My mother kept the yellow star she had to wear during the war. She never showed it to me. It must have been in the back of a drawer in a dusty envelope. At some point in the mid 70’s she donated it to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford (JHSGH). What she remembers is that a high school student interviewed her and then the transcript of the interview and the star were donated to the JHSGH.
Fast forward to 2016 and the University of Hartford is preparing a display in their Museum of Jewish Civilization honoring local Holocaust survivors. Mom will be one of the survivors featured in the first round of the exhibit, and so she is trying to track down the star to put in the museum along with her doll and her other 75-year-old artifacts.
I was visiting my parents and Mom told me the historical society can’t find the star. They think they donated it to the JCC (Jewish Community Center), but the JCC says they never had it. Quite the mix-up. I told Mom I would help her track down the missing star. I decided we should call the high school student who interviewed her to see if maybe he remembered it going somewhere else.
She had no idea how to find him but did remember his name. She actually remembered his name wrong but my dad corrected her. (He had done business with the student’s father in the past.) I fired up my computer and opened Google to do some sleuthing. I found the father in Florida. The dad gave me his son’s number in Maryland. Bingo!
When I called Jim there was no answer, but I did leave a voicemail about my mom and the interview and the star. I think I might have mentioned that I’m writing a book about my mom’s experiences during the Holocaust. I don’t remember the message exactly as I tend to babble a bit when I leave voicemail messages.
An hour later Jim called back. Mom was so excited that she barged into the bathroom and handed me the phone while I was in the shower!!! I had to ask her to ask him to wait a second while I grabbed a towel.
So I stood in my childhood bedroom, dripping wet, wrapped in a towel, and talked to Jim about the missing star. He remembered Mom, our house, the doll – but not the star. I was disappointed, but then he asked about my book and when it’s going to come out. I told him I don’t have an agent or a publisher yet and was still tweaking the manuscript into better shape.
I heard another voice and his partner started talking – I had been on speaker phone, and she had been listening.* She told me she was a publisher! All I could say was, “I’m on the phone with a publisher? I’m on the phone with a publisher?” I had done my elevator speech not knowing she was there.
We talked more about the book and she asked me to send it to her. That was May 20th. Now it’s six weeks later and I am holding a publishing contract! And we are going to try to get the book out by April or May 2017!
How many authors can say they found their publisher in the shower? I guess I can thank my lucky star.
(I’m still searching for my mom’s missing star. Hopefully it will turn up in time for the museum opening.)
* Margie assures me that she was waving her hands frantically at Jim trying to get him to tell me that she was in the room too. However, I was talking too much for him to do so without interrupting me.