One of the essays in my book Did Jesus have a Cat? is titled “A Useful Badger.” In the essay I mention that one of my useful badgers was a professor at Cal State Long Beach, way back in the 60s, who planted the notion in my head of getting a Master’s degree in English. I wasn’t sure if he was still alive, and if he would approve of my printing his name – after all, I didn’t have his permission. [I think I mentioned his name on one of my blog posts, but not in the published book.] And I recalled him as being a bit of a curmudgeon before his time and I didn’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest, to use a cliché.
But now, I want to say a few more things more about the whole notion of useful badgers. This professor was Dr. George Betar, and I took several courses from him while I was at Cal State Long Beach, including graduate level courses while I was working on my Masters. Many times over the years I thought about him, wondered what had happened to him – was he still alive, did he die early from poor health (he impressed me as being the type who didn’t take good care of his health)? And while I was writing the essays that eventually found their way into the book, I wondered what he might think of my writing if he knew about the endeavor. And then I thought about him again when the book was published.
About seven months or so after the book was published, I decided to try to track him down, or at least to see what I could learn from the internet, from some Googling and searching, since finding folks these days is much easier than in years past. I remembered he had a son named Joseph (Joe) and I was able to find a Joe Betar in Utah who had a car business. So I took a chance and sent Joe Betar an email, using an address I found on the dealership’s web site. And he replied and said that yes, George Betar was his father and yes, he was still alive. And he gave me an email address, though he wasn’t sure if it was up-to-date and still valid. Continue reading