I haven't posted a blog in a while, as I have been putting a lot of my energy into my freelance writing career, but lately I have circled back to another line of thought--and it feels like déjà vu; how do I really want to spend my time, doing something I am truly passionate about, or not? This thought feels like déjà vu because it is exactly what I was thinking when I first started doing LifeStory memoirs for people. I was passionate about it then, but I got sidetracked. Well, I'm back.
Over the past year, I have had the privilege of learning all about the lives of some very special individuals. Paul is a Holocaust survivor who grew up in Poland. He remembers the day the Nazis arrived in his town--September 1, 1939. He watched them march down the boulevard. Paul was an engineering student. His intelligence, and certainly a fair amount of luck, helped him survive his harrowing ordeal through a number of concentration camps. When he made it to the United States, he became a successful furniture maker and businessman, and raised a beautiful family. Paul is one of the sweetest men I have ever met.
I also loved learning all about Al, a master baker and product maker who has been in the business for over six decades. Because Al's father had a major stroke when Al was a boy growing up in Brooklyn, Al had to stop going to school and start working to support his family. He's been a baker ever since. Al told me how he almost became a professional baseball player. He tried out for the New York Giants and made the cut. He was invited to the training camp, from where he would likely have gone on to the majors, but they couldn't offer him enough money to leave Brooklyn, where his family needed him.
And then there's Lionel, a business mogul who created a whole new model in the shoe business. Remember how when you used to go into a shoe store, the guy sat you down, measured your foot, and then went into the back to get a few pairs of shoes for you to try on? Lionel had a new idea: put the shoes out on the racks, organize them by size, and let the customers try them on themselves. This way they often ended up leaving with a few pairs, and Lionel didn't need as many employees. Well, it was a success. He later sold his business for a lot of money. When the buyer bankrupted the business quickly, Lionel bought it back for pennies on the dollar and sold it again a few years later. Amazing! It's one of the few businesses ever to go public two times.
Some amazing stories from some amazing guys!