Reviews by Georgia

The Hope Chest

By: Viola Shipman

Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler


A hope chest stores items for a future bride; traditional things that would be needed for her to make a home. It can also hold intangible elements; dreams and wishes, and hope for a beautiful future.

Madeline Barnhart was given a hope chest by her parents on Easter Sunday 1950.

She was ten years old. Mattie married the love of her life, Don Tice, on New Year’s Eve 1966. The young couple moved from St. Louis to her family’s summer home on Lake Michigan. Hope Dunes was near the coastal towns of Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan. The current setting of the book begins in May 2016 with Mattie and Don preparing to move. Mattie has ALS and their beloved home is no longer practical for their altered lifestyle.

They have shared a beautiful life together for almost fifty years and are determined to make the most of whatever time they have left together.

Struggling financially and emotionally, Rose Hoff needs a steady job. A single mother, she has never felt the kind of love Mattie and Don share. Her parents were wonderful role models, but are both now gone. Her young daughter, Jeri is her life and she will do whatever she can to keep her family home on the coast of Lake Michigan.

Don hires Rose to help with Mattie’s care. Jeri brings joy and youthful innocence to the Tice home. An inquisitive and rambunctious six-year-old, she isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions. When she boldly goes into Mattie’s room and finds the hope chest, she curiously opens it. The months that follow permit Mattie to reminisce her life and share memories with her new friends.

The hope chest contains a variety of items, each with their own story. A cloth doll, Desert Rose dishes, an embroidered pillowcase and apron, a McCoy vase, antique Christmas ornaments, a snow globe, and a ticket stub; they all hold a story.

Mattie, Don, and Rose discover new traditions and new hope can be started as life changes from one season to another.

The book begins slowly as there are a lot of descriptive details, but the story is heartwarming. Spending time every summer in the area, I enjoyed the mention of Mount Baldhead, the Blue Star Highway, and Petoskey stones; all Michigan attributes. The Hope Chest is available in regular and large print and can be found in the library FIC SHI and LP SHI, respectively.

June 2017


Cold Serial: The Jack the Strangler Murders

By: Brian Forschner

 Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler

 Five girls were brutally murdered in Dayton, Ohio between 1900 and 1909. Brian Forschner came across the name of his grandfather’s sister while thumbing through the cards at Woodland Cemetery. Over a period of four years, he read hundreds of newspaper articles and editorials on the murders in southwest Ohio in the early 1900’s. He searched death certificates, autopsies, and trial records, whatever was available. All were cold cases; police records had been destroyed.

 On the evening of October 13, 1900, the body of eleven-year-old Ada Lantz was found in the vault of the family outhouse. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted while her siblings and parents were inside their house at a birthday celebration. Dona Gilman, age nineteen, left work at NCR on November 20,1906. The ride on the Oakwood trolley took about an hour. Dona never made it home that evening. Her body was found November 22 in a grassy field not far from her house. She had been strangled and raped.  Eighteen-year-old Anna Markowitz, her sister Bertha and a young man were in McCabe Park on the evening of August 11, 1907. Located on the west side of town, the park was popular with Daytonians and often functioned as a lover’s lane. Shots were fired and Anna was grabbed from behind. Bertha found her sister face down in a ravine with her clothing partially torn from her body. She was dead. Mary Forschner went downtown on January 23,1909 to make the loan payment for the properties her step-father had purchased. It was 6:15 when she left home. At 11:00, when the fifteen-year-old had not returned, a frantic call was made to the Dayton Police Department. Mary was found in a barn not far from her house. She was not breathing, but her body was still warm. The bruises on her neck were a telltale sign of strangulation. She had been sexually assaulted. Elizabeth Fulhart, aged eighteen, took the train from her home in Vandalia to Dayton on December 24, 1908. She spent Christmas weekend with relatives, then decided to stay a few days to look for a job in the city. She went downtown the morning of December 29 and was never seen again. Police were in the midst of the Forschner investigation when her body was found in a cistern on February 5, 1909.

 Between May and November 1904 three women were murdered in the Cincinnati area. Their bodies were dumped in vacant lots within a one-mile radius of each other in the suburb of Cumminsville. Cincinnati Post reporter Donald Dunbar suspected the crimes were related to those in Dayton, possibly committed but the same man. But forensic capabilities of today were unheard of at the time these crimes were committed. Police did not realize they had a serial killer in their midst.

 The unjust treatment of certain groups, along with the attitude of those in authority, paved the way to injustices at multiple levels in the early 1900s. Women were fighting for equal rights. Many were criminally and socially victimized during that era.

Forschner tells the story of five young women whose lives were cut short and the justice that never came for their assailant. Cold Serial: The Jack the Strangler Murders can be found in the library with non-fiction; 364.15 FOR.

 May 2017