December 28, 2004
A couple of weeks ago, Angelo Alessi called with a story tip.
You said you were looking for interesting people," he quipped in reference to the "share your news" blurb on this page.
"You won’t find another 90-year-old like me."
After a quick chat, his jovial enthusiasm got the best of me. So I met Alessi at his east Mesa home. And he didn’t let me down.
Deep conversation began to brew about politics, family, jobs — you name it.
The former milkman from Illinois spouted hot opinions like a human geyser. My ears formed a neutral net for winged words borne from a man who lived a full life.
"We have laws on the books from the horse and buggy days," he lamented — without excluding those who make the laws. "They’re a bunch of wimps up there in Washington, D.C."
On the environment: "We all breathe the same air."
On economics: "Money’s only good to spend."
On death: "Why should I worry? I’m not scared to die. That’s only natural."
On spirituality: "I pray for the whole world."
The word "yes" also takes a backseat in his lexicon to "You’re doggone right" — said often and with conviction as he makes his points.
Don’t confuse the witty and amiable Alessi as some complaining curmudgeon spitting venom on the things that annoy him. In a nation of political correctness, insight and honesty should be lauded as much as individuality. To speak your mind without regrets can liberate the soul for a spell.
Our discussion on television left me wondering how much TV has shaped mainstream America. Same goes for anyone who came of age before TV arrived.
Alessi, an avid newspaper reader, noted that all he watches is PBS and, occasionally, the news.
"They ain’t gonna brainwash this guy," he said, grinning while tapping his noggin with an index finger. "I’m not a follower."
You’re doggone right.