Intra-Library Loan Time

9th level of the Harold Washington Library (Ch...

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Most of my research for Anne on Fire is now complete.  I’ve spoken with willing relatives and friends who knew details from my burn accident years ago or who knew my parents at the time.  I’ve requested as many medical records as possible, learning that there are some that simply are gone.  I’ve contacted doctors who worked on my case.  All in all, it’s been a fabulous and enlightening process where I’ve tried to cover the proverbial waterfront of information for clues and insight.  I was going over my findings with my friend Gloria when she said, “Gallagher, have you looked in the newspapers from that time to see if anything was published?  You know, a fire call, a news item.”

I hadn’t.  It was a great idea and prompted my call to the Brown County library (pictured here as is the interior of the Harold Washington Library), where of course they have old editions of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.  In our techno-driven age, most newspapers before the mid-1990s are not searchable online but preserved on micro-film.  Another call to the Harold Washington Library to request an intra-library loan…..and a stash of micro-film is on its way to Chicago.

My gut tells me there will be nothing useful for me in these newspapers.  At the same time, I can’t wait to wade through them on the micro-film machine.  You never know what you might find unless you look.  The process also brings about a sweet sense of closure to my search for information.  It motivates me to get back to the business of writing up the story. 

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Serendipity or Just Life

Heading to Miami for work this evening, I couldn’t help but think of my father, who absolutely loved Florida. He died in 1993 and I’ve been thinking about him a lot as I work on writing the story of my burns and how they were healed (physically and metaphorically). His favorite book was How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and right next to that was his dog-eared copy of Tom PetersIn Search of Excellence. By some small miracle, I was at O’Hare an hour before my flight and I ducked in to Barbara’s Bookstore in United’s Terminal B. Browsing along the small aisles, I hit the bookshelf with my bag and down fell How to Win Friends and Influence People, the special Anniversary edition celebrating the book’s over 70 years in print. Of course I bought it. Reading it on the plane explained a lot about my dad, who followed the Carnegie tenets to a “t”. I mean this was his bible. Now, I’d say I ran into some cosmic serendipity tonight. My friend and audio engineer Todd Hoyer would say, “Bah humbug, that’s just life, don’t make anything out of this.” So, I wonder dear readers — how do you distinguish when the universe is calling from when it’s just stuff that happens? Please tell me your experiences.