BERLIN, Pa. – Berlin resident J. Arthur Seitz Jr., promises anyone who reads his new book, “Snooks: A Collection of Tales, Ramblings, and Anecdotes,” will know him well by the end.
The 85-year-old author penned the book shortly after his wife of 55 years, Phyllis Jean (Bell), died in 2019.
Struck by an inability to sleep, Seitz would instead write between the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight.
“I would sit down and type away,” he said.
Eventually, Seitz accumulated a small collection of his memories, and the Level Green, Westmoreland County, native decided to compile the tales into a book.
Throughout the tome, Seitz shares stories ranging from his early years growing up in Level Green to the modern day.
“The first four or five stories are what a little devil I was,” he said.
Seitz tells of the time during his childhood when he created an opening in the school hedge so he could get to the playground the quickest, then skips to the first date with his future wife, where he proposed marriage and she accepted.
He also recounts his time in the U.S. Army National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserves, adventures in restaurant ownership, the nearly 40 years he spent in the newspaper business and 23 years for the U.S. Post Office.
There’s information about the numerous places he’s lived as well, from Level Green to Trent and on to Somerset, Meyersdale and now Berlin.
The book says he and his wife moved 26 times during their 55 years of marriage.
“My whole life’s been full of being at the right place at the right time,” Seitz said.
Each story is written in short, humorous and descriptive text, often jumping from one time frame to the next, but mostly in chronological order.
The name of the book comes from the 1936 CBS Radio program “The Ziegfield Follies,” starring Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks.
As a child, Seitz’s parents thought he resembled Brice and called him by the nickname for years, he said.
The amateur writer sent the manuscript to Dorrance Publishing Co. expecting to get a rejection letter.
To his surprise, the printer accepted the book.
It took roughly a year to get through the publishing process, but now “Snooks” is available for sale online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at www.dorrancepublishing.com.
“It’s exciting,” Seitz said about his stories being out in the world.
Since publication, several people have commended his work and complimented his stories.
“Art’s book – it’s just like talking to him,” longtime friend Peggy Sasse said.
“He’s full of stories, and he’s got a great sense of humor.”
She got to know Seitz during the several times he lived at Cloverleaf Communities in Delmont.
The friends keep in touch regularly through emails, phone calls and letters.
Sasse said the author also continues to participate in activities with his former neighbors and described him as a kind and generous person.
“He’s such a friendly man,” she said.
“People are always glad to see him.”
Speaking about “Snooks,” Sasse said she considers it an inspiration to older people.
“Instead of sitting around and crying over his memories, he put them down and made something positive,” she said.