Cruising with Kate: A Parvenu in Xanadu, a memoir by Bernard F. Conners (British American Publishing, 2015), is a frank account of an incomparable life, including his marriage to the eponymous, leather-clad motorcyclist on the cover of the book. He tells his remarkable story—with honesty and humor—of his rise from meager means to great accomplishments, wealth, and celebrity. His storied life includes winning boxing titles while in the Army followed by Golden Gloves championships, being inducted into St. Lawrence University’s Football Hall of Fame as one of the nation’s leading ground gainers, which led to the NFL and the Chicago Bears. When being interviewed by a reporter from the NY Daily News, he was asked about playing football with the Chicago Bears. Bernard replied with his typical self-deprecating humor, “Yes, I played with the Chicago Bears. But I never played with the Bears while they were playing anyone else. I was with them about long enough to take a shower.”
Conners writes often with laugh-out-loud humor of his early career including brief stints as a steeplejack, lifeguard, bowling alley pinsetter, short-order cook and “sandwich man,” in which any one of these occupational mistakes should have stifled his entrepreneurial spirit. Despite these false starts, he found his way into the FBI and diligently worked his way up to handling espionage and serious criminal cases running the night operations at the Chicago and New York offices where the criminals, he said, belonged to “disorganized” rather than “organized crime.” He was even involved in the Ethel and Julius Rosenberg spy case. His time with the FBI gave Bernard the background and experiences needed for writing one of his best-selling books, Don’t Embarrass the Bureau.