The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.
-Lau Tzu, Chinese philosopher

10% of life is what happens to you, 90% of life is decided by how you react to the 10%
-Charles Swindoll, writer

Remember, not getting what you want Is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
-The Dalai Lama

These quotes pretty much sum up Beerport.  Scroll down to read a description of my story
and some excerpts from it.

Thanks for visiting,

Al Scheid

AboutAl Scheid

Al Scheid, BA, MBA has had parallel careers as an investment banker, chief executive officer and founder of new ventures. He was a founder and CEO of an investment banking firm, two biotechnological research companies and a wine and grape producing company of which he is now chairman. He has written about and done extensive speaking on business topics.

Al Scheid


Born into a small, poor and raw Ohio coal mining town during the Great Depression, a young man navigates his way through its macho culture of corruption and rigid attitudes that offered no prospects for a rich life. His family is in a socioeconomic stratum where anything beyond the most basic education is frowned upon and ambition is a foreign concept. Boys and girls born in Beerport – the aptly descriptive nickname for Bridgeport, Ohio – turn into men and women who live out their lives as their parents did.

Shy and sickly, the boy wanted to be accepted by his peers…but felt out of place. Still, as the culture demanded, he eventually grew strong and aggressive in sports and learned to face physical encounters. To make money, he grew proficient at less than honest schemes, including pool hustling. He excelled at street smarts, but was a poor student in school.

He was an early reader and books exposed him to worlds far different from the one he lived in. Most everyone close to him thought his reading was a waste of time and belittled it. Though he was confused and full of self-doubt, there were a precious few mentors who quietly encouraged him. They included an unusual bartender and an attractive older girl, with whom he had an intense, on again, off again, love relationship. These two believed he could become more than he was.

His journey of self-discovery began with hitchhiking out of town and taking on tough, physically demanding jobs. He discovered he could succeed at unfamiliar challenges. In the Navy, during the Korean War, his superiors were impressed by his experience molded traits – tenacity, veracity, and standing up to those who would intimidate others… and he was unexpectedly rewarded with leadership roles. Even more surprising was being selected for special training after scoring high in tests given to every recruit. After barely and half-heartedly graduating from high school, navy training made him aware that he had a brain.

Breaking out of Beerport


Chapter 52

To get it right, be born with luck or else make it.
Never give up.
Get the knack of getting people to help you
and also pitch in yourself. A little money helps,
but what really gets it right is never,
I repeat, never under any conditions
face the facts.

-Ruth Gordon, actress, writer (1896-1985)

There is something beautiful about scars,
of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over,
the wound is closed and healed,
done with.

-Harry Crews, novelist, playwright (1935-2012)

Late in the Chapter

The Plan in Action

The office had become a beehive of activity. My first job was to hire and train a few girls to answer the phones and talk to people who answered our ads in the help wanted sections of the LA newspapers. The first week we had over a hundred calls.

We rented a large meeting room in a downtown hotel and I did the warm-up talk with the attendees. Once I had their attention I gave Joe a big buildup without using his name. When they were sufficiently curious, I pointed to the door and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce a man you already know from television – Joe Karbo.” There was big applause.

Joe was a natural at persuasion. By the end of the evening, nearly all of the people had filled out applications. The recruiting effort for our Coxy operation was a smashing success. We reviewed the applications and I called the best ones back for one-on-one interviews. They came to the office or to a room in a downtown hotel so we could qualify them to attend the school we planned to run. The main thing was that they had to be willing to hang in for a month to take the real estate exam and learn enough to pass it. Within that month we planned to teach them about the product and take them on at least one bus trip to Hesperia for on-site training. It was a large, energy consuming project and took most of my waking hours.

Eddy and Danny stuck to their agreement and the three of us discovered that the real estate exam was easy. We made several trips to Hesperia and soaked up all the background information we could from the on-site manager of the project. The Hesperia Hotel and the Hesperia Golf Course, with a club house, were already built and operating. The small village had a gas station, a post office and a row of shops that were open, with more being built. Things were moving fast and The Boys were eager to get started.

Chapter 43

We human beings do have some genuine freedom of choice and therefore some
effective control over our own destinies. I am not a determinist. But I also believe
that the decisive choice is seldom the latest choice in the series. More often than
not, it will turn out to be some choice made relatively far back in the past.

   -Arnold Toynbee, historian (1889-1975)

There are lies, damn lies and statistics

    -Mark Twain, author, humorist (1835-1916)

Middle of Chapter

The Dawn of Spring

Wendell and I had a stupid rhyme we liked: “Spring has sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder where the posies is.” There is no known author and I have been reciting this damn thing all my life. The lines came to mind at dawn while I was walking to the stables. Alfalfa has its own pungently sweet odor and, in the freshness of dawn, a gentle breeze from the west wafted the fragrance over the ranch. It was delightful.

Spring arrives in Southern California about the time of the Vernal Equinox and that year it came on like thunder. The winter rains had been generous, causing the grassy hills to burst into a bright green, like the hills of Ireland. Wildflowers were coming up, adding a bit of color to the rich green of new grass. The mornings were still chilly, but the sun was bright and by noon a soft warmth took over. Even the horses seemed to know the season had changed. They came to my side of the corral to be petted – all but Loco, that is.

Twice a week my first class wasn’t until nine, so I often got at least one of my rides done before leaving. Riding just after sunrise was invigorating. One morning I rode to the top of a hill and looked around – 360 degrees. As I sucked in the fresh cool air, something hit me. Here I was working my ass off and didn’t have much money, but how many people can take a horseback ride before going to work? Was I lucky or what? I marveled at how much fun I was

actually having in these strange circumstances. My protean life was full of work and stress, but was rich in rewards as well. It was one of those rare moments when you suddenly realize you’re happy.

Living alone in the quiet atmosphere of the ranch had been good for my introspection. If you can chew gum and walk, you can ride horses or shovel horseshit and think about your life at the same time. I got so into daydreaming that I’d ride past my turnaround point or put too much hay or straw into a stall. My thoughts ranged from the previous summer with Jake to homework, to Sally and on to the hated Loco – all in the space of a few minutes. I had learned in psychology that this is the way the mind works to find solutions, or at least accommodations, for problems. Psychic healing was happening and my views of Jake had softened.

My self-appraisals were not as harsh as they had once been; a little self-forgiveness had crept in. I knew I was doing well in all my endeavors, but I was keenly aware of the risk of self-delusion. All my life I had known people who had inaccurate self-images. Self-delusion was a trap I wanted to avoid.   

Getting away, alone, and taking stock did not always result in good answers, but it sure helped reject the wrong ones. Setbacks had come my way and I lectured myself to accept them as just the way life unfolds. The main thing was to keep my goals clearly in mind.

Mr. B wasn’t bothering me, school was going well and the exchange of letters with Jake no longer caused me discomfort. We no longer exchanged words of love, but she had become my chronicler of events in Bridgeport. El Loco was the fly in my beer. And, of course, there was Sally, my across the street temptation. Except for passing in cars and waving, we hadn’t spoken for weeks. I’d have to think that one through - soon. My Scarlett O’Hara syndrome was ever active - but tomorrow does come.

Chapter 32

If you get up one more time than you 
fall down, you will make it through

-Old Chinese Proverb

Sex without love is a meaningless experience,
but as far as meaningless experiences go,
it’s pretty damn good.

   -Woody Allen, writer, director, actor (1935-living)

Middle of Chapter

Hot Pursuit

Late one night Deke was upside down in the front seat of a Buick with his chest under the steering wheel and his head under the dashboard – putting alligator clips in place to start the car and steal it. The car was parked on a gravel driveway next to the client’s darkened house and I was on the sidewalk playing lookout. If the owner came out of the house, my job was to whistle, then jump in my car driving slowly with lights out. The idea was for me to get the car into a position that Deke could jump in and we could make a fast escape.

Suddenly Deke heard footsteps on the gravel and whispered loudly, “Al, is that you?”

There was no reply and Deke was trying to extricate himself when something grabbed his foot and a man yelled, “You’re stealing my car – I’ll kill you!” Deke kicked hard with both feet and the guy fell over backwards. Deke got to his feet and ran past the man towards the street. 

Deke was running full speed, but the guy was keeping up with him! I was catching up to them with the car lights out. As I neared the man I hit the horn and flashed the lights. Startled by the noise and flashing lights, he broke stride and fell. I passed him, slowed to a crawl and Deke jumped in.

Still panting as he groped for a cigarette, he asked, “Where the Hell did that guy come from?”  

“I think he came from the house next door or from the back yard, I didn’t see him until I saw you running,” I said.

Talking excitedly, Deke wheezed, “We’ll steal his f*****g car next time. He said he’d kill me and I don’t take that shit. He’s going be a f*****g pedestrian.” We both went into tension relieving laughter.

We arrived for a drink before Harvey closed the joint and Jack was at the bar. We decamped to our apartment and relived the story with Jack over another nightcap. We decided to go straight into the office in the morning and face whatever music was coming due to the fall the guy had taken. Deke told me, “Don’t worry about this, Chill has done his share of repos and knows the game inside and out.”

Deke and I were telling our story to Mr. Chill and Deke’s supervisor when the client showed up at the front counter. He had one arm in a sling and both hands were bandaged, but he had no visible head injuries. He didn’t see us and Mr. Chill told us to leave through the back door.

That afternoon we heard what happened during our absence. The soft-spoken but tough as nails Mr. Chill had schmoozed the man for an hour and worked a deal. The client would forget the incident and GMAC would rewrite his loan. Starting in a couple of weeks he would pay reduced payments for the next few months, after which he would pay full payments. We were off the hook and the man got a new chance to keep his car. It was a rosy ending.

Chapter 54

I would be married,
but I'd have no wife,
I would be married to a single life.
-Richard Crashaw, English poet (1612-1649)

When I was in my twenties, a friend, whose opinions I respected,
told me his theory about why men get married. It goes like this:
One day – God knows why - a man decides he should be married.
The next woman he meets who fits most of his perceived criteria for a wife is the one.
If that woman finds him acceptable and offers him reasonable encouragement,
the deed will be done.
Within a few years I began to believe this rather cynical view of marriage.
I came to this belief because I observed it happening to men I knew.
But, I knew it would never happen to me – an illusion I lost.
-A. Scheid, entrepreneur (1932-living)

To pay my bet with Joyce I made certain I got to the restaurant/bar first. I had only seen her sitting behind a desk so I was pleasantly surprised as I watched her enter the bar. She was well-dressed, but not showy, and had a great figure topped off by a cute, pageboy, hairstyle. She walked with perfect posture, like a lady with confidence, and her smile lit up the room. Many women wear a smile like they wear makeup, but Joyce had the kind of smile that you felt was just for you. Every man in the bar looked at her as she passed by. I didn’t believe in love at first sight, but I knew at once that I wanted to get to know her - and soon. Attractive self-confident women always diminished my confidence and she was no exception. I stood up, took her hand and she sat down.

Our time together passed quickly, but I learned a lot about her. She was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and had attended the private American School, where classes were in English. She had the slightest hint of an accent; just enough to be charming. She was fluent in French and, being a Brazilian, spoke Portuguese. She had graduated from Penn State with a degree in business administration. I was totally impressed. 
When I asked if she liked to dance, she laughed and said, “Al, I’m a Brazilian - everybody in Brazil dances.” I passed over my background as quickly as possible. She had never heard of CMC and somehow, I didn’t think she’d find Bridgeport or stories about the place enthralling. I did tell her I worked my way through school, but didn’t mention most of it was in a two-year junior college. I confessed that my only language was American English and even that was far from perfect.

Exactly an hour after her arrival, Joyce tactfully said she had to take a subway to the Boston apartment she shared with a Penn State sorority sister. I walked her to the Harvard Square Subway Station. I wanted to see her again and thought about what we could do on a date.

Dr. Cherington had asked to meet my partners on the proposed paper so Jim, Bill and I stopped by his office. When the meeting ended I introduced Jim to Joyce and Marna. After we left Jim reminded me that we needed dates for the upcoming section party. We both had it in mind to ask Joyce. My position was that I had already had a cocktail date with her, so I had priority. Jim disagreed. He argued that a one hour cocktail wasn’t a real date. It was an impasse between buddies; lady luck would decide. Jim lost the coin flip.

I called and Joyce said she would be delighted to go to the party. Jim called and Marna said yes as well. Since Jim was such a handsome guy I wondered how Joyce would feel if she knew she had lost the coin toss. Jim and I agreed the girls didn’t need that information.

Section parties were always fun and this one was especially so. Some of us had hardly seen each other since spring because we were scattered around in many classes and study groups. It was sort of a reunion.

Shortly after we arrived I found out that Joyce could dance to anything the band could play. She was also a party leader. By the middle of the evening she was using me as her demonstration guinea pig to get everyone on the floor to do the samba. We had quite a few staid New England types in the crowd, who’s most advanced dancing was limited to an arm-pumping slow dance. Soon she had many of them trying the Samba - the rhythm was intoxicating.


With the exception of the gritty parts, this book is in some ways reminiscent of Tom Sawyer with an overtone of Forest Gump. The story is fast moving and you can’t wait until the next unexpected event or love scene – loved it.

Marcia Basque
retired California lobbyist

In Breaking Out of Beerport Al Scheid has painted a colorful and thoughtful picture of rust belt living and working class people. Hard drinking and brawling was the way of life and the effects it had on the many characters in the book is disturbing. Many found an early end dying of cancer and heart problems.

Rising out of this dead end backwater and finding a new life in post war California, a place of limitless opportunity, is where the author takes us. It's a journey you don't want to miss full of a wide variety of colorful characters, many love interests and personal and professional challenges.

Brahm A. Levin
Retired Entrepreneur

As a professional who makes his living as a writer, I was astonished that the wonderful Breaking Out of Beerport is the author’s first book, as he reflects on his extraordinary life. His is a true voyage of discovery – of a young man born into the ambition-killing culture of a harsh coal mining town. Yet young Al had one thing that set him apart – he loved to read. Aspiring for something beyond what he saw around him, muddling as much as struggling, he makes mistakes, endures failures of action as well as character, but he perseveres. Along the way, he discovers he has an exceptional mind and the heart to achieve what everyone said was impossible – a top flight education despite his upbringing and no money. This colorful, very human journey is overflowing with humor, irony, and elemental truths. A compelling read you won’t want to put down.

Jim Novack
Writer and Editor

An inspirational tale of how hard work, pluck and integrity can carry one further than ever imagined, starting from humble beginnings.

Roy Pfeil
retired business executive

Playfully written memoir, history lesson, and love story all rolled into one. The book had me alternating in laughter and tears- such a sweet read anyone will enjoy.

Renee Gollnick
young businesswoman

A story of the adventures of learning to gamble, to talk to girls, to sell door to door, to love, to live. From start to finish, Al will keep you captivated as he navigates the daily struggles of growing up in rural Ohio and seeking new horizons.

Siena Pugnale
recent college graduate

A tale of self-discovery, adventure, love, heartbreak and success, told with candor that is refreshing and thoroughly entertaining

Joe Cuneo
CEO, entrepreneur

For anyone who’s struggled to break out of poverty; instinctively has known there was more beyond the social strata in which they were born, and who was pulled by a first love which chained him to the past, this is a must read lesson on life, love and success.  This beautifully written memoir touches readers on all levels. 

Nevena Orbach
Public Relations Executive

"An inspiring true "rags to riches" story of what can be done by anyone willing to apply himself in the greatest country in the world".

Ed Sherer
Retired Investment Banker

Breaking out of Beerport was not only a love story and a history lesson, it should be a “must-read” for anyone in today’s America who find  themselves wishing for a better life but not understanding that a work ethic is perhaps the forgotten answer. 

John Tacha
Company CEO

A well-written, enjoyable tale of personal success through native intelligence and curiosity, self-motivation, resiliency and hard work, notwithstanding challenging family circumstances, financial hardship and the usual distractions of the opposite sex along the way.

Gordon Kanofsky
Lawyer and Business Executive


Breaking out of Beerport