Last week I was honored by friends and family with a “launch party” for the publication of the second book of a memoir. This was a continuation of a story about my immigrant grandparents and their descendants and how the couple and their offspring survived those early and middle days of the 20h century in Chicago, Illinois.
The first book, Albin’s Letters, includes courtship and the struggles my grandparents had in Finland during a time when Russia was trying to absorb their country into its borders. The second book, Hilda’s Secrets, is about their marriage and more struggles as they carved out a life as new arrivals to an already established community of immigrants from other lands.
Neither book fits the criteria for a romance novel. In fact they wouldn’t even qualify as non-fiction because everything I learned about my grandparents was told to me by my mother, Esther, Albin and Hilda’s firstborn. Both stories are enhanced versions of true events.
Theirs was not a fairy tale romance and some of the events are not pretty because they are real people who lived real lives.
I signed copies of my books and visited with guests in my apartment’s dining room at the event hosted by my children. A couple of my daughters made cookies for the party, including some Swedish and Finnish specialties from cookbooks passed on to me from Grandma Hilda through my mother.
Esther was an artist and wore many hats throughout her life. She loved to party and danced her years away until she reached 100. She crocheted and knit throughout her life, learned to be a milliner, took up oil painting when she was in her 80s and was awarded a scholarship for a semester at the Chicago Art Institute.
A hard worker all her life, she also worked during WW2 sewing leather gloves on a power sewing machine in a factory, cleaned houses, worked as a waitress, and worked for a time as a proofreader at Playboy Magazine. She also walked every day of her life, to work, for exercise and taking black and white photos of Chicago landmarks that she published on postcards and sold at train stations and other outlets in the city.
Enough of this lengthy post! I could go on about my mother’s life but maybe it would be better to feature Esther in a separate story. For now I would just like to thank the 50-plus family, friends, residents and staff at Stafford Healthcare and Ridgemont Retirement Apartments who took the time to attend my second book celebration. I love you all. My neighbors are having a tough time wiping the grin off my face!
Albin’s Letters and Hilda’s Secrets by Rosie Atkinson are available at amazon.com/books. Some bookstores in the county carry the titles in their computers and may be ordered from them.