By Kathi Kresol
The latest collaboration of a dozen authors, poets, and artists was released on August 22. “Rockford Writes” contains poetry, photography, drawings, fictional and non-fictional stories. The only limits were that the contributors involved must be residing or previously resided in Rockford. The book was edited by Heath D. Alberts and published by Digital Ninjas Publishing. The official press release for the book states, “Alberts, a Rockford native and Administrator of the Rockford Blog, is the individual who spearheaded and developed the project, in an effort to draw positive attention and recognition to the city he holds so dear.” Alberts has several books (both fiction and nonfiction) on his list of literary credentials.
Alberts fictional stories are interwoven into the book between the wonderfully written poetry of local authors such as Terry Stolz, Karna Tecla, Jenny Matthews, Bart “Zethan” Luhman, Cassandra Goldsmith, Jason Leviskas and Tim Hughes. Some of the poems capture a moment in Rockford’s past or present while others deal with simple objects or unrequited love.
Tim Hughes also wrote an interesting nonfictional piece about Rockford’s connection to the Loeb/Leopold case of the murder of Bobby Franks in 1924. Other nonfictional pieces include a story of the local murder of the Hart sisters written by Ernie Fuhr. The sisters were viciously murdered by their brother John in 1893, a crime that would eventually call for his execution on the jailhouse lawn.
Also included in the nonfictional works are long forgotten true crime stories by the author of this column. The first story is about the murder of Banks Dixon by his estranged wife, Eliza Jane in May of 1869. The second story is of the murder of Vernon Plager by Paul Reed in 1928. Reed was infatuated with Vernon’s wife and thought he would stand a better chance with Ivy Plager if Vernon was no longer in the picture. Reed wired dynamite to Plager’s car and blew the young husband and father 20 feet into the air on a July morning.
This book also contains original artwork by Krystina Fuhrer who helped Ernie Fuhr with drawings for his story. The cover photograph was submitted by local artist and business owner, Jeremy Klonicki.
The back of the book states, “‘Rockford Writes’ is a collection of short stories (both fictional and historical), as well as poetry, prose, drawings, and photography all done by Rockford natives, or current or former residents. It showcases much of the artistic talent, passion, pride, and dreaming that are still present in Rockford, Illinois to this day. If you enjoy the work, let the contributors know and share it with others. Rockford is a city in flux. With that being said, one may choose to bemoan the issues and uncertainty it faces on the road to its next incarnation. Conversely, one may choose to be a catalyst for change and a new beginning. I’d like to believe that I, and the contributors herein, fall squarely into that second category. Won’t you join us?”
This book can be purchased on Amazon and at the local Phoenix Traders Store on Seventh Street. It will also be offered on the website at hauntedrockford.com.
Kathi Kresol is a local historian, paranormal investigator, and operator of Haunted Rockford Paranormal Events. Through Haunted Rockford, Kathi gives paranormal and haunted history tours and sponsors other paranormal events in and around Rockford year round. For more of Kathi’s history articles, and for information on upcoming paranormal events, visit hauntedrockford.com.