The “Poison Powder”

Dariya Zelenko was born on September 1, 1914 in a small village in the Ukraine.  Not much is known about her early life except that her maiden name was Dariya Kozel and that her parents were farmers.  She apparently did not have any siblings and received little to no formal education at all, instead helping […]

March 30th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“Little But Mighty”

Minnie Conrad was born on November 2, 1905 in Florence, South Carolina to Irvin Julian Wentworth Lewis, who was of English descent, and Victoria Edmundson, who was of Swedish descent.  Irvin, it seems, was quite the Renaissance man and worked as a musician, a music teacher, a photographer and even a pharmacist at times, making […]

March 23rd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“Rats as Big as Cats!” and Other Stories from the Wonderfully Philosophic Oscar S. Cohen

Oscar S. Cohen was born on June 11, 1921 in New York City to David Cohen, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia, and Gladys Feldt, a native New Yorker.  David worked as a shoe salesman, and Gladys cared for their two children: Oscar and Oliver.  Oscar describes his parents as extremely intelligent and remembers that his mother […]

March 16th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Life of Watching From Afar

Vlasta Di Stefano was born on January 21, 1910 in Chicago to Bela Hrabe and Lazar Dragic.  Bela was an immigrant from Czechoslovakia, and Lazar emigrated from Yugoslavia.  The two apparently met at Ellis Island and, though they initially went their separate ways, they wrote letters to each other for the next year or so.  […]

March 9th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

A Sort of Hansel and Gretel Story . . .

Hana Jezek was born on September 25, 1922 in Brezova, Czechoslovakia to Bartholomew Jezek and Irena Vedej.  Bartholomew was a soldier and was always on the move with the army.  It was in one of the little villages he traveled through that he met Irena and fell in love with her.  They eventually married and […]

March 2nd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“He Was Never The Same.”

Felix Dubicki was born on July 12, 1928 in Chicago to Izaak Dubicki and Anontia Grzeskiewicz, both immigrants from Poland.  It is thought that Izaak and Antonia met and married in Chicago, but Felix isn’t sure.  He knows that his father worked here in a tannery and that his mother cared for their four children: […]

February 23rd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“I Had Too Many Problems at Home”

Aurora Sienkiewicz was born on April 5, 1911 to Giovanni and Rosa Corvi, both of whom were immigrants from the same small village in Italy.  Giovanni and Rosa knew each other from the time they were little, and, in fact, one day when Giovanni was passing by, Rosa pointed to him and told her mother […]

February 16th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“I Didn’t Have the Best Life, But I Made It.”

Chester Williamson was born on July 18, 1930 in Greenwood, Mississippi to Walter Williamson and Ethel Jones.  In the early 1940’s, the family moved to Chicago to look for work.  Walter found a job in a steel mill and worked at night at a restaurant while Ethel cared for their nine children, of which Chester […]

February 9th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“He’s All I Have”

Frieda McLeod was born on April 9, 1917 in Chicago to Robert Curran and Eileen Walsh, both immigrants from Ireland who came looking for a new life.  Robert found work on the railroads and also delivering coal and flour, while Eileen worked as a cleaning lady in private homes and cared for their five children: […]

February 2nd, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

Surrounded by Angels…And One Devil

Gerald “Jerry” Dziedzic was born on October 25, 1909 in Braddock, Pennsylvania to Wojtek and Paula Dziedzic, both immigrants from Poland.  Not much is known about Jerry’s early life, except that he was the youngest of seven children and that his father worked as a laborer in a factory.

Jerry went to school on and off […]

January 26th, 2017|Novel Notes of Local Lore|