For Joe Fodor, being a prisoner of war and, as an enlisted man, meant being sent to a POW camp so infamous that many moviegoers will relate to it by name—Stalag 17. There was a special unit at Stalag-17B, the name by which Joe remembers ...
Author: Dick Pellek
Category: Biography & Autobiography
The Chronicles of a Footloose Forester were compiled over a number of years, one story at a time. Events, observations, encounters, and episodes were the ingredients in the mix that got filed into his memory banks and extracted years later but only after it was decided to make them into his memoirs. Afghanistan to Zambia: Chronicles of a Footloose Forester (published in 2010) was the first distillation of those memories and was based on an alphabetical recounting of places he had been. In the beginning, there was no intention of putting his chronicles into a book; the alphabetical listing of countries he had visited was, at the time in the early 1960s, only a device to properly respond to inquiries about his travels pursuant to obtaining and updating a yearly security clearance. At one time or another, the FBI, the Army Security Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of State all wanted his biographical information, which included the places and the addresses where he had lived since 1931. Obviously, that meant every place since he was born. Thus, it was easier to compile a logical listing and to keep that list in his records for easier updating. The countries of Afghanistan and Zambia eventually worked their way into the list; thus, his first book, Afghanistan to Zambia: Chronicles of a Footloose Forester, was chosen as the title of his first book of memoirs. The process is ongoing. Since the travel history to other counties swelled to 106 countries and territories of the United States, the A to Z listing was also a way to compartmentalize some of his fond memories of people, places, and events. As a forester who worked in domestic and international locales, the A to Z listing had other applications for a footloose forester who had a lifelong interest in forest trees and tropical fruits. Accordingly, the second book of chronicles had a title that reminded him that the very common red maple tree (Acer rubrum) could be seen daily from Maine to Florida and everywhere in between in the states he had visited (forty-nine of fifty) during his career. A suitable title for the second book thus began to emerge. An A to Z theme led to bookend tree species names that were also a part of his reveries. It was gratifying to settle on a subtropical fruit tree commonly known as the jujube and with the botanical name Zyzyphus jujuba. Two jujube trees are growing and thriving right next to his house in Virginia. Thus, another A to Z listing became the receptacle that included personal anecdotes about a potpourri of things in other countries and in the natural world in general. The eventual name of his second book of memoirs emphasized his forestry interests, except that the stories that he wanted to share did not dwell solely on trees or on peoples, places, animals, or events. Dreams and viewpoints about abstract subjects that he wanted to share were also summoned, sorted out, and organized into volume 1, Essays & Dreams that was published in 2015. And the personal blogs regarding tangible, physical, sometimes-hair-raising, real-time episodes in reality were written into volume 2, Stories & Adventures that was published in early 2016. Of the 340 blogs that still reside in computer archives, there are perhaps a hundred or so that have not yet been selected for inclusion in another book. This book and its title, A to Z Word Potpourri: Chronicles of a Footloose Forester is the final product. The next job is to make another list and decide which stories, essays, dreams, and adventures might become a suitable fifth book of memoirs that does not require chronology, background history, logical train of thought, or other raison d’être.