Monday, August 2, 2010

Walt Oleksy -- Just Another Reason to Love Facebook

More than forty years ago, Walt Oleksy bounced in and out of my life.  Then less than a week ago, there he was again, friending me on Facebook!
He sat behind me in a bullpen at the Home Office of Allstate Insurance Company located in Northbrook, Illinois.  We were writers of various employee publications for the company and I loved it.  I did the Home Office publication "All Hands".   Walt hated it.  There were about four of us, maybe five.  All of us were happy except Walt.  
Never a corporate man, he’d slide his face down daily holding his cheeks with his enormous hands and would groan something like “Kill me, get me out of here now.” Often I couldn’t understand what he was saying because his face was smashed into his desk.  Most writers were thrilled with a steady paycheck to supplement their freelance work, but not Walt.  
Ultimately, I was never sure whether he was fired or if he quit or if it was something in between, but I talked to him on the phone afterwards one day, and he was blithely researching an article which involved a tennis racket and an ironing board as I recall.  He really didn’t like many people a lot, and men in suits weren’t people at all to him, I don’t believe.  
Then he hit his niche.  He wrote articles galore and something like thirty books.  He’d grab hold of a topic, work it like a pit bull, write a book then move on to another topic that was totally unrelated.  Here's a list:

He’s amazing and fascinating.  He has at least one website devoted to old movies, loves Errol Flynn, his dog and has lived in the same place, I think, for as long as I’ve known him. Eccentric, interesting, always ready with book recommendations, never married and nobody’s fool, Walt is worth keeping track of.  I found one of his books in a library once and then I found him on the web, got an email address somehow back when and we chatted a little but now this.  

I love Facebook for more reasons than Walt, but he’s reason enough.  What a guy.  I feel sorry for people Facebook scares.  Consider what they might be missing!

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