ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

This collection of life stories you'll want to see through to the end

Here we are, all of us walking around with stories to tell. You'll hear some of them as time passes; others, you'll read in "Dead Lines."

rock-concert-binary-7318357.jpg
Adult books on ballet.
Terry Schlichenmeyer
We are part of The Trust Project.

And that's the final word.

Just a few lines, a handful of dates and names, an accomplishment or two, and then that's it. You'll be done, dead, end of story – or is it? Will you be remembered only by a few lines in a newspaper or online? Or as in the new book "Dead Lines" by George Hesselberg, have you left small footprints on a lot of hearts?

Whenever a celebrity dies, we know it almost instantly. It's on the news, online, passed by word of mouth along with reminders of their work or their lineage. We can tend to forget, then, that ordinary people accomplished things, too, but as "general assignment reporter, a crime reporter, and a columnist" for the Wisconsin State Journal, George Hesselberg remembered those folks.

Dead Lines author.jpg
George Hesselberg
Contributed

In fact, he wrote a lot of their obituaries.

There was Sister Pat, an "alley-haunting, parking ramp-camping" one-woman missionary who never met a piece of paper she didn't like. Harry Specht was a meticulous man who laid all his paperwork in a row before shutting his garage doors and starting his car...

ADVERTISEMENT

There was Kenny Stout, whose mother died of hypothermia, though he'd cared for her "the best he could." Bill Matheson's claim to fame was that he'd taped and archived twenty-five years' worth of radio programs from his local station. Willie Chatman left hundreds of people who'll always remember his kindness.

A man named Thomas outlived an incorrect obituary for more than a decade. He thought about correcting it, but he didn't. Vivian Husting left a legacy of professional work as a volunteer. And Angel Babcock Burns Richardson left questions and a couple of twisty puzzles.

Hesselberg wrote about an unidentified skeleton found in a chimney. He wrote about parents whose daughter died, and then saved lives. He wrote of love in a nursing home, a community looking for a dead man, a soldier's bravery, "an accomplished ham-boner," a circus heiress and a circus-lover, and of the miracle of a child in the cold...

Here we are, all of us walking around with stories to tell. You'll hear some of them as time passes; others, you'll read in "Dead Lines."

Also Read
All your fairytale regulars — dragons, princesses, knights — make a showing in this novel by Sunyi Dean.
A newly published children’s book by Red Lake author Elizabeth Barrett and illustrator Jonathan Thunder brings the Seven Grandfather Teachings of Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth to colorful life for young and old.

There's something irresistible about the tiny tales you'll find inside this book; no kidding, they're kind of like potato chips, in that you can't enjoy just one. From 1977 to 2017, author George Hesselberg lauded each person well, making ordinary lives seem like important bits of history and letting readers imagine each subject as they went about their days, quietly hiding who they were before they fell on hard times or disappeared or went out in style – and that, in a wonderful number of tales, is just what happened.

Some of these obits will make you snort, while others will give you pause. At least one will baffle you like no mystery could. Some will sadden you, and they'll all make you pay attention to the invisible people among us.

And for that, you'll love "Dead Lines" until its very last word.

Book notes

"Dead Lines: Slices of Life from the Obit Beat" by George Hesselberg is available through online booksellers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on the prairie in Wisconsin with one man, two dogs and 16,000 books. Look for her at bookwormsez.com or bookwormsez on Twitter.

Bookworm — Terri Schlichenmeyer column sig

Related Topics: BOOKSTERRI SCHLICHENMEYERBOOKWORM
What to read next
Poem by Winona area author.
The feature film follows the Hermantown and Eveleth-Gilbert boys' hockey teams through the 2019-20 season in "Minnesota's unforgiving North Country."
Rochester singer-songwriter ready to release second album with his band on Aug. 12.
Forecast heavy rain has scrubbed the R&B trio's scheduled Down by the Riverside concert.