Five Stars in the Window: Growing Up during World War Two by David Komarnicki

Book summary: 

The city of Chester, Pennsylvania, is pulsing with activity during World War Two, grinding out ships, planes, and helicopters at record rates to fuel the fight against Hitler and Hirohito. Its winding streets are a patchwork quilt of ethnic neighborhoods, and families are displaying stars in their windows to show that they have sons or fathers off serving their country.

Five Stars in the Window: Growing Up during World War Two by David Komarnicki
Image used based on Author's permission

There are five stars in the window of the house young David lives in, representing four of his seven brothers and the husband of one of his two sisters. While he prays daily for their safe return, David peddles newspapers to the shift-workers at the war plants, dodges the local traffic cop who tries to interfere with his shoeshine business, hookies school to hear Louis Armstrong in Philadelphia, dazzles his classmates with his yo-yo prowess, downs the pierogis and stuffed cabbage rolls his Ukrainian-born mother dishes up by the dozens, and does his best to negotiate adolescence on the home front while his brothers serve overseas.

Author bio:

Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, in the early days of the Great Depression, David Komarnicki was number eight in a line-up of ten kids.  His basic life lessons were learned at home, modeled by his loving Ukrainian parents and augmented by the nudging of his five older brothers and the TLC of two older sisters. After graduating from Chester High School in 1948, David went on to attend Philadelphia Bible College, the Kings College, and Reformed Episcopal Seminary.

In 1959, David moved to Southern California, where he became a public schoolteacher in racially troubled Southcentral Los Angeles. He was teaching in this area when the Watts Riots broke out in 1965. After the riots, David shifted from teaching high school to teaching at the federally funded Watts Skills Center. He later transitioned to the corporate world, working first as a regional trainer for a large insurance corporation and then forming his own training company, Financial Schools of America.

In 1986, David sold his business to the Longman Financial Group and returned to Pennsylvania with his wife, Leslie, and their two young daughters. There he pursued various occupations, including the teaching of memoir writing for a few semesters at Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania.

Since the return to his home state, David has sought to reconnect with the elusive ghosts of his childhood, and the book FIVE STARS IN THE WINDOW is the result of rendezvousing with some of them.

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