Best-selling author digs ‘Murder in Wauwatosa’

It’s an honor to get a message from someone who enjoyed my book. “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterioud Death of Buddy Schumacher.” It’s extremely professionally gratifying when an author whose work I respect gives the book a glowing review.

New York author Michael John Sullivan recently posted a review of my book on Amazon.com. His trilogy — “Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness,” “Everybody’s Daughter” and “The Greatest Gift” — is fantastic. His books have been getting national attention and winning awards. He is also the author of a series of children’s books featuring the “Sockkids.” I was honored to have been asked to provide feedback for “The Greatest Gift” before it was published. When someone of this much talent and experience says he likes my book, I am humbled.

Here is what Mike has to say about “Murder in Wauwatosa:”

“Reporter/author Paul Hoffman goes to great lengths to examine one of Wisconsin’s most baffling murder mysteries. It’s obvious that Hoffman has extensive reporting background as he outlines the case from many angles, including a map that gives you a visual impression on where it happened.
“Hoffman discusses this horrific murder through many eyes and resources too. He discloses how he heard about this murder and why it’s fascinated him enough to write a book about it. The 1925 death of Buddy Schumacher is described skillfully. Hoffman even points out how the local media covered it and why they covered it the way they did.

“Hoffman does his own homework too. He performs extensive research, dusting off records and archives. It’s done with a professional standpoint giving you the impression that Hoffman may have given us the most complete account of a mystery that may never be solved.

“You need a strong heart to take this journey with Hoffman. But it’s well worth re-reading it to make sure you haven’t missed anything in the little details. It’s what makes Hoffman good at his craft.”

Thanks, Mike!

Speaking schedule for Edgerton festival announced

The packet’s here! The packet’s here!

I received official word from Sterling North Book and Film Festival officials today on the speaking schedule for this year’s event, which will be Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Edgerton (Wis.) High School.705BuddyPostcard

My slots are 10-10:45 a.m. and 2-2:45 p.m. in Room 374, and I plan to have a PowerPoint presentation centering on my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher.”

The book is the true story of a family and community coping with the 1925 disappearance of an 8-year-old boy in suburban Milwaukee.

The 9th Annual Sterling North Book and Film Festival features renowned authors, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate and other nationally recognized poets and film and TV presenters. The festival is FREE and open to the public.

In addition to my presentations, I’ll be in the gymnasium during the rest of the day to chat, sign books and whatnot.

Click here for a list of all the presenters and their bios.

Check out the Sterling North website for more information on the event, as well as on Sterling North, for whom the event is titled.

They didn’t have this stuff in 1925

Have you ever heard the phrase “This is the best thing since sliced bread?” Well, in 1925, they couldn’t say that. Because there was no store-bought sliced bread in America.

That’s one of the interesting little factoids I came across today while doing research for my screenplay adaptation of my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” which is the true story of a little boy’s abduction in 192Malabar5.

This was an era of Prohibition, flappers, jazz, gangsters and the like.

However, it was not an era of the following items:

  • Talking movies (There wouldn’t be one shown at a U.S. theater until “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson in 1927). Mickey soap
  • Bubble gum (Walter Diemer came up with that in 1928 for his employer, Fleertoaster1 Chewing Gum Company).
  • Sliced bread (Not until 1928).
  • Pop-up toaster (Showed up in 1927, thus apparently spurring the slicing of the bread the following year).
  • Mickey Mouse (Disney created the character in 1928).
  • Kool-Aid (1927).
  • Aerosol cans (1926).
  • Frozen food (thanks to Clarence Birdseye for this in 1929).

There’s a lot of other stuff that wasn’t around in 1925. Like iPads and nitro-burning funny cars.

But, when this movie finally comes out, if you see anybody throwing slices of bread into a pop-up toaster or blowing a big pink bubble with their gum while watching a “talkie,” you can put that down on the Goofs section on IMDb.com.

John C. Pritzlaff: From penniless immigrant to hardware tycoon

Researching real can be real cool.

In digging around for information for my upcoming screenplay adaptation of my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” I’ve come across a real cool story of an immigrant who came to this country broke and ended up building a virtual hardware empire in Milwaukee.

John C. Pritzlaff (1820-1900)

John C. Pritzlaff (1820-1900)

John C. Pritzlaff, great-uncle to Buddy Schumacher’s father, Art Schumacher, was said to have absolutely no money when he sailed to New York City from Pomerania (an area now divided between Germany and Poland). In fact, he later said that he actually was $10 in debt at the time.

He managed to work his way up to becoming president of one of the country’s biggest hardware companies, on that at one time employed 400 people. When he died in 1900, he left a fortune that in today’s dollars might amount to near $8 million.

It took Pritzlaff a number of years to get where he got, and it started with the humblest of beginnings.

His father died when he was 19 years old, and young John decided to try his luck in America. He sailed to New York with a group of Lutherans, a trip that took four months. He then moved onto Buffalo, N.Y., where he worked for two years on the Genesee Canal.

In late October 1841, Pritzlaff reached Milwaukee. He performed many odd jobs – wagon driver, cook, wood chopper – until he landed a job as a shipping clerk for Shepardson & Farwell, hardware merchants. His salary his first year with the company was just $200 (about $5,600 in today’s money). It is said that he typically worked from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. for this low pay.

Pritzlaff stayed employed at the company through new ownership, and planned to open his own hardware store in 1949. But owner John Nazro convinced him to stay on another year with the promise that he’d help get Pritzlaff started in the business at that time.

Nazro kept his promise, and in 1850, he bought the stock for Pritzlaff and partner August Suelflohn for their downtown Milwaukee firm. Three years later, Suelflohn retired. In 1866, Prtizlaff bought out Nazro. Annual sales of $12,000 grew to hundreds of thousands under Prtizlaff, considered to be unusually honest for a businessman of such stature at that time.

It was said that Pritzlaff “enjoyed universal respect wherever he was known,” according to a story in the Weekly Wisconsin newspaper that was published immediately after his death. He was also “always on hand to contribute to enterprises of public usefulness.”

He was also said to be a zealous Lutheran. He was one of the founders of the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Congregation in Milwaukee and donated land for a new church to be built at 9th Street and Highland Avenue in Milwaukee. The church is still located there today.

Pritzlaff married while he was still employed by Shepardson & Farwell. His wife, Sophia, preceded him in death by six years. The couple had eight children. One of his children, Elizabeth, married John C. Koch, a vice president at Pritzlaff Hardware who would go on to become mayor of Milwaukee. His younger brother, Henry, is one of Art Schumacher’s grandfathers.

The Pritzlaff Hardware Co. stayed in the family until 1958, when it was sold for $1.7 million.

 

‘This is the way I like to see social history presented’

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Here are some excerpts from a pair of emails I received today from Nancy Cavanaugh, a resident of Wauwatosa, a reader of “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” (she is also the author of a book on boomers … Continue reading

Let’s make this book into a movie!

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Since “Murder in Wauwatosa” was published, I’ve debated what direction to go. While still promoting that book with various speaking engagements and book signings, I started on another book … a fiction book aimed at kids ages 10-14 or so … Continue reading

An evening with the Central Indiana Writers Association

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Thanks to all the great folks at the Central Indiana Writers Association for inviting me to serve as a guest speaker Monday night, June 16. I’d especially like to thank Robin Waldron for suggesting to the group that I was … Continue reading

Breaking News of a Big Author Event in Wisconsin

Just confirmed: I’m going to be one of the presenting authors at the Sterling North Book and Film Festival at Edgerton (Wis.) High School on Sat., Sept. 27. Time of my presentation to be announced. I’ll be giving a PowerPoint presentation, complete with sound, on “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher.”

This is a pretty cool event. Patch Adams (yes, THAT Patch Adams) spoke there last year. This is a FREE family event that promotes literacy and the city of Edgerton, in south central Wisconsin. It consists of a number of interactive literary events. These include featured speakers and authors who share their insight on their writing and the inspiration for their books. The authors include those who have written best-sellers as well as Wisconsin authors.

Sterling North was the professional name of an author born in Lake Koshkonong, Wisconsin, probably best known for the children’s novel Rascal, a bestseller in 1963. In the 1990s, North’s childhood home at 409 W. Rollin St., Edgerton, was restored to its 1917 appearance by the Sterling North Society and transformed into a museum.

I was one of the first authors contacted about presenting this year. All the authors will be listed in the area visitor guide that will go to print on Memorial Day.

Feel free to pass this information along to anyone and everyone.

Date change for Tomah Festival

Autographed copies of “Murder in Wauwatosa” will be available for purchase at the Tomah (Wis.) Rotary Brat and Beer Festival on Saturday, Sept. 13. I won’t be able to attend, but I’m sure you’ll all have a swell time in Tomah! And thanks to Martin Murphy for getting the books to the festival!

The event had previously been scheduled for May 3, but was moved due to a scheduling conflict.

Jennings County library event

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Jennings County library event

Here I am at the Jennings County Public Library Indiana Authors Book Signing Event in North Vernon, Indiana, on March 29, 2014. Had fun mingling with the locals as well as the other authors.

I heard some very interesting stories from some very interesting people. A lady talked about a lot of illness she’d been though as well as some unique ways she was healed. A man talked with me about a case in which he feels he’s been wronged due to corruption in the legal system where he lives.

It’s always interesting talking to fellow authors abut their interests, as well as how their journeys to getting published went.