Before Covid, when I spent most Monday evenings at The Bootlegger Bistro, I occasionally saw an older man wearing a yarmulke sitting at one of the tables behind us. I was surprised one night when singer Clint Holmes introduced that man as one of the producers of his album, “Rendezvous”.
Fast forward to now: My friend Darla is a reader and I had a book for her. “Not now,” she said a couple times, “I’m reading Leonard Eckhaus’ book.” I didn’t know what she was talking about, but O.K., I’ll wait.
Finally, Darla was apparently ready for a new book. She surprised me at a local event by giving me the book she had been reading. (I then delivered the book I had for her.) Darla’s book for me was My Journey: Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way, The Memoirs of Leonard I Eckhaus. From the photo on the cover, I recognized Eckhaus as that Jewish man from the Bootlegger. Hmmm.
I have always known that “everybody has a story” and was curious. First of all, this “older man” is almost exactly my age. I found that out early in the book and, in fact, I loved reading about his childhood because, although he was Jewish and I wasn’t, his childhood was very like mine, a non-trauma childhood with parents who loved us and each other.
Surprisingly, Eckhaus found the romantic love of his life early and married at 19. (Their honeymoon was paid for by the financial gifts given to the new couple at their wedding.) Eckhaus dropped out of college and the young couple lived on love and a series of starter jobs.
The story of how one of those jobs led Eckhaus to a fascination with computers and how that fascination led a bright young man to a lifelong career formed the meat of the book for me. I’m a fan of business stories (I love the TV show Shark Tank) and I quite enjoyed making his entrepreneurial journey with him.
Yes, Eckhaus was a success, and he also doesn’t hesitate to tell readers about his family life and how he has enjoyed life when finally his bank account was healthy. He and his wife and daughters have traveled the world and held memorable parties with friends and family. Eckhaus has donated to a substantial number of local and Jewish charities. And yes, in retirement, he co-produced a grammy-nominated Clint Holmes album.
Eckhaus also proudly claims he is still madly in love with his Linda, the girl he married at 19 and his chief cheerleader.
I fully enjoyed this autobiography initially written, says Eckhaus, for the generations in his own family who one day will be curious about grandpa or great-grandpa. The book is available on digital, but I read the printed book which goes quickly because Eckhaus has a number of shorter chapters with labels. I frankly wish my own grandfather had written such an autobiography.
Near the end of the book, Eckhaus writes one paragraph that he calls “My Advice to Young People”. I suppose some people may see the advice as old-fashioned, but obviously old fashioned advice worked for Eckhaus. Here is what he wrote:
“In brief, first, believe in yourself. Then take advantage of the opportunities offered you, but never at the expense of others. Find something that you are passionate about and make that your life’s work. Make family number one. Believe in God. Believe in hard work and persistence in all you do. Believe in treating others exactly as you would have them treat you. Be honest in all your dealings–even if that honesty holds a disadvantage at the moment — believe me, it will pay off in the long term. Have children and raise them in joy. Love your Juduism and be proud of who you are.
“This is my advice–this is my recipe for happiness.”