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Real People in My Books

Many things have inspired me over the years.  Even though I make up the stories that happen in my books, some of the people and places actually do exist.  I have written fiction about all of them - so the stories are all in my head.  Some of the events have happened, but again, the people are all just characters in the books.  I thought you might be interested in knowing some of the real people, places and things in my books.

Saginaw: A Very Difficult Year, 1963-1964

Chapter One

Martha was eating her lunch in the cafeteria with her friends, Joan and Jane. They were at St. Mary Cathedral High School in Saginaw, Michigan. Miss Floeter, the head cook at the school, made their favorite cherry cobbler for dessert. They were eating it as they were making plans to go downtown, after school. They each wanted to buy a new outfit to wear to the YMCA dance the next day. The girls loved going downtown after school, it was only a few blocks from their homes. They always enjoyed window shopping, but today they could actually shop to buy!

Biology class was right after lunch and today they were going to dissect a grasshopper. When they filed into the classroom, everyone sat at their assigned lab desks. Martha was lab partner with John, a member of the basketball team. Yesterday he told everyone that he wasn't touching the grasshopper. Mr. Kraemer walked into the classroom and yelled, "Hey John, catch!" The basketball star had very fast reactions. He threw his hand up in the air and caught the grasshopper that Mr. Kraemer threw to him. His classmates burst out laughing, knowing their favorite teacher had put one over on the unsuspecting star. John was a good sport about the trick played on him and he laughed, too. As he dropped the insect into the tray he told Martha, "You're still dissecting the bug."

Suddenly, there was an announcement made by Sr. Agatha on the public address system. "Attention, this announcement is to ask the teachers to turn on the televisions in each classroom." The principal continued, "There is sad news from Dallas, Texas. President Kennedy has been shot!" There were gasps and many students started to cry. The principal asked everyone to pray for the President and for the United States of America.

Televisions around the world were turned on.  It was the first time in history that the news would be broadcast for a straight twenty four hours. It was the first time, that for days, everyone would be riveted to their televisions. The same footage was played over and over as everyone relived the horror of that moment. It was the first time that Martha, and her friends, felt uncertain and nervous about something outside of the realm of their neighborhood. The world was forever changed, and even though she didn't know it, this was just the beginning of a very bad year for Martha.

A Standalone Book set in the early 60's

WORK IN PROGRESS: A standalone book, not part of a series.

It is about a family going through severe changes in their lives. Many of the events in the book happened to our family. I have changed how the events happened in some instances, and even though one of my brothers was home during this year I put him in the Air Force because of the storyline. Actually, I was in sixth grade in 1963-1964 but I combined my age with my brother's in the story and unfortunately for my younger sister she ended up having to do any of the bad things I did during that year! I'll say it right here and now - my sweet sister never even thought of doing or saying the things I put in the book - they were all my sins! I'm sure she will forgive me.

This was a time of great change in our history. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a name, someone whom a white student in Saginaw had just begun to hear about - the "I have a dream" speech was given in August of 1963. The African Americans were called "colored" in the late 50's, then Negro in the early 60's, then Blacks in the late 60's. Our lives were separate, none attended my school until the late 60's.

Mr. Kraemer shows up in the story, he was a favorite science teacher. Sr. Yvonne who actually was my first grade teacher shows up as a high school Current Events Teacher and Sr. Agatha, a principal is in there and Miss Floeter the head cook makes cherry cobbler. The lay teachers and the Dominican Nuns were a dedicated group of teachers at St. Mary Cathedral. They taught us to be respectful, peaceful and tolerant to change. A few of the events happened, like the grasshopper, but most were just made up to give a sense of different people reacting to the same situations. There was no field trip and the school in Detroit doesn't exist and never did.

Mr. and Mrs.Roennecke, the owners of Bertie's Bakery make another appearance. Those glazed donuts again!!!

My aunts and uncles whom I loved very much and who helped form who I am today, are here in a not so pleasant light. They were brought up to be separate; like many Americans at that time thought that the different races should stay apart. I am glad to say that I saw them change over the years to be more accepting than they were in the 60's. Do not judge them by this story, they were wonderful, loving people.

My mother was a strong faith-filled woman. I marvel when I think of how blessed our family was to have her as the head of our household. My father was a good Christian man and I put much of what Monsignor Forbes actually said in his homily at his funeral in this book.

The friends in my neighborhood, I changed all their names, were the best friends anyone could ask for anywhere. Before 1963 it was a simpler more peaceful time and when President Kennedy was assassinated and my life became a roller coaster of changes, my friends remained constant in my life. The Novaks, the Shaltry's the Slaggerts, the Kochans - you all were an important part of my growing up in Saginaw and I thank each and every one of you.

I hope in the new book "Saginaw: A very difficult year, 1963-1964" I have given you a small idea of a turbulent time of the 60's. Following is the first chapter of the book.