From Golfing at the Country Club to Sleeping on Park Benches —The Odd Life of Joseph Hertz

Joseph Hertz was born on May 3, 1916 in Washington, D.C. to Victor Hertz and Lena Aerni.  Victor was of German descent and worked as the head accountant in a large firm in Washington.  Lena was of Swiss descent and cared for their two children, Joseph and Louisa, who were five years apart.

When Joseph was […]

October 5th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“He Could Make Anyone Laugh”

Brian Cullen was born on March 7, 1927 in Ireland to James and Moreen Cullen.  He was the second child of five, with two brothers and two sisters.  His father, James, worked in construction and on farms, and his mother, Moreen, was a housewife.  Brian went to grade school and then went on to a […]

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

Otto and the Cross-Country Journey to Get Back Their Girls

Otto Hutmacher was born on November 12, 1907 in Prussia to Poldi and Magda Hutmacher.  Poldi was a carpenter, and Magda cared for their eight children.  Otto only went to the equivalent of grade school and then got a job driving a team of horses for the government.  “It was a life of starvation,” he […]

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

From Mexican Theater Performer to Chicago Nanny

Eduardo Hernandez was born on November 7, 1922 in Mexico to Juan and Rosita Hernandez.  Eduardo says that he was the youngest of seven children and that his mother died giving birth to him.  His father worked as some type of laborer and, according to Eduardo, was a drunk who beat him and his siblings […]

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

“She Lost an Eye as a Baby”

Celeste Salvail was born on February 29, 1920 in Chicago to Vincenzo Salvail and Angela Potenza.  Vincenzo and Angela were Italian immigrants who had met and married while still in Italy.  In fact, they had already had two children, Apollonia and Christina, when they set sail for America, but Christina, who was just a baby, […]

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

A Postal Theft, Two Vaudeville Actors, an Unsolved Murder, a Little Girl, and The Best Thing That Ever Happened!

Andrew Pokorny was born on October 20, 1912 in Chicago to Branislav Pokorny and Maria Tesar, both of whom were immigrants from Slovakia.  Andrew is not sure whether his parents met and married in Slovakia or if they met here, but he remembers his father working as a coppersmith.  His mother was a housewife and […]

August 31st, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“A Little Slice of Heaven”

Floyd Vesela was born on January 14, 1911 in Chicago.  His parents were Anton Vesela and Helena Starek, both of Czechoslovakian descent.  It was always assumed that both of his parents were born in Chicago, but Floyd thinks his mother may have actually been born in Czechoslovakia and came here as an infant with her […]

August 24th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“No Place to Hang My Hat”

Franklin Wilson was born on August 24, 1931 to Lincoln Wilson and Ethyl Jackson, who worked a forty-acre farm near Chatham, Louisiana.  The Wilsons had nine children: Calvin, Chester, Anita, Franklin, Roland, Ida Jean, Lily Mae, Hattie and Daisy Mae, all of whom lived into adulthood.  Besides working their own farm, Lincoln also worked on […]

August 17th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

She Learned to Read Before She Went Blind

Louisa Berger was born on September 5, 1907 in Macedonia.  Her parents, Martin Everhart and Liese Buhr were German farmers living in what was once called the Austro-Hungarian Empire in an area that later became Yugoslavia.  There were originally nine children in the family, but three of them died of diphtheria. The rest of them […]

August 10th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“It’s Not Over Yet”

Britta Driessen was born on September 10, 1909 in Chicago.  Her parents were Valdis Ozolinsh, an immigrant from Latvia, and Ebba Ahlstrom, an immigrant from Sweden.  Valdis made his way to America alone, and Ebba came across the ocean to live with her sister, who had found work in Chicago.  It is not certain how […]

August 3rd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|