By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez
This magazine’s recent 25th Annual Awards Luncheon at the Tango Restaurant drew nearly one hundred celebrants. At one point early in the afternoon, it was mentioned that I had been at the very first awards party, one that had so few attendees that it could have been held at a taco stand.
A few days later, as if by Providence, I found an old photograph of that occasion and yes indeed, there had been only nine of us in attendance: our publisher Richard Tingen, myself and six other people. Excepting for Richard and myself, the others have long since gone on to their reward.
Out of sight...but certainly not out of mind—which prompts me to mention a little something about each of them. Like many writers, they had unusual backgrounds and fascinating personal stories. Starting from left to right (in the photo) they are Richard Tingen, Virginia Miller, Morgan Bedford, myself, Don Halliday and Jim Tuck. (See below for those writers not in photo)
Richard Tingen: Founder of the El Ojo del Lago, as well as of Chapala Realty, Richard is now semi-retired and living much of the time down along the Pacific Coast, where he has set up an art gallery, much as he did with the Art House here in Chapala.
Virginia Miller: Was raised in Mexico, where her father had established the first American bank in Guadalajara. When the Revolution broke out in 1917, he went back to the States, leaving much of his money with his gardener. Ten years later when he finally returned, his money was waiting for him. His Mexican gardener had buried it under a dog house at the very rear of the banker’s former estate.
Morgan Bedford: Had been an attorney in Beverly Hills and was one of the original developers of the Los Angeles area of Malibu, which today is one of the most exclusive areas in the world.
Alejandro Grattan D: Of whom the less said the easier.
Don Halliday: A Spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain. When, after the 9/11 disaster in NYC, I went to Don for a few words of condolence, he replied: “Oh, you Yanks are such crybabies. We had a 9/11 for nights on end in London during the Second World War!”
Jim Tuck: Stepson of the legendary Sinclair Lewis, one of the few American novelists to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Jim’s column in the Ojo, called Insight Straight, was later syndicated in the United States, appearing each month in more than two dozen newspapers.
*Not shown in photo: Bill Miller, Shep Lenchek and Jim Bailey—Bill Miller had fought for the Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930’s. He had also been a close associate of Diego Rivera, Mexico’s world-famous muralist. Shep had been a U.S. Marine during WWII and had seen action in the South Pacific. Sadly, he and his wife died in an auto accident while returning to Mexico after a brief trip to the United States. Jim Bailey was a widely-recognized expert on Pre-Colombian Art and had written a novel set in Mexico.
So what’s left to say other than they were there at the beginning of our 25-year-run and I remember them all with a great deal of fondness.
Column: Editor’s Page
Wrote/directed first movie about Mexican-Americans, Only Once in a Lifetime-- Recently purchased with another film of his, No Return Address, by Turner Classic Movies. Lifetime premiered at the Kennedy Center in Wash., D.C. —1979. Awarded Governor’s (California) Commendation—1980. Special Award of Appreciation from the National Association of Mexican-American Educators—1981. Wrote 23 film scripts, nine of which were either sold or optioned, some repeatedly.
Established Ajijic Writers Group in 1988. Wrote seven novels, three of which were at one time in 1400 libraries in the U.S., Canada, England and Ireland. Best Screenplay Award—Mexican International Film Festival—1999. Award of Appreciation from Ninos Incapacitados—2007. Biography appeared in Who’s Who in Mexico—2007. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 —Lakeside Community Awards Committee. Winner of IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award in 2014 for historical novel The Dark Side of the Dream. Editor-in-Chief of El Ojo del Lago for past 25 years.
Grattan’s seven novels, as well as his collection of articles, short stories and film/ literary/political commentaries are all in the Local Author’s Section of the LCS Library.
The last motion picture Grattan wrote and directed, Only Once in a Lifetime, is now in the LCS Video Library.