“She Was Happiest With Children”

Zuzka “Susan” Vacek was born on July 31, 1902 in Bohemia to Adam and Bela Bobal.  Adam worked as a farmer, and Bela cared for their eight children: Berta, Zuzka, Ambroz, Erik, Euzen, Vera, Klement and Ladislav.  Zuzka went to school until about the equivalent of eighth grade and then quit to help her mother […]

January 18th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Eddy Howard and His Big Band Played at Her Wedding!

Kristina Abate was born on September 15, 1921 in Chicago to Swedish immigrants, Anders “Andy” and Cecilia Gerhardsson.  Anders worked for the Chicago Tribune in their distribution department, and Cecilia cared for their eight children: Adolf, Emilia, Pelle, Judith, Hanna, Torgny, Walter and Kristina.  All of them lived to adulthood except Hanna, who died of […]

January 11th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Around the World and Back Again: The Nearly Unbelievable Life and Times of Alek Kozel – Part III

(Our exciting story concludes . . . !  Make sure to read Part I and Part II first!)

Part III:  In which our hero makes his way to America, helped by a long string of strangers along the way; finally finds work as a master tailor at Marshall Fields; and then meets Anna, the love of […]

January 4th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Around the World and Back Again: The Nearly Unbelievable Life and Times of Alek Kozel – Part II

(Our exciting story continues…to read Part I first, click here.)

Part II:  In which our hero finally finds work as a tailor, nearly dies of a mysterious illness, has a run-in with the German SS and then the Russians, and hurriedly decides to flee…

After being fired by Mr. Chvatal, Alek went back to Mr. Kratochvil’s boarding […]

December 28th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Around the World and Back Again: The Nearly Unbelievable Life and Times of Alek Kozel

Part I: In which our hero is born in Christopher, Illinois; finds himself  “a slave” on a Ukrainian farm; and becomes a master tailor in Czechoslovakia—all before the age of one and twenty . . .

Alek Kozel was born on September 17, 1913 in Christopher, Illinois to Anton and Anna Kozel, both of whom were […]

December 21st, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“All I Know Is Horses”

Leon Carter, Jr. was born on September 21, 1950 in El Dorado, Arkansas to Leon Carter, Sr. and Norma Jones.  Leon, Sr. and Norma knew each other from little on.  Not only did they go to school together, but their families were good friends and they were often together.  Leon and Norma eventually fell in […]

December 14th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Brilliant Team—Married for 65 years!

Jan Marek was born on October 13, 1903 in Chicago to Zavis Marek and Valerie Reha.  Zavis and Valerie were both immigrants from Czechoslovakia, but they met in Chicago and married here.  They had three children that lived: Jan, Victor and Teresa.  Jan says that he often heard whisperings that his mother had had six […]

December 7th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Glenn Brown was born on June 26, 1909 to Calvin Brown and Elaine Edwards, both of whom were immigrants from Australia.  Calvin was a construction worker, and Elaine cared for their nine children: Timothy, Glenn, Charlotte, Theodore, Ida, Pearl, Leon, and Martin and Mary, who were twins.  Glenn went to school until the eighth grade, […]

November 30th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Leap of Faith

Simona Novotny was born on November 25, 1901 in Blatnice, Czechoslovakia to Joseph Novotny and Pavla Adamik and was the youngest of nine children.  Joseph was a flax farmer who routinely traveled to Germany in the off months to sell his flax.  Simona says he made a good living this way because the Germans were […]

November 23rd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Outfoxed

Anna Fox was born on April 12, 1918 in Russia to Aron and Riva Kaplan.  Aron was a shoemaker, and Riva cared for their five children: Anna, Lev, Isak, Boris, and Klara.  All but Klara survived childhood.  Like many people of that era, Aron and Riva were desperate to leave Russia, but they could not […]

November 16th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|