Gordon Zahler grew up in Southern California, in the 1940’s. He was the youngest child of Rose and Lee, a well-known musician who composed songs for the Hollywood film industry. Gordon was the kid who attracted crowds with his larger-than-life personality; he was always pushing boundaries and garnering attention wherever he went.
Outside the family, Gordon was one of the area’s most promising young
rascals. He was nothing if not versatile in his mischief, which tended to
be of the benign, “got-cha?” brand that most adults couldn’t stay cross
about for too long. At his mother’s church in nearby Arcadia, he and
some friends turned profits selling “fresh-squeezed tomato juice” they
concocted from ketchup and water.
In his junior high gym class with Coach Turner, Gordon experienced an accident that would forever alter his life and those around him … while attempting a vault in gymnastics class, Gordon landed in a twisted heap moaning for help. After being rushed to the nearest hospital, Gordon and his family learned that he broke his neck, fractured his spinal column and would be paralyzed for life.
Not only did Gordon’s tragedy affect himself, the Zahler family learned that everyone in Gordon’s orbit would be touched by the untimely tragedy. Chip Jacobs, nephew of Gordon and author of the book grew up with Gordon’s sister Muriel, on the periphery of Gordon’s life. At once fascinated and repelled by his Uncle’s story and as an investigative reporter, Chip Jacobs finds himself chronicling his story for this page-turning book.
Gordon’s accident impacts the entire family, but none so much as his mother, Rose Zahler. Immediately after her son’s accident, Rose became an impassioned round-the-clock caregiver. Rose’s dedication was so profound in fact; it led to the ultimate unraveling of her marriage to Lee, the family breadwinner.
Striking out on their own, Rose, daughter Muriel, and son Gordon, were forced to deal with the unpleasant reality of living a life that was a massive change from before, both in terms of economics and emotions. Lee left the family household and later found himself in debt and relying on assistance from the Motion Picture Relief Fund. He died a premature death only seven years after his son’s accident.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining and just when Rose was on the verge of applying for welfare, Gordon was determined to snap out of his dependency and find a quick solution to their economic plight. Find a solution he did, Gordon became a fast-living businessman and set about selling his father’s tunes to the television and movie industry.
In the years that followed Gordon’s rise in the industry, he had some roller coaster rides, from literally being thrown onto asphalt from a moving car, to wheeling and dealing his way to huge business ventures (with a personal attendant clearing his tubes and holding a lit cigarette to his lips).
While Gordon was wheeling and dealing in Hollywood, his nephew Chip was living the life of a typical teen in California. As an adult, Chip was frequently urged to pen the story of his zany Uncle Gordon. Finally, Chip Jacobs was convinced that Uncle Gordon had a story to tell and that he had just the experience to tell the tale.
“Wheeling the Deal,” is the result of years of family research and interviews by author Chip Jacobs. His Uncle Gordon’s story is a staggering adventure and the book is one that everyone should take the time to read!
The above review was contributed by: Shelley Bueche: Shelley is a nonfiction book reviewer for Book Pleasures and a number of other media-related outlets. She enjoys reading memoirs, books about Texas and books with canine-related themes. Shelley is a freelance reporter and writes children’s book for the educational market. For more information, visit her website. Click Here to read Shelley's reviews.
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