She Learned to Read Before She Went Blind

Louisa Berger was born on September 5, 1907 in Macedonia.  Her parents, Martin Everhart and Liese Buhr were German farmers living in what was once called the Austro-Hungarian Empire in an area that later became Yugoslavia.  There were originally nine children in the family, but three of them died of diphtheria. The rest of them […]

August 10th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“It’s Not Over Yet”

Britta Driessen was born on September 10, 1909 in Chicago.  Her parents were Valdis Ozolinsh, an immigrant from Latvia, and Ebba Ahlstrom, an immigrant from Sweden.  Valdis made his way to America alone, and Ebba came across the ocean to live with her sister, who had found work in Chicago.  It is not certain how […]

August 3rd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

An Obsession With the House on Strong Avenue

Zita Fodor was born on May 12, 1913 in Budapest, Hungary to David Fodor and Terezia Kozorus.  It is unknown what type of work David did while still in Hungary, but when he and Terezia immigrated to America, he found work in Chicago as a tool and die maker.  Terezia cared for their two children, […]

July 27th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Her Favorite Job Was Working in an Ice Cream Parlor

Apolonia Ruzicka was born on March 30, 1914 in Chicago to Jonas Horacek and Marie Blaha, both immigrants from Czechoslovakia, though they apparently met and married in Indiana.  Marie lived with her family in South Bend, where Jonas had also immigrated to and had found a job working for the Studebaker Car Company.  The two […]

July 20th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Life Worth Living

This week’s Novel Notes is a special edition!  Author, John (Zbigniew) Guzlowski, was gracious enough to share with me the story of his parents’ fierce struggle to survive in war-torn Poland, their almost miraculous meeting, and their subsequent epic journey to these shores in hopes of building a better life.

John’s parents were Jan Guzlowski and […]

July 13th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Married at Fifteen

Hai Bo Song was born on October 5, 1914 in China to Jie Fu Song and Jing Fen Chan, who were farmers.  It is unclear how many siblings Hai had, as cousins in China were also referred to as brothers and sisters.  Hai’s youngest son, Ning, explains that at that time in China, it was […]

July 6th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Secret War-Time Affair

Adam Cerny was born on January 25, 1911 in Chicago to Teodor Cerny and Cecilie Klimek, both immigrants from Czechoslovakia.  Teodor and Cecilie grew up in the same town in Bohemia and married there.  Teodor worked as a farm laborer, and Cecilie cared for their four sons: Simon, Tomas, Radovan and Othmar.  At some point, […]

June 29th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“He Wasn’t the Man I Married”

Grace Phillips was born on October 3, 1922 in Alder Point, Nova Scotia to Warren McAndrews and Mary Jane Wilson, both of whom were Scottish Canadians.  Warren was a coal miner, and Mary Jane cared for their ten children: Margaret, Grace, Leon, Calvin, Rosemary, Dale, Katherine, William, Mattie and Lillie.  Lillie was actually the daughter […]

June 22nd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Her Dreams of Being a Nun Were Dashed!

Nedda Scarsi was born on April 7, 1910 in Chicago to Giovi and Fara Mancus, both of whom had immigrated to the United States from Sicily as a newly married couple.  Giovi made a living selling produce from a cart he pushed from street to street, and Fara cared for their seven children, of whom […]

June 15th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Unwilling to Give His Brother the Biggest Share of the Catch

Cal (Caolan) Maguire was born on May 21, 1916 in Ireland to Caolan Maguire, Sr. and Mary Brady.  Caolan, Sr. was a fisherman in their little village by the sea near Balbriggen, and Mary cared for their thirteen children, of whom Cal, Jr. was the youngest.  Cal went to school until about seventh grade when […]

June 8th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|