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These stories are about my family’s secrets.

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 […]

Socks

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 […]

Dad’s Shotgun Shell

My father’s mind is okay. It’s his body that’s shot. He has trouble with walking and with balance. Arthritis has bent him forward. My mother’s body is like that ever-ready Bunny; she plows along. It’s her memory of Dad that has tanked. She thinks there are two of my father, and she doesn’t like one […]

Pastor Azzam’s Hunting Dog

Pastor Azzam was a good preacher. He delivered teaching sermons each Sunday at the country church on Johnsfield Road. Congregants often left the white clapboard-sided building arguing the meanings of his message. He taught Mom how to be a good Sunday school teacher. He lived with Mrs. Azzam and their two children in a tiny […]

Panty Fire

My good friend Cathy Drummands told me this story. Dad’s trained hunting dog was his reward for working six hours each night at a local garage after eleven hour shifts at Ford. “Don’t play with Elvis,” he warned us as he pounded the last nail in the dog’s new house. That dog lured us inside […]