Early, Early Memories

Imagine a four- or five-year-old girl trudging along a wide, paved street, her hand protectively grasped by a much larger calloused one. She gives a little skip to catch up to her companion. The scene is familiar, the old wood-frame…

ON THE ROAD TO DISCOVERY

ON THE ROAD TO DISCOVERY

It all started with a conversation I had with my son, Michael. We were going through the family photo albums.

“Who’s that, Mom?” he said pointing to a couple in a posed photo taken by a professional photographer. In the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. if you wanted a photo, you went to a professional photographer. Ordinary folks rarely possessed cameras.

“No one knows the answer to that,” I said looking at the couple.

He turned the cardboard picture over, no date to be found, only the name Schultz.

“Well, it’s Gramma’s side of the family. At least I know that much.”

Then it dawned on me. They’re all gone; grandparents, parents, most cousins, aunts and uncles, my dad’s work crew. There is no one to ask. I know a lot of stuff, but I am on my own with whatever resources I can find to answer the unanswerable.

I am the repository of the family folklore, and there’s so much I don’t know.

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So, here’s the plan. You will be able to access excerpts from “62-15” in future newsletters as I produce them. Look for titles with links. Some material I want to include will require some research, just to get my facts right. I have some old photos too that may require some help. I’m hoping the libraries in Middle Village, Maspeth and Elmhurst will be a resource. I have only a rough idea of dates and I want to look at the original deed to the house. I have a partial family tree and some accounts of how my Frank grandparents entered the country. Here are some of the titles, but as the journey unfolds new titles may appear and other old ones disappear.

The House, The Property, The Neighborhood, Seasonal Rhythms, Baby Memories, School Days, Weddings, The War, Radio Shows, The Nuclear Age, Felix G. Frank: Florist and Gardener

TOP TIPS TO WRITE TOP BOOKS

  • LOOKING FOR YOUR NICHE Feel like your hitting a wall with getting your book to the readers? Well, who are your readers? Let’s say you’ve written a book about herbs grown in Italy. Your niche could include: Italian Cooks, Italian History Buffs, Italian Herbalists, Italian Cultural Societies, Italian Gardens, History of Italian Culture/Food. All these tops, when googled, will give you clubs, organizations, courses and other books written on the topic. Reach out to them. Offer a book talk as a guest speaker. Ask to have your book included in their library/museum. You get the picture.
  • If you are writing mysteries, first pick the genre. If you think there is only one, look up the many different ones that exist, for example, true crime cozy, adventure, etc. Then, when writing the book, consider the setting. Who would be interested. If your mystery happens on a famous train tour, consider readers who are interested in the history of railroads, the highlights and destinations of train tours, celebrities who love train tours or who made train tours popular. 
  • Start by making your book unique in some way, and before you make that choice, consider how many different groups you can reach out to.

 

Chapter One of “Girl with Pencil, Drawing”

The Saturday Art Class

The screech of iron wheels against iron rails trilled through my body, making my teeth ache. I tightened my knees against the large art portfolio as the New York City subway train lurched through a turn, slowing towards the Spring Street station. Not able to control my nervous energy, I left my seat and headed for the sliding doors. I balanced the precious portfolio between my knees and looked at my reflection in the door windows, checking for obvious defects in my appearance.

                     Boy, I thought, You are nervous, girl. Let’s see.

          I ticked off the usual list of suspects causing appearance problems, starting with the new haircut and highlights. I thought it made my face look thinner, and I liked it. Check! I used makeup this morning but hadn’t hidden the sleepy eyes. Who gets up this early on a Saturday? Well check, anyway. My outfit, comprised of a black fitted jacket, black and white plaid scarf, and black earmuffs made my light hair and eyes pop. Check!

          My mother’s warning rang in my ears. “Annie, stand up straight! It makes all the difference in the impression you make.” For once I didn’t argue with that voice in my head. I squared my shoulders, lifted my chin, and grabbing the portfolio and backpack, braced for the jolting stop I was anticipating with excitement and dread. Doors opened silently amid the racket of the train station. As cold damp air crept into the car, the few early Saturday morning passenger traveling with me spilled out on the platform.

          My legs had a life of their own, carrying me up the ancient grimy stairway to the street above. My first art lesson at the DiCristiani Galleries loomed ahead of me. All the confidence I had felt when I won first place in my high school’s art contest evaporated like the steam swirling up from the manhole covers in the downtown streets of Soho. Here was my chance to prove the talents I hoped I had.

          I was anxious to get started and most of all to meet my teacher. The gallery had sent a packet of information about their program of studies, the art studio, and my instructor, Francesca Gabrielli. Her credentials were impressive. The fact that she had been accepted in a program at the Metropolitan Museum here in New York was big.

          They had sent me a brochure with photocopies of her work which I admired. I hoped to learn important techniques from her, and go beyond what I had learned in my high school studio art class.

           This was going to be an exciting opportunity for me. I tightened my grip on my portfolio and remembering my “posture for success” pep talk, moved on down the street.

             A fuchsia pennant hanging from a brownstone building furled and unfurled itself in the icy February wind. That brownstone with its steep flight of steps was my destination. Half a block away it posed as a haven from the cold. Even so, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to make the short walk there. I’d have to open my portfolio and show my pieces in a place not likely to be so nurturing to a seventeen year old as my art teachers at Rhodes School.

          I took the steps, two at a time, and pushed the heavy oak and leaded-glass door open. What a beautiful place! I admired the wood paneling, the black-and-white marble floor, the art pieces placed around the two-story entrance hall. There was no one around and I wondered where to go. No little signs with arrows posted around the room. The only logical place to go was to follow a hallway leading to the back of the house.

          “No! I can’t do that! It’s…” The strong words stopped me like