Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Amazing Book By An Amazing Man

Every so often I talk to my dad's cousin, Harold Wintner. He is a remarkable person. At 89 he is sharp as a whip. He just retired as a successful CPA about 2 years ago. I really enjoy talking to him because he always has great stories, insights and humor. My dad was very close to him, so it gives me insights into my dad who passed away a few years ago.

Harold called me at work about a week ago. He wanted to make sure he had my correct address. We chatted and he said "You will get a package from me soon." A day or two later we received a book. For the last year, between the ages of 88 and 89 Harold wrote a book. It is a series of stories about his life. What a rich amazing life he has had. The book is well written and fun to read. It spans short stories from his childhood, high school, college, the army during WWII, his marriage and family, professional career, philanthropic efforts and friendships. It gave me tremendous insight into Harold and really made me understand why I so enjoy his company. So far he has had such a rich, fulfilling life and has touched so many others. In a way the book reminds me of the classic movie "It's A Wonderful Life" with Western Pennsylvania icon, Jimmy Stewart.

The book also provides tremendous insight into what America and Western Pennsylvania was like in an earlier generation. The World War II experience prepared young men to achieve when they returned. I always found it strange when people from my father's generation would look back at the war experience with nostalgia compared to how our generation looks at Viet Nam or Iraq.

The book, centered around McKeesport and Duquesne, also provides us with an idea of what the Mon Valley towns were like in their heyday. It's so different than what we see today. McKeesport was a thriving, self-sufficient city.

I am so appreciative that Harold has spent the last year chronicling the previous 88 years. The book is most worthwhile simply because Harold has passed his life and experiences down to his family, but even for those not related he has provided rich snapshots of Western Pennsylvania in an earlier time. I am certainly much better for have reading it.

If you are interested I'm not sure if the book is available for general sale through bookstores or Amazon. It is professionally edited and published, but I have a sense that Harold self-published and provided copies as gifts for the fortunate few. If you are interest in having a copy, please post a comment and I will provide information about availability.

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