Elvin C. Bell had the opportunity to meet and/or work with some of the biggest names in entertainment and politics through his career as a politician, educator and journalist. Among his long list of accomplishments is that he spent 16 years as an elected representative in California and worked as a correspondent for Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.
The celebrities the 80-year-old Meced native crossed paths with include John Lennon, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frank Sinatra, President John F. Kennedy and Gregory Peck. Bell’s sharing those experience through his 1,111-page book “A Life Beyond Infinity” (Simon & Schuster Publishing, $32.99).
Bell served as Fresno’s former mayor pro tem, was on the Fresno City Council for four terms and is a former adjunct professor at Fresno State.
As for the big book, Bell jokes that he wrote it “over a long three-day weekend.” It was actually a five-year process sparked by the recurring question he would get when he spoke to local groups. They always wanted to know why he had not put all of his stories into a book.
There was no problem with having enough material. But, Bell balked initially because he didn’t think he would have the patience or ability to write the book.
Although Bell says he has many more stories to tell, he’s included a lot of tales in his book. Bell writes that his meeting with Peck included a car ride during a visit by the actor to Fresno. During their conversations, Peck told Bell that he was going to turn down a role in a movie. When Bell read the script he urged Peck to take the role despite the fact the movie needed a better name – “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
It was while he was attending the Watergate hearings that Bell found himself seated next to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He spent the day chatting with the couple and handing them papers from those seated around them to have Lennon autograph.
During a break in the hearings, Bell asked Lennon why he had a shaved head and was told it was a way to protest the Vietnam War. Bell writes in his book that he told Lennon, “Well, sir, if you are more popular and powerful that Jesus Christ, why don’t you tell the aggressors from North Vietnam to lay down their arms and go back home and the war will be over.”
That story plus the hundreds of other encounters for Bell make up “A Life Beyond Infinity” that’s available in bookstores or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phillip Varney and Jim Hinckley want to make sure your next vacation is full of haunting moments. Their new book, “Ghost Towns of the West” (Voyaguer Press, $24.99), takes a look at spots in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming that went from boom to bust.
The book points out how visits to ghost towns can also easily be added to trips to national parks, including Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Glacier and Yellowstone. They are also short drives should your vacation plans take you to a major city like Los Angeles, Phoenix or Las Vegas.
The press release about the book states, “The book reveals the little-known stories of long-dead soldiers, American Indians, settlers, farmers and miners. This essential guidebook to the historic remains of centuries past includes maps, town histories, color and historical photographs, and detailed directions to these out-of-the-way outdoor museums of the West.”
Varney, a Tuscon-based author, knows the subject matter well as he’s toured and photographed more than 600 ghost towns throughout the American West. Hinckley’s best known for his feature articles of stories collected from his trips on Route 66.
Both books are available at amazon.com.