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Friday, March 21, 2008



There was a very heart-warming article in the LA Times just recently-it was about an Armenian baker who hired and trained two men from Zacatecas, Mexico to work in his bakery starting way back in 1975. The men were childhood buddies who came to the Los Angeles area to learn a trade and make a life for themselves and their families. They were working as dishwashers. Not a new story by any means. It’s what happened afterwards that made me appreciate what was being told.

When Jose Gonzales and Francisco Rosales were hired by Leon Partamian they received much more than they every imagined. They not only found themselves a trade, they found themselves “adopted” by their boss. He taught them how to make all of his ethnic baked products and run his business. Then as any good “father” would do, he put them as heirs to his estate in his will. So when Partamian passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack 17 months ago, the two men found themselves the owners of everything, including the happiness of all the faithful customers. Most of whom couldn’t have been more pleased that the storefront shop wouldn’t be shuttered and used for something else in a neighborhood that has seen more than its fair share of ethnic changes.

All of the supporters knew that the owner planned to leave the bakery to, what he referred to as “his boys”.

What I loved about this report was that in this day and age where we have way too many disagreements between neighbors, businesses and points of view, in general, here was a story about how immigrants met and worked together to build something extraordinarily successful-in more than just a financial sense. I don’t know about you-but I wouldn’t mind working for a boss that considered me more than someone to do a certain job and treat me with a modicum of care and respect, would you?

Here were essentially strangers who became a family. For over 30 years, they shared the good times and the lean times. It didn’t stop at the end of the business day either. The original owner helped get the men their green cards and gave jobs to their family members as well. In fact, Rosales son worked in the bakery as a teenager and his wife worked there until she gave birth to their first child almost a year ago. Both referred to the elder man as “grandpa”. Another title never occurred to them.

When you hear about such a wonderful set of people-you begin to think there is hope that many other stories will surface and teach tolerance to many of the troubled areas of our country. I know that there is a similar story in the little area where I live about a man who also wanted to be trained as a baker. He also came from Mexico, but he found a job as an apprentice in a kosher bakery. You’ve probably guessed-he now runs the store, thanks to his mentor.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear more feature articles about how people get along and work to build something up-instead of the all to frequent ones splashed over the internet, the television and the daily papers on how something has been blown-up or torn down?

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