A Journalist’s Memoirs

Unchartered and beyond his control, Jack’s 43-year writing career was launched in 1948 on a midnight bus ride he shared with a lieutenant colonel, Fort Ord’s Public Information officer at the Army’s basic training post in California. After almost four years assigned to PIO learning to join two readable sentences, Jack faced civilian life with a wife, a six-week-old daughter, and no job. From a copyboy at a Hollywood newspaper, where he earned $5 to review plays, to his retirement from the Los Angeles Times at age 61, he tried to balance family life with his profession. He covered sports, and entertainment, and wrote TV dramas and radio scripts. His coverage of Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) and boxing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and other major celebrities left limited time to raise his four children. His wife, not a sports fan, was thrilled when she met actor Cary Grant at a sports event.


“Los Angeles Times columnist Jack Smith, a plain, unpretentious man with a common name that fit his relaxed James Stewart-like mannerisms, was hanging his jacket on a clothes rack when I spotted him.”


Two wives, childhood memories and crazy dreams

It was so many years ago when I first met her, but almost like yesterday. Charlene, the love of my life, dominated my thoughts deep into the night and early morning hours. After six and a half years, I still grieved like a lost puppy missing its mom. Insomnia can be dreadful, incurable in some cases, I suppose. Married sixty-three years, Charlene left me looking as beautiful as the day she stepped into my life on her way home from high school to say hello to Onalee, her next-door girlfriend. I didn’t need a dictionary to define the word. But I did have two days, the boyfriend’s away, and better yet, she’s right next door, probably long overdue for a fun weekend. “Guess she’s unavailable, Jack,” Onalee said after Charlene had left. Unavailable?

My sleeping girlfriend, always a late riser, hadn’t moved. I checked the digital clock, grimaced, then resumed my trek down memory lane.

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