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Biographies & Memoirs

 
 
 

Now, When I Was A Kid...   by Dan McGuire

 

Danny McGuire invites readers to join him and his boyhood pals on a nostalgia trip back to an era when housewives shopped at nearby mom-and-pop stores and folks stopped to "set a spell" and visit on someone's front porch to exchange neighborhood news.  Folks knew their neighbors and looked out for one another, so kids were free to roam anywhere, play everywhere and revel in the sheer joy of just being kids.  Now, When I Was A Kid... is filled with memories of good times growing up in small town America during the 1940s.  It recalls what was so good about those "good old days"---especially for kids.  Foreword by old time radio historian, broadcaster and former "When Radio Was" host, Chuck Schaden.  
 
Softcover, 6 x 9, 302 pgs., dozens of period photos 
Price: 22.95
                                                                     

 Wonder Girl,  by Don Van Natta Jr.

 

This is the extraordinary story of a nearly forgotten American superstar athlete.  Texas girl Babe Didrikson never tried a sport too tough, never met a hurdle too high.  Despite attempts to keep women from competing, she achieved All-American status in basketball and won gold metals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics.  Then Babe attempted golf.  One of the founders of the LPGA, Babe won more consecutive tournaments than any golfer in history.  At the height of her fame, she was diagnosed with cancer.  Babe would then take her most daring step of all: go public and try to win again in hopes of inspiring the world.  A rollicking saga, stretching across the first half of the 20th Century, Wonder Girl is as fresh, heartfelt and graceful as Babe herself.

 

Softcover, 8 x 5.5, 403 pgs.
Price:  $18.00
                                                                              
                 

 

You Can Take the Girl Out of Chicago....  by Dorothy Sinclair

 

Los Angeles actress Dorothy Sinclair has appeared on stage and television while also working for the William Morris Agency and as a book critic.  In often funny, sometimes poignant short tales, she recalls her experiences as a rebellious young girl from Chicago.  Growing up in an upper middle-class neighborhood, she perpetually felt like a misfit, yearning to get out.  Only with her mother's much younger sister, Aunt Flo, did she feel a comfortable sense of belonging.  The recurring influence of her supportive, witty, opinionated, progressive aunt permeates these stories of her journey out of the Midwest and into the worlds of theatre and literature on the East Coast.  Anyone with a sense of humor, who has ever longed to be in another place in another time, will appreciate Sinclair's wit and vivid descriptions of the world as she knew it during the mid-decades of the twentieth century.

 

Softcover, 5.5 x 8.5, 144 pgs

Price:  $14.95                                                                          

 

 

 

 

The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood,  by Roger Rosenblatt 

   

The Washington Post hailed Roger Rosenblatt's Making Toast as "a textbook on what constitutes perfect writing," and People lauded Kayak Morning as "intimate, expansive and profoundly moving."  Classic tales of love and grief, the New York Times bestselling memoirs are also original literary works that carve out new territory at the intersection of poetry and prose.  Now comes The Boy Detective, a story of the author's childhood in New York City, suffused with the same mixture of acute observation and bracing humor, lyricism and wit.

 

Hardcover. 

Price:  $19.99                                            

 

 

What Would Jane Say?  by Janice Metzger

 

In 1909, architecture giant Daniel Burnham and the Commercial Club of Chicago developed a Plan of Chicago.  Their City Beautiful movement assumed that an attractive and well organized city would resolve the vexing troubles around them.  At the same time, the formidable Jane Addams and many female contemporaries engaged in city-building of a different sort.  Their achievements still resonate today, even if the women's names do not.  They subscribed to City Livable ideas that addressed the social, economic, and cultural needs of the population.  Author Janice Metzger tells the tale of two approaches to city-building in the early 1900s---the players and the movements, the problems and reform efforts, the conflicts and the possibilities---as she speculates on what Jane Addams and her peers would say had they been involved in the Plan of Chicago.

 

                                                                                 

Softcover, 6 x 9, 372 pgs.

Price:  $18.95

 

Little Heathens,  by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

 

Little Millie Kalish grew up on her grandparents’ Iowa farm during the Great Depression.  With her father gone, she and her family could have been overwhelmed by the struggle to survive.  But this is not a tale of suffering.  She and her siblings and their cousins from the farm across the way played as hard as they worked, running barefoot through the fields, as free and wild as they dared.  As she says in her opening, “I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone, and the sheer joy and excitement of it all.  It was quite a romp.”

 

Softcover, 6 x 8.5, 290 pgs.

Price:  $16.00                                                  

 

 

Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days,  by Jerry Apps

 

In his signature warm-hearted style, Jerry Apps traces the wisdom gained in living a country year, chronicling each month with a tale about growing up on a Midwestern dairy farm in the 1940s.  We skate with him on a frozen pond, watch him drive a hired man’s Model T at age ten and learn to ride a pony bareback.  Whether shooting off 4th of July firecrackers or overcoming stage fright at the school Christmas program, Apps wears his hard-earned wisdom lightly and accompanies each month’s tale with farm country aphorisms and the occasional recipe for good measure.  By turns witty and profound, Living a Country Year reaffirms our nation’s rural heritage.
 

Hardcover, 5 x 7.5, 224 pgs.     

Price:  $17.50

 

 

Jewish Maxwell Street Stories,  by Shuli Eshel and Roger Schatz


Anyone who ever visited there has a story about Maxwell Street.  You didn't have to shop there, work there, or eat there.  You didn't have to be Jewish.  You had only to go there, or merely pass by, to experience something that you would long remember.  Only a few blocks south of Chicago's downtown, Maxwell Street was predominately a Jewish enclave, but you could also hear the Blues, bargain with Gypsies, and find bargain hunters from all walks of life. This book focuses on the stories of the last Jewish generations who lived and worked in the Maxwell Street market area.  It was there, beginning in the late 19th century, that thousands of Jewish immigrants first grasped the American dream.  The descendents of those first Jewish peddlers absorbed the legacies left them; some went on to become notable and successful personalities of the 20th century.  On Maxwell Street, the best merchandise was knowledge.

 

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.
Price:  $21.00

 

Of Boys and Guns: Childhood Memories of a Chicago Neighborhood,  by Lowell D. Streiker

 

Growing up in Chicago during the decade of 1942 to 1952, young Lowell Streiker was blithely unaware that it was the last great era for children of an exciting city before the mass exodus of families to the burgeoning suburbs.  For Lowell and his friends, it was a time of dawn to dusk street games, playgrounds, Satruday movies, trying to stay out of trouble at school--and especially for playing "guns," first with weapons formed by thumb and finger, then crude wooden replicas, and finally squirt guns and cap pistols.  Yet it also was a time of transition, as he learned to cope with the personalities of old world parents, the sacrifices imposed by a war and what it meant to be Jewish in an Italian Catholic neighborhood.  A Chicago childhood remembered with keen detail and dozens of period photos.

 

Softcover, 6 x 9, 254 pgs.
Price:  $22.95

 

The Pied Piper of South Shore,  by Caryn Lazar Amster

 

This true crime memoir is set in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s. It is the story of toy store owner Manny Lazar, known as the Pied Piper of South Shore; a story of the life and death of this beloved retailer, told in gritty detail by his elder daughter.  It takes readers from Russian persecution to American freedom, from Hula Hoops to hit men, from murder to trial.  It is the story of two children of immigrants, their American dream and the richly diverse neighborhood in which the family fell prey to gang brutality.  It is a story of loss and survival, even forgiveness. Foreword by long-time customer Mandy Patinkin.  

 

Softcover, 6 x 9, 283 pgs.     

Price:  $22.95

 

 

 South Shore Days: 1940s & 50s,  by Gerald J. Lewis

 

This is a personal memoir of good times in Chicago back in the days when candy bars and White Castles cost a mere 5 cents.  Chicago is a “city of neighborhoods,” whether you are talking about Chinatown, Canaryville, Bridgeport, Beverly, South Chicago, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Woodlawn or Englewood.  This story takes place in the old South Shore neighborhood, nestled on Lake Michigan between Jackson Park to the north and the booming steel mills to the south.  “Good people make a good place good,” says Lewis, and South Shore was one of those places,

 

Softcover, 6 x 9, 300 pgs. 

Price:  $18.00

  Southside Kid,  by L. Curt Erler

 

The end of WWII is near.  On Chicago’s Southside, young Curt’s large family gathers around the Philco radio for an evening’s entertainment.  It’s a simpler time of strong family values.  The only non-Catholic in a Catholic school, Curt recalls his adventures and a few altercations. Summertime was filled with ball games, movie matinees and occasional kids’ high jinks.  With the ’50s came cruising in the Thunderbird, falling in love at school dances, congregating at the local burger joint and dropping quarters in a jukebox for some rock ‘n’ roll music as “The Kid” takes readers on a wonderful and wildly fun memory lane journey that brings with it a sense of longing.  Everyone should have a childhood that is this much fun and a life that is this rich.  Southside Kid is part history, part biography¾ but all reality.

 

Paperback, 302 pages

Price:  $15.95

 

 

Sun-Struck,  by Allan Brown

 

Sun-Struck is an account of growing up in small-town California in the 1940s and 1950s.  Allan and his brothers lead idyllic and adventurous lives in the midst of orchards, hot brown hills and Spanish style houses.  The burning issues of the day¾ such as the Cold War, Korea, atomic testing, civil rights and communist witch-hunts¾ are noticed, but have little influence on their young lives.  Yet life is not all fun and sun.  Even the young must deal with the boredom, the longings, the scandals and the hazards of small-town life.

 

Softcover, 6 x 9, 484 pgs.

Price: $21.00

 

 

Way Back When, by Jerry Harju

 

From the very first page, this book of nostalgic essays about “Growing Up North” will whisk you off on a short but pleasurable trip back in time. Humorist Jerry Harju tells how it was when kids could bring knives to school but not marbles. And what was on the menu when his father was the first stay-at-home dad. Jerry will jog memories of 1940s radio commercials and Christmas goodies, the Great Depression Syndrome of saving string and tinfoil, when the phrase “trick or treat” had teeth in it, and, yes, even some jail time. Way Back When is a collection of selected essays published in the Mining Journal, Upper Michigan’s largest newspaper. This a wonderfully nostalgic book about which the Green Bay Press Gazette said, “A hilarious look at the good ’ol days. Jerry Harju delivers a side-splitting blast from the past that you don’t have to be old to appreciate.” 

 

Softcover, 7 x 10, 136 pgs.      

Price:  $12.95