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Watsonville
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November 29, 2022

Letters to the Editor, Aug. 1: Tribute to Venice Valdez

Tribute to Venice Valdez

Editor’s note: Venice Valdez of Watsonville died on April 9 at the age of 40.

To the Editor,

My brother Venice and I started taking up piano lessons when I was 5 years old and he was 4. As I was the first to start, he would hang around watching every move of my fingers and listened to the teacher’s instructions. When his turn came he played good. This went on and on and I was so upset because no matter how hard I tried, he was much better than me.

When he was in the elementary grades, he stopped his piano lessons. There he learned to play different kinds of instruments: guitar, harmonica, drum and saxophone. He became a member of the school band where he played the drum and played the saxophone in the marching band. My parents and I were so proud and happy for him for he was enjoying such events. He was the youngest member of the Grace Temple church choir playing the drum and later playing the saxophone. He was the keyboard player in the praise and worship ministry of the same church.

He came back to piano playing in his high school years. I was still taking up piano lessons. I thought he could never outsmart me anymore. To my surprise when he sat down on the piano bench, (after hearing the piece I played) he played the melody with such unique ease and flair. I gave up this sibling rivalry. I realized then how naturally gifted he was and how truly unique God created this to be.

His love for music continued. He started working in music production starting locally in the Bay Area and later on in LA County. He worked with aspiring artists, recording music in different genres. He spent countless hours in advising, coaching, mentoring and teaching gifted individuals to help develop and harness their gifts into a more spectacular way. He had helped hundreds and hundreds of them and oftentimes he did this without pay or compensation. It is my hope that whatever they had learned from my brother would help them in any way to fulfill their dreams.

I miss my brother so much. Watching him die was the most bitter moment in my life. Gone now is the brother who always had that positive outlook on life. I miss his unfaltering patience and unwavering constancy in helping my family and other people. And yes, I sorely miss those spiritual and uplifting hymns he played so sweetly wafting in our house.

But I take comfort on these thoughts: someday there will be a reunion in that “sweet by and by.” Meanwhile, he is now resting in the arms of Jesus.

Marilyn V. Gonzalez

Watsonville

Venice was a music enthusiast ever since he was young and was reputed to be a one-man band. He could play the piano, the drum, the guitar, the harmonica, and the saxophone. In his adulthood the full excellence of his reputation, as a musician, rested in one instrument alone: the piano.

This is a part of him that came alive regarding his skill as a pianist. He could read notes, but if he knew the song by ear, he needed no repertoire. For me, seeing him play those all-time greatest Christian songs like “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art” and “In the Sweet By and By” was such a blessing. He sang softly as his masculine fingers tickled those keys with sureness and deftness creating a fantastic blend of melody, harmony, and rhythm in the bass clef and the treble clef, unblurred by slur or pedal. His cross hand playing was a joy to watch because of the precise movements of hand over hand, and the unique improvisations that reached almost to the 88th key.

I think right there and then, he was worshipping God sweetly as those sweet and inspiring tunes wafted heavenward. For me I feel so blessed in such moments for touching and uplifting my spirit. It could never be duplicated again in my lifetime.

Speaking of time, as his nephew Alex Gonzalez mentioned, Venice never had a shallow regard about time. He was always doing something. And here (I hasten to add) he was also a photographer and his technical skill in photography was amazing.

He had come into this world and found the real purpose for living, which was helping others and sharing his talents unselfishly. He left this world with a mark: he is one of those who are called “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

His mother, Leonora Valdez, concluded that her son is saved because he was able to pray the sinner’s prayer before he lost consciousness.

This made the sting of death less felt.

Ursula Nelson

Watsonville

•••

The demise of bookstore people

To the Editor,

What made Logos Bookstore unique was best exemplified by one particular visit during a lunch break a few years ago. This kind of bookstore visit was usually quick, right after I finished a lunch, lasting only five to 10 minutes so I could get back to work within an hour. This was one particular kind of visit a bookstore person might make, because bookstore people, in one way or another, always find themselves in bookstores, be it the hit-and-run visit or a long-drawn-out one.

First I checked the downstairs JFK Assassination section — nothing new. Then the sports section, travel section, used literature paperback section, science section (or NASA-related books), and finally ended up at the movie section where I hit a minor jackpot — pictorial books on the complete history of 20th Century Fox studios and Paramount Pictures at $7.50 a pop. They were in good condition. I scooped them up and moved upstairs to the back register to pay. Waiting for the cash transaction, I flipped through CDs that were

displayed in a shoe-type box on the counter until I stopped. It was a disc of a live 1975 Freddie King performance. With no thought I handed the CD to the cashier, “I’ll take this too.”

That particular score (two great books and CD) at Logos was rare because it happened fairly recently. It used to happen more often 15 to 20 years ago, when I could almost find any book I was looking for at Logos. Recently, that had begun to change. Amazon became the place where I could find the kinds of used books I was interested in.

It is sad to see Logos closing. I believe the chief reason for this is not only Amazon, but the slow but steady demise of bookstore people. These are people who liked bookstores from the beginning and continued go to them and like them even after the invasion of the internet and tech gadgets.

Bookstore people like to lurk in bookstores, hit-and-run at bookstores and spend at bookstores. Let’s face it, the younger generation, those 30 years old, even up to 40, a healthy majority of them, like the convenience of an iPhone, or little tablet to read from. Not being indoctrinated into books and the bookstore scene, they see carrying and reading a books as an annoyance.

Like the veterans of World War II, us bookstore people are dying off everyday. As a group we’ve always been a minority anyway. But there were enough of us to keep bookstores alive. Today, there isn’t enough, so we have to say so long Logos.

Charles Birimisa

Watsonville

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