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Book details
  • SubGenre:Life Stages / Teenagers
  • Language:English
  • Pages:324
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098312985

Of Saints and Wooden Nickels

An American Story

by Harry Trumfio View author's profile page

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The book is my father's personal tale of his quest to discover a family secret considered to be shameful. The story is an emotional, fact-based adventure of identity, home, faith, courage and persistence. His odyssey begins at age 16, when he and a friend steal money from their families to support their trip to Italy. During his travels, my father learns much about himself and life as he faces the complications of being a penniless boy in a foreign land after being robbed of his passport and money. The book is a time capsule of the era and an absorbing read. The coming of age adventure is appropriate for both adult and young adult genres and one that readers will not want to put down.​
When my father was just sixteen years old, he stole several hundred dollars from a family member and took a train with a friend from Chicago to New York, where they procured fake baptismal certificates and subsequently a fake passports. From there, they sailed to Italy aboard a steamer. My dad was in search of a family secret. Along the way, all of his money and his passport were stolen, and there he was: an American teenager alone, adrift in Mussolini's Italy without papers. After a year of wild adventures abroad, many prayers to the saints, a Grand Jury hearing, and a strong dose of Buona Fortuna, my father somehow found his way back home to Chicago. Of Saints and Wooden Nickels is an odyssey of epic proportions, a true coming-of-age-tale that will appeal to readers of all ages, a story of one young Italian-American on a quest to learn about his family, himself, and the world outside Chicago. While I have fictionalized parts of the story for continuity, it is based almost entirely on actual events told to me by my father over many breakfast meetings.
About the author
Harry Trumfio was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and now resides with his wife, Lorie in Arlington Heights, Illinois. They have four children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild. He is a former public school superintendent and served as the Chairman of the Department of Education at Benedictine University. Harry took his first writing course at Roosevelt University's Institute for Continued Learning in the fall of 2004 and won recognition from the Arts Unlimited Community Writing Contest for a short story entitled, "It Happened at Riverview" and a poem entitled, "Haunting," based on his observations made during Martin Luther King's "Freedom March" August 5, 1966. He currently is a study group coordinator for the Institute for Continued Learning at Roosevelt University. Harry has also served as a consultant to the Alternative Certification Program for Teachers of Mathematics and Science at Benedictine University and as a writer and in-service program developer for Teacher Today Publications, Inc.