Author's Note

EVERY AUTHOR LIVES for the early reviews of a new book, holding their breath while hoping that the book they've labored on for so long will hit the mark with its readers. Early reviews on Amazon suggest that I'm on solid ground here.

One of the sweetest notes came from my cousin Sonnie, whose mother was Daddy’s sister Lil, who is mentioned often in the book. After reading the book, she called, and there was so much excitement in her voice that I couldn't believe this was my usually quiet and soft-spoken cousin. Later she wrote:

"At this stage in our life, where could we get a better understanding of our parents' era and all the things they went through! The open sharing of all three of you girls of your family history was such a blessing to me, and I know someday they may even make it a movie. I am going to think big because I have a big God who knows what He has planned for you!"

That gave me a chuckle, because there is no "they" to turn my book into a movie. However, by publishing this book, I've automatically positioned myself for new and exciting things I'll be doing this year, including the presentation of a series of faith-based workshops on life writing and how to write and publish a memoir on Amazon. I believe this work will lead me to the writing of another book for writers that I've been thinking about for many years.

Copyright © 2018 by Barbara Brabec. All Rights Reserved.


(From readers not on the Web)

"I began reading this book, casually interested in the accounts of life in rural Illinois’ Iroquois County. Coming from an internationally well-known city, I didn’t imagine I would find that much to interest me. Boy, was I wrong! I found myself unable to put this book down with its fascinating account of a hard-working, warm, articulate and loving family. I truly believe you will find much to give you pleasure in the reading of Marcella’s Secret Dreams and Stories.” - Lucille Hamilton, California


EXCERPTS from 5-Star Amazon Reviews for

Marcella's Secret Dreams and Stories

"Settle back and enjoy this memoir/biography. Marcella Eliza Schaumburg’s writings take the reader into rural Illinois beginning in the 1920s. History books may tell the story of the 20th century, but Marcella lived it and recorded it. Barbara’s own insights deepen the reader’s enjoyment. Anyone with ties to the Midwest will find this a delightful read. People who work with the elderly, or who have cared for a family member in their waning years, might especially relate to the book. Marcella was both a caregiver in nursing homes and for family. Finally, it’s an inspirational book for anyone considering writing a memoir or a family story." - Gayle Larson Schuck, author of Secrets of the Dark Closet

"A poignant walk down memory lane! I found the back-and-forth aspects of this book fascinating as Barbara interjected her own thoughts and experiences with her mother's written words. It was also thoroughly enjoyable to read about the three daughters' different personalities and reactions to all the life experiences recounted in this book." - Joan L. Green, JoanGreenDesigns

"More than a family treasure . . . The amount of work, effort and love it took to tell this story is certainly apparent. It is compelling as you read excerpts from letters, recollections, and personal reflections brought together with Barbara's refreshing style of storytelling. After reading you may find yourself saying as I did, 'I wish I had known Marcella.' " - Linda Ann Lewis, author of Golden Memories

"This book, told with extraordinary eloquence, is unique to the memoir genre. I dare say that Mark Twain would appreciate this co-authored memoir by Barbara Brabec and her late mother, Marcella Eliza Schaumburg. This is a remarkable book that time and time again includes 'the little things' in amazing detail. Feelings and interests furthermore rise throughout couched in both big and little incidents that capture and relate to our own feelings and interests.
    "Couched frequently in Marcella’s writing lies a remarkably detailed encyclopedic history of hardships that families faced through the depression years that include prices of all kinds of items needed to survive, making do with what they had, budgets, scarcity of jobs, difficult working conditions, wages that were minimal, and debilitating sicknesses, but also the overriding respect, honesty, and love that the family shared as Barbara and her two sisters, Mary and Mollie, grew up in a small town in Illinois.
    "While Marcella receives the featured focus in the book, we also clearly see the remarkable character and accomplishments of her daughters, especially Barbara, a chip, as it were, off of her mother’s massively gifted block. This is perhaps the finest jewel in Barbara’s publishing crown as she blends together and enhances three generations of family history. Among the many messages that this book brings, the encouragement for readers to undertake the writing of family life stories is perhaps most powerful as she proclaims, “The next best thing to having a good life is to live it all over again in a book you’ve written.” - Duane Victor Keilstrup, author of The Christian Professor in the Secular University

"If you want a great, old-fashioned trip down memory lane, then this is the book for you. After reading I just wanted to sit down and write some of my childhood memories. I just can't imagine how they kept all those letters for such a long time and it is wonderful that they had that journal from their mother. I wish mine had left a legacy. I wish that I had asked more questions when she was alive. The stories on grieving, accepting and moving on are so relevant for me today as I'm getting close to having to experience that. Wonderful book." - Barbara Wittman

"A glimpse into yesterday--a remarkable treasure! Barbara has done a beautiful job of putting this collection together. In interjecting her comments along with her mother's thoughts, this is really a story within a story. Her descriptions shine with such realism, humor, heart-break and clarity that she conveys a picture with words. Indeed, the reader is transported back in time. In that day, letters were the life-line that held far-flung families together. Without this correspondence, and Barbra's foresight, Marcella's legacy would have been lost - and that would have been tragic." - Daisy Trimnell

"Barbara Brabec knows how to tell a good story . . . Recorded memories are always fascinating, but few of us could entwine them so well with corroborating letters saved from several family members over many years. Covering decades, they present a poignant history of the lives of several generations, reminding the reader of stories from their own families and spurring us to record our own life story for posterity." - Elizabeth Simmons

Value of Family Ties. Since completing the book, the story has re-entered my thoughts repeatedly as times and places have a way of resurfacing. Little had I realized how memories and feelings slip away, especially if it all is left to only memory and little or nothing has been recorded. Thus, what a treasure that Barbara, Molly and Mary have in the trove of hand written/typed memories they have compiled and kept, a practice now quickly being lost to technology. Written between the lines are the indelible building blocks laid by our ancestors of forming love, faith, family, trust, pride, ambition, grit, freedom, independence, and patriotism. . . This book is conducive to maintaining relationships and is heartwarming . . . a great read! - Jerry Harweger

"While reading the book, I compared her mother's life to my mother's, who was born in Cambridge, MA in 1911. Each page was interesting and made me realize that, like Barbara Brabec's mother, I need to make life changes now, before time catches up too fast." - Cathy Michaud


Postscript: Something that's giving me special pleasure now is the fact that the book I've just published has become a blessing to my mother's relatives in Ohio, only one of whom I met as a child. In the story linked to below, there's a special message for YOU if you're  wondering if it really matters whether or not you write the story of YOUR life for your immediate—and also extended—family.

Comments from Marcella's Relatives

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