Seeking a Storybook Ending to 'Conrad's Experiences'

It may be true that every man has a story to tell.

But it is definitely not true that every man can get that story published.

Just ask Conrad Hofelich, 88, a German immigrant, retired lens grinder, resident of a senior citizens high-rise in downtown San Diego, and frustrated author. Very frustrated.

Hofelich has written three would-be books about his boyhood in Germany, his arrival at Ellis Island in 1923 and his life and tight-money times in New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Rochester, Long Island, Miami and San Francisco.

He sent manuscripts to 15 big-time publishers, unsolicited. The publishers returned them, unread.

Simon & Schuster sent him a list of literary agents. He mailed a manuscript to an agent and now the agent won't take his calls.

Last week he placed an ad in the personals column of a newspaper, offering his other manuscripts to whoever wants them. All he asks is a book royalty of 25 cents a copy.

"Every page is interesting," Hofelich said of his main manuscript. "It's all true. This is not a piece of junk."

Indeed, it is not junk. "Conrad's Experiences" is not John Updike, but it does have a certain picaresque charm.

The naive but indefatigable hero traipses from job to job, city to city, woman to woman.

As a lad in Germany, a train station con man relieves him of his suitcase. On the streets of Philadelphia, he's fleeced by sharpies playing three-card monte.

He falls in love, but his betrothed marries the superintendent of her tenement building. Conrad works for a bootlegger, who cheats him.

So it goes. Cops are crooks, landlords are gougers, bosses are bullies, labor leaders are lice, women are gold diggers.

An excerpt: "She kept getting friendlier and friendlier, running her hands over my clothing. Suddenly I got wise. She was trying to get my wallet."

Hofelich plans no further forays into prose. A recent heart attack has muted his muse.

"Writing is too much excitement for me anymore," he said.

Giving 'Til It Hurts

The restless city.

* Uncharitable charity.

Street-corner and telephone solicitors claim to be raising money for the Rev. Joe Carroll's much-admired St. Vincent De Paul Center in downtown San Diego.

Carroll says the solicitors are phony. St. Vincent's does all its own fund-raising.

* The wrecking ball cometh?

The Japanese conglomerate that owns the El Cortez Hotel has notified the city that it does not want the hotel named a San Diego landmark. That would make it more difficult to gain permission for demolition.

The Minami Group of Tokyo says renovation is "not structurally and financially feasible."

Look for a History vs. Progress clash at today's meeting of the city's Historic Site Board.

* In case you're stuck for dinner conversation:

It costs $400,000 to remove all the manure generated by 2,400 horses during the 43-day racing season at Del Mar, which starts today.

Louder Than Words

That was then, this is now.

Linda Bernhardt, Bob Filner and John Hartley late last week sent out a fund-raising letter for sheriff candidate Jack Drown:

"As members of the San Diego City Council, we make many decisions regarding law enforcement and how to best protect the citizens of San Diego."

On Monday, the council voted to negotiate with the Wackenhut Corrections Corp. of Florida to operate a private jail in San Diego. It would be the first private jail in the state. Lots of issues involving money and accountability.

Sounds like a big decision regarding law enforcement and how to best protect the citizens of San Diego, no?

Guess which council members weren't present to vote or contribute to the discussion.

Bernhardt, Filner and Hartley.

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