TEN MILE CREEK author, Larry Rochelle, gives a fake interview about The Purple Gang to THE TOLEDO BLADE.
Faux BLADE Interview with Larry Rochelle, the former Toledoan and Author of the Purple Gang Mystery, TEN MILE CREEK
BLADE: So, Larry, you’re a St. Francis and UT graduate who writes mysteries. Any educational experiences that led you to that genre?
ROCHELLE: Not really, but Father O’Neill at STFS got me interested in literature. He assigned us WAR AND PEACE. Maybe all that Russian intrigue got in there somewhere and warped my world view.
BLADE: You grew up here in Toledo in the 1950s, played tennis, golf and basketball at St. Francis. What about that school is most memorable? Can we find any residue from your life there in your latest book, TEN MILE CREEK?
ROCHELLE: Well, STFS taught us all discipline and gave us a sense of competition. Many of us couldn’t achieve in the classroom, me included, but the sports program offered us a whole new world. I was tempted to get the score 21—20 into my book somewhere, but decided not to. Our loss to Ottawa Hills in football and subsequent painting of our school with those numbers are still unforgettable memories.
BLADE: So, you picked a tennis player, Palmer Morel, as your protagonist in your mysteries. How did you settle on Palmer Morel?
ROCHELLE: My dad, mom and sister all played tennis. My dad played in the Industrial doubles league and my sister, Barb, was women’s city champ. My dad’s name, Palmer Rochelle, sort of became my hero’s name, didn’t it, and dad was short, but I made him a tall, blond tennis pro. I think he’d have liked that. And, of course, my Palmer still uses an old Jack Kramer racquet in these modern times. Palmer also named his new son named “Tony Jack,” for Tony Trabert and Jack Kramer. Very old school.
BLADE: What are some obvious differences between the 1950s and today? What have you noticed?
ROCHELLE: Sports now are way too organized. Kids are practicing all the time….with adult supervision. In the 1950s, kids practiced but they had corner lots, Ottawa park, and inexpensive tennis courts at Jermain, twenty-five cent golf fees. They did things on their own: set up their own home run fences out of rope, played neighborhood tackle football without equipment and without parents swarming everywhere. I think the 1950s built self-reliance. Now, the kids carry out the sports fantasies of their parents.
BLADE: Without giving away too much, how does the old Purple Gang fit into your new mystery?
ROCHELLE: The Purples were mainly in Detroit but they had bookies and other criminal ties to Toledo. I just extrapolated on that and asked myself, what if the Purple Gang hadn’t died out in the 1940s? What if it was still around? And what I found out somehow turned murderous in my book.