Exploring how one person’s story contains a nugget of truth that resonates with many.
RISING UP — A true story of love, race, forgiveness, and the sexual revolution
This is my in-progress book about our family’s twentieth century life on Chicago’s West Side, where two generations had staked their future.
I’ve searched through long-hidden letters and diaries to discover how madness, distance, and my parents’ devotion to work in a devastated landscape claw at their happiness—as they struggle to cope with the racial and social revolutions of the 1960s.
My essays and articles are true-to-life narratives, most focusing on real people and their passions. Others take the reader on a person’s inner or outer journey.
100,000 views and counting
Family Archaeologist begins with a 1910 love note from Josef Gartz to Lisi Ebner, my future grandparents, in their native Transylvania. Based on Josef and Lisi’s letters and diaries, the blog follows their bold decision to strike out for America. It’s a universal story of risk and determination.
Follow them from young marrieds to parents to their live-long career as janitors in West Garfield Park, where they work, save, and fulfill the dream of sending their three sons to college and owning rental property. One son, my dad, Fred, meets and marries my mom, Lillian in November 1942. Mom’s diaries of her courtship with Dad pulse with the thrill of falling in love. But just before their wedding, Mom’s mother plummets into psychosis, becoming a toxic presence in their lives.
Letters of a World War II Airman
Shortly after my parents marry, Dad’s younger brother, Frank, enters the Army Air Corps and graduates as a navigator. The letters fly back and forth, tracing the course of the war, life on the home front, and the evolution of a neighborhood kid into seasoned airman.
I’ve posted these letters on, or close to, the seventieth anniversary of the date each was written. You can read them on the blog, Letters of a WWII Airman. They’re a link across the decades to another era and to the anxious hearts of all parents whose children are in harm’s way. The last post of this blog was made in October 2015, when the letters ended.