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Los Angeles, 1968: Happy Ranch to Watts
Book III in the American Teachers Series
by T. Lloyd Winetsky
A series with backstories that reveal bitter cynicism
and uplifting idealism in American education.
An Urban Spring — One of the Most Volatile in U.S. History.
In his latest book, Los Angeles, 1968: Happy Ranch to Watts, author, educator, and
native Southern Californian T. Lloyd Winetsky gets to the heart of race relations in 1968
Los Angeles. The novel explores both subtle and violent ethnic conflict, as well as some
tentative resolutions-issues that reverberate in our society today.
Weeks before the assassination of Martin Luther King, Allen Greene, a directionless young
white man who never intended to be a teacher finds himself in a Watts classroom, standing
before thirty black seventh-grade girls. After a trial-by-fire first day that includes run-ins
with violent students and ominous warnings from faculty members, Allen doubts his ability to
follow through on the whole venture. He finds some encouragement from unexpected places: a teen
mother who is unjustly accused of striking a teacher, a low-achieving gang member with an
unexpected gift for poetry, and an elderly teacher with a commitment to social justice who takes
Allen under her wing.
As he builds a rapport with students as a tough-but-fair teacher, Allen's outside-the-box approach
evokes antagonism from some faculty members, especially his department chairman, whose has a vile
secret that adds a mini-mystery to the plot. As pressure builds both inside and out of school,
Allen joins some students and teachers in peaceful protests while gangs and vandals run wild.
After Dr. King is assassinated, the increased tension leads to dramatic showdowns for Allen, who
finds both an unlikely savior and an unexpected calling.
Not another oversimplified feel-good story of "white teacher saves the ghetto," Los Angeles, 1968:
Happy Ranch to Watts is a novel based on first-hand experience and real events in a volatile
urban setting, a slice-of-life account of a young man's gradual maturation toward personal commitment.
Praise for Los Angeles, 1968: Happy Ranch to Watts
Having read Terry Winetsky's earlier books, Grey Pine and Maria Juana's Gift, I
was excited to hear a third book was underway. "Ranch" came through with the same powerful
punch! This author is in his characters and writes from the heart. He ably transfers his
passions into words. Congratulations on another Great Book!!
~ Barb Dixon
Write what you know is lesson one for creative writing. Yakima educator and author T.
Lloyd Winetsky does it in spades with his new book, Los Angeles, 1968: Happy Ranch to Watts.
A fictional story based on personal experiences, Winetsky's third novel is set in an urban
Los Angeles middle school enflamed with racial unrest, gangs and vandals run amok.
The year is 1968 and the story unfolds over a period of about six weeks leading up to and
including the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Winetsky's first teaching post was actually a seventh-grade classroom in South Central Los
Angeles. Those experiences shape Los Angeles, 1968 through the prism of Allen, a heavy-set
ne'er-do-well enlisted as a mid-year emergency substitute teacher at a middle school in the
LA ghetto named for Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court.
It's Allen's first real full-time job after failed tries that included a short-lived stint
with the Peace Corps.
Winetsky sets the table nicely and immerses us in Allen's daily struggles with school politics,
friendships and successes in coaxing poetry out of students facing hardships and dangers unimaginable.
There are switchblades, guns, fights and injuries involving students and Allen has to watch his
back more than once.
Beyond the day-to-day question of whether Allen and his students survive this urban warfare, there is
the question of whether Allen will stick with his new-found teaching profession.
That answer arrives at the end of this 272-page quick read.
~ John Fannin, The Daily Sun News
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Terry Winetsky has been an educator for more than four decades.
After a stint in the Peace Corps, his first teaching post was in South-Central L.A.—six
classes of low-income seventh-graders. It was the spring of 1968, when Martin Luther King was
assassinated. Those experiences were germane to both the setting and conflicts of his historical
novel, Los Angeles, 1968, Happy Ranch to Watts, which is Book III in the American Teachers Series.
(2014- Pen-L publishing).
After returning to college for his certification, Winetsky taught English and Spanish to students
of all ages in the Southwest and Northwest. Before retiring in 1998, he was a Bilingual/Migrant
Education specialist in Yakima, Washington, where he is now a part-time volunteer for La Casa
Hogar, tutoring adult farmworkers.
Pen-L has also republished his previous stand-alone novels, Grey Pine and María Juana's Gift,
which are now the first two books in the American Teachers Series. More information on those novels
can be found at Winetsky's website below.
Winetsky's fourth novel, Belagana-Belazana (Book IV in the American Teachers Series), published by
Pen-L in January of 2017, takes place in the Navajo Nation, where he and his spouse taught for five years.
Terry lives near Yakima with his wife of forty-seven years, Kathleen, an Early Childhood Special Education teacher.
Learn more about him at www.TLWinetsky.com.