyo House of Massage to Tokyo House Massage Temple.

They also learned that Corey had provided money to Giesick to deposit into his Harlandale State Bank account in San Antonio. The money was used to buy several insurance policies, pay some rent and a few bills after he had performed the marriage ceremony.

As the investigation progressed, it was revealed that Corey was in New Orleans on the night Patricia was hit by a car. The rental car Corey used was checked for evidence which exposed and matched Patricia’s hair. In his formal confession, in order to cut a deal for a lighter sentence, Giesick implicated Corey as the driver of the car that killed Patricia on January 16, 1974.

Giesick had asked his wife to go for a walk that foggy and chilling night. He wanted to show her a family of ducks near the romantic water at a bridge up the street from their hotel. On cue, he noted Corey was waiting nearby in the rental car.

“I tripped her into the road, and he came by and hit her. It was him. He was driving the car and I did see him.”

Giesick (center)

“I waited about four or five seconds to give him enough time to get started,” Giesick confirmed with no remorse. “I tripped her into the road, and he came by and hit her. It was him. He was driving the car and I did see him. Seconds later the police were there because a guy came by and called the police. Then Mr. Corey came by in the Monte Carlo, just drove by.”

Giesick confessed that his new wife, at the moment of impact, was on the road “on her hands trying to get back up again, but she was facing up. As she was trying to get up, she had sandals on and she was slipping. She couldn’t get up…There was a double thud. It very distinctly hit her twice.”

Several days later Giesick and Corey flew to Trenton, New Jersey for Patricia’s funeral. Corey “was wearing Catholic-priest clothes and was paid by the Albanowski family as a priest; he accepted several donations…for prayers for Patricia.”

On February 22, Dennis and other San Antonio police arrested Giesick for bigamy. It was confirmed that Giesick had been married four times. A one year marriage ending in divorce, a California marriage annulled after three days, to his existing wife Katherine in 1969, and illegally to Patricia.

Eventually Sam Corey was sentenced to death which was later reduced to life in prison. He died at Angola State Prison in Louisiana. Giesick received a 21 year prison sentence, but was released in 1986 at age 54. By 2000, he was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for submitting false auto theft reports in an attempt to collect insurance funds.

Years later, when asked what he remembered most about the case Dennis, a then retired detective, had two answers.

Patrick Duffy played detective in Unholy Matrimony

“Well, of course I remember the book by Dillmann and the 1987 TV movie, ‘Unholy Matrimony’ with Patrick Duffy of the Dallas television show starring in it,” Dennis offered. “But the most disturbing thing that sticks in my mind was going back to Giesick’s house on Tuxford to talk with his wife again during the investigation. This time I brought a patrolman with me that actually knew the couple for a few years, hoping she would trust him enough, maybe we could get better information from her.”

The blond hair lady at the door with the St. Bernard puppies was Katherine Kiser Giesick, the real wife of Claudius Giesick, aka Jim Guilliam. They had been married since September 1969. She recognized the friend, the police officer with Dennis, immediately.

During their conversation, the young policeman revealed that her husband had called him to ask if he would say they had been divorced for a couple of years.

“She was puzzled by this, we could tell,” Dennis remarked. “It was obvious we hit a nerve and she acted like she was both hurt and confused.”

“I will never forget the look on her face when we told her about Patricia (Albanowski)—her death and the insurance,” Dennis shook his head. “She started crying in disbelief.”

“It was a life insurance policy he had recently, and unexpectedly, took out on her life and the family.”

“We thought she was crying because of the news we just told her,” Dennis continued. “But she got up and went to a drawer in the kitchen area and brought back a file—a paper.”

“It still brings me chills to think how evil Giesick and Corey were when I saw what the paper was,” Dennis revealed. “It was a life insurance policy he had recently, and unexpectedly, took out on her life and the family.”

During the April 1975 trial, court evidence showed that when the FBI analyzed the pieces of human hair taken from underneath Corey’s New Orleans rental car and from the exhumed body of the bride, “all 15 characteristics were matched perfectly.”

The District Attorney showed how Giesick, all through his adult life was a “con man who made his living off ripping off insurance” companies. “Claudius Giesick literally lied his way through life. He posed as a psychologist. Dr. Jim Gillium and even collected fees.”

“Claudius Giesick told friends he had a plan by which he could hook Sam Corey on a murder charge in New Orleans.” Testimony and evidence also showed how he attempted to get two women to take out insurance policies on their husbands and have them murdered.

Katherine and Claudius Giesick’s divorce was final on Oct. 19, 1976. They both remarried. He lived in Louisiana for a while, but moved back to San Antonio in 2006. If alive in 2022, Giesick would be 75.

Personal Note

My father was Detective Walter Dennis. As a teen, Dad would often take me to the scenes of crimes and investigations he was currently, or previously, worked on. I became the youngest licensed private investigator in Texas at age 18 and oversaw investigations, missing persons, and personal security protection services for over seven years.

My father, Detective Walter Dennis, giving a briefing at the San Antonio Police Dept.

Years later, after my father passed away, I heard Giesick served his term in prison but was incarcerated again in 2000 for insurance fraud. I tracked him down when he was age 70. Giesick was living in a rundown one bedroom apartment just southwest of downtown San Antonio. He was sitting on a lawn chair with a cheap bottle of wine in his hand.

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My Interview With American Astronaut Buzz Aldrin

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by Jack Dennis

In 2006, I had the honor of interviewing the second man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin.

It’s been 52 years ago this week that earth celebrated one of the most historical milestones in history as United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the moon for 21 hours.  Many Baby Boomers and space enthusiasts today recall Armstrong’s first words as his boots touched the lunar surface: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I was fortunate to gather some interesting trivia and facts about the second man on the moon. Dr. Aldrin, now 91, was bestowed the nickname “Buzz” from his baby sister who could only say “Buzzer” instead of “brother” in their New Jersey home.  Little did they know this would evolve into the recognizable inspiration for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear’s name decades later.

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. stepped on the moon at 03:15:16 Coordinated Universal Time on July 21, 1969. “Beautiful view,” Aldrin simply uttered the first words to describe what he was experiencing. “Magnificent desolation.”

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin, 2006

New information previously not generally known by the public released by Aldrin recently, combined with the 2006 interview by Dennis, is revealed below: 

When probed about Armstrong and him sighting an UFO on their voyage to the moon, Aldrin beamed. “Yes, we saw something,” he clarified. “But you have to remember the times. We could not blare it out that we saw any UFO because everyone was listening and hanging on to every word we said.”

“Delicately, we asked Houston the location of the SIVB (booster rocket) and they told us something like it was 6,000 miles away,” Aldrin continued. “I remember we talked about it as being L-shaped.”

“Over the years, there have been many suppositions and misrepresentations, but we believe now it was a panel left over from the separation of the spacecraft,” winked Aldrin playfully.

The two were on the lunar surface for 21 hours and returned to earth with 46 pounds of moon rocks and specimens.

Did Aldrin feel any pressure to say or not say anything publicly while he was on the moon?

“Not censorship, if that is what you are implying,” he answered. “We knew what we were doing was unparalleled and extraordinary in human history so we took our choice of words into account as part of our responsibility.”

“Just a few minutes on the moon, I did make a statement of reflection asking everyone to give thanks for the moment,” Aldrin said. “And then, with the radio off, I read from the Scripture. Only Neil (Armstrong) heard me.”

Aldrin took a communion wafer and vial of wine from his minister to the surface of the moon.

“I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me,” wrote Aldrin years after the mission. “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.”

“Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.. Apart from me you can do nothing,'” he wrote.

Aldrin continued, “It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin

It is also interesting to note that Aldrin was the first astronaut to earn a doctorate degree. His thesis was the foundation and idea for the docking procedures used in the Gemini and Apollo missions. He was the first astronaut to accomplish a successful spacewalk, while during the Gemini 12 mission of 1966, he was outside the capsule for 5 1/2 hours.

What are Aldrin’s ideas about climate change?

“I think the climate has been changing for billions of years. If it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today. I’m not necessarily of the school that we are causing it all, I think the world is causing it.”

Moon germ worries.

Amid concerns over what germs the astronauts might have brought back with them from the moon, they were kept in quarantine for three weeks after their return to Earth before they could be reunited with their families. The quarantine experience “quickly became oppressive” according to a NASA history of the mission.

The astronauts had to wear “biological isolation garments” before they went into quarantine, where they had to keep themselves entertained with an exercise room, a ping pong table, television, reading material and phone calls to their families. The suits were to ensure that “the lunar dust we brought back wouldn’t give people on earth our moon germs,” Aldrin said.

“I always found it funny that the rags used to wipe us down that were covered with moon dust were dropped in the ocean,” he tweeted. “So the poor underwater creatures got our moon germs instead.”

Aldrin then suggested that the moon dust in the ocean could be “fodder for a Godzilla movie.”

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What I Learned About Happiness From Interviewing Famous People

From Elvis Presley to B.B. King to Buzz Aldrin to Clint Eastwood and so many more, I had the pleasure and opportunity visit with some of the most influential people of our times. I always asked questions about happiness.

by Jack Dennis

Rudy Giuliani

Rudolph Giuliani is best known for being mayor of New York during the September 11, 2001 attack. In 2008, I had the opportunity to meet Giuliani in San Antonio. The American leader expressed his thoughts on his personal change, compassion, hope and faith during the disaster.

“Most people are surprised to know that I changed more from having prostate cancer than from September 11,” Giuliani stated, backstage at the Alamodome, where he was to give a speech later. “Dealing with the cancer forced me to gain the wisdom about the importance of life and the lack of control we have over death.”

“I needed the confidence and character I gained from coping with the cancer to prepare me to deal with, and even survive, the trials of September 11,” the former mayor said.

Giuliani found himself surrounded by firefighters, police officers and emergency workers on that fateful day in 2001. The worst attack on American soil became the most successful rescue operation in our country’s history under his leadership.

That evening, as Giuliani prepared for bed, he found solace in the words of Winston Churchill and “realized that courage doesn’t simply materialize out of thin air.”

Giuliani attended hundreds of funerals and visited Ground Zero daily.

“I grew physically and emotionally exhausted,” he recalled. “When I saw the families of the victims, I was revived knowing if they can do this, I can do it.”

“Courage begins years before, sometimes in our early childhood, as we develop our character,” he spoke. “Every choice we make in life can strengthen or weaken our character.”

Here are highlights of Mr. Giuliani’s views.

“When I was in my teens, I seriously planned to become either a priest or a doctor as I have always been faithful and enthusiastic about my faith in God and helping others. Religion was a favorite topic I enjoyed talking with my teachers about. Prayer and faith in God provided me with the strength I could not acquire from any other source. When things are tough, it’s always a good idea to pray for the guidance and strength necessary to get us through.”

“Most of my time as mayor was spent under the maxim that it’s better to be respected than to be loved. September 11 unlocked compassion in me that I typically reserved for my family and very close friends. I discovered that revealing your love and compassion does not weaken leadership. It makes it stronger.”

“Allowing doubt, fear and worry to overtake us is an inevitable path to failure. I could not afford failure after September 11. It was very necessary to reach inside and push the doubts away, and even out, of my thinking.”

“I’ve spent much of my reading on learning about how great leaders that I admired grew up and forged the character each had to deal with different substantial challenges. Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt came to mind. ‘Then only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”

“Love can spark deep moments of profound goodness. When I saw the love of our heroes in New York who looked beyond their own safety or what was best for themselves and focus on the lives and safety of others, I learned that love can help us push aside differences to share our humanity and those things that we have in common.”

“I prayed with these brave men and women. I became very close and was able to learn from these firefighters, police officers and emergency responders, not to mention ordinary every day civilians. At the root of all of this, it was love, and not so much the sense of duty, that caused those firefighters to run into the flaming towers to save those he or she had never met. Love can so powerful it can help us be kind to even those who are cruel to us.”

Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis, “one of the 5 most recognizable people in the world,” according to Newsweek magazine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his efforts and results with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The “King of Comedy” died August 20, 2017 at age 91. Millions know him for helping the Muscular Dystrophy Association in 1950 and helped raise more than $2 billion for almost 60 years.

He teamed up with Dean Martin at age 19 to launch their careers to the top of the movie charts and worldwide stardom. 

 In 2008, I had the opportunity to meet Lewis in San Antonio. The American comedian, actor, and director expressed his thoughts on happy and the key to success in life before he went on stage to address a crowd of 18,000 people in the Alamodome.

“No one gets through life unscathed,” Lewis told the audience. “Pain, rejection and sorrow have been obstacles in life, but they have also been a source of inspiration.”

“My parents were performers on the road and were never home, so relatives raised me. I missed them so much,” he recalled. “Comedy, and being the center of attention and making people laugh, began as a means to fill the emptiness. It became my life.”

“At first I didn’t know what I was doing,” Lewis laughed. “I kept going on and I found the key and that was to squelch the fear!”

“Don’t let fear rob you of opportunities,” he pointed up. “Take risks. There is no limit to what you can do, but you have to take that first step past fear. You can make it work for you.”

Here are highlights of Lewis’s views, both backstage and onstage:

I had met Jerry Lewis briefly behind the Majestic Theater in San Antonio in January 1995 where he was performing the play ‘Damn Yankees.’ It was after a matinee show, his throat was hurting and his voice was hoarse to the point he had to be relieved of showing up for the evening performance.

He was staying at the La Mansion hotel on the River Walk just across the street from the theater but was unable to meet. It was a pleasure to get to go backstage at the Alamodome years later and talk with this great American entertainer.

Lewis had been watching the monitors backstage to see those going on before him onstage. Dressed in a back suit, with a red shirt and handkerchief in his front pocket, Lewis smiled from his electric mobility scooter as I approached. (Note: I had just won a dance contest by process of elimination from the audience crowd roar among 21 contestants. The prize? A free trip to Walt Disney World for my family.)

“Mr. Energy, come shake my hand,” he offered his hand to me. I was exhausted and happy to win, but especially excited to meet him. He laughed when I asked what was his key to happiness in life.

Looking at me square in the eyes, Jerry Lewis grabbed my arm with his right hand and pointed to me with his left. He was serious. Then smiled again.

 “The key to happiness and maintaining joy in your life is easy,” he grinned. “Do you remember when you were nine-years-old?”

He paused.

“If you can remember that time and always be the person you were when you were nine, you will have a happy life.”

“Applying that same sense of humor, the childlike humor of a nine-year-old, as I see it, is the secret to getting through life and getting the most out of it,” Lewis explained. “Laughter is healing. Many doctors now know that it is the truth that laughter is a terrific safety valve.”

“When I see how serious people are, it becomes automatic for me that I must stop this seriousness,” Lewis spoke. “Immediately, I become mischievous and do whatever I can and whatever it takes to lighten the mood.”

“The smiles and laughter that follow make me happy and make me know and remember I’m doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do.”

Jerry Lewis’s legacy includes more than 60 films (including 18 he wrote, directed and starred in), concerts, radio, television, and standup performances since age 5.

Interviewing Others

Over the years I made it a habit to always ask the question, “What makes you happy?”

If they answered and had the time, I would ask for elaboration. I didn’t always get it and some where reluctant to pursue that line of questioning. The biggest surprise was from Merle Haggard (I will write about later). But here are some notable personalities who were enthusiastic about the subject of happiness.

The age they were when I asked them.
Jerry Lewis83“…remember when you were nine-years-old? Always be the person you were when you were nine.”
Elvis Presley41“Knowing and appreciating what God has blessed me with.”
Gene Krantz72“Always reach for the stars.”
May Pang60“John said it best: IMAGINE.”
Clint Eastwood46“Working hard, and long enough, to pay my dues and earn the right to do what I want to do.”
B.B. King85“Well, Son, it music of course. Singing and playing.”
Buzz Aldrin76“Continuing to learn and continuing to have opportunities to apply what you learn.”

A Reason More Parents Are Not Allowing Their Children to Enroll at Texas State University: Beto O’Rourke

In a December 2020 conversation with a group of friends and acquaintances, the topic of student indoctrination by liberal college professors came up.

When one father asked where I graduated, I proudly said,” Texas State, but when I went there it was good ol’ Southwest Texas State University!”

TXST

The response was not what I expected.

“We are pulling our daughter out of there,” he replied. “One semester there and she’s like a different human being. She won’t be back in January. Our friends warned us that it’s turned into an indoctrination factory and now I see why.”

I was startled and a bit embarrassed, but ready to defend MY university, after all, as a proud graduate I’d supported some alumni functions throughout the years. Among my favorites were speaking before  journalism classes back in the 1990s.

As an executive at a major retailer in Texas, I had participated in mentoring programs speaking of the virtues of being a proud Bobcat.

“Our son is at Kerrville Schreiner College getting basics out of the way,” said one lady. “But we have been hearing the same. He’s not going to San Marcos (home of TXST) as we planned. They said they didn’t even recognize their children.”

“Kind of like coming back as a Stepford Wife, huh?” another father asked.

“Exactly,” she replied. “They said they were coming back like they’ve been hypnotized.”

Embarassed, I just listened.

That’s when one of the parents mentioned Democrat Beto O’Rourke, the failed candidate for Texas governor and wannabe U.S. president, would be teaching at both TXST and University of Texas at Austin during spring 2021.

The conversation turned to how O’Rourke, as a city councilman in 2006, supported a controversial El Paso real estate deal that would have enriched his father-in-law while threatening Mexican-American residents with losing their property via eminent domain (This was reported by the New York Times in 2018).

Because I didn’t know much about it, it was best I follow along and research later.

O’Rourke

On March 2, 2021, I received an email from the Senior Director of Development who indicated she had “recently joined the Texas State University Development team and will be your new contact for all things maroon and gold. As an SWT graduate (c/o 2000) and former Strutter, I am thrilled to be back on-campus and look forward to working with all of our wonderful faculty, staff, alumni and friends.”

“It would be a pleasure to visit with you for a few minutes within the coming weeks to share updates from campus and learn more about your time at the university and extraordinary career in journalism and beyond,” she continued. “Having the opportunity to engage and strengthen our network of Bobcat support is so important for our continued success as we build toward the future.”

TXST

She then suggested some dates and times of her availability to discuss my support of the university.

“I’m happy to provide additional availability if necessary to accommodate for an in-person discussion in Boerne,” she closed. “Of course keeping COVID precautions in mind, my schedule is flexible on most days to arrange a virtual meeting if that is preferred at this time.”

My reply was straightforward.

“No thank you. After learning TXST hired Beto O’Rourke as a lecturer, I no longer want to support the university I so dearly loved. The thought that he would be even considered tells me that indoctrination of students is the agenda.”

During my research in December and January, I learned more about O’Rourke that supported the parents concerns about their children attending TXST (and UT, Austin).

When he attempted to run away from the scene of an accident where he smashed into a woman while he was Driving While Intoxicated in 1998, it wasn’t his first criminal offense.

In 1995, he was arrested for burglary. Here’s the Texas Tribune take on the crime:

Why would the Chair of the Political Science Department at TXST be so giddy about having O’Rourke as a lecturer for $7,500, plus expenses?

On March 9, I received an email back from Texas State acknowledging “The hiring has definitely been a hot topic.”

“Good Morning, Mr. Dennis –

Thank you so much for responding and sharing your thoughts with me.

Our goal at TXST is to provide students with a well-rounded academic experience. O’Rourke will indeed be teaching an elective class in political science as well as  T. Vance McMahan, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush; both adding great value to the course offerings and learning opportunities available to our students. The hiring has definitely been a hot topic so I’ve included the following link to an article that you may wish to review: Opinion: Beto O’Rourke’s arrival is an opportunity, not a political move | Opinions | universitystar.com

Respecting your current stance regarding support, I would still be delighted to connect and nurture your relationship with the university if that is a possibility, now or sometime in the future.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for all things TXST.”

The opinion she sent, from the student newspaper, only solidified my stance. In 1977, I was the managing editor of the University Star and would have never dreamed of being an echoing mouthpiece for the University over such controversial choices.

I was called in several times (with Journalism Chair Dr. Heber Taylor or professor Jeff Henderson and Chief Editor Rhonda Black) because my articles exposed “consultant fees” (kickbacks), and other wrongs regarding the design of a new $17,000 University logo, outrageous parking fees (which led to a fair on-campus bus system from satellite parking, a scheme to sell more tickets than there were seats to university events, violations in fire codes, etc.).

The only article I was forbidden to publish was about a devil worshipping gang who sacrificed animals and practiced their coven activities at Devil’s Backbone (natural amphitheatre in the valley above the ridges across from the rest area) outside of San Marcos.

Trying to counter with “all is well” because they have someone also teaching who worked in the George W. Bush administration might convince a 19-year-old, but it wasn’t going to cut it with me. I’ve actually interviewed George W., and Bill Clinton, and even Jimmy Carter (just days before his loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980).

In 1976, I won Investigative Reporter of the Year out of all universities at the annual Rocky Mountain Collegiate Press Association (RMCPA) in Tucson.

Old Main, in the ’70s the Journalism Dept. took up the entire 2nd floor.

The following year, thanks to Jeff Henderson, the organization held their annual meeting at Southwest Texas State University. I stepped down as Managing Editor of the Star to become Student President of RMCPA which counted as my journalism internship.

During this same period, I was the first vice-president and cofounder, along with president Terry “Tex” Toler of establishing Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists) at the university.

I was a teenager when I began publishing in national, state and local publications…But look what O’Rourke wrote when he was in his teens:

Here are major contributors to O’Rourke in the 2017-2018 election cycle. It’s no wonder individuals who work in our education system brandish their desires for him to teach among them.

Scanning through online articles, mainly liberal ones, the feedback of readers was predominately negative. Here are samples:

“I stand by my decision and will not be supporting Texas State,” I replied this morning. “The ‘well rounded” statement is nonsense. Having O’Rourke there is pure indoctrination…”