William Jefferson Sanders – “A Hard-Working Man”

William Jefferson Sanders was born on January 16, 1921 in Tennessee to Lamar and Ivory Sanders.  William reports that he has many brothers and sisters and many half-siblings as well, but that he can’t remember exactly how many.  He attended two years of high school, and when he was twenty-one, he married his childhood sweetheart, […]

August 15th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Still Able to Sing

Winifred Hughes was born on June 1, 1905 to Italian immigrants and was one of eleven children.  Winnie attended grammar school until she was just nine years old when she came down with an unknown childhood illness that left her deaf.  She did not receive any schooling after that and taught herself to sometimes read […]

August 8th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

He Saw Her Through the Bakery Window

Beatrice Wills was born on February 17, 1917 in Chicago to Emil and Petra Schmidt, both of German descent.  Emil worked as a coal and ice man, and Petra cared for their two children, Beatrice and Agatha.  The family lived on the northwest side of Chicago and were members of the St. Alphonsus parish.  Both […]

August 1st, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Living a Double Life

Gustaw Szwarc was born on July 13, 1916 in the tiny village of Gulin, Poland.  His father, Jacek, worked in an office, and his mother, Wera, cared for their seven children – five boys and two girls.  Gustaw was one of the middle children and attended school until the eighth grade.  He then got a […]

July 25th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

She Imagined Her Husband Had a Girlfriend Named “Bubbles.”

Fanny Jones was born on May 19, 1926 in Kentucky on a farm.  Her parents, Ike and Gertie Stores, had seven children, but not much is known about them except that they were of German and Irish descent and were strict Pentecostals.  Fanny apparently received a very sketchy education and, according to her granddaughter, Elizabeth, […]

July 18th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Child Bride

Mi-Jeong Kuk was born on January 7, 1909 in Korea.  Her father, Won-Shik Kuk, was a poor farmer and her mother, Seo-Jin Kee, raised three children: Mi-Jeong and her two brothers.  Mi-Jeong says that in Korea at that time a wife did not take her husband’s name, but kept her own.

All three children, of whom […]

July 11th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Forced to Work on a German Farm

Stefan Zabek was born on May 10, 1914 in Poland to Roman and Olga Zabek.  Roman owned and worked a small farm, while Olga cared for their six children: Stefan and Ada (twins), Teodora, Sara, Waclaw and Renia.  Stefan attended the equivalent of grade school and then quit to help on the farm.  Stefan recalls […]

July 4th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Her List of Must-Haves for Life in America: Sheep Shears, Blankets and Silverware

Bessie Skalicky was born on March 11, 1901 in Polhora, Slovakia, a village at the foot of a mountain near the Polish border.  Her parents were Jozef and Aneta Jelen.  Jozef worked as a lumberman, and Aneta managed their farm and raised their six children, two of whom died, however, one being Bessie’s twin brother, […]

June 27th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“Stay With Me…”

Michal Havelka was born on March 28, 1898 in Chicago to Michal Havelka, Sr. and Ivana Beran, both immigrants from Czechoslovakia.  Michal’s father worked as a house painter, and the family lived on Pulaski Avenue in the city.  Michal says he can still remember when Pulaski was a dirt road and horses and buggies were […]

June 20th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“We All Have Questions…”

Evelyn Feldman was born on October 31, 1922 in Chicago to Russian Jewish immigrants, Aron and Riva Mayer.  In Russia, Aron worked as a tailor, but once in Chicago he went into the “junk business,” which involved going around with a horse and wagon collecting, buying and selling used goods or metal scraps.  Riva stayed […]

June 13th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|