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|


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|

She Met Her Husband at the Candy Shop

Wilma Ostrowski was born on January 7, 1909 to Adolf Achterberg and Lousia Keller in Stoddard, Wisconsin.  Both Adolf and Louisa were of German descent, but both were born in Wisconsin—Adolf in La Crosse and Louisa in Manston.  Adolf worked as a carpenter and was also the mayor of Stoddard for twenty-five years.  Louisa cared […]

November 9th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Bachelor Until Age 66!

Melvin Rosenberg was born on December 28, 1927 in Chicago to Lester Rosenberg and Rita Shain, who were also both born in Chicago.  Lester worked at the post office, and Rita cared for their three children: Audrey, Melvin and Wanda.  Rita never worked outside the home except during the war years, when she took a […]

November 2nd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“I’d Take Those Days Back in a Second”

Louis Dubois was born on March 6, 1913 in Chicago to Louis Dubois Sr. and Hilda Kempf.  Both of Louis’s parents were also born in Chicago, though his father’s family had emigrated from France, and his mother’s family was an Irish-German mix.  Louis Dubois Sr. was a star salesman for Armour Foods & Co., and […]

October 26th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

He Made the Beautiful Wood Interiors of Luxury Train Cars

David Doubek was born on January 24, 1906 in Czechoslovakia to Dusan Doubek and Bessie Fiala.  David does not remember what type of work his father did, just that he died when David was nine years old.  Left alone with three children, Bessie tried for a few years to make it on her own before […]

October 19th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Sicilian Immigrant With a Passion For Sports

Umberto Sartori was born on February 23, 1916 in Biscari, Sicily to Stefano and Lucia Sartori.  Stefano and Lucia married very young and had six children, but when Lucia was just thirty-three, she caught pneumonia and died.  Grief-stricken, Stefano decided to pack up the six children and move to America to start his life over.  […]

October 12th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

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|