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 […]

January 14th, 2021|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 […]

January 7th, 2021|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.  Adolf and Louisa were of German descent, but were both 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 for […]

December 31st, 2020|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“You Have to Stay Positive.”

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 […]

December 24th, 2020|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 […]

December 17th, 2020|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“One Christmas Left”

Angela Esposito was born on September 29, 1918 in Chicago.  Her father, Leo Esposito, came to America as a young man from Florence, Italy.  He made his way to Chicago and found work as a stone mason.  After working as such for several years, he saved enough to open an ice cream parlor and made […]

December 11th, 2020|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“You Have to Make the Best of It”

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, […]

December 3rd, 2020|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 […]

November 26th, 2020|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 […]

November 19th, 2020|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 […]

November 12th, 2020|Novel Notes of Local Lore|