Waldemar Karlsson – 95 years young!

Waldemar “Wally” Karlsson was born on February 2, 1899 in Sweden to Ralf Karlsson and Beata Berglund.  Ralf was a farmer, and Beata cared for their ten children: Olov, Njord, Melker, Carola, Ebba, Waldemar, Breta, Niklas, Ludvig and Hulda.  As a young boy, Wally learned to play the violin and was often chosen to play […]

March 21st, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“I’m Losing My Mind…”

Jonas “John” Dusek was born on January 3, 1913 to Adolf Dusek and Valerie Janota, both Czechoslovakian immigrants who came to Chicago in 1908.  Adolf worked as a cabinet maker, and Valerie cared for their three children: Tania, Josef, and John.  When she was just thirty-one, however, Valerie died giving birth to what would have […]

March 14th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“Absolutely Full of Life”

Sara Arnold was born on January 27, 1900 to Vladan Medved and Terezia Novak in Zariecie, Slovakia. Vlad and Terezia immigrated to the United States in 1904 and settled in the Pilsen area of Chicago.  Vlad found a job as a machine operator at Western Shade Co. and worked there until he died in 1925, […]

March 7th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Hated by Her Father Because of the Way She Looked

Zuza Gwozdek was born in Poland on March 16, 1909 to Przemo Dunajski and Wojciecha Jagoda, farmers just outside of Warsaw. Zuza was the third of eight children (Ula, Tosia, Zuza, Wanda, Olek, Miron, Stefania and Romana) and had the misfortune of looking almost exactly like Woujciecha’s mother, whom Przemo hated. By the time Zuza […]

February 28th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

From Professor of Physics to Janitor

Sasha Pasternak was born on March 12, 1946 in the Ukraine. His parents were Martyn Pasternak and Alberta Jelen.  Jelen, Sasha reports, means “stag” in Polish, and he seems very proud of his mother’s name.

Martyn was a Ukrainian Jew, and Alberta was a Polish nurse living in the Ukraine with an elderly woman she was hired […]

February 21st, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“She Could Move Mountains”

Lidka Klimek was born on March 13, 1900 – one of twelve children – in what is now Radziechow, Poland. Not much is known of her parents, her childhood, or her early life with her husband, Edmund Klimek and their four children: Marta, Olga, Regina and Fabian. Lidka’s story, it seems, begins in 1941 when […]

February 14th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

He Promised to Take Her Dancing Every Week!

Clara Mae Hansen was born on May 14, 1902 in Adrian, Michigan to Henry Engelskirchen and Katherine Burkhart.  Henry was of German descent but was born in Mendota, Illinois, and Katherine was originally from Orland, Il.  Henry apparently had a hard life.  When he was ten years old, his stepmother made him quit school to […]

February 7th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

The Unstoppable Boris Jankovic

Boris Jankovic was born on June 24, 1906 in Chicago to Andrej Jankovic and Dora Babic, both immigrants from Yugoslavia, though they grew up on neighboring farms in Ohio.  When she was seventeen, Dora married a man by the name William Utzmann and had a baby boy, Adam, with him the following year.  When Adam […]

January 31st, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

The Maid, the Asylum, and the Old Cubs Field

Agnes Faraldo was born on April 11, 1917 in Chicago to Feodor Ciesielski and Vera Bergmann.  Both Feodor and Vera were born in Chicago, though Feodor’s family came from Poland and Vera’s from Germany.  Feodor was one of fourteen children and had little schooling.  He worked as an usher in a movie theater, which is […]

January 24th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore, Uncategorized|

“Nothing Would Stay”

Marta Sirko was born on October 12, 1935 to Yaroslav and Kateryna Sirko, who were Ukranian immigrants to Brazil.  They fled Europe in the early 1930’s to avoid the war they felt sure would soon erupt.  In Brazil, they were able to buy a small farm and eek out a meager existence, eventually having nine […]

January 17th, 2019|Novel Notes of Local Lore|