Writer brings decades of journals and letters to life in ‘Anniecat Chronicles’

STONINGTON – Her recent 80th birthday was a cause for celebration for Joan Rust of Stonington. Not only was it a momentous birthday, but a time when the birthday girl could renew the vow that she had postponed for years and set the final pages of “Anniecat Chronicles” as a goal to finish writing the book. “Anniecat Chronicles” is a collection of journals Joan kept and the letters she shared with a friend throughout her youth and long into her adult life.

Joan, who grew up in Sault Ste. Marie along with her friend, Barbara Prohazka Larson, have exchanged letters throughout the years, allowing both of them to recall their adventures with such memories as a first romance, a world war, Sault High School, and 60 years of class reunions. Their correspondence launched the chronicles project and interwoven in the letters are Joan’s short stories and poetry as a “tribute to the beauty of life in the northwoods and to the joy of family.”

Joan’s pen-name, “Anniecat,” inspired the title of her chronicle. Her friend, Barbara, wrote under the name, “Mothagoose.”

“We both kept journals and when Barb moved away, we began writing to each other and would take little parts from our journals and add them to our letters,” she Joan.

After leaving Sault Ste. Marie, Joan lived for a time in Escanaba where she worked as a legal secretary. She later moved to the Stonington area in 1990 and retired in 1997.

Once she obtained access to the Internet the following year, Joan said she started emailing her friend who now lives in South Carolina. Although she had always known she wanted to eventually do something with her letters and journals, Joan began to get serious about putting all her writings together.

“The whole project started with our letters. Then they became interwoven with short stories and poetry. It’s all about family and my life in Stonington and our little Lutheran church in Stonington. Actually it’s a Yooper book”

To eventually compile her collection into a book was not only Joan’s plan, but also came about with encouragement from her family members and friends.

“I would tell stories to my family and my grandma would say ‘It’s such a good story, you should write that down,'” said Joan. “Now it’s become something very important to me. Telling stories is the best way to learn about our families. All the genealogy in the world won’t tell half of what you can share with stories.”

And ever at the forefront of her stories was her friend, Barbara.

“Both of us had such a great time growing up in the Soo,” she said. “We had a wonderful childhood and had a wonderful time all the way while growing up during World War II and in high school. When I began putting all the stories together, I had all those years and years of stories and snippets to work with. It was hard to edit, but I knew I had to get it done for Barb’s sake…and for myself.

Because of her friend’s poor health and the approach of her own 80th birthday, Joan said she felt compelled to finally complete the project.

“I really wanted to finish it because she’s really ill,” said Joan. “I just put everything in book in time for my 80th birthday.”

Now that her book has became a reality, Joan has since sent a copy to her longtime friend.

“She wrote me such a beautiful letter about the book,” said Joan. “Now my mission is accomplished.”