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And coming soon is a new essay called "Shooting High. Until then, please check out my novella, Eva Galuska and the Christmas Carp. It is a story set in Chicago at Christmastime with an Old World flavor all its own. Jozef is also troubled by some of the Old World holiday customs, particularly serving carp for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

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This is a story of self-discovery with threads of mystery, love, and desire. We would paint them white or gold and sprinkle them with glitter. And then, there was Chicago, the "melting pot" of nations. By visitng different neighborhoods it was like going to another country for a few hours.

Penny Nichols

AsIi grew up I wanted nothing more than to learn other languages and embrace the world. Many of my characters have foreign ancestry and ethnic experiences. Winner of Doorknobs and BodyPaint "Dorsal" competition for word stories on specific themes. Winner in for "Birthdays and Broken Spirits" and in for "Twins. Winners and finalists were announced October 20, I was named to Who's Who in America, 64th edition, My ultra-short story "A Penny for Good Luck" has been selected for the publication of the special ultra-short edition of the The Binnacle.

My story was one of fifty-seven poems and short stories selected for publications from more than submissions from twenty-one countries. This will be published in October Prism by Roland Allnach 'Prism' combines author Roland Allnach's award winning published short fiction and new, previously unpublished fiction. About us Problem with this page?

The Menace at the Foster Academy

Not a Rockefeller, then, but a broad-shouldered roustabout, a Hebrew giant with an absurd name and a pair of restless feet who tried his luck in Manhattan and Brooklyn, in Baltimore and Charleston, in Duluth and Chicago, employed variously as a dockhand, an ordinary seaman on a Great Lakes tanker, an animal handler for a traveling circus, an assembly-line worker in a tin-can factory, a truck driver, a ditchdigger, a night watchman.

For all his efforts, he never earned more than nickels and dimes, and therefore the only things poor Ike Ferguson bequeathed to his wife and three boys were the stories he had told them about the vagabond adventures of his youth. In the long run, stories are probably no less valuable than money, but in the short run they have their decided limitations.

The leather-goods company made a small settlement with Fanny to compensate her for her loss, and then she left Chicago with the boys, moving to Newark, New Jersey, at the invitation of her husband's relatives, who gave her the top-floor apartment in their house in the Central Ward for a nominal monthly rent. Her sons were fourteen, twelve, and nine. Louis, the oldest, had long since evolved into Lew. Aaron, the middle child, had taken to calling himself Arnold after one too many schoolyard beatings in Chicago, and Stanley, the nine-year-old, was commonly known as Sonny.

To make ends meet, their mother took in laundry and mended clothes, but before long the boys were contributing to the household finances as well, each one with an after-school job, each one turning over every penny he earned to his mother.

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Times were tough, and the threat of destitution filled the rooms of the apartment like a dense, blinding fog. There was no escape from fear, and bit by bit all three boys absorbed their mother's dark ontological conclusions about the purpose of life.

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Either work or starve. Either work or lose the roof over your head. Either work or die. In their little world, it was All-For-All — or nothing.

Ferguson was not yet two when his grandmother died, which meant that he retained no conscious memories of her, but according to family legend Fanny was a difficult and erratic woman, prone to violent screaming fits and manic bursts of uncontrollable sobbing, who beat her boys with brooms whenever they misbehaved and was barred from entering certain local shops because of her vociferous haggling over prices.

No one knew where she had been born, but word was that she had landed in New York as a fourteen-year-old orphan and had spent several years in a windowless loft on the Lower East Side making hats. Ferguson's father, Stanley, rarely talked about his parents to his son, responding to the boy's questions with only the vaguest of brief, guarded answers, and whatever bits of information young Ferguson managed to learn about his paternal grandparents came almost exclusively from his mother, Rose, by many years the youngest of the three second-generation Ferguson sisters-in-law, who in turn had received most of her information from Millie, Lew's wife, a woman with a taste for gossip who was married to a man far less hidden and far more talkative than either Stanley or Arnold.

When Ferguson was eighteen, his mother passed on one of Millie's stories to him, which was presented as no more than a rumor, a piece of unsubstantiated conjecture that might have been true — and then again might not.

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According to what Lew had told Millie, or what Millie said he had told her, there was a fourth Ferguson child, a girl born three or four years after Stanley, during the period when the family had settled in Duluth and Ike was looking for work as an ordinary seaman on a Great Lakes ship, a stretch of months when the family was living in extreme poverty, and because Ike was gone when Fanny gave birth to the child, and because the place was Minnesota and the season was winter, an especially frigid winter in an especially cold place, and because the house they lived in was heated by only a single wood-burning stove, and because there was so little money just then that Fanny and the boys had been reduced to living on one meal a day, the thought of having to take care of another child filled her with such dread that she drowned her newborn daughter in the bathtub.

If Stanley said little about his parents to his son, he didn't say much about himself either. This made it difficult for Ferguson to form a clear picture of what his father had been like as a boy, or as a youth, or as a young man, or as anything at all until he married Rose two months after he turned thirty.

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Both Lew and Arnold married in their early twenties, each one determined to break free of Fanny's demented household as quickly as he could, to escape the screaming monarch who had ruled over the Fergusons since their father's death in , but Stanley, still in his teens when his brothers decamped, had no choice but to stay on. He was barely out of high school, after all, but then the years passed, one year after the other for eleven years, and he continued to stay on, unaccountably sharing the same top-floor apartment with Fanny throughout the Depression and the first half of the war, perhaps stuck there through inertia or laziness, perhaps motivated by a sense of duty or guilt toward his mother, or perhaps driven by all of those things, which made it impossible for him to imagine living anywhere else.

Both Lew and Arnold fathered children, but Stanley seemed content to go on playing the field, expending the bulk of his energies on building his little business into a bigger business, and because he showed no inclination to marry, even as he danced through his mid-twenties and approached the brink of thirty, there seemed little doubt that he would remain a bachelor for the rest of his life.

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Then, in October , less than a week after the American Fifth Army captured Naples from the Germans, in the middle of that hopeful period when the war was finally beginning to turn in favor of the Allies, Stanley met the twenty-one-year-old Rose Adler on a blind date in New York City, and the charm of lifelong bachelorhood died a quick and permanent death.

So pretty she was, Ferguson's mother, so fetching with her gray-green eyes and long brown hair, so spontaneous and alert and quick to smile, so deliciously put together throughout the five feet six inches that had been allotted to her person that Stanley, on shaking her hand for the first time, the remote and normally disengaged Stanley, the twenty-nine-year-old Stanley who had never once been burned by the fires of love, felt himself disintegrating in Rose's presence, as if all the air had been vacuumed from his lungs and he would never be able to breathe again.

She, too, was the child of immigrants, a Warsaw-born father and an Odessa-born mother, both of whom had come to America before the age of three. The Adlers were therefore a more assimilated family than the Fergusons, and the voices of Rose's parents had never carried the smallest trace of a foreign accent. They had grown up in Detroit and Hudson, New York, and the Yiddish, Polish, and Russian of their parents had given way to a fluent, idiomatic English, whereas Stanley's father had struggled to master his second tongue until the day he died, and even now, in , close to half a century removed from her origins in Eastern Europe, his mother still read the Jewish Daily Forward instead of the American papers and expressed herself in an odd, mashed-up language her sons referred to as Yinglish, a nearly incomprehensible patois that combined Yiddish and English in nearly every sentence that escaped her mouth.

That was one essential difference between Rose and Stanley's progenitors, but even more important than how much or how little their parents had adjusted to American life, there was the question of luck.