Eat Like a Lumberjack: Minnie’s Potatoes

Consume 9000 calories a day? Lumberjacks did. My grandfather, Wilhelm F. Hartman, cooked meals for Michigan’s lumberjacks from 1886 until well into the 1920’s. When this experienced woodsman made breakfast for his grandchildren in the 1950’s, he fried potatoes in lard, cut pork chops or ham from last night’s meal into the spuds, and then […]

For the Love of Good Beer: Minnie’s Potatoes

Lumberjacks at one time in Michigan’s history were as common in beer joints as millennial men are today. The ‘jacks of a hundred years ago share a similar language with men today … they swear loud and often. They are careless with their dress … wear torn and worn jeans with untucked plaid shirts. Men […]

Bremen to New York: Minnie’s Potatoes

My great grandmother sailed to America on this ship. The North German Lloyd Steamship Line’s Werra I left the Port of Bremen in Germany on October 12, 1882 on her maiden voyage. Captain Richard Bussius was at the helm. She crossed the English Channel to Southampton, loaded cargo and mail, and sailed out into the […]

A Cemetery Mystery: Minnie’s Potatoes

Last October I walked through Woodmere Cemetery near Standish snapping photos of grave markers, looking for my great grandmother’s stone. I tramped along the track that looped through the grounds and found flat granite and bronze markers that lay flush to the lawn, and upright marble tablets with pictures of the dead laser-etched into the […]

Exhuming Secrets: Minnie’s Potatoes

This handsome hunk is my great-grandfather, Fred Hartman, circa 1885. I found his photo in the genealogical archives of the library in Alpena, Michigan. I started my search in Alpena because of what I had discovered earlier in the bowels of the Standish courthouse. The lumberjack Fred Hartman, the deed stated, purchased 67 acres in […]

Filling in the Blanks: Minnie’s Potatoes

I never met my great grandmother, Wilhelmina Bublitz Hartman. She’s somewhere here in this old, unlabeled photo. I understand from family stories that she was a great beauty. You’re probably wondering how I learned enough about this woman to write her life’s journey, to write about her pampered Polish girlhood, or to recount the obstacles […]

The Project: Writing Minnie’s Potatoes

Meet my grandfather, Wilhelm F. Hartman, oldest son of Frederick and Wilhelmina Hartman. He left the Port of Bremen in Germany in October of 1882 with his mother and two brothers, and traveled steerage class on the steam and sailing ship Werra to the port of New York. They arrived 18 days later. Speaking only […]

Oldest and Largest Book Fair in Nation

The 63rd Annual Jewish Book Fair is being held November 5-16 at the JCC in W. Bloomfield, MI…and I have been invited to speak about my new book, The Atomic Sailor. The Fair draws 20,000 and features the best from the past, present and future. Emerging authors will be speaking Sunday, Nov. 9 at 10 […]


Brooklyn, Michigan US Post Office. It was around 10 a.m., Friday, January 3, 2014 and well after the Christmas rush. Four of us were waiting in line to buy stamps and mail packages. The woman at the head of the line had set an enormous cardboard box on the counter. “Anything potentially dangerous in this […]

Did Danny Kill Sandy?

My Uncle Jim passed away in Michigan on the same day as his oldest daughter died in Kentucky. Sandy was killed exactly one year earlier to the day. Uncle Jim was a big man, strong, a chain smoker who loved his coffee. When he found a cafe near his resort on Cranberry Lake that served […]