Books for individuals or companies can be completed by phone and internet depending on the amount of material already prepared. If the majority of the book is to be written by your BIO COACH, in-person interviews are sometimes more productive and necessary. Individuals will choose either biography or autobiography. Autobiographies can be completely ghostwritten with only your name on the cover. If the book is to be a biography – written in “third person” style – you may wish to provide a list of people you would like your BIO COACH to interview. Roaring River Press contracts with two Michigan companies for book printing services and e-books, or you may produce your own finished product.
The following are samples of excerpts from full-length books:
From Gabe, Journey of a Shoemaker’s Son
There happened to be a men’s store in the heart of Detroit called Engardio’s that was going out of business. The owner and I made a deal to buy all of his fixtures for a song. The guy had everything from sewing machines to window treatments and display shelving. These display units weren’t like the brackets and shelves that attach to the wall that you see in stores today. This was actual cabinetry with a beautiful blonde oak finish that you had to screw together. Without knowing how they were going to fit or where they were going to go, I just bought out the store. The owner of Engardio’s wrote up a receipt, locked the doors, and handed me the keys. Before he walked away, he told me that I only had a few days to vacate the store. This was on a Sunday morning.
After driving back home to Mount Clemens, I dropped off the receipt and borrowed a panel truck from my brother-in-law, Al Vannini, who was in the mushroom farming business. Lou and I drove back downtown in the truck and dismantled the entire store. We loaded up the small things first and didn’t stop until we filled the whole truck. It was long after dark when we finally locked up the store. I got behind the wheel, exhausted and dirty, at around one o’clock in the morning, and Lou and I began the trip back to Mount Clemens.
We were driving down Gratiot Avenue, and just as we were about to pass the Detroit City Airport on Conner, a police car pulled us over. Unbeknownst to me, my brother-in-law’s truck had a burned-out headlight. While we were packing up the store in Detroit, I had stuck this old hat on my head and had forgotten about it. It had a curled up brim and sat up on top of my head like the one the Bugsy character wore in the old movies featuring the Dead End Kids. So there I was, smelly as heck, sitting behind the wheel of a mushroom truck and looking like some kind of bum in this stupid hat and dirty T-shirt. Louie wasn’t looking or smelling any better. A policeman came up to my window and peered in.
“You know you have a burned-out headlight?” he asked.
I told him I didn’t.
“Let me see your license and registration.”
“I don’t have the registration. This is my brother-in-law’s truck.”
“What’ve you got back there?” he asked, gesturing to the back of the truck.
“I just bought out a men’s store in Detroit and those are some of the fixtures.”
The policeman went to the back of the truck and opened the door. He shined his flashlight around and saw the sewing machines, window treatments and a lot of other rather odd-looking objects including some mannequins. “You got a receipt for all this stuff?” he asked.
“I don’t have it on me, but –”
The policeman and his partner pulled out their guns and the next thing I knew Louie and I were standing on Gratiot Avenue leaning against the truck getting frisked. I mean, we just didn’t look kosher. They kept us there for quite some time, which isn’t a comfortable feeling when someone has a gun on you. They made up their minds to take us in and were putting us into the squad car while I’m pleading with them, “Look, do me a favor and call the Mount Clemens Police Department. They know me; they’ll vouch for me.”
“That’s not my job, that’s a detective’s job,” one of the policeman said.
I kept talking anyway and told them the whole story. For some reason, his partner took mercy on us and said, “What’s it ‘gonna hurt? Give them a call.”
Fortunately, I had my driver’s license on me and told them that I had a store on Macomb Street called Anton’s which they could verify. They had someone in their precinct make the call and the Mount Clemens police confirmed who I was and verified that I owned the store. We were let go with a stern warning. If no one had been around to vouch for me, I have no doubt they would’ve taken the two of us off to jail and confiscated the truck with everything in it.
From A Life Fulfilled, Victor Curatolo M.D.
In the summer of 1936, Vic and his two cousins Albert and Paul Rizzo found themselves on the way to Italy, courtesy of Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy. Although he was immensely popular with Italian-Americans at first, Mussolini would eventually earn his reputation as a despicable fascist dictator and supporter of Adolph Hitler. The boys went on their journey long before those facts came to light.
Paul has a vivid memory of the trip from beginning to end. “It started when Mussolini decided he wanted to impress his people back home with what a great man he was. So he thought he would bring Italian kids from all over the world on a tour of Italy.”
In order to qualify for the trip, the boys would have to attend Italian language classes. What the boys and their families spoke at home was actually a Sicilian dialect. “We heard about this and our parents enrolled Albert, Victor and me. We had to go downtown—we might have taken a streetcar—to a Catholic school. We didn’t do it very often and we did it mainly to go on this tour,” said Paul.
The Italian language class cost eighty dollars for each of them. They were given a book, which Paul still has, they learned some formal Italian, and were among the few chosen to go on the journey.
“We took a train from Detroit—I forget how many kids, maybe a dozen—and we went to New York,” said Paul. “Then we boarded the Conte Di Savoia, which was an ocean liner, and were assigned staterooms. From all over the United States there were maybe a hundred kids from the ages of thirteen to sixteen.”
On the way over, discipline—or lack of it—was a big issue, according to Paul. “We were at that age: teenage boys. The things we did were horrible,” he said. They took room numbers off the stateroom doors. They had pillow fights and when the pillows ripped open the feathers went flying everywhere.
They docked in Genoa and transferred aboard another ship. Vic, Al and Paul noticed the food was much improved on the second ship. Paul learned something important that he carried with him for many, many years after that. “The food was really good on this ship, not that it was bad on the Conte Di Savoia, but this was a superior meal. They served us and I just scarfed it down. I cleaned up my plate and someone said to me, ‘Oh, that’s rude to do that.’
‘What do you mean?’ Paul asked.
‘You never really clean up your plate; you always leave a little. It’s not classy to do that.’” This advice came from one of the older boys on the trip, and so carried a lot of weight with Paul.
Because it was summertime and the Italian children were on vacation, the boys were put up primarily in boarding schools. When they arrived at the first school, they were issued uniforms. Vic and Al, who were fourteen, were given knickers, but Paul was only thirteen and was given long straight-legged shorts and was very upset about it.
“We also got these little foreign caps that you folded up and put in your belt. Soft felt caps that sit on your head like an upside down boat. On it, it said, ‘Fasci Italiani all’Estero,’ which meant ‘Italian Bands Abroad.’ Then beneath that it would say the country you came from in Italian: Stati Uniti for United States, Inghilterra for England, and Argentina was Argentina. They were from all over the world. All kids of Italian origin who were attending, theoretically, Italian language schools.
“We had a great time. We went to Genoa, we went to Florence, Siena, Venice, Rome and home again. Victor, Al and I were close together and always in the same unit and still hung out together. That was a fantastic tour that we went on. One of the highlights of my life,” said Paul.
The organizers also wanted to form a choir and Vic, Al and Paul joined in. “I can’t carry a tune,” said Paul, “but the choir was going to sing on the shortwave radio for broadcast. So what I did was mouth the words, but I wouldn’t sing, because if they heard me sing they would’ve thrown me out. We broadcast late at night, so that it would be an appropriate time back in the States for them to pick it up. I don’t know if anybody ever heard it or not. There were two songs and I still remember a bit of them: I Went to Become a Soldier, and the other was Roma Davina.”
When they weren’t touring the sites or singing in the choir, they marched. “We learned to march and we played soldiers,” said Paul. “There was this one lieutenant that I can still see in my mind’s eye: a skinny little guy with a narrow face, as dapper as all get out, with shiny boots and knickers that flared out. He was in charge. If we didn’t do what he wanted quickly enough, he’d give you a swift kick in the butt to move you, and I mean literally. Victor did alright, though.
“We were reviewed by Mussolini once as we marched. Just one time. At that time he was building his empire and had invaded Abyssinia, and there were war veterans who would come back from combat and people would flock around them and just adore them, because they were heroes.”
Paul reflected on why Mussolini ever wanted to take Abyssinia and all the other horrible things the dictator went on to do. “I can’t say what I thought about him at that time because I’m kind of tainted by what I thought of him after I became an adult. What a destructive influence he was on that country. What did he do? He took a country that was very young—after all, Italy only dates back as a sovereign nation to 1878 or 1880—and he drained some swamps and got rid of malaria. The trains used to run on time and I don’t know what else he did that was good. He gave people some self respect, I guess, that they felt they couldn’t get any other way.”
As far as Mussolini’s physical appearance, Paul recalled the dictator as a “small little fat guy,” but said that the boys really didn’t seem to care about Mussolini’s political activities at the time. “As a kid I think we were a little bit impressed with him that he was a great man. Well, he’s a big figure in history now.”
Although Paul did not recall where the group boarded the ship to come home, he did note a particularly remarkable change in discipline among the boys. “The interesting thing about it, the psychology of it, was that on the way home we didn’t trash the ship. There was a different attitude coming home compared with going.”