“It Either Drives You Apart, or It Brings You Together”

Katie Bohler was born on March 27, 1906 in Chicago to Edward Moran and Bridget Berne, both born in Ireland.  Not much is known about Katie’s parents’ life, just that Bridget was married to another man, Patrick Cooney, while still in Ireland and had two children with him.  At some point, she and Patrick decided […]

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

“He Can Walk Because of Me”

Thomas Bisky was born on June 30, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York, to Stefan Brzezicki and Magda Chmiel.  Stefan and Magda were both born in Poland where they met and married.  Not much is known about what their life in “the old country” was like, except that Stefan served in the army for a time.  […]

February 22nd, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

“The Love We Have for Each Other is Secret”

Rahat Karim was born in Jerusalem on October 28, 1939 to Abdul Karim and Basma Nejem.  There were four children in the family, 3 boys and one girl.  Rahat went to the equivalent of elementary school and learned the basics, which consisted mostly of reading and writing.  He then began working in a factory.  When […]

February 15th, 2018|Novel Notes of Local Lore|

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|