By Anton J. Sartori

193 So. Alvarado St
Los Angeles 4, California

(Phone Dunkirk 7-9341)


Morsels from Olla 2-3

How It All Started

LeMars Globe-Post
September 14, 1950

Eureka (I have found it). –Motto of California.

“You may fight with the person who dares to be himself, disagree with him, actually hate him—but you can never forget or be indifferent to him, and you will always respect him.” ~Elsie Robinson.


The time is mid-September, and at this season of the year it is my custom to use the valuable space allotted me to remind readers that Ola Podrida has reached another milestone. Those who compliment me by reading my stuff regularly may be slightly bored with this annual thumbnail sketch of the column and me, but I do it each year because of a fond hope that I may have picked up a few readers since the previous year’s observance. For those who have come in late, the story may be a treat. Others, I hope, will continue to bear with me.

It was on Sept. 15, 1938, the Editor of The Globe-Post ran the first of my proffered articles. Over the years since that time, I have averaged somewhat better than a column a week. Laziness and a lack of ideas on my part, together with demands for space on the4 part of advertisers, are my excuses for not having done more. However, not counting special items sent in, I will have done better than a thousand installments of Olla Podrida by time this reaches print.

I am a native of Le Mars and lived there 45 years. In the fall of 1927, we moved to California. And although a long for the old home never quite left us, we waited eleven years before making our first trip back. 

It was during the time of this visit that I was impudent enough to gently chide the editor of The Globe-Post for his failure to see eye to eye with our then great President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In his editorials, and doubly so in The Globe-Post’s mighty readable feature, Between Deals, the editor had been mercilessly lambasting our great President and all his works. Always having looked upon The Globe-Post as a democratic newspaper, I was filled with regret at this change of viewpoint.

And so it was, upon my return to Los Angeles, I was in receipt of a telegram to be followed by letters asking if I would be interested in defending F.D.R. and the New Deal by doing a regular column for The Globe-Post. My efforts, it was pointed out, might serve as an antidote for the vitriolic outbursts on the part of the editor of Between Deals.

Except that I had long been a reader of newspaper columns and perhaps in the privacy of my own thoughts had at times wished I might write something of general interest, there was little to recommend me.

A few years earlier, I had been a member of a group of adults taking a night course in journalism. Applying some of the fundamentals picked up there, I had submitted a dozen or so pieces over a three-month period to the Los Angeles Herald-Express then running a weekly Amateur page.  About 5,000 articles were sent in each week, and of these about 50 were used. I hit the jackpot nine times with my offerings, and at close of the contest the editor of the Amateur Page was kind enough to observe: “A good news writer is Anton J. Sartori.” Otherwise, my newspaper background remained nil.

Being in a receptive mood, this unexpected invitation on the part of the editor of the Globe-Post struck me as a choice morsel. But, I had no wish to pose as a political writer only to end up a whipping boy for a well-informed editor. However, if also allowed column space for miscellaneous subject matter, I was willing to give the job a try.

My offer met with complete approval of the editor. And with that, I nailed my escape clause to the barn door by my choice of a name for the column. It was to be “Olla Podrida,” a sometimes hyphenated word of Spanish origin, meaning "a mixture, an olio, a hodgepodge.” Some dictionaries are less kind with their literal translation, “a rotten pot.”

Among the more frugal of Spanish speaking people, there is the custom of keeping handy in the kitchen a wide-mouthed, earthen jar—and “olla.” Into this jar are placed the left-overs from the table. When this accumulation of food warrants, they bring the mixture to an even higher state of piquancy with added seasoning and cook the whole thing into a stew, an “olla podrida.” Since ingredients of an olla podrida may never be twice the same, the finished product often carries an element of surprise. Those who know say it’s always good, and sometimes it’s even better than that. And so with my plan for a column, I wanted it to be pretty much that way.

My contract with The Globe-Post is an interesting document. It is perhaps the most liberal contract ever offered a writer. Among other things, I write when and what I please. Furthermore, I am invited to be as savage as I like with the criticism of The Globe-Post’s editorial policy. And should I still feel crowded for elbowroom, I am to reach out and help myself to more.

All of which has helped make this a pleasant and profitable adventure for me. Writing for publication is hard work. I have never found it otherwise. The way to learn to write is to write, it is said, but I still find the going rough. However, given an opening paragraph, I seem to manage somehow.

Having finished an article, the temptation is to hurry up and get it into the mail.  This is a mistake. Most of mine should be allowed a cooling-off period, and then done over.

Most frequent complaint on my work has been that articles are too short. And for those who have found them that way, I can only say:  Bless your little hearts!