“Fall Down Seven” Wins the 2013 Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction

Posted April 22, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
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Every year, I sponsor the Best Historical Fiction Award in the Reader Views Literary Awards contest after having won the award myself in 2008 for my novel Narrow Lives. I have nothing to do with the judging of the award, but I always eagerly await hearing who the winner is. Part of the prize I offer is writing a book review of the winning book, and this year I was thrilled to hear that “Fall Down Seven” by C.E. Edmonson won, so here is the book review I wrote. I highly recommend the book.

 

Award-Winning World War II Novel about Japanese-Americans a Tear-Jerker

"Fall Down Seven" asks what it means to be an American, especially when your fellow Americans treat you as the enemy.

“Fall Down Seven” asks what it means to be an American, especially when your fellow Americans treat you as the enemy.

Winner of the 2014 Reader Views Literary Awards for Best Historical Fiction, Fall Down Seven is the moving and dynamic story about a Japanese-American family’s experiences when World War II begins.

Written from the perspective of thirteen-year-old Emiko Arrington, this young adult novel will appeal to readers of all ages because of its graceful and enlightening handling of a difficult subject. The way Japanese-Americans were treated in the United States during World War II is history that many of us would like to forget, but it deserves to be remembered all the more as a result.

On December 7, 1941, Emiko and her family witness from a distance the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that will soon put her own family in peril. Emiko’s father is a white, American-born lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, and consequently, he is soon called to fight in the Pacific. Emiko’s mother, Arika, is a Japanese-born woman who came to the United States at the age of six with her family. Her parents have since returned to live in Hiroshima, while her brother, a professor on the West Coast, is sent to a Japanese internment camp. While most Japanese in Hawaii were not interred in these camps, like the Japanese on the West Coast were, Emiko’s father feels that she, her eight-year-old brother Charles, known as “The Whizz,” and her mother would be safer going to Connecticut to live with his sister, Emiko’s Aunt Ellen.

After bidding goodbye to their father, Emiko and her family make the journey from Hawaii to Connecticut. When they reach California, they are immediately treated with prejudice and risk being sent to an internment camp themselves, but fortunately, they have a letter of authorization to travel to Connecticut, signed by an admiral. Once they get on a train, they are taunted by American soldiers, but they receive kindness from a negro porter, who apparently sympathizes with them since he is also a second-class citizen in America because of his race.

When the family arrives in Connecticut, life does not become any easier for them. Aunt Ellen is not overly friendly; she is not used to children or visitors, but she has an empty house, and her own husband is away fighting in the war; however, she means well and sticks up for the family when needed. Nearby lives Uncle Ralph and his wife, son, and infant daughter. The son shares The Whizz’s love of baseball and Uncle Ralph soon proves to Emiko that she can confide in him.

Outside their relatives, however, Emiko and her brother and mother face constant prejudice everywhere they go. Emiko and her brother experience prejudice at school and Emiko is even tripped at a track meet. The local church’s board even wants to oust the family from attending services. Through it all, Emiko is forced to draw on her inner strength and courage, hold her head up, and believe that she and her family have the same rights and are as American as everyone else.

The novel’s title comes from a Japanese proverb that Emiko’s father constantly repeats to her, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” At times, Emiko wonders whether she’ll have to fall down fifty times, but she never forgets the proverb and keeps going.

Author C.E. Edmonson has done a magnificent job of capturing a realistic thirteen-year-old girl’s point of view during World War II and weaving in the good and the bad of her experiences. While he could have written a novel about a Japanese family in an internment camp, I think by writing about a half-white family, he allows readers to see how prejudice barriers are broken down in communities, including pointing out that many of the Connecticut neighbors who encounter Emiko’s family are of German descent, yet they are not blamed for what Hitler and the Nazis are doing, so Emiko and her family should not be blamed for what the Japanese emperor and his armies are doing. From religion to sports to family bonding, Edmonson thoroughly covers the experiences of people during World War II, whether of European, Asian, or African descent, making this a universal novel that will appeal to all, and while I won’t give away the ending, or say whether it is happy or sad, I admit my tears were flowing when I came to the final pages.

Marquette’s Historic Pendill Homes – One for Sale

Posted April 14, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Marquette History, Marquette's Historical Homes

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Marquette’s pioneer family left behind it a legacy that included owning one of Marquette’s earliest drugstores, family member Olive Pendill being the first historian of the Marquette Historical Society, and two beautiful historic homes, one of which is now for sale. Both houses and the information included here is taken from my book My Marquette, available at www.MarquetteFiction.com

The Pendill Home at 322 E. Ridge St. in Marquette.

The Pendill Home at 322 E. Ridge St. in Marquette.

The first generation of Pendills in Marquette, James and his wife Flavia, lived in this beautiful home at 322 E. Ridge Street. James Pendill was born in New York in 1812, and after living in Niles, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, he came to Marquette in 1855. He was the representative for Marquette County in 1863-1864 and after moving to Negaunee in 1867, he became its mayor from 1872-1873. He is credited with being the father of Negaunee because he was responsible for laying out a plan for the city. He then moved back to Marquette where he was mayor from 1879-1882. He also was city supervisor for many years and a school board trustee. Mr. Pendill opened the Pendill and McComber mines, and he was also in the mercantile business and built many storefronts and homes and also operated a sawmill. Mr. Pendill died in 1885.

The second generation Pendill home has a fascinating history as well. This house, built in 1878 and located at 401 N. Front Street, was home to James and Flavia’s son, Frank. Frank owned Pendill drugstore in Marquette, which operated for many, many years. His brother Louis also lived here and was involved in the drugstore. Later, their sister Olive lived here after her parents had passed away. Olive was a registered nurse who served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. She later became the first superintendent of nurses at St. Luke’s Hospital, and she was the first historian of the Marquette County Historical Society when it was founded in 1918. She died in 1957 at the age of eighty-nine.

Several visitors and owners of the house in more recent years have claimed to see the ghost of a woman in white inside the home, although it is unclear who the woman is. I recently spoke to one former owner who told me the ghost liked to move about items associated with St. Paul’s Episcopalian Church. In any case, the ghost is reputably harmless.

If you’re looking to buy a historic home in Marquette, even if a haunted one, 401 N. Front Street is now for sale through Gina Feltner Bouws of RE/MAX. The house is listed at $209,900 and interior photos of it and further information can be found at RE/MAX’s website: http://global.remax.com/Detached-For-Sale-Marquette-Michigan_1024005003-108. You can’t beat the location, being within walking distance of the library, downtown, many churches, Third Street and Kaufman Auditorium. I wish you your chance to own a piece of Marquette’s history.

The Historic Pendill Home at 401 N. Front St. in the late 1800s. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

The Historic Pendill Home at 401 N. Front St. in the late 1800s. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

Marquette’s Molbys and Modern Maccabees

Posted March 24, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Marquette History, Tyler's Family

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The Modern Maccabees picnic in not-so-modern times.

The Modern Maccabees picnic in not-so-modern times.

This photograph was found among my grandmother’s belongings when she passed away in 1992. My grandmother, Grace Elizabeth Molby White, was the daughter of John Molby (originally spelled Mulvey) and Lily Ann Buschell. We believe this may be the only photo that exists Lily Molby (we have one other poorer quality photo of John), and we aren’t even positive it is them. My mom remembers my grandmother showing her the photo when she was a girl and pointing out her mother in it. We believe the large man in the middle is John Molby and the woman beside him is his wife Lily. We also believe the young man, who has the man with the older seated mustached man between him and the alleged John Molby, is John and Lily’s son George. No one else in the photo’s identity is known.

This is not a family photo but rather a group photo for the Modern Maccabees. If you look closely you’ll see George Molby and some of the others are holding flags that say Modern Maccabees on them. Lily’s obituary also notes that she was a member of the Lady Maccabees. Who were the Maccabees? They were a fraternal organization founded in Ontario, Canada in 1878 and named for the biblical Maccabees. Originally known as the Knights of the Maccabees, in times other branches were formed–the Lady Maccabees and the Modern Maccabees in 1892. The organization was most popular within the state of Michigan. Their major efforts were to provide a form of low-cost insurance.

I believe this photo was probably taken sometime between 1906 and 1915 because George Molby was born in 1886 and he has to be at least age twenty here and the clothing clearly dates to the World War I era or earlier. Furthermore, the group was renamed in 1915 to the Women’s Benefits Association. I don’t know where the photo was taken–probably some sort of park in or near Marquette.

If anyone can provide further information about the photo and the people in it, I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment.

For St. Patrick’s Day: Molly’s Potato Famine Story in “Iron Pioneers”

Posted March 14, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Tyler's Novels, Upper Michigan Books and Authors

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Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One by Tyler Tichelaar

Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One by Tyler Tichelaar

For St. Patrick’s Day, I am posting the passage in my novel Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One, where Molly shares for the first time in her life what happened to her during the Irish potato famine. She tells this to her future son-in-law, Patrick, in 1883. He is newly arrived to Marquette from Ireland and he complains to her about how the Irish are oppressed by the English when she is asking him about his past to make sure he deserves to marry her daughter, Kathy. Kathy is waiting in the other room for Molly and Patrick’s private conversation to be finished.

Before I published this novel, I paid for an editorial evaluation to be done, and the editor suggested I cut this scene because it wasn’t about Marquette itself, but to me, this is perhaps the scene that truly embodies the entire theme of the novel and how my story of Marquette’s history is played out as a larger part of the American Dream, for which all our ancestors–Irish and otherwise–came to this country. May we never forget them, the tragedy they endured, and the courage they had to come to this country.

From Iron Pioneers:

“I can to some extent,” Molly replied. “I lived during some hard years in Ireland myself.”

“It’s never been as bad as now,” said Patrick. “And the people only make it worse by being afraid to act. They pray for miracles, even make up stories about them, but nothing changes. I don’t believe in miracles.”

“I do,” said Molly. She remembered how Bishop Baraga had prayed to God to save Kathy’s life, then laid his hands on her.

“Well, I don’t,” Patrick repeated. “The only good miracle would be to have the British drowned in the Irish Sea. Instead, we get a useless miracle like the one at Knock a few years ago.”

“At Knock?” asked Molly, remembering that village had not been far from where she grew up. “What happened at Knock?”

“People claim a miracle happened, but I don’t believe it. It makes no sense.”

“What kind of a miracle?” asked Molly. “I never heard of a miracle happening in Ireland.”

            “Some of the villagers in Knock claim they saw an apparition.”

“Really?” Molly pondered what this could mean for Ireland, if it were true. Was it a sign of peace, or of trouble to come? All her life, she had longed to see a vision, but she had never believed herself good enough to be so blessed. Having God intercede through Bishop Baraga to cure her daughter was in itself more than she had deserved.

“It happened about five years ago,” said Patrick. “Near the church, some people saw three figures: the Blessed Virgin in the center, dressed in white and wearing a crown. On one side of her was St. Joseph and on her other side St. John the Baptist. The vision lasted for two hours; it was evening and dark because it was raining, yet the vision remained and supposedly no rain fell on it.”

“Was a message given?” Molly knew visions and apparitions often resulted in tidings or miracles, as at Lourdes when the Virgin Mary had caused a healing spring to appear.

“No,” said Patrick. “I don’t believe in miracles anyway, but this vision or miracle or whatever you want to call it made no sense. My sister claims it was intended to comfort the poor and suffering of Ireland, but I don’t see how they can be comforted when God and His Church improve nothing.”

“Perhaps the miracle reminded people that God loves them, that they will have a better life in the hereafter,” Molly replied; yet she wondered why a vision had not appeared in those hard years of the famine when her family had been forced to leave their home.

“My sister visited Knock not long after,” Patrick said. “She claims you can sense you are on holy ground there, that the Holy Spirit fills the place. Tons of people now go there on pilgrimage. Some say the miracle occurred at Knock because the local priest is a holy man, but others say that because the priest did not witness it, Ireland is lost. Some claim the sick have been cured there, but I doubt there’s any proof. Everyone is in disagreement about what happened and what it means, so it might as well have never happened for any difference it has made.”

“We can’t know that,” said Molly. “Plenty of things happen that we question at the time, but years later when we look back, we find a meaningful pattern in them.”

“The Irish want salvation from the English, but God sends them a vision that lasts for two hours and that only a handful witness. That makes no sense,” Patrick repeated. “If you ask me, God has abandoned Ireland.”

“Patrick,” said Molly, less angered by his words than grieved by his lack of faith, “remember that people thought the Messiah would be a king, but instead, He was the Son of God who came to free men from their sins. Your experiences were horrible, but you do not yet know the full extent of suffering. Like you, whenever I’ve suffered, I’ve asked why, only to find later that I was the stronger for it. God knows your suffering is to your advantage, and someday you will come to know that too.”

“With all due respect,” Patrick said, “you may have suffered, but you haven’t known the misery I have by being exiled from my family and having to live in daily fear.”

Molly tried to control her voice. What did this young man know about her life?

“I have never been completely alone,” she admitted, “but I have watched my loved ones suffer and stood by helpless. You are too young to know what my generation endured, but your parents or grandparents must have told you about the great famine.”

“Of course,” said Patrick, “but a famine is not the same as political oppression.”

“No, it’s much worse,” said Molly. “We had no one to blame for it, not even the English. We could find no meaning or explanation for our misery. You don’t know what it is to watch your loved ones starve to death, to know there is nothing you can do to help them, even to wonder if there were a morsel to eat, if you would have the decency to share it with your own mother or sister. Hunger can turn people into ravaging animals. It makes you completely helpless until even your mind is lost.”

“Yes, but I don’t think—”

“Don’t interrupt me,” said Molly. “I’ve not spoken of this for thirty-five years, but in all fairness, I think I owe you my story as well, and perhaps you’re the only one who can understand or bear its horror.”

Patrick shrunk back. The painful hunger in Molly’s eyes looked as if it would devour him when unleashed.

“First,” said Molly, “we heard rumors that the crops were blighted. Not long after, my father and brother dug up the potatoes. They stank; they were black, filled with disease. My father let up a wail unlike anything I had ever heard before in my life, not even from a woman. We ran to him in the fields, my mother, grandmother, sister, all of us, and we feverishly dug up every potato, hoping to spare a few. Not one potato was edible. Every single one was destroyed. We fell to the ground in tears. We held each other. We wept in the belief we would all die. Soon we had word that all our neighbors suffered the same catastrophe. There was no food to be found in the entire county. The few who were rich enough to own cattle, slaughtered and ate them, then starved to death when the meat was gone. Our neighbors resorted to eating grass. My grandmother—she became so weak we had no other option; we tried to get her to eat grass too, but she only vomited it all up. Can you imagine watching a good old woman suffering like that? And when she died—”

Molly broke into loud wailing sobs.

In the kitchen, Kathy heard her mother’s tears and trembled. Yet she dared not enter the room.

Patrick waited as Molly wiped her tears. Once she regained control, she continued, “We dug my grandmother a grave. My father could not do it, not for his own mother; he was so weak from hunger he could barely stand. My brother and I dug the grave, knowing we would soon also dig one for my father. I wanted then to toss myself in the hole with my grandmother. I do not know to this day how I managed to live through that week.

“But then my uncle came to visit us from twenty miles away. His wife and his two small children had starved to death. My aunt had wanted to leave Ireland for England, but he had refused; he madly thought the government would help us. I don’t know whether the English were at fault—I think they were at a complete loss what to do since the famine was so terrible. My uncle had some money; he wanted to save the rest of the family by sending us to England, but my father was stubborn. He refused to go to the enemy’s land. Then my uncle became ill; he died quickly while my father continued to linger. We took the money from the pockets of my uncle’s corpse, and my brother, sister, and I forced our parents to leave their home. We fled, leaving behind our land, our home, our friends and neighbors, leaving them all behind to die. Do you know the guilt I still feel over that? Do you know how many times I’ve wished I had been buried on the heath of my family’s farm? How often I have asked myself if I deserved to live when so many of them died?”

She was practically screaming at Patrick, as if demanding an answer, demanding relief from her guilt.

“That wasn’t even the end,” she said. “My sister died on the boat to Liverpool; she gave my father her portions of food, never hinting how sick she was. My father recovered from his illness, but both my parents were broken after that. We barely had money for the passage to America. My brother had to steal food on the ship so we could eat. And then we came to America, and things were hardly better than in Ireland; we had to live in two cramped, sordid rooms in what they would call a tenement house today, and we could not find work for weeks. Finally, I got hired in a factory, long hours for slave wages; after six weeks, I was laid off—then I hired myself out as a maid. When I met Fritz, I agreed to marry him partly so I would not be a burden on the rest of my family. What else could I do? True, I was not alone. I was with my husband, and I loved him, but it was not the same as being with my family.

“Tell me, Patrick, the reason for all that suffering. What justice existed in my innocent grandmother dying like that? Why should my poor uncle save us with his money, yet never see America himself? And my poor sister, who sacrificed herself to starvation so my father could live. None of it should make any sense, Patrick. It would have made more sense if I had died with them, but that’s precisely why it makes sense. I believe God preserved me for some reason. I don’t know what it is; He does not let me know because it is beyond my understanding, but I believe it, maybe only because having something to believe keeps me sane, but I choose to believe anyway.”

"Emigrants Leave Ireland" by Henry Doyle, circa 1868

“Emigrants Leave Ireland” by Henry Doyle, circa 1868

Patrick was silent after Molly’s revelation. He was relieved when she quit talking, yet he hated the silence that followed. He could not find words to cast out her demons.

“You have the death of one man on your hands, Patrick. I have the death of half the Irish race on my conscience because I outlived them. That’s suffering.”

“You couldn’t have done anything else,” he said. “You wanted to die, but you knew your family needed you.”

“But why did any of us have to suffer? What did we do to deserve it?”

“I don’t know,” said Patrick.

“I don’t know either.”

Patrick was sweating from the heat of her tale. He thought of his own grandparents; now he understood why they had never spoken of the famine. He had asked them about it a couple times, but they had always dismissed his questions. He imagined their pain must have been like that of his hostess.

“It’s all right now, Mother,” he said, placing his hand on her shoulder and giving her his handkerchief. “No one can blame you for any wrong. We’re in a better land now, where we’re safe, and where our children will have better lives. We should just be thankful.”

“It is a better land,” she said, wiping her eyes, then placing her hand in his. She was surprised that he addressed her as mother; had he done so from respect for her age, or from affection as her future son-in-law? It didn’t matter; he had said it sincerely, not to butter her up. He was the only one she had ever told these horrors to—not even Fritz had known; she had not wished to burden her family with that misery, any more than she wanted her children to have empty stomachs.

“I’m sorry,” she said, squeezing his hand. “I’ve tried to forget it all for so long that when I remembered it now, it seemed as awful as if I were living it all over again.”

“It’s all right,” he soothed.

“A million people died, Patrick. Do you know that? One million people died during the famine. I could cry for years and never shed enough tears for them all.”

Patrick said nothing, just allowed her to finish her thoughts.

“If I had stayed in Ireland, like your family did,” she said, “I don’t know whether I wouldn’t be just as angry about the oppression. I try to be a good Catholic, but if I were a man, I might have done the same to that English soldier.”

“Thank you,” said Patrick, “for understanding.”

“I’m glad we’ve had this talk,” she said. She swallowed, trying to clear the dry throat caused by her sobbing. “You understand I had to know for Kathy’s sake.”

“Yes. You’re a good mother to care so much about her.”

“Kathy will be worried,” she said, now feeling at peace with her decision. “You can go tell her I give you my consent. I need a moment alone now. I’ll come join you in the parlor in a few minutes.”

“Thank you,” Patrick smiled, almost reluctant to leave this courageous woman.

Left alone, Molly thought, “The priest was right. If I try to be generous, I receive more. I’m glad I told Patrick; we trust each other now. I think he’ll take good care of Kathy.”

Patrick went into the parlor but found it empty. He wondered what to do until he saw Kathy’s silhouette through the lace curtains. Then he went out onto the porch, welcoming the cool air, the smell of coming rain, the relief to the end of the heat and humidity.

Kathy was leaning against a pillar. She did not even tremble when the thunder clapped.

“Kathy,” Patrick nearly whispered.

A flash of lightning showed him she had been crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. For the first time he placed his arm around her waist. He marveled at how natural it felt to hold her. She did not shiver at his touch, but leaned back against his chest.

“Your mother gave us permission. Will you marry me, then?”

“Yes,” she sighed.

“Are you happy?” he asked. “Why are you crying?”

“Yes, I’m happy,” she said. “I love you.”

“I love you,” he replied, kissing her hair.

“I heard,” she said, “what my mother told you.”

“About what? The potato famine?”

He quivered, fearful she had heard his own tragic tale.

“I only heard when she raised her voice, talking about how her grandmother had died. I had no idea she went through that. Can you imagine, my great-grandmother having to eat grass, and then starving to death, and her poor uncle, and all his family, and her sister—her sister would have been my aunt if she had lived. I wish I could thank them all for what they suffered so my mother could come to America.”

“You thank them everyday by living and being happy,” said Patrick.

“I understand now why you left Ireland; if I had to live in such poverty, I would have left too. I’ll never pester you again about it. I understand how awful it must be to speak of it.”

He was glad she understood, without having heard the actual reason he had left.

His chin rested upon her head. The sudden cool air made the perfume of her hair all the sweeter. The rain broke. It came down in torrents. They stood watching it. Patrick remembered Molly saying she could never cry enough tears for the million who died in the famine. He felt as if Nature wept tonight for all those innocent lives.

“How can we live in America, knowing that others are suffering?” Kathy asked.

“By appreciating our good fortune and being happy.”

“Happy?” she asked, feeling it impossible after years of living under her stepfather’s oppression, after the suffering her mother had known. She feared to be happy from fear it would not last.

“Yes, happy,” said Patrick. “All those people who suffered would want us to be happy, to live and marry and have children who will not know such pain. We are the extensions of our parents and grandparents and all those brave people; we’re a continuation of their spirits, and our happiness helps to validate their struggles, to give meaning to their lives.”

He only understood this truth as he spoke it, as he suddenly believed the world could be a wonderful place; that everything could work out for the best. He felt like an old Celtic bard who foresaw a hopeful future capable of washing away past grief.

“We should go inside,” he said. “Your mother expects us to have dessert.”

Recordings from My Books and Play

Posted March 11, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Tyler's Novels, Upper Michigan Books and Authors

Tags: , , , , , ,

In case you missed my talk at the Marquette Regional History Center a couple of weeks ago, you can now listen to it as well as Jessica Bays doing a dramatic reading of a scene from my upcoming play Willpower about Will Adams, Marquette’s ossified man. Jessica will be playing the role of the older Norma Ross in the play, which will be performed in Marquette at Kaufman Auditorium on September 18th and 19th.

Here is the page at my website about the play. Go to where it says “Listen” and you can find the recording of my talk. http://www.marquettefiction.com/Willpower.html

I have also recently made recordings of passages from three of my other books. You can find these on the following pages. Again, just look for where it says “Listen”:

Iron Pioneers – The Prologue: http://www.marquettefiction.com/iron-pioneers.html

King Arthur’s Children – The Introduction – http://www.childrenofarthur.com/buyKingArthursChildren.html

The Gothic Wanderer – The Introduction – http://www.gothicwanderer.com/

Will Adams with his parents, sister Bertha, and close friend Norma Ross (seated), with whom he wrote an operetta.

Will Adams, Marquette’s Ossified Man, and the subject of Tyler Tichelaar’s upcoming play “Willpower.”

 

Willpower: An Original Play about Marquette’s Ossified Man

Posted February 14, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Marquette History, Marquette's Historical Homes, Upper Michigan Books and Authors, Upper Michigan History

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Yes, the rumors are true. I have written a play titled Willpower. The play is about Will Adams (1878-1909) who lived in Marquette and was ossified. What is ossified? Think petrified and paralyzed. When will you be able to see the play? It will be produced by the Marquette Regional History Center at Kaufman Auditorium on Thursday, September 18th and Friday, September 19th at 7:00 p.m. It will be directed by Moire Embley and will have a stellar cast.

The Adams home at 200 E. Ridge St. in Marquette where Will lived with his parents, Sidney and Harriet Adams, and his sister Bertha.

The Adams home at 200 E. Ridge St. in Marquette where Will lived with his parents, Sidney and Harriet Adams, and his sister Bertha.

But if you can’t wait that long, you are invited on Wednesday, February 26th to the Marquette Regional History Center’s Annual Meeting, where besides the annual business meeting, introduction of new board members, and presentation of the Peter White and Helen Longyear Paul Awards, I will give a short talk about my process of writing this play and then Jessica Bays will offer a dramatic reading of a scene from the play. The meeting is at 7:00 p.m. at the History Center and free to members and the general public.

Below is some more information about the play from the MRHC’s events listing:

There are some stories that deserve to be told.  As a young boy Will Adams’ soft tissues were becoming harder, turning him into a living statue.  Others faced with such a dark future might have felt sorry for themselves, turning inward.  Not so for Will, his disease brought about an amazing creative burst of energy.  His story is as inspiring today as it was 100 years ago.  With a stellar cast and direction, this will be a “do not miss” production! Tickets in advance are $15; $20 at the door.

Will Adams with his parents, sister Bertha, and close friend Norma Ross (seated), with whom he wrote an operetta.

Will Adams with his parents, sister Bertha, and close friend Norma Ross (seated), with whom he wrote an operetta. (Photo courtesy of the John M. Longyear Research Library)

And here is some more about Will Adams, taken from my book My Marquette:

Will Adams, the adopted son of Sidney and Harriet Adams, was born in 1878 to Detroit parents who died while he was an infant. In his youth, Will was a soloist in the boys choir at school and church and enjoyed athletic pursuits, but a baseball injury resulted in soft tissue becoming hard until eventually he ossified into a living statue. By his mid-teens he was confined to a portable couch and only his face remained mobile. By sheer willpower, Will survived to the age of thirty-one. No longer able to perform athletics, he became one of Marquette’s first literary figures, starting his own magazine business. His family hired him an attendant to whom he could dictate his magazine. He named his magazine CHIPS. Besides his own text, he included political cartoons and even caricatures of such town leaders as Peter White, Nathan Kaufman, and John M. Longyear. The paper was largely supported by advertising, so a phone was installed in the Adams home, and his attendant would hold the phone to Will’s mouth so he could talk up his bi-monthly magazine to prospective advertisers.

Will also composed an opera with his childhood friend, Norma Ross, then the directress of the Marquette schools’ music program. Will hummed melodies and Ross wrote them down. Their end result was the production of Miss D. Q. Pons an opera which premiered at the Marquette Opera House on July 3, 1905 with Ross in the title role. Will viewed the opera from the wing in his portable bed, and when its success led to the troupe traveling for sellout performances in Ishpeming, Hancock, Calumet, and Sault Ste. Marie, Will traveled with them by train. In 1906, Will also founded another newspaper, the Marquette Chronicle to which he contributed an original article each day. He died on August 10, 1909, preceded by his adopted father, Sidney Adams in 1906. Will once joked about his literary efforts, “Every specimen of writ is a silent story of how the author was saved from cerrebrius combustion.”

I hope you will join me in celebrating one of Marquette’s most fascinating historical figures, both at the MRHC’s annual meeting and when the play is performed in September. As Will himself wrote in one of the ads for his own operetta, Miss D.Q. Pons: “you will finally have the chance to enjoy yourself for once in your life.” See you there!

Goodbye Bonanza

Posted January 29, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Marquette History, Tyler's Family, Upper Michigan History

Tags: , , ,

It’s with great sadness that I heard Bonanza was to close this past Sunday, January 26th. A lot of people clearly shared my sadness since the restaurant was so busy on Saturday that it had to close a day early because the staff feared they’d run out of food.

Mitch Lazaren, Ed Gudewicz, and all the Bonanza staff did a fine job for 37 years and Marquette just won’t be the same without being able to go there on a Saturday night to fill up on salad, steak, and chili.

In the restaurant and staff’s honor, I am reposting the chapter in My Marquette about Bonanza:

Grandpa and Grandma were regulars at Bonanza, which ensured that Chad and John got extra suckers with their little wrangler meals. They all overstuffed their stomachs with steak, chili con carne, salad, french fries, and ice cream.

— Superior Heritage

When Bonanza opened in 1977, it was one of those new restaurants, springing up along U.S. 41 leading out of town and actually in Marquette Township, but today, it is a mainstay as one of Marquette’s longest operating restaurants.

After 37 years, Marquette says goodbye to its favorite family restaurant.

After 37 years, Marquette says goodbye to its favorite family restaurant.

Soon after it opened, my mom and grandma went there for lunch. At that time, Grandma thought Grandpa wouldn’t like it because it wasn’t a “sit down and be waited on” kind of restaurant. Boy, was she wrong!

Grandpa loved Bonanza. Soon my grandparents were going there for supper at least twice a week. They became good friends with Mitch Lazaren, the owner, and all the Bonanza staff. My grandpa made some frames for different maps and posters for the restaurant, and for Christmas one year, my grandparents were given Bonanza jackets with their names embroidered on them.

For years, my grandparents, parents, brother and I could regularly be found at Bonanza on Saturday nights. It was my favorite restaurant as much as Grandpa’s. The Chili Con Carne alone was enough to keep me going back.

How special was Bonanza to my grandparents? So special that during winter blizzards, my mom had to argue on the phone with Grandpa to get him to stay home rather than go there for supper. So special that in 1983, my grandparents celebrated their forty-ninth wedding anniversary there.

Other steakhouses have come and gone in Marquette, but Bonanza has outlived all its competition. The service remains impeccable, the food fantastic, and the atmosphere friendly, if a bit overwhelmed by hungry people crowding around the salad bar—but that’s the sign of a truly good restaurant.


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