Old Dog, New Trick

Burt Tardy, who runs the computer repair shop known as DCParts.Com at 16500 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood, sets a pretty good example for all us oldtimers.

“I was 58 years old when I got my first computer. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t even know how to turn it on,” he said when I was in his shop on Wednesday, June 15.

Through sheer determination and patience, he taught himself to do more than turn it on. He turned 64 last Saturday and he is an acclaimed expert. He even mentors young whiz kids.

You probably have guessed why I was in Tardy’s shop. My computer died. Deader than bin Laden. It took with it the first 25 chapters of my next book. Naturally, I backed up my files with Rob Lucas at Gray & Co., Publishers, but I still need access to them for polishing, tinkering and proof reading.

 Burt Tardy made that possible with his computer wizardry and various gadgets.

Not bad for an old Hollywood movie actor.

“That’s what I wanted to be and I was actually in a couple old movies, but the timing wasn’t right,” said Tardy, who grew up in Los Angeles. “It was the era of the Black exploitation films and I didn’t look black enough. I looked more Hispanic, more like a Puerto Rican, but they weren’t making Puerto Rican exploitation films. So I wound up working behind the camera.”

It was the wrong time for Tardy, but the perfect time for Jim Brown. Their careers passed in opposite directions. In the late 1960s Jim Brown was exactly what Hollywood was looking for — a big, tough black man who filled the screen.

“He made a lot of movies and he made a lot of money,” said Tardy. “But he played the same guys over and over. He always played the bad guy.”

Eventually the casting directors stopped calling.

“He was arrogant and he couldn’t remember his lines. They had to use cue cards for him and they didn’t like that,” said Tardy. “He wasn’t a very good actor.”

Jim Brown left Cleveland and moved to Los Angeles. Tardy left Los Angeles and moved to Cleveland. They’re both out of the movies.

“My wife’s parents were here in Cleveland. We moved here to take care of them. They passed on. Then my wife passed. My children are grown. So here I am,” Tardy said.

He seems proud of his new career and he’s happy to help people. He smiles and laughs. He’s out of the movies but the movies aren’t out of him. His computer store is decorated with old movie memorabilia.

Over the years I would run across Jim Brown infrequently. He rarely smiled, almost never laughed and did not seem happy.

The lives of Tardy and Brown were scripted differently. I just left the guy with the happy ending. Best of all, I’ve got a working computer again.

That’s all for now. Signing off.

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