Niagara Gazette

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March 4, 2013

NIAGARA WRITERS: Children inspired history-based adventure story

Niagara Gazette —

Johnnie Diez lived on Lake Road in a big house near the Hosmer Cemetery with his four brothers and five sisters. His father and mother came from Germany to the Town of Porter many years ago.

Friedrich, Johnnie’s father, owned five farms. He was an important man in the community. Friedrich told his sons that one day each of them could have a farm.

Johnnie could not wait to grow up and become a farmer. But today, all he wanted to do was play with his pet pig Guinevere.

How did Johnnie Diez’s story begin? Did you ever imagine traveling back in time to meet someone? While cranking through microfilm, Census and church records, I considered that my husband’s Diez ancestors would be perplexed with my fascination and extensive search for insights into the past. Yes, Diez is the correct German spelling; and when “two vowels go out walking” it is the second vowel in Deutsch that “does the talking.” The letter “z” is pronounced “tz.” 

My writing time travel in the heart of World War II was about to detour decades earlier with the Diez family. In April 2012, my sixth book, a 578-page authorized biography of the navigator of the Enola Gay, was released. The two-year effort of many 80-hour workweeks, travel for interviews, extensive background reading and research at the National Archives in D.C. concluded with “My True Course.” Dutch Van Kirk’s bio documents his recollections of military service, actual correspondence to and from home and details of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II.

I was tired and had two other publications in progress working with Amy Freiermuth: a souvenir history of the Town of Porter to commemorate its bicentennial and a collection of veterans’ memories. Both works felt like they were taking forever to finish. Through the process, the Porter’s Founders’ Day weekend committee added more work to the pile. Spring household cleaning and a cleared dining room table was not about to be a reality any time soon.

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