Left For Dead

Casimir Winogrodzki was born on February 20, 1939 in Poland to Adalbert Winogrodzki and Zita Sadowski.  Adalbert was a farmer, and Zita cared for their six children: Bartholomew, Viola, Emil, Henryk, Casimir, and Jan.  Casimir went to school until the equivalent of the eighth grade and then became apprenticed to a baker in the same […]

February 8th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“I Cured Myself of Cancer!”

Verla Swanson was born on March 29, 1942 in Albany, NY to Lev Reznik and Klara Grinberg, Russian Jews who had also both been born in Albany.  As a young boy, Lev started out working at a company that fixed tires, but when the company went broke, he began volunteering as a prep cook in […]

February 1st, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“A Gentle Giant”

Robert “Butch” Baumgartner was born on May 25, 1915 in Pound, Wisconsin to Moritz Baumgartner and Maria Dreher, both immigrants from Germany.  Moritz owned a farm in Pound, but he also worked as a stone mason to bring in extra money.  Maria cared for their nine children: Michael, Meinhard, Nora, Otmar, Samuel, Rebecca, Robert (Butch), […]

January 24th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“She Was Happiest With Children”

Zuzka “Susan” Vacek was born on July 31, 1902 in Bohemia to Adam and Bela Bobal.  Adam worked as a farmer, and Bela cared for their eight children: Berta, Zuzka, Ambroz, Erik, Euzen, Vera, Klement and Ladislav.  Zuzka went to school until about the equivalent of eighth grade and then quit to help her mother […]

January 18th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Eddy Howard and His Big Band Played at Her Wedding!

Kristina Abate was born on September 15, 1921 in Chicago to Swedish immigrants, Anders “Andy” and Cecilia Gerhardsson.  Anders worked for the Chicago Tribune in their distribution department, and Cecilia cared for their eight children: Adolf, Emilia, Pelle, Judith, Hanna, Torgny, Walter and Kristina.  All of them lived to adulthood except Hanna, who died of […]

January 11th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Around the World and Back Again: The Nearly Unbelievable Life and Times of Alek Kozel – Part III

(Our exciting story concludes . . . !  Make sure to read Part I and Part II first!)

Part III:  In which our hero makes his way to America, helped by a long string of strangers along the way; finally finds work as a master tailor at Marshall Fields; and then meets Anna, the love of […]

January 4th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Around the World and Back Again: The Nearly Unbelievable Life and Times of Alek Kozel – Part II

(Our exciting story continues…to read Part I first, click here.)

Part II:  In which our hero finally finds work as a tailor, nearly dies of a mysterious illness, has a run-in with the German SS and then the Russians, and hurriedly decides to flee…

After being fired by Mr. Chvatal, Alek went back to Mr. Kratochvil’s boarding […]

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

Around the World and Back Again: The Nearly Unbelievable Life and Times of Alek Kozel

Part I: In which our hero is born in Christopher, Illinois; finds himself  “a slave” on a Ukrainian farm; and becomes a master tailor in Czechoslovakia—all before the age of one and twenty . . .

Alek Kozel was born on September 17, 1913 in Christopher, Illinois to Anton and Anna Kozel, both of whom were […]

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

“All I Know Is Horses”

Leon Carter, Jr. was born on September 21, 1950 in El Dorado, Arkansas to Leon Carter, Sr. and Norma Jones.  Leon, Sr. and Norma knew each other from little on.  Not only did they go to school together, but their families were good friends and they were often together.  Leon and Norma eventually fell in […]

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

A Brilliant Team—Married for 65 years!

Jan Marek was born on October 13, 1903 in Chicago to Zavis Marek and Valerie Reha.  Zavis and Valerie were both immigrants from Czechoslovakia, but they met in Chicago and married here.  They had three children that lived: Jan, Victor and Teresa.  Jan says that he often heard whisperings that his mother had had six […]

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