Fact Based Fiction

As a working journalist for most of my life, I was always doing research.  If someone told me something and wanted to put it into my newspaper or magazine, I always verified the facts.  You can’t just print hearsay or rumor. 

I love research.  You learn so much about your surrounding area, the people nearby, businesses, nature, you-name-it, everything becomes more interesting, sad, beautiful, or funny with research.  I once shadowed a dying man for the last six weeks of his life, spending hours near his bed, talking with him about how he felt and his personal history.  It ran as a series in my newspaper in New Jersey.  It won several awards and was and published in that area as a booklet for nursing homes. 

Not only did I speak with the patient, I interviewed doctors and nurses who part of his team.  I spoke with family members.  I learned a lot and showed my readers how one can die comfortably and with no regrets.

My next murder mystery is called FOOTES CREEK and will be published shortly.  It is about a series of grisly murders at a prestigious old boy club in New Jersey.  The US Open is coming to the course in a few years, and Police Chief Ed (Mac) McSorley is under a lot of pressure to solve the crimes.  Ed is drinking heavily after the loss of his wife to cancer two years ago and wonders if he can fulfill his duties. 

He meets Abby Mitchell, a member of Footes Creek, and as they begin to work together, a romance begins. 

Research?  Yes, a lot.  I’ve played golf for most of my life, I’ve been Chairman and Tournament Director of two different l8-Hole Ladies Golf Associations.  My husband started playing golf when he was eight years old and won 10 different championships at three different clubs.  We’ve travelled all over the United States playing golf and loving life.  Today, we live on a golf course in North Carolina.

In addition to that, my son-in-law is a PGA Pro, his father and two brothers are green superintendents, we have personal friends who are club pros and superintendents.  I wrote am award-winning golf column called Golf Gab for 14 years.  I attended regional meetings of the PGA and the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Associations.  I read books, interviewed pros and superintendents. 

Out of this came FOOTES CREEK.  Stay tuned for more information as it become available.  Both golfers and non-golfers will love this thriller.  It has blood, gore, suspense, romance and a truly vicious and clever killer.  

Family Reunions   Keep Them Going

My husband’s family was from Pittsburgh.  His father had five sisters and no brothers.  The Bonstein clan was close-knit.  Each year they gathered for holidays, celebrations, and reunions. 

We lived in New Jersey for most of our married lives.  We raised four daughters. Gene has one sister and she and her husband have three daughters.  The seven girls were like stepping stones and grew up together in New Jersey, within an easy drive of each other.  We had dinners together and cookouts.  We visited back and forth a lot.     

Originally, our family reunions were in Pittsburgh, but as the girls grew up and the family got bigger and bigger, we needed our own celebrations.  As the years went by, we travelled less and less to Pittsburgh. 

We started having reunions in New Jersey, mostly on the Jersey shore.  We would rent a house for a week, and gather our smaller clan together to have fun.  They were great times, the kids playing badminton, building sandcastles, strolling the beach.  Carol and I cooked hot dogs and hamburgers and spaghetti for dinner and pancakes for breakfast. 

This went on for years, but then the girls grew up and got married, Some of them moved to other states.  Gene and I moved to North Carolina.  As the family spread out, Gene and I started having reunions with just our daughters and their families.  Gene’s sister started doing the same. 

Now, we rent beach houses on the Carolina Coast, or cabins the mountains of Tennessee.  The family keeps growing.  We now have over twenty members of the Bonstein Clan.  Four daughters, four sons-in-law, and ten grandchildren. The grandchildren are beginning to get married and we just had our first great-grandson!

Best of all, the family reunions and celebrations continue. At time marches on, there may be further splits, but I believe the reunions will continue. 

It’s been so much fun, and a great way to really get to know each other.   

Why Families Are Important

I was an only child, raised by Finnish immigrants.  We lived in rural Maryland on a chicken farm five miles out of town.at the end of dirt road.  We had 7,000 chickens, an orchard, a huge vegetable garden, a cow that I milked, a pond, a barn and an outhouse.  We had two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and 18 cats.  The nearest neighbor was ½ mile away. 

My parents were great people.  Most of their friends were farmers also, immigrants from Finland, Sweden and Denmark.  They had Saturday night dances and holiday gatherings.  Many of them had children my age who became my best friends. 

I was always envious of kids who had brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  I longed for the day when I could be part of a big family. 

As I got older and went through junior high school and high school, I had friends whose families had been here in America for several, sometimes many, generations. We all had different perspectives and it was fun to learn about their family connections.     

I went away to Syracuse University.  I met my husband Gene on a blind date my freshman year. He was from New Jersey, a city boy whose view of the world was the parking lot outside the window of his family’s apartment in Bloomfield, NJ. 

What entranced me most about him was his family history.  The original Bonsteins were two Hessian brothers who immigrated to America during the Revolutionary War.  One fought on the side of the British and the other (Gene’s ancestor) fought on the side of the Americans. 

Gene had a sister, grandparents and dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins in the Pittsburgh area and elsewhere around the United States. They had regular reunions and holiday gatherings.  As I dated him, I met his extended family and was often included in these events. 

It was a dream come true for me.  They welcomed me and I was so happy to meet them.  Gene and I got married the summer after our graduation and we’ve been together ever since.  It’s been a blast. 

Now we have our own family reunions.  I’ll talk about that in our next blog, and give you some advice about how to plan and handle a family reunion. We’ve been doing it for years.