Longboat Key resident Lester Ageloff always thought he would become a doctor or dentist, but when it was time for him to enter college, his father handed him a pencil and said, “Go be an accountant.”
He did just that, but because he had always had a fascination with the English language, Ageloff doubled majored in accounting and English at City College of New York.
“I’m the only literate accountant I know,” Ageloff jokes.
Writing has been his hobby as long as Ageloff can remember. He has written numerous short stories, articles and three novels. Recently, his neighbors at The Islander Club were introduced to his talent.
He adapted his novel, “The Cigar Maker,” into a three-act play, and residents took part in a play-reading of the work.
It is set in Russia in the period between the Russo-Japanese War and World War I.
“It was period when everyone was waiting for the revolution that they knew was coming,” Ageloff said.
Much of the play is based on actual living conditions in the Pale of Settlement, when the Russians dislodged a multitude of Jews from their homes.
The play is dedicated to courageous friends who hid Ageloff’s maternal grandparents and their two children in a Christian neighbor’s basement.
“But for that ultimate act of charity, I would not be here to write these words today,” he says.
The play, winner of a New Jersey play competition, was well received at the Islander Club.
“They want me to do another for next year, but that one is going to be a comedy,” he said.
The basis of that play is that the town of Longboat has seceded, and the plot follows from there. Judging by his wide smile, Ageloff is enjoying working on that play.
Currently, Ageloff writes a couple of columns a month for a New Jersey condominium paper.
“It’s the best job in the world, I can write on anything I want,” he said. “The only thing is, there’s no pay.”
Ageloff loves the English language and calls himself an “English purist.”
“My copy is pretty perfect when I turn it in,” he said.
Married to Lorraine, a retired schoolteacher, Ageloff said his routine is generally to write after breakfast.
“That’s my plan, but it usually turns out to be time stolen from the daily routine,” he says.
The Ageloffs have been Key residents for 20 years.
Contact Dora Walters at [email protected].