Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

Mother’s Green Beret

My mother’s French beret is forest green and embroidered with beaded chains in noodle patterns reminiscent of human brains. The label says “Merrimac Hat Corp., made in USA, 100% wool,” size 22. It smells like cedar and moth balls. I don’t know when she bought it, but it looks like something Jean Harlow or Marlene [...]

Busia’s Butter Paddle

The lights are bright in the house tonight, a breeze wafts through the open door, cars zoom up Greenview and the yard-sale curtains hold their shape, white lace against the night. I’ve hung my busia’s butter paddle next to the new china cabinet. I found the perfect frame at a going-out-of-business sale on Kinzie, a [...]

Meeting Helene in Mexico

I met Helene Parr for the first time seven years ago in, of all places, Mexico. Her father, Piotr “Pete” Brodacki, was the youngest brother of my grandfather, Antoni Brodacki, who emigrated from Poland to Michigan in 1913. Pete followed him to America many years later and ended up homesteading in Canada. All through my [...]

Busia’s Sewing Machine

I parted with Grandma Brodacki’s Singer sewing machine last month. It was difficult because it’s been in my home since I was born, first in our farm house near Romeo, then in the little Rettell house on 32 Mile Road, then to apartments in Romeo, then on to my Detroit house and then to Chicago. [...]

The Marine with My Name

Leonard John Kniffel died October 22, 1942. He was my mother’s nephew but only three years her junior because at age 17 she had married his uncle, 35-year-old Johnny Kniffel, sheriff of New Haven, Michigan. Our family photo albums contained three pictures of Leonard Kniffel, looking happy and handsome in his soldier’s uniforms, unaware, of course, [...]