Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. I love the fact that the story is based on history, but that the characters in the story can come alive in any way that the author chooses. This photo was sent to me last week because my cousin Doug is also curious about our family history…he wondered if the cousins knew anything more about the picture.
When I got this picture I had absolute chills looking into my Grandpa’s eyes…one of the things I remember most about him…were those grey blue eyes that matched my own. He was this solid rock of a man who loved to watch and learn, a swedish immigrant- a man of few words but a man with a giant lap for his granddaughter. I loved the way he opened his silver lighter. He would let me hold it too, heavy in my little girl hands. Then he would bounce me and sing this Swedish song,”Rita rita runka, asta beet a blunka…”( my phonetic rendition). Sometimes he would show us his small garden plot near the apartment where he lived. He was proud of growing his flowers in the shade of the tall buildings. When I was eight he moved to California…so far from Illinois. When I saw him again three years later he happily tended a bigger garden with lemon and orange trees in back of his small house in San Fernando.
I know that my Grandpa worked hard in Chicago in the trades after World War I. He built their family home and then lost it in the Great Depression. I know people on the north side of Chicago loved and helped each other out during hard times. They all had the hope that things would turn around and dreamed big dreams for their children and their grandchildren. America was still their land of opportunity, where the immigrant citizen mattered.
This picture makes me want to write it…his story of survival in our bustling city. Research is needed, I know…but I feel like have a start.