The history behind "Lost Connections"

Photo courtesy NYPL

THE STORY IN BRIEF
Marilyn Feldman, Chana’s granddaughter, takes a virtual journey back in time to see her parents as children.

HOW IT WAS WRITTEN
I started writing “Lost Connections,” the third story in The History of Soul 2065, when I was first coming to terms with my father’s death in May, 2001. I wrote it very quickly while still wrestling with the impermanence of life, and musing on how so many things can set our lives on courses that do not meet our own expectations.

The story was accepted and published in a wonderful specfic / literary journal called Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet from Small Beer Press in June 2002. It has been tweaked somewhat to fit into my book’s family trees and timeline.

One note of interest: My original title for the book was “Lost Connections,” after this story, but as the manuscript progressed, a change of title seemed called for.

He doesn’t see her, of course. She is merely an artifact of his future, a ghost of potential tomorrows.

Lost Connections

NOTES ON THE PEOPLE
The two couples in this story — Chana and Abe Hirsch, and Millie and Sam Feldman — were based very loosely on the parents of my mother and father. My mother’s parents were politically active and very opinionated; my father’s father was more conservative. I know little about my father’s mother (whom I was named after); she died before I was born. However, none of what’s told here is based on real events; all the dialogue, personalities, thoughts and actions were generated completely by my imagination.

NOTES ON THE PLACE
The story takes place in the neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn, in the late 1920s. When I wrote about the Hirsch apartment, I pictured my grandparents’ apartment as I remember it from when I was a child. The Feldman apartment is completely imaginary.

NOTES ON THE HISTORY
There was a huge push to organize mine workers during the 1920s by the United Mine Workers of America and the more left-wing National Miners Union, a push that resulted in a good deal of resistance (to say the least) by mine owners and operators. In Kentucky, this eventually led to violent and deadly clashes between the mine workers and company men in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1931, although there were plenty of smaller clashes in the years leading up to it, as described by Abe. (I remember sitting in my grandparents’ apartment listening to an old recording of “Which Side Are You On,” a song about the Harlan County strikes.)

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