Les Heller and his 92-year-old father
When I contacted Les Heller about the photo he posted on FaceBook (left) of himself with his 92-year-old father, I asked if he had retired. Here’s what he wrote back:
“Retired ???? That is a word that is not in my vocabulary…
Les Heller, 1968
To “Retire” suggests that you had found your life’s work, were smart enough to save a little something, planned a bit for later on in life..and now can relax and spend some time enjoying all you worked for ….NOT….. ALL these things seemed to escape me!”
I noticed that Les listed his residence as Golden Valley, Minnesota, and asked how he got there from Burbank High, 1968, he said, “Let’s say…”I’m still looking for my NICHE.” He’s done everything from living in Australia after getting out of the Navy, to offshore oil drilling, selling jewelry at Zales, owned a Baskin-Robbins, managed four different Subway restaurants, managed auto parts stores, and worked in a machine shop. For the last 12 or 13 years he has proclaimed himself an “Internet Marketing Sales Specialist” which means he sells on eBay!
Les in younger days
Les said he ended up in Minnesota back in 1978, “running from a broken heart.” He says, “I have been married three times…all wonderful ladies…No kids, had a cat for 12 years…cried more when he died than I ever did over any of the divorces!”
After a brief stint back in Long Beach, he’s been in Minnesota taking care of his parents. His mother fought emphysema for 13 years and passed away four years ago. He says that “the last few years were very very hard…after that, my dad was alone for a year, but I was still at his place a couple times a day, and did all his driving, etc. So we just decided that me moving in would be the easiest thing…Pop is my Energizer Bunny; he just Keeps on Keepin’ On!”
Les Heller in the Navy
Les said that the photo with his father was taken last Thanksgiving, and he now considers taking care of him is his main lot in life. I wondered how he was coping with all the cold and snow, and he wrote: “Cold and snow is more mental than anything else…you just have to dress for it and realize EVERYTHING you do depends on the weather…. I have been to Hawaii 5 times, all when I was in the Navy on a destroyer, coming and going from Vietnam…it is such a lovely place, I can only hope to visit again someday. HECK, I would have been happy to make it back to Burbank for the last reunion. My Pop has told me stories about being on the beach on Waikiki before the war (WWII) — there was a beer stand and not much else, maybe one Hotel… I can only imagine.
Les also posted a great picture of Mr. Seymour Novins‘ class at Emerson School some time ago. I am grateful for those people who have “historic” photos like this (Les calls them “hysteric”!) because some of us do not have any pictures from that era. I’m challenging all you Burbank High 1968 grads to identify as many people as you can.
In the back row there’s Carole Aikin, Stephanie Llewellyn, Mike Zook, George Parsons, Steve Irey and Kathy Benno. I’m in the second row, standing next to Mr. Novins. Les Heller is further down in the same row, standing next to Kay Gumm, and Bill Vahoviak is on the end. In the front row, Tenny Battles is fifth from the right, then Bob Dieudonne and Dale Rubin are near the end. Click the photo to see an enlarged view.
Emerson School, 6th Grade with Mr. Novins (click to enlarge)