Tennis Club Gathers to Celebrate Goetz
Jack Goetz who has been playing tennis for 50 years celebrated his 98th birthday on August 16. Just think about it, says Jack, “Woodrow Wilson was president when I was born.” On Friday, August 25th the LWW Tennis Club gathered at the tennis center to celebrate his birthday. Jack has been a fixture on LWW tennis courts since the late 1980s. He does want to debunk one rumor, “I did not play tennis with Abe Lincoln”.
Jack started playing tennis when he was 46, living in Philadelphia working as a film director. Near his house he spotted an old tennis court with a backboard at a church and two blocks away a tennis club. He bought his first racquet, a Davis wooden racket with a laminated handle and started going to the old tennis court to hit against the backboard. He played with kids who showed up on the court. After a while he went down the block to the tennis club to watch the tennis play. One day some ladies were missing a player and invited him to play with them and that invitation led to them asking him often to play with them. But the men ignored him. Then one day, the tennis pro was teaching a lesson and needed a fourth for some match play so invited Jack to play. After that he was a regular fixture at the club, just like he is here in Lake Wildwood.
After our Tennis Club party for Jack, I went to interview him at his house on Jayhawk Drive. We met in his garage which has been converted into an art studio. Here is Jack in his own words:
“I was born and raised in the smoky environment of steel mills and bituminous coal of Mckeesport, PA, down the river from Pittsburgh. I was a very active kid playing every sport including ice hockey in the very cold winters, but I was too small for high school teams. I spent the summers of my teen years in the small country village of Smicksburg, PA, at my grandfather’s house. I was a city boy who had the opportunity of spending three months every year in a place where I went barefoot and swam naked in swimming holes. A regular Tom Sawyer existence.
During my high school years, my brother owned a used red Pierce-Arrow convertible sedan with a rear windshield. It was cool taking my dates to high school proms in a fancy limousine! I never got into much trouble as a teen. Except once, when a new friend offered to foot the bill for a week-end trip to the Cleveland exposition. A few weeks later he was arrested for burglary. My mother was not pleased.
I met my wife of 71 years on the boardwalk – she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And I think the same of her today. Soon after marriage WWII came along. I come from a family of survivors. A male ancestor named John Glenn arrived in America about 1770 and served as a private under Lafayette in the American Revolution and survived. In the Civil War my great grandfather, Abraham Rocky Glenn, and his four brothers all participated in battles and survived. My uncle Charles Glenn was a pilot in WWI and survived. My brother and I survived WWII.
After the war, armed with a degree in journalism and English, I gravitated to a job as a technical writer and editor in the aerospace industry which was in its infancy. That led eventually to a job with General Electric Space Division as a script writer and director of aerospace films in Philadelphia. Several years later I was offered a job with the newly created Aerospace Company in EL Segundo, CA as manager of the technical publications department. They paid to move my family, household goods and dog to Palos Verdes Estates south of Redondo Beach, CA.
While working at Aerospace I became active with an organization called Industrial Film Producers of America. They prevailed on me to take on the duties of Secretary and that led to becoming Vice President. I was in charge of producing the annual Indy convention at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. The Indy was our answer to the Oscar. Because it all went well, I was elected President the following year.
In 1967 I accepted a job offer to be manager of a large department of technical publications and photography at the Naval Missile Center on the coast north of Malibu near Oxnard. We moved to a condominium on a hillside in Malibu with a spectacular ocean view. For the first few years there were no houses between us and the John Paul Getty estate. My joke was that the poorest guy in the world lived next door to the richest. I commuted north along the coast to work while Jane went south to her job in Brentwood at the Union Bank.
I retired in 1981 and enrolled at Santa Monica College to arts and languages. For six years I took classes in oil and watercolor painting, sculpture, ceramics, art history and music. I earned 78 credits and painted 100 naked coeds all for art! At the same time I studied with master painter Sergei Bongart. Because he taught many people in the movie business, I had fun meeting and painting with people like Gene Hackman and Ralph Bellamy.
At the same time, I completed six semesters each of French and Spanish. And traveled and lived abroad for immersion language experiences. To celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary we decided to travel to Paris. I went ahead of Jane for 3 weeks of total intensive immersion study in Paris so I could wow Jane, the love of my life when she joined me for our anniversary celebration in Paris. Even today, I own and read dozens of French and Spanish novels to keep my mind sharp. These days although my reading vocabulary is large, my verbal abilities are rusted out completely.
In 1987, I moved to Penn Valley to be nearer to son John and his family. We rented a big house on top of the hill across from the LWW north gate. A year later the house burned in the 49er fire and we lost everything but some clothes, photos, files and a few paintings. Sixty paintings were lost. Everything from 40 years of marriage was gone. Taking advantage of our sudden freedom from ‘stuff’, we hit the road in a new station wagon. We traveled for a year going everywhere – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Key West, the South, Washington, D.C., New England and up into Canada. I only wrote 2 checks a month, one for the Visa bill and one for the phone bill. After circling America we returned and bought a house in Lake Wildwood.
Since moving to Lake Wildwood I’ve taken painting classes with master painters like Robert B. Schultz, Ted Goerschner, and Jerry Fresia (of San Francisco and Lake Como, Italy). I enjoy living in Lake Wildwood. I have about 25 paintings hanging in LWW homes. Another 41 are scattered across the country. There are two in Norway, two in England and one in Germany. They all have good homes and that pleases me a lot.
As a three times a week tennis player, I appreciate access to a great tennis complex. I played golf with the Niners for eight years but put my clubs away temporarily after realizing that my drives were getting shorter and shorter and my scores higher. Now I play occasionally for laughs. I bicycle a lot, mostly on the bike path in Penn Valley. I also ride at Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River path, Angel Island, San Francisco marina waterfront, and around the UC Davis campus.
I started to read library books at a very early age and still haunt local libraries. Jane and I each read about 100 books a year, although she’s more into mysteries. I have always been a movie buff. I like foreign films a lot and most three star or better American Films. These days I subscribe to Netflix.
At the urging of Mike Lambert, publisher of Wildwood Literary Review (online), I wrote 5 novellas (mysteries) and 4 memoirs. Mike and I published them as a book, “From Makeup to Murder” which is for sale on Amazon.”
So there you have LWW’s very own Jack Goetz, 98 years young, the man who has done it all. Among other things he is a linguist, a painter, a writer, a tennis player, a golfer and bicyclist and a champion storyteller. We salute you and your lovely wife Jane.
By Susan Browning
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