One of the most humorous characters in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” is Eddie Kessler, Nucky Thompson’s inept but loyal driver, masseuse and butler, played by Anthony Laciura.

Laciura, who enjoyed a long career with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, has been making regular visits to southern New Jersey after meeting Brigantine’s Jamie Kessel Satz. Kessel Satz went to the “Boardwalk Empire” set to meet Laciura, who plays the character based on Kessel Satz’s grandfather — Louis Kessel — in the series.

Kessel Satz became acquainted with Laciura after executive producer/writer Terence Winter invited her to the set after she offered some background on her grandfather to HBO. When she arrived, not only did she meet Laciura, Winter and many other cast members, but she also learned a few things she didn’t know about her grandfather. He was a Russian wrestler named “The Turk” whom Nucky Johnson eventually made his right-hand man.

Since their meeting, Laciura visited Kessel Satz and her husband, Stephen Satz, several times.

“I love these people,” Laciura said. “I am so thrilled Jamie came forward. We’re now family.”

Kessel Satz said she’s looking forward to future episodes of “Boardwalk Empire” as Laciura’s role will be expanded.

“I never met my grandfather, so it’s really amazing to become close to the man who plays my grandfather,” said Kessel Satz, who took Laciura to her grandfather’s grave site in an Atlantic City cemetery. “He absolutely loves this area. We talk to each other at least once a week. This will be a long-lasting friendship.”

Manahawkin man, 72, helps screen kids’ vision

Tom Struble joined the Stafford Township Lions Club to make a difference, and his role as the program manager for the club’s eye-screening program is accomplishing that mission.

The 72-year-old Manahawkin resident donates his time to provide free screenings at day care centers, pre-schools and child-based programs in southern Ocean County.

Struble and the Lions have tested more than 1,300 children in four years, using a special camera to take an image of the children’s eyes. Those images are sent to an eye center, which looks for eye irregularities such as amblyopia — lazy eye — which could cause blindness if untreated. The Lions club contacts those tested with the results, offering recommendations to see local eye doctors if there is a problem.

The non-invasive procedure takes about three to five minutes per child, and Struble said it’s time worth spent.

“We get letters from people thanking us because they never realized their child had a problem,” said Struble, who said his tests have revealed that one in every 10 children tested have an irregularity, double the national average. “There are so many young children walking around with vision problems, and they don’t even know it. When you hear about so many kids getting tired in school or dropping out, you wonder if it has something to do with undetected eye problems?”

Struble said he hopes to get other area Lions clubs involved in offering the screenings, and he extends an invitation to test groups of six people or more. Contact him at 609-978-1932.


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