WINNETKA: A Memoir

An Arts, Literature and Society podcast
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While going through our father’s files after the funeral, Sam finds stunning information about Dad’s ancestry that bounces crazily off of our mother’s. But Dad had altered his legacy. Also, his overt appreciation of my daughters has a healing effec…
Dad's presence would be more keenly felt after the revelations that followed his funeral...
I regret missing Woodstock, and resolve to tune in, turn on and drop out. Soon, all but one of us have left or been expelled from school. Dad melts down, then rebounds and moves his family to New York, marking the end of our childhood.
You really want to smoke pot? It's strong as f**k these days!
Just as Papa Harper dies of alcoholism, Dad gets promoted and moves his reluctant family to the east coast. Billy and Diana and I go to college, seeking sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, while the younger three are miserable in their new home.Just as Pa…
You could just hear their golf clubs rattle as their parents realized their daughters were sleeping with hippies.
JFK’s assassination in ‘62 marks a sea change. I lose faith, while big sister Diana finds it, and marches for civil rights. My brothers commit a string of petty crimes, and Billy becomes the first to push back against Dad’s anger.  
I had crossed a threshold, and Mom was on the other side.
By 1962, my little brothers emulate their father’s work ethic while they fear his unpredictable rages. But the Cuban Missile Crisis makes us aware of greater dangers in the world outside our home.
As was customary in our family, I opted out of confrontation in favor of the harbor-resentment-for-life plan.
Mom comes from a long line of ministers, and the goodness persists in the Emery family. The actions of Dad’s father, Papa Harper, also echo those of his forebears, but goodness has nothing to do with it.
“I got interested in boys then. Not so much for romance as for a Billy surrogate, when he was out raising hell."
In ‘56, we settle in Winnetka. When, in July, Mom gives birth to twin baby boys, Dad’s temper rises like the temperature does. But he keeps us in his thrall with signs of love.
“The trouble with being a stay-at-home mom, wasn’t that the work was so hard, but that it was so unvalued.”
My twin brother Billy and I are close pals. In spite of our fear of our angry father, we each wish he would shine his love light on us. The arrival of an adorable baby sister does not help our cause.
A Marine (Dad) and a nightclub singer (Mom) are married in 1946. By 1950 they live in a Chicago suburb with three babies. Dad starts his career in advertising, while my mother struggles with being a stay-at-home mom. Dad shows an unexpected angry s…
“Memory is tricky after all. It can morph over time, and events get reimagined.”
My family and I attend Dad’s funeral in ’13. As I listen to my siblings’ eulogies that extol his virtues, I note how our memories of childhood differ. But what we’ll all discover some days later is an awful piece of our history that none of us can …
WINNETKA is a ten-episode memoir by actress Jessica Harper. She narrates her story of growing up in the fifties and sixties in a six-kid household in Winnetka, Illinois. You might expect a tale of an idyllic childhood. But when you meet the Harper …
When my parents had their (semi-wild) cocktail parties, they did not dance to Sinatra. No Elvis. No Stones. Think “Day-O.”
My little brother Sam had his own way of escaping the mayhem of life in a big family: he’d simply disappear.
In 1968, I was almost a cover girl for Mademoiselle magazine. But I learned a lesson about great expectations.
For Mom and Dad, prepping Christmas for six kids was always a marathon. For my grandfather, it was crantini time.
In fine WASP tradition, our parents gave us preposterous nicknames. Mine was the most unfortunate. Warning: it starts with P.
In the early '60s, there was a spike in the crime rate in Winnetka, thanks to the antics of my naughty brothers.
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Podcast Details
Started
Nov 5th, 2018
Latest Episode
Apr 1st, 2019
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
29
Avg. Episode Length
13 minutes

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