Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

A Mystery on May Eighteenth…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Children,Depression and Hope,Jewish Themes,Life & Death,Marriage and Family — Bob at 9:48 pm on Friday, May 27, 2016

(Written Wednesday, May 19, 2016)


6 am

Another day.

Still here.

My lower back is frozen. I stretch my knees to my chest for a while. Body still works if I do what it requires to please it. You grow older, things fall apart.

More than just the sixty miles, returning to Illinois is more like: Out of the woods and into the town, than anything else.

I’m meeting with a man this morning who has invited me to read my poetry or stories to his Jewish Authors Club. Maybe fifty people will be there after he sends out his notice of my coming appearance. Maybe one hundred fifty.

The event is staged inside of a restaurant. Dishes will clink against each other as lunch is served, but that’s the situation such a setting offers. I can bring copies of my five books with me if I wish to do that. Perhaps I’ll sell some of them.

But don’t get my hopes up about selling many of them. I mean, who am I?



The man I met doesn’t say the last part. He’s a nice guy.

A Chicago guy.

A South Sider, like me.

It’ll be a Jewish crowd.

I’m Jewish.

I make the cut.

I’m sixty-six, agreeing to do this gig for no money. This’ll be the last time I do something like that, but my wife says the publicity may get my name out there, and I want to please my wife.

He buys me breakfast. Scrambled eggs with burned onions, salt and pepper. Orange juice. It’s good. We shake hands and I leave.

Now its 10:30 am.

Back on the road north, seventy miles from home, crossing the last state line before Canada. What if I just keep going?

I see that old faded white farmhouse with the hulking white barn on the west side of the road. Never any people or animals present when I’ve passed the place by for the last year. More like a photo from an old local newspaper than a real place. But it always reminds me I am five miles away from Wisconsin. How do I know? I measure everything.

Then I think: Where am I? What time is it?

A blur.

Day before, I left three old computer towers—grey, white and black—with a local Wisconsin computer whiz in the faint hope that whatever’s still on the three ancient hard drives is still retrievable. I told him I have no clue about what the passwords used to be. Guy mutters that’s no problem for him.

I’m both relieved and disturbed. So I don’t really have any secrets, do I?

I’m looking for any long ago stories and poems I’d written but lost track of which just might be locked inside one of those old computers in my effort to assemble a “complete works” collection. Don’t laugh. Easy to laugh, unless you are me.

Who cares?

Maybe some day, someone will.

What time is it?

I keep trying to focus.

Something’s not right. What is it?

The Wisconsin Whiz calls me, now a Geek God, and tells me everything is retrievable and placed on a sixty-four gigabyte flash drive about the size of my thumb. I want to tell him to say what he just told me in English, but decide to hold that thought.

Kid tells me to come and get what his work has produced. I tell him I’ll be there “in a New York Minute.” Just heard a Wisconsin guy say that. I never say that.

A New York Minute. What is that? Forty-five seconds or what? Is there a Chicago Minute? A Detroit Minute?


I think a New York Minute is vaguely insulting, but I’m not sure who is supposed to be the insulted party. Oklahoma City Minute? In their dreams.

The Geek, named Vladimir, shows me the results of his electronic alchemy. My ancient White Computer; zip. My ancient Grey Computer: one of my four kids’ grammar school homework. Now she’s in college. Zip # 2.

Lastly, my ancient Black Computer: Jesus! The Library of Alexandria! Ok, not quite that much, but a virtually endless list of poetry, stories and other stuff I don’t remember writing.

Flash Drive:         $16.95

Exploration Fee: $100.00

Such a deal. I pay him.

I also listen to Vlad’s unusual accent. I know about accents from my years owning a foreign language bookstore, my old Irish-Jewish neighborhood in the Fifties and my own immigrant family. His, however, is a challenge. I politely ask him:

 “So, you’re from Eastern Europe?”

 Vlad says, no, he’s from Israel and throws me a few words in Hebrew to prove it.

However, still not content with my linguistic excavation, having been both to Hebrew School from 1958 to 1963 and also in Israel in 2000, I ask him,

“Yeah, okay, Vlad, but you still sound Slavic to me.”

 Vlad smiling at my persistence, tells me his mom is Russian and they speak Russian at home.

“Aha!!” I respond. Mystery solved. He laughs. We shake hands. We both say “Shalom” to each other when parting. The word means Hello, Goodbye and Peace. A useful word for a range of situations.

Noon now.

I leave with my tiny flash drive and get back on the road to my home. It has been retrofitted to make it safe for Joyce, my wife and love of 41 years, to return home from many hospitals and nursing homes in two states she’s been trapped in for the five months she’s been gone.


No point in elaborating.

But one noticeable change for both of us and any visitors: a second banister facing the original one on the left going down to the basement to keep her steady as she goes up and down the twelve stairs, one step at a time. Nobody will ask her about it, but she’ll tell them anyway.

I am hoping for another three decades or so for her, with me or without me.

I also added more LED exterior lights all around the house, lighting up the driveway and the back door so I can actually see that little keyhole without feeling for it first; and finally the west or pitch black at night side of the house so no dragons can hide there, or more contemporary two-legged monsters. A good defense is exactly that. Plus a shotgun.

As I’m leaving while he keeps working, I shake hands with the handyman. It strikes me that him being called that seems to be a good name for the moment. Been shaking hands all day, a universal custom. Interesting.

We say goodbye, in English, though he has already told me that he’s Bohemian and I responded that I’m of Polish, Byelorussian and Lithuanian descent. In Christ’s era, Aramaic was the common tongue. Later Latin. Gotta be some universal way for people from different backgrounds to communicate with each other. Maybe it’ll be Chinese in the near future as a now tiny Britain continues to shrink in both power and influence.

 2 pm

Handyman keeps bending conduit to complete the ring of lights around the house. He knows Joy will be coming home soon and has assured me the work will be completed and the new much brighter lights will automatically go on at dusk and off at dawn.

I drive away, still mysteriously discomfited. Still a bit confused.

Why? What time is it?

I drive south to visit Joyce in her latest nursing home, Racine to Kenosha. Kenosha impresses me as proudly working class. A zillion little houses, all seemingly in good repair as I sail past them. Each a different design.

Many used car lots. Many, many bars. Some very excellent brick wall murals as I drive south on Highway 32, or Sheridan Road. Massive Depression-Era post offices and an impressive county courthouse, built to last like solid grey American temples. Local museums like that, too. Buildings that say:

We’re important.

See how beautiful we are.

But which also say to me, an ordinary American:

Don’t think you can screw around in here, Bud.

We’re watching you.

Or else the Architecture police will come scoop you up and throw you in a Depression-Era jail.

I keep driving.

3 pm

Joyce is lying on her bed in her thin hospital gown. I still look at her great legs. Still hot. She knows that and thinks I’m nuts. She’s watching episode number 526 of Gunsmoke on TV. Gunsmoke was a highly successful weekly TV show lasting for twenty years, beginning in the mid-Fifties.

Joy asks me to stay and watch it with her. I always do. The shows are very good, the cast working together as smoothly as a fine Swiss watch, like all of them were really living in a real Western town in 1875.

Problem is that the thirty-minute drama is padded out to an hour with thirty minutes of commercials aimed at old people. Like me. Damaged older people. Hearing aids. New drugs for every damn ailment in the universe, along with the extraordinary and terrifying side effects that just might kill you, which the drug companies have to talk about, although very, very quietly and extremely fast. I guess they want people watching the TV show to feel compelled to buy those hearing aids, huh?

Fonzie, or the actor Henry Winkler, who so successfully portrayed that indelible character on the very popular TV show “Happy Days”, now seventy-ish, no longer slim and dangerous like his character always seemed to be, is selling reverse mortgages and he wants you to believe every word he says, because after all, he’s the ultimate cool guy, Fonzie, or he was.

Magic creams to reverse aging. Aging in America is a sin, a shame and an enemy to endlessly overcome. The ad shows seventy-year-old women looking like they’re twenty (!) after applying the creams. Really, the ads say, these things work. For whatever reason, the ads always show senior women. But how is Grandpa supposed to react to his now (temporarily) sexy young wife? The shock might kill him.

Maybe that’s one of the positive side effects that some Grandmas are looking for, except it’ll say that in very, very small print. Grandma, unload the old fart, cash in and attract a sexy young hunk. Buy…this…cream. NOW!

After Gunsmoke eventually ends and I’ve seen a lifetime of stuff I absolutely must buy whenever I decide to accept that I’m actually old, I kiss Joyce several times and say goodbye. I know she is expecting my lips on hers and for me, it is one of the highlights of my day.

When I sometimes slip my left hand under her gown to rub her back, she tells me to be careful because the skin on my hand is too rough.

I sigh.

Same hand that held the hammer which built all of our many bookcases. Same hand that dug a trench through the tough clay and dirt in out new backyard to create a sort of diverting aqueduct to stop half of our yard from flooding when the torrential rains hit Wisconsin, like every other day. Same hand that sold thousands of newspapers every week to customers, when we first met each other in 1975, when I used to own a wooden newsstand.

I muse about this as I stop rubbing her back.

About fifty years ago while kissing and petting in the back of my Chevy van, trying to learn how to unhook some girl’s bra with one hand so I would somehow seem cool to her, no girl ever complained about the roughness of my fingers. Perhaps the whole situation was too exciting to notice insignificant stuff like that. It was, even though I clearly remember that the different girls’ skins were soft.

Even then, though, girls were confusing to me. Touch them gently and not roughly. However, hug them and kiss them like you really mean it, meaning firmly. Took me a while to sort out the nuances of when to dial down and when to dial up. A lot of pressure for a teenager. But the rewards of learning the sensual dynamics of what was wanted were incredibly motivating.

So, what do women want?

Like I knew. Today, I think ultimately and also from the very start, a girl, a woman, wants the certainty of steady love, regardless of what Time does to their overall appearance. In other words, women wish men would treat them just like men expect women to treat men. Men get older. So what?

Ever notice or wonder why couples seem to be dressed pretty much alike when they go out at night? Here’s why. Most guys on a night out, unless they’re entertainers or on business, just fall into whatever’s clean or close to it as mindlessly as a hot dog falls into a bun.

Women watch this carefully and then match the men’s outfit so they look like a couple. Otherwise, if a guy’s in jeans, sneakers and a Packers T-shirt and the woman with him is wearing six-inch heels, a skin tight little something with a plunging neckline and enough makeup to grease a Ford truck, its might be possible for another guy to reasonably assume she was on the hunt and attempt to pick her up. This would not end well. Women dress as close as possible to the guys they’re involved with to make it clear that HE is HERS and keep away. Makes sense to me. Probably too complicated for the average guy to sort out, though.

As I leave Joy’s spare and undecorated room where there would be no evidence at all of the weeks she spent there when she leaves—a place where she was always room # 74 and never Joyce Katzman—we didn’t shake hands.

The Joyce Exception.

Close to 5 pm

I drove away slowly, feeling disorientated.

Where do I go now?

What time I it?

Why do I care?

Something’s bothering me.

Sometimes in my unpredictable travels between two states, I try to find good music on my radio. Keeps me awake. Mostly coal but occasionally a diamond pops up: Elvis singing “I’m in Love With the Girl of My Best Friend”; ZZ Top: “She Got legs”; Springsteen: “Born in the USA”; Johnny Cash: “Ghost Riders in the Sky”; too much of Dion, The Supremes and The Everly Brothers to list.

Sinatra anything, Dean Martin: “Sway”; John Lennon: “Oh, Darling”; Conway Twitty: “It’s Only make believe” and a hundred obscure doo wop singers who never made it.

I think as a person gets older, it gets harder and harder to find singers they like. And much harder to hear the old songs they love still playing on the radio. Old people don’t buy much, so advertisers don’t try to please them, at least on the radio.

I get more Christian Rock stations as I move north into the hills and valleys, but for me, John, Mathew, Mark and Luke just don’t send me the same message as John, Paul, George and Ringo.

But here’s the other thing. At night, the Milwaukee National Public Radio station, 89.7 FM features more wonderful and unknown to me voices singing folk, rock, ballads and whatever than I ever heard late at night in Chicago.

Another thing. In Illinois, don’t get caught talking on a cell phone or they’ll put you on the rack. In Wisconsin, no one gives a damn. Everyone’s too busy shooting something: Deer, Bears, Wild Boar, Trout, Tyrannosaurus and who knows what else. But the highway cops in Wisconsin hide in sixty different kinds of unmarked cars and prowl like hyenas on the Interstate grabbing car after car after car.

Illinois? Not so much.

One more thing. At night, Wisconsin roads are very dark. Really dark. Get off on the wrong exit, as I do too often while night dreaming, and the chances of my getting lost are one hundred per cent. Which is why I carry twenty-plus Illinois and Wisconsin small town police department numbers on my trusty cell phone. By now, everyone everywhere knows my soft plaintive voice:

 “Please, officer, tell me where I am.”

 They always do. After laughing a little bit, first.

So, a week earlier, I went to a Racine Home Depot to see if they sold miscellaneous pieces of scrap wood left over from custom cutting for a cheap price so I could buy burlap bags of it like I did in Chicago to use for kindling when making my epic fires in my outdoor brick fireplace.

Person who listened to my request sent me to the lumber department to find Randy, a tall older guy with a dark mustache. Randy told me that this Home Depot didn’t keep stuff like that around because it would be considered a fire hazard. However, he went on,

“I’m cutting down a couple of dead Cherry trees in my back yard north of here in a day or so. You’re welcome to the pieces I’ll be stacking up if you want to come get them. It’ll save me from dragging all that dead wood to the curb. No charge, either.”

 I looked up at the guy. Hey Randy, I thought, service above and beyond, man.

Obviously I’m not in Chicago anymore where such an invitation would never happen. After all, aren’t all Big City people crazy? Likely, that’s a pretty universal assumption by the average Big City person.

But in my year here I’ve learned that small town people have a totally different attitude about being neighborly. So, yeah, I was surprised by his kind offer, but I also agreed to come fetch it on the spot. Randy seemed pleased. Recycling in action.

He drew me a slightly complex map on a scrap of paper, along with his phone number and address, and then told me he’d call me when the wood was ready to be picked up. And why not? Our relationship was all of five minutes old which by local standards was long enough.

As per the day’s ongoing pattern, we shook hands. His was a strong one. A hand one would expect from a Home Depot man working in the store’s Lumber Department. He didn’t complain about the roughness of my hands, either. That would have been kinda strange in any event.

I left him and the store and drove off. Two days later, today, May 18th, Randy called me and like drawing in a biplane to an unknown airport, he gradually guided me into his otherwise impossible to find Caledonia, Wisconsin settlement. Caledonia is the Latin name given by the Romans to the land in today’s Scotland north of their province of Britannia, beyond the frontier of their empire. I looked it up. A person can learn a lot if they take the time to look things up.

But one thought leads to another and just like that I remembered my father’s riveting war stories. A World War II vet who was in for the duration, March 1942 until late in 1945, he went “island hopping” in the Pacific Theater under General MacArthur—whom he considered to be a pompous ass with no respect for the ordinary soldier—in the Allie’s war plans to bring the war directly to and then absolutely destroy Japan.

One of the islands in the beginning was New Caledonia, a French colonial possession. My father told me many stories when I was very young and only a few years after the war ended, and in the process of repeating them at my insistence over and over, I not only became an extension of my father’s own memories, but I also became a storyteller myself. I don’t want to list all of the islands, but another major one was New Guinea and eventually the Philippine Islands.

Tears inevitably flow as I recall this one complicated moment in the war when my father, a sergeant in the Signal Corps, was wounded at night during a bombing by the Japanese. His leg was badly cut by shrapnel with many pieces of metal deeply imbedded in his flesh. In the dark, he crawled over to where he knew a medic was stationed and let the man check out his damage.

The medic took a good look and told my father that his wound was bad enough to get him shipped out of the war and back to America. However, the man told him,

“You realize that we’ll have to send your folks a telegram first, Sergeant.”

What did that mean?

Wouldn’t any combat soldier jump at the chance to escape the carnage and sit out the war safely in Illinois with his Purple Heart military decoration?

Not exactly, my father tried to explain to his very young and not fully comprehending child who was hanging on to his every word.

He explained that the War Department notified parents all over America whenever their son or daughter was wounded or killed in action or by accident. Each one would be sent a telegram delivered by hand from a Western Union employee to anyone on his regular route. But no parent knew whether the uniformed Western Union driver was carrying a telegram that said “wounded” or “dead”.  Same truck. Same uniform, either way.

That meant in my father’s very poor immigrant community on the West Side of Chicago, all the mothers and fathers watched with growing horror if one of those trucks parked on their street and the driver gradually passed house after house while searching for the correct address to deliver two possibly very different types of bad news, gradually getting closer and closer to one of their houses.  My father knew very well what kind of heart-stopping effect this would have on his Lithuanian mother Rose, then 59, and his Byelorussian father Jacob, then 61. He had heard about the terrible screams from his parent’s neighbors after receiving such a telegram, from his three sisters Sylvia, Mollie and Estelle’s letters to him.

Wincing in pain and bleeding badly, he shook his head at the medic and said,

“Forget it, Doc. Patch me up and send me back. And no telegram, got it?” 

The “Doc” got it very well, did as my father asked and kept his word. Until he arrived safely back home a long time later, no one in Chicago ever had a clue. He died with the shrapnel still in him, fifty-five years later.

I pause here to ask myself, where did guys like him come from?  What kind of people were they?  Not just my father, but millions like him? I think they all really understood that the damned war was much bigger than any one of them and that the point wasn’t to “get your ticket punched” to escape the war and get back home for whatever reason any of them could come up with, a wound or something less than that. The point was they all really were in this thing together and that all of them were needed either at home or in the battles to win the war, or lose it. Nothing was certain for a long time about that.

I find this idea to be so big, so powerful that it still overwhelms me today with emotion and makes me wonder if we could ever be like that as a country again? “All in this thing together”, I mean. I don’t know. I’m not sure.

I do know that even as a child I doubted I could ever be as brave a man as my father, and I feared that he was able to know that about me. I had many nightmares about the war and never ever saw myself as a John Wayne kind of fearless hero. Just another terrified guy hoping not to die, if I was ever put in that kind of situation. For the record, John Wayne was never in any war. He just acted brave in movies about them.

Memorial Day is here in three days. I’ll be thinking about all of this, whether I want to or not. My father explained to me that courage wasn’t necessarily something a man did. Sometimes, it was something a man didn’t do.

Once I arrived and met Randy’s very friendly young son, Luke, I saw that all the bigger branches and pieces of the tree’s trunk were neatly stacked and waiting for me. Together, all three of us quickly filled up my Toyota. Then Randy and I talked for a while about the history of his area and other things. We avoided politics and religion (or I did) as probably both of our parents taught us. Then we shook hands, again, and I drove off in my wood-filled Japanese car. I could smell the strong fragrance of the sap of the fresh cut cherry tree every time I inhaled. Nice.

Randy was a very nice guy, welcoming and informal. Will I ever see him again? Well, it’s a small town and the chances are, oh, about one hundred per cent.

But driving along south toward my house, I began feeling queasy and uncomfortable as I tried to nail down what it was which had plagued me all day.

Then, consistent with all the other unexpected, bizarre and enrapturing experiences I’ve had since moving north to Wisconsin, as I drove south along this rural road to my house with my driver’s window open, suddenly there was a loud flapping of wings and as I looked to my left to see what was happening,

I saw this big duck flying along side of my window, so close I could see the several bands of colors on his neck. His wings were really pumping, but he stayed along side me for most of a minute, then took off for wherever ducks go in the gathering gloom of night in the countryside. I’ve had a lot of unusual experiences, but being accompanied by a duck on a country road has to be on its own little pedestal.

It was 7:30 pm

 When I arrived home, I unloaded all of the cherry wood and stacked it all around the exterior walls of my hand-constructed fireplace. I built it from one hundred thirty-two oversized paving bricks, sort of dirty pinkish in color, and the finished structure was seven feet wide, four feet tall on the sides and back, with an open space in the front for the heat from the flames to pour out.

There were existing logs and kindling of various dimensions stacked around the outside of the massive fireplace, and also more of it on a large black steel log holder about ten feet away near the wooden fence.

I picked out a six-foot long hardwood branch and two thick hardwood stumps to act as legs to hold up the branch. Then I stacked thinner pieces of softwood against the long branch and all around the base of the hardwood stumps. It takes a pretty large and hot softwood fire, burning steadily, to raise the surface temperature of the hardwood high enough to ignite it. The big piles of my softwood inventory melt down quickly while that effort is taking place. I stuffed dry newspaper all around the base of the wood, in between the softwood leaning against and under the long branch too, and then pulled out a box of wooden matches, preparing to light all of it.

8:30 pm

A veteran of creating countless campfires from my travels around the USA and Canada with Joyce and our children when they were little, and even before that in 1955 watching my father construct intricate fires inside of our fireplace in our home on the far South Side of Chicago. I was five.

Then my father and I would cuddle on an old couch and watch the Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Wednesday Night Fights on TV on our black and white set. It memorably, at least to small me, had cartoon commercials about a beaver and beer from the land of sky blue waters. I can still recall the choir singing the theme from that commercial sixty years later.

My father?

My father.

That was the answer to my mysterious uncomfortableness of this day.

My father.

I struck a single wooden match and lit the fire. I was an expert taught by an expert and the flames burst up and out in an incendiary rainbow of color, engulfing all of the kindling. I added more kindling, feeding the flames, then larger pieces of wood all bent at an angle against the long and fire-resistant branch elevated upon the thick left and right hardwood stumps.

The fire roared and a sheet of yellow flame shot up the rear brick wall, blackening it. There was no smoke and soon there was orange among the yellows, and just a touch of green and blue tongues of fire. I backed up steadily as the heat poured out of the caldron under the black night sky, until the back of my knees bumped into an ancient wooden swing I’d built long ago, assembling it and disassembling it as my family went from place to place in the ups and downs of my career.  I sat down upon it and began to gently swing back and forth, feeling my cheeks burning from the roaring soft and hardwood raging before me.

I understood now. I looked at my wristwatch.

It was 9 pm.

 Sixteen years before this moment, at 9 pm, in a hospital in Highland Park, Illinois, my father, Israel, died in my arms right after I told him I loved him, as he looked right into my eyes.

I held him to my chest for a long time until a kind nurse gently, silently, removed my arms from holding him so he could lie flat upon his bed. He was eighty-seven. I was fifty.

I remained alone with him for a long time in the small dark room, leaving me time to fully realize that my best friend in the world, born in 1912, born before World War I began and only a dozen years before his father Jacob came to America after escaping from the Czar in Europe, was gone.

But…who knows?

As I watched the dancing flames in many colors consume much of the wood, I entertained the ethereal thought that perhaps he was sitting on that wooden swing with me, so we could watch that beautiful fire again, together again.

A fantasy?

That’s okay.

Maybe he’s around me all year, all the time, watching everything I did, hearing all I said, now that his little boy was a senior citizen.

But on this particular May 18th, perhaps he wanted a little more attention in return. Who can say “no” to me about that?


In Judaism, part of the cultural tradition is that sometimes numbers correspond to certain words. The number eighteen means “chai” or life. A toast at a Jewish wedding or any other joyous occasion, is always: “L’chai-am!” or “To Life!”.

That my father happened to die on the night of May eighteenth in 2000 means something different to me than it might mean to other people on different dates. I don’t really know.

 Whatever readers of this story may be thinking, I know how uncomfortable I felt all that day without understanding why. But now I was at peace, slowly moving back and forth on my old wooden swing watching a brilliant fire as good as any my father would have built. I felt at ease for the first time that day. And maybe, just maybe, my father was sitting right there next to me, watching the fire with me and remembering who we both were long, long ago, and once upon a time.

Shalom, my father, Shalom.


Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: http://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $29.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.



Comment by Bill Skeens

May 28, 2016 @ 3:24 am

Wow Bob. Great story. As I sit here thinking about your Dad very early on a Sat morning, I invariably think about my Dad and our Dad’s together in the South Pacific in WW2 this Memorial Day Weekend. When I read you story and before you mentioned your Dad, you said the man who gave you the wood was from Caledonia, WI. That was when I thought of our Dads together. My Dad always mentioned this place he was stationed in the South Pacific called New Caledonia. Wonder if that was a God wink to both of us. Shalom my Friend. All my best, Bill Skeens

Comment by Brad Dechter

May 28, 2016 @ 4:12 am

Good story Bob. My Dad’s 87th birthday would have been May 22, so I have been thinking about him.
A Day in the Life of Bob Katzman (albeit that’s not your title) was a good read- thanks for sharing! Just following you made me tired and proud- even us now older guys multitask well
Again, thanks for sharing!

Comment by Diane DePeder

May 28, 2016 @ 7:21 am

Love this story Bob.

Comment by Rhonda Manthei

May 28, 2016 @ 9:28 am

I have the same uncomfortable feelings every March 4 and in the days leading up to that day, the day my Mom died in 1971 when I was 19. A good description of your day and feelings.

Comment by Don Larson

May 28, 2016 @ 11:06 am

Hi Bob,

That’s a great story. You capture the heart of living in every word.

Warmest regards,


Comment by Randy Zich

October 14, 2016 @ 6:20 pm

Wow, I am “the” Randy and wanted to say thanks for the kind words!

My dad, hanging on at 90 years old, is also a WWII vet but he was lucky. He was on a plane to go over to fight the Japanese when they dropped one of the atomic bombs and his plane was then ordered to turn around. Later he was stationed in Japan.

You write in a way that demonstrates simple truths about life can easily be as, or more, intriguing than fiction.

Thank You Again,

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>