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Your LifeStory Episode 2 with Elizabeth Cooke.

Updated: May 18, 2023

This Blog* and My Memoir Workbook are meant to encourage, inspire and motivate you to write your unique story. Don’t keep your memories hidden or secret any longer.

Marcia Rosen, Author of 11 books, including My Memoir Workbook, has presented Memoir Writing Programs and Encouraging the Writer Within You Presentations for over 16 years, from New York to California and New Mexico!

A LifeStory Memory

Each Blog shares a portion of someone else’s LifeStory that we hope will entertain and inspire you to write and share your own.

Submit yours with your name and email to:

May 15, 2023


I was blessed.

From when I was three years old until seventeen, I spent long summers at Mountainy, a glacier lake my father (and three friends) had bought to build cabins and wooden docks for their rowboats. The lake was pure. Its depth was never found, and Dad, Dean of the Medical School at Columbia University (and eminent doctor), took those summers to write, to chop logs for the black iron stove in the kitchen, to catch small perch and trout in the lake for breakfast (me rowing the boat – silent – “Buffy – don’t speak – you’ll scare the fish.”)

Those silent moments I had hoped to be in converse with my father, but no. Afterward, he showed me how to clean the perch in preparation for the black skillet and cornmeal and a delicious repast. Mother would be busy making puffy muffins in the oven. All were devoured. No motorboats were allowed on the lake – which was about four miles long, only one old boat we called “The Step and Fetch it”. It brought supplies – corn and blueberries and milk and kerosene and canned goods, plus the mail, to each of the 12 cabins once a week. There was also a telephone at the club house on the point half-way up the lake. So much for civilization.

The beauty Mountainy Pond transmitted was so pure – the water so clean – the pine woods so fresh – the summer air without smog or odor – it was heaven. My brother and cousins and kids from the other cabin families had such fun swimming, playing water baseball, charades at night, and Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw on the record turntable. (The only electricity allowed...the rest was kerosene lamps and a huge stone fireplace in the living room.)

What a gift! I remember at night, when September had arrived and I knew we were going back to New York City to school and such a different life, I would lie in the dark on the dock, the sky lighted by the aurora borealis and watch the waves of brightness that seemed to engulf my world. I would also hear sounds of canoes paddling as local Indian tribes, farther north headed south for warmer climes in the winter to come. So silent they were but perceptible and innocent.

Like me.

That was then

Elizabeth Cooke, Award Winning Author of 21 books.

Bits and Pieces of Your Life

Write 100 words or less about a funny situation, a strange or unique happening, or a “meet cute” story you experienced.

Although this is being written before you entrain for New York, I thought you’d like to know I miss you already. My heart is in that roomette with you heading north, and I must pause ‘til it comes back to me.”

What a delightful shock and surprise on arriving in Manhattan to find his letter sent days ahead by airmail. It was written 60 years ago by my husband. Holding the yellowing letter in my hand now brings him back to me with all his vivid, loving charm.

Elizabeth Cooke, Award Winning Author of 21 books.

Writing Your LifeStory Hints, Tips, and Advice


How to write one’s LifeStory? Writing a memoir can be a daunting and, at times, emotional experience. It is also exciting, fulfilling and rewarding. A memoir is a true story you tell about specific events,experiences or times in your life. You can write about the whole span of your life or one specific episode.

Why You Are Writing Your Life Story?

To Remember You…To Think About You…To Give Voice to Your Life

To Leave a Legacy for Your Loved Ones, Friends and Others

To Inspire, Motivate and Encourage

To Grieve…To Heal…To Release Yourself From Hurts, Pains and Sorrows

To Tell Your Truths…To Make Others Accountable to Their Truths

To Search for Answers…To Understand Them

To Find Comfort

To Find Joy and Celebration in All You Are and All You Have Done

To Honor Your Accomplishments

Keep in mind who you are writing for: your family and friends, the reading public?

What do you want them to know about you and your life?

Reminder: Keep a notebook with your LifeStory ideas.

More hints, tips, advice, and my story in each blog.

Following is part of my LifeStory:

Me and My Gangster Father (Excerpt )

It was a little like being the gangster’s daughter you see in movies.

I was given the courtesy and respect that came with being Vic Barr’s daughter. It meant when I was out for dinner with a date and one of my dad’s cronies was there, they picked up the bill. They nodded ever so gently in my direction when I looked up to thank them. Sometimes the men were with their wives, sometimes not. The waiter would come over to our table and say, “The bill has been paid. That man over there said he would take care of it, that you’re Vic Barr’s daughter.” It happened quite often throughout my teenage dating years. I never expected it. I just accepted that was the way they showed the respect they believed due my father.

Funny, in recent years I began to think about what it really meant, that I was Vic Barr’s daughter. Yes, there were those who showed a certain respect, a certain caution, a certain awareness of who he was, and therefore, who I was in their world. It meant my father was known by a group of people who knew him from his card room, his pool hall and his bookie days. It also meant he did “favors” and “took care” of his friends. There were all sorts of implications that I never asked about, legal and not so legal. In fact, I’ve thought quite a lot about it in recent years.

From the money they made from the pool hall and card room and from being bookies, he and his partner bought an Italian Restaurant in the heart of downtown Buffalo, New York. It was very successful…until it wasn’t, due to the loss their liquor license. What really happened to that business? Who was my father, truly? What were his other business dealings about? What about my father and mother’s relationship? There were so many secrets. We keep secrets about who we are and what we do. There are secrets that can destroy relationships, maybe some that can save them. I probably learned to keep secrets about myself, about my business and money, from my dad. He was quite a role model…in many ways.

Yet all the time, there I was, Vic Barr’s daughter. I was never ashamed of him or uncomfortable with who he was. The fact is that my father’s life and mine are intertwined and I own both the good memories and those that are not. Writing “What Are The Odds/” has been an emotional path for me to travel. For this is still, after-all, about my father a gangster who had once owned a gambling hall, was a bookie, paying off the police and the local clergy. He took his limited eighth-grade education with him into the Depression of the 20’s and 30’s, and his Ph.D. in street smarts and turned it into many years of financial success and marital disappointment. I, it turns out, was, as he once told me, “The only woman I ever loved.” Oh dear!

For more stories about me and my gangster father, check out my book Gourmet Gangster.

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