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A colorful, larger-than-life character, Dad hailed from a time and place where fighting and strength were measures of a man's worth. He was a captivating storyteller, rowdy into his old age, and a hero who foiled an armed robbery with his bare hands.
After his mom died in the Flu Epidemic of 1918, his father kept his younger brother, then abandoned he and his older brother to an orphanage, where the older boy died of a disease curable today.
Fostered to a farm couple who worked him like an indentured servant, Dad was viciously bullied for being an orphan, but he learned to box and conquered his foes in the boxing ring or other fair fights, becoming a local legend in the process. Although he helped his parents gain wealth with hard work, when it came to inherit the farm all copies of the will disappeared.
Mother was the eldest of a large, impoverished family - poor, not by today's measures, but by depression-era standards. She assisted at her mother's home-births, including one stillborn and two boys that died their first week of life - one in her young arms. After the funeral, an insensitive aunt told her; "Don't cry, your mother can have more babies!"
Her father moved the family like gypsies to find work fixing cars and machinery for food, which was best since he drank away most of what he earned. Mom was the only one of her siblings to finish high school, and she paid for teacher's school by giving mud baths at a spa. Despite teaching all eight grades in a one-room schoolhouse and receiving accolades for her work, she got fired for secretly getting married.
This amazing story spans a period of ninety years with a historical, nostalgic flavor I hope you enjoy.
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The Teacher and the Tough Guy, my first book, is a labor of love to honor my parents and to establish a legacy for the family.
Dad was a master yarn-spinner whose unbelievable stories took on epic proportions. He spent hours talking about the hardships of the orphanage, working a farm for foster parents, and protecting himself from bullies and small town roughnecks.
I became a believer at thirteen, when Dad received a citation from the Minneapolis Chief of Police lauding him for the bare-handed foiling an armed robbery. Over the years, my brother and I witnessed him performing amazing feats of strength, fist-fighting younger, bigger men, and arm-wrestling bikers at a tough bar at 65 years of age - beating them all.
Mom did not volunteer stories as readily as Dad but she had just as many fascinating tales. Most of hers involved the hardships of growing up dirt-poor through the depression years and her struggles to get an education.
Her accounts of teaching all eight grades at a one-room schoolhouse, and then getting fired from her job for secretly getting married were especially interesting. Her quiet perseverance was in stark contrast to Dad's propensity to throw a quick fist and ask forgiveness later.
Upon reaching retirement, I fulfilled a dream by writing this book about their lives.
My second book, Nordeast Boys, is the true story of three inter-city kids; two brothers and a best friend, who have dramatic, first-time encounters with illegal drugs. One boy vows to never touch dope again as he strives to better his life, one takes an instant liking to heroin and emerges as a lifelong addict, and the other boy realizes the market potential and becomes a drug lord.
Nordeast Boys covers six decades of harrowing adventures and dangerous encounters throughout the lives of these three men, who all survived, each in their own unique way.
In early 2015 I released the 2nd Edition of The Teacher and the Tough Guy, which contains updates and a few new photos.
Excerpt from The Teacher and the Tough Guy
As the family's oldest child, Josephine assisted in most of her mother's fourteen home-births. Even at age 94, she can still hear the pounding of nails and the snipping of scissors after the death of her week-old brother when she was just a young girl. Close your eyes for a moment and visualize a man building a tiny coffin in the next room, while two neighbor women sew fabric for its liner in preparation for the upcoming wake. Now imagine the sorrow young Josephine felt when lightning struck again and a second baby boy died just a few days into his precious life - this time in her young arms.
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Book Description Outskirts Press, 2010. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1432765388