Title: . 12th & McGraw
Genre: Slice of Life
Author: . Forrest Haskell
Line/Publisher Top Publications
12221 Merit Drive STE 750 Dallas TX 75251
Paperback: $12 - $16.00
Interesting read …….. Recommended for those who enjoy the genre ……………. 5 stars
Forrest Haskell Sr’s boyhood began in Attleboro, Mass where as a twelve-year-old with an egg route selling eggs for .12 a dozen the writer’s father was already earning and saving a tidy sum. Living on a hard scrabble farm during childhood made the making of money become one of the most important motivators for the writer’s father. Haskell knew the time to leave home and a father with a cruel streak was just after his sixteenth birthday and graduation from high school. Young Haskell arrived in Boston astride a second hand motorcycle, rented a sleeping room and became an orderly at a nearby hospital.
From that humble beginning Haskell went on to move to Detroit in 1934 where he drove a Checker cab, saved money, wanted more, got a second job driving truck for the Sunshine Biscuit Co, and realized more money was to be made from the amusement park industry. In 1940 when the writer was four-years-old, the Mobil Station on 12th and McGraw became the seat for Haskell’s growing businesses. Legal and illegal were both carried on from the site.
Haskell bought a house for Marie Roberts, a French émigré, one block from the Mobil. Marie, married to a man she was loathe to leave for fear she might be deported was to rent out rooms. Young Will Roberts, writer Haskell was given the name of Marie’s husband despite the fact he was Forrest Haskell’s son, was always deeply involved in his father’s life. Sitting in trunk of the car with other children during a rain, covered with a blanket, eating bologna sandwiches and drinking Nu Grape pop, Pearl Harbor 1941 causing car repair to become big business during the war when new cars were not being produced figure in the narrative. Real estate, illegal gambling in the rooms of the many houses owned by Haskell SR, book making, bringing in Canadian liquor, and a boat launching boat near disaster all helped to shape the writer’s personality. A candy machine that was actually a gun safe, loan sharking, warehouse full of tires all were part of the life writer Haskell experienced during his growing up years in Detroit. Young Haskell’s life was rat killing cats/cat killing rats, Carnie Talk, horse betting, and a caring father who taught his son to work, understand the value of money and practice safe sex. The secret life his father shared with a second family was discovered when Forrest was not yet a teen.
Filled with colorful characters bearing as colorful names 12th & Mc Graw is easily read. Fast Eddie, Swede, Jesse James a forty year old college grad numbers man, Tommy Streeter Bain called Streeter, ‘Doctor Freddie’, 12th & Mc Graw offers the reader a peek into the life of an exciting man who did not always play by the rules. The love and admiration felt by writer Haskell for his father is evident beginning to end.
Broken into chapters 12th & McGraw is an enigmatic quick race spanning the lifetime of a colorful dynamic man who lived life to the fullest. Forrest Wilfred Haskell was a charismatic man who was able to begin with little, amass a fortune, and raise two families in comparative ease during the mid 1900s. Haskell’s later life was spent in relative quiet as he retired to a small farm, continued strong in the lives of both wives and their separate groups of children. Writer Haskell tells of the bittersweet times spent following his mother’s death when he and his wife, his father and ‘the other wife’ met for a trip to Mexico. Writer Haskell was filled with hope that he would prove to be the peacemaker bringing all the siblings together. His father’s stroke, demands for DNA testing from the other family along with their apparent hiding of his father’s assets in addition to his father’s death brought only sadness.
The sadness Haskell felt when he realized his father’s second set of grown children were more interested in preserving his money than in allowing proper medical care for the Sr Haskell following a stroke comes through despite writer Haskell’s carefully chosen words to not appear biased. Haskell’s skilled writing brings the reader to hope that the second family will treat their father with more love and respect. That hope is shattered as we read that Haskell Sr lay in an unmarked grave for two years until the writer discovered the lapse and had a proper monument set in place.
Thought provoking read. Not for melancholy times, but excellent book to read on a long sultry afternoon when time is ample: book is best read cover to cover rather than in snippets.
Lovely tribute by a loving son, Happy to recommend
Reviewed by: molly martin