Monday, September 28, 2009

Suburban Growth

One of the side stories in the book Last Hand: A Suburban Memoir of Cards and the Cold War Era is the rapid suburban growth during the 1960s. Between 1950 and 1970 the population of Arlington Heights grew 640%. This led to the doubling of the number of schools in Arlington Heights Elementary School District 25. Around 1975 the population leveled off and the number of school aged children dropped rapidly as families in the area aged. Two aerial photos show this growth one of Greenbrier and surrounding area in the Spring of 1963 and the other seven years later in 1970. Both pictures are in the book and provide glimpse at the growth during that period. I’ve added a third photo here of the same area in 1975, so that you can compare them. Some things to look for are the addition of Route 53, Greenbrier School, and Rand Jr. High (Only 3 pods complete) between 1963 and 1970. Click on the photos to get a better look.

Note: The street running through the center of Greenbrier in 1963 is Verde Drive. The two schools are not marked in the photos because when I made them for the book the print would have been illegible.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Idea for the Book

What gave you the idea to write the book?
The idea of the book stemmed from a number of different feelings that built up over the last twenty years or so. It was at about that time that I went overseas to Germany to live and study for a period of two years. It was the time of the Reunification and German society was changing. It was a special and unique time to be in Germany. Unbeknownst to me, American society was changing too. The mindset shift, from the Cold War world to an open one, was tremendous.
While I was in Germany, I had little contact with any Americans. The first Gulf War was underway and I had become an American Ambassador of sorts to all of the Germans or foreign students I’d meet. This gave me a heightened sense of my own American identity, as I would describe American social and cultural life to my new friends.
The American identity that I represented, however, was going through a major change. During the Second World War and the Cold War the American public had an almost unified understanding of what it meant to be an American. In the years following the Cold War there seemed to be a trend to replace that identity with concepts of diversity and multiculturalism.
Years later, with most of my family gone, living in the same place I grew up, with a son now growing up in that same neighborhood, I couldn’t escape how much had changed. Some of the changes weren’t limited to the geopolitical changes but also included advancements in technology as well as other social and cultural changes. I found myself telling my son stories of past American suburban life, as I did to my German friends a number of years before. It’s those stories that led to the book, Last Hand: A Suburban Memoir of Cards and the Cold War Era.
A glimpse into the past—The Greenbrier Fourth of July Bike Parade 1964.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Steve's Doodling Mind

Click on the picture to get a better view.

Why Greenbrier?

Over the past few months I’ve been asked various questions about the book, Last Hand: A Suburban Memoir of Cards and the Cold War Era. The next several days I’m going to post answers to some of those questions. The first question deals with the subdivision that is the setting for the story.

Was Greenbrier unique enough of a place to grow up to make it a worthy topic for a book?

Much of the experience of growing up in the Greenbrier subdivision during the Cold War was common to many middle-class American communities from coast-to-coast and very representative of Chicago suburban life. What makes Greenbrier a worthy topic, is that American communities, culture, and family life have all changed over time. Some of the changes that have taken place have been by design, while others are a result of changing technology. Regardless of whether one believes the evolution of American society has been for better or worse, the experience of having grown up in a place like Greenbrier has become very unique. I wrote the book with the ultimate goal of transporting the reader to that time and place to observe American family life that is part of an irretrievable American past.

Greenbrier in 1975

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Daily Herald

The Daily Herald wrote about my book, Last Hand: A Suburban Memoir of Cards and the Cold War in today's paper

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Signing on September 19th

I will be selling and signing copies of my new book:
Last Hand A Suburban Memoir of Cards and the Cold War Era

at the St. John’s 35th Annual Flea Market and Craft Fair, September 19th from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

St. John United Church of Christ
1475 W. Algonquin Road
Palatine, IL (The southwest corner of Algonquin and Roselle roads)