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Memphis Remembers Father of Shlemiel Crooks Author

The “Memphis Memories” section of the Memphis, Tennessee, Commercial Appeal remembered Berl Olswanger on October 12, 2006, twenty-five years after Olswanger’s death; he was the father of Shlemiel Crooks author Anna Olswanger. Berl, whom the Commerical Appeal called “a pop musician,” is the musical inspiration for Anna Olswanger’s story “The Chicken Bone Man.” As the Commercial Appeal wrote:

He was a child prodigy. He started playing the piano when he was 3. By the time he was 12, he’d landed his first professional job ‚Äì staff pianist for WMC radio. At 18, he was the leader of the station’s band. By then, he’d already made a name for himself at Central High School and nearby student hangouts. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Olswanger returned to Memphis, opened a music store on Union Avenue, married Edna, the girl he’d met at the radio station, put together a band and proceeded to become the most influential music man in the city. He maintained a store on Union until 1979, long after the nation’s musical appetites shifted from pianos to guitars.

Read the full rememberance at the Commercial Appeal.

Shlemiel Crooks is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer. Shlemiel Crooks is a Koret International Jewish Book Award Finalist and a Sydney Taylor Honor Book.