When I decided to write Notes of Love and War, a story set in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, during World War Two, I knew I needed to learn more about what the city looked like during the 1940s. Imagine how delighted I was to come across Home Front Baltimore: An Album of Stories from World War II by Gilbert Sandler. For my purposes, this book is a researcher’s gold mine!
Not only did Sandler compile an array of historical photos of the people and the city, which was perfect for me to refer to when describing the place and the clothing. But he also included anecdotes and memories of people who had been living and working in Baltimore during the war. There really was a lot going on, too. Life, work, and play didn’t stop at home because of the war “over there.” Sure, there were concerns, with armed men patrolling the streets in fear of an invasion, for instance. There were all manner of drives, too: rubber; grease; nylons; metal. But some of the more minor details have found their way into my historical fiction.
Details like mention of a couple of guys stopping at Attman’s Deli for a sandwich on their way home from work also prompted me to search for the restaurant. Lo and behold, it’s still in operation today. In fact, my husband and I met dear friends there for lunch one afternoon in 2019 as part of my favorite thing: research.
Another anecdote Sandler shared was that of the arabbers who sold produce and other foods from their wagons. They’d walk beside their horse and wander through the city streets calling out what they had to offer that day and residents and workers would flock out to buy apples or crabs or flowers from them. In fact, they still do. There aren’t nearly as many today as then, but there are a few. My brother, who is now retired from being a plumber, has seen them when he was working around the city.
If you are interested in a nonfiction collection of facts and images of Baltimore during the war years, I highly recommend Sandler’s book. And know that his work informed my fictional account in Notes of Love and War.
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Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!
Audrey Harper needs more than home and hearth to satisfy her self-worth despite being raised with the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Working as a music critic for the city newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Second World War, she’s enjoyed both financial freedom and personal satisfaction in a job well done. When she uncovers evidence of German spies working to sabotage a secret bomber plane being manufactured in her beloved city, she must choose between her sense of duty to protect her city and the urgings of her boss, her family, and her fiancé to turn over her evidence to the authorities. But when her choices lead her and her sister into danger, she is forced to risk life and limb to save her sister and bring the spies to justice.
Set against the backdrop of the flourishing musical community during the 1940s in Baltimore, Notes of Love and War weaves together the pleasure of musical performance with the dangers of espionage and spying.
Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj