Thursday, August 20, 2009

When I was a little kid in Warsaw, before WW II, my Catholic nanny, Kiki, taught me, as she had been taught, herself, that only Catholics went to Heaven. This raised an immediate question regarding the current whereabouts of my late, Jewish father. And it was something to which Kiki did not have a ready answer. Because he had been a very good man, he certainly wasn't in Hell, about which she had told me numerous stories and even shown me pictures -- which I took to be actual photographs. But, as to where he actually was, Kiki drew a blank.

This question did not stay long unanswered in my mind. When Kiki and I had to travel a distance in the city, we took the trolley, and on hot summer days, the Warsaw trolleys took on an atmosphere that wasn't altogether pleasant. One of the features on these trolleys were the black-coated, black-hatted, bearded Hassidic Jews, of whom Warsaw had a large population. On the street, these were just odd looking people who walked past, but on the trolley, I could watch them. I could look at their strange appearance, listen to their odd talk, and observe their unusual body language. And so I came to associate the trolleys with things Jewish. And the picture that I formed in my mind of my later father's whereabouts was him riding one of these Warsaw trolleys into eternity.

When my book came out, three years ago, and I put together a talk I could give in libraries, churches, and synagogues, about my WW II experiences, including this account of the trolleys, I titled it "A Streetcar named Eternity."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Any friendly looking jogger or walker, any motorist stopped at a stop sign, any homeowner gardening too close to the road is fair game. Either sex will do, though I have more fun with women. I begin with a friendly greeting and ask the person whether I might give her or him something. Women will usually ask what it is that I want to give them, and my response is that what I would really want to give them is diamonds and pearls, but I don't have any. "What I do have, however," I say, "is a letter about my book. Please take it home and read it, then rush out to the nearest bookstore."

I'm the author of an award-winning memoir about my experiences as a Jew in WW II Poland, when I was seven. The books is entitled, MOTHER AND ME: ESCAPE FROM WARSAW 1939, published by Academy Chicago in '06 and named "Book of the Year" by "ForeWord Magazine." It received wonderful reviews when it came out, and I still get phone calls and letters from people who have read it and loved it. Unfortunately, however, in this economic climate, publishers no longer promote books, except by celebrities, and an author is expected to do his or her own promotion. Many will hire a professional book promoter to place stories in media and book interviews on talk shows. I, unfortunately, don't have a budget for that, so I speak at libraries, churches, synagogues, colleges, and private homes, and I carry a pocket-full of fliers wherever I go and give one to anyone I can. And the best opportunity I have found for handing out my fliers, is when I go one my morning run/walk along Hope Street in Stamford, CT.

Three or four times a week I run and walk several miles along Hope Street in Stamford, and onto Ponus Ridge in New Canaan. I do it for the exercise -- at 77 exercise is very important to me -- and to stimulate my imagination. It seems that Hope Street has become a mantra for me, and my mind turns creative almost the moment I step outside. I get ideas and solve problems for the books that I write, while I run or walk, and come up with other thoughts that, until now, have mostly gone to waste.

That's why I'm starting this blog. Now I hope to share many of these thoughts with you. I hope you will find them interesting and will come back to read more and to respond.

I will try to post something new once or twice a week, and more often if the spirit moves me. I look forward to your next visit to my blog.

All the best,

Julian Padowicz