A literary trip down memory lane — Local writer pens third book

ESCANABA – In his poem, “Oh Me! Oh LIfe!,” poet Walt Whitman contemplates the supposed meaningless of the life he views around him and questions where he fits in. He ultimately summed up his musings as to where and why with the words, “That you are here-that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

In a brand new book, “Through the Years – Memoirs: Volume II,” Patt Abrahamson-Besse has located an impressive number of individuals who have contributed quite a verse to their community. In the book of memoirs, Patt has chronologized a total of 97 individuals and families – including a few snatched from the headlines of the national evening news – and shared their stories with her readers.

Escanaba personalities – some deceased and some still living – include Karl Dickson, Ma and Pa Karas, George Rusch, Jeanette Le Captain, Bill and Kate Bonifas. Sports fans may remember Hobey Baker of hockey fame, the Escanaba and Menominee football rivalry, and the 1939 EHS team, undefeated and unscored upon.

Events also played a part in the lives of area residents. Many may recall enjoying the treats and friendships found at the Boston Sweet Shop, and the rich heritage of growing up in the U.P. despite the deprivation of the Great Depression.

Patt vividly recalls growing up in the 30’s in Escanaba.

“I remember pulling a wagon with my sister down to the relief office to get surplus food,” she said. “We were very poor growing up but we never realized it because everyone else was in the same boat.”

This narrative isn’t the first for Patt. Her first book, “Brain Injury: A Family Tragedy,” published in 1997, details the journey of herself and her first husband, Gary, and their brain-injured son, Gary Jr. Her exposure with the book led to her being selected as a keynote speaker at the National Brain Injury Association Symposium in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1998 where she was introduced by James Brady, former press secretary for President Ronald Reagan who, himself, suffered a brain injury in an assassination attempt on the president.

She was awarded the Education and Awareness Award from the Brain Injury Association of Michigan in 1998 and was again a keynote speaker at a brain injury conference in Princeton, N.J., in 1999.

“Through the Years – Memoirs: A Collection of Literary Works” is a forerunner of her newest collection.

Many of the stories in both books were previously shared in Patt’s work as a columnist for the Escanaba Daily Press for four years from 2006-09.

“When I wrote the column, it was pretty popular,” said Patt. “I remember getting a lot of calls from people who said they like this story or that story.”

In a complete departure from her life as a care-giver and writer, Patt competed in the Ms Senior Michigan in 1997 and won based on her talent as a dancer, maturity, dignity, inner beauty, philosophy of life and interview. She competed in the national pageant in Biloxi, Miss., and received the Inspiration Award. For the next year, she represented Ms. Senior Michigan in speaking engagements throughout the state.

Even though the ink is scarcely dry in her new book, Patt is already working on a nonfiction novel that includes each decade starting in the late 1800’s and inserting local happenings and memories throughout the narrative.

“There’s lots of research and it will be many months before I am finished,” she said.

“Memories Volume II” is available for $14.95. Patt is planning a book-signing at Book World in the Delta Plaza Mall on Saturday from 1-3 p.m.

“This would be the perfect gift as a Father’s Day gift,” she said. “There’s lots of local history that I think most anyone would enjoy reading.”