Reed City author uses his mother’s letters to tell his story | News
REED CITY – In his previous writings, author Timothy James Bazzett has captured the experiences of growing up in Reed City, joining the military, and falling in love. Now back with her sixth book, Bazzett tells her mother’s life story through her own letters, diary entries and unfinished memoirs.
Of his many jobs over the years, Bazzett never expected the author to be one of them. After spending eight years in the U.S. Army, five years teaching English at Monroe County Community College, and 30 years serving in the Department of Defense, he found himself retired and back in his hometown.
Bazzett said he was just looking for something to do and became a surprise bestseller with his debut book, “Reed City Boy.” Four other books follow, entitled “Soldier Boy”, “Pinhead”, “Booklover” and “Love, War and Polio”.
With a background in teaching English, Bazzett has always been a reader, and while he had no plans to become a writer, he said it fell pretty easily into his life.
“It was just something I had to do, I guess,” he said.
The idea for his latest book was born when he discovered a series of letters his mother, Daisy, wrote to his father when she was a student at Central Michigan University. Bazzett said his mother was a prolific writer and if he were to count every letter she sent in her lifetime, the number would be in the thousands.
Initially, he forwarded the letters to the historic Clarke Library on the CMU campus, as they reflected college life in the 1930s.
But, when Bazzett realized how truly fascinating an experience was for his mother, he decided to compile the letters into a narrative format.
So was the creation of “Daisy: Pieces of a Life”.
Daisy, whose maiden name was Whalen, graduated from high school at age 15 and began attending CMU at age 16 between 1932 and 1936.
“Nothing that I thought too much about as a kid but think about now is that she went to college during the Great Depression, which was unusual,” Bazzett said. “And she was a woman who went to college.”
The purpose of “Daisy,” he said, is to try to express what women’s lives were like in the 1930s and what kinds of expectations followed. For Bazzett’s mother, a college education was unexpected, and without a scholarship, he said she probably wouldn’t have attended.
Throughout the first half of the book are Daisy’s compiled letters to Bazzett’s father. She tells him about her classes and her life on campus.
“You just realized how exciting it was for her,” Bazzett said.
One of the main sources of tension between the two was Daisy’s plans for post-graduation. Bazzett’s father wanted to get married as soon as possible, but his mother had a desire to teach. She ended up spending a year in what are now called Pine River Schools, but were then Remus Schools.
Then she got married and Bazzett said that became her role. He asked his mother why she was not working and said she replied that caring for her children was the most important job she could do.
Pieces of Bazzett’s family life were captured in many of his mother’s diary entries, which are also included in “Daisy”. The book also contains the beginning of what Daisy wanted to be a memoir of her life. Bazzett said she started the memoir when she was around 90, but over the years she couldn’t finish the job.
Daisy Bazzett died aged 96 in 2013, but Bazzett hopes her memory can live on in her book. Reed City was his hometown, but it was also his mother’s, despite her lack of familiarity with its people. As a wife and mother, Bazzett said Daisy didn’t have the same connectedness to the city that her father did.
When he retired and returned to Reed City in 2001, Bazzett said he would meet members of the community who remembered his father well but knew little about his mother. By reading “Daisy”, the people of Reed City can finally get to know her.
“I hope this will give people a chance to remember who my mother was,” he said.
During a May 17 visit to the Reed City Area District Library at 5 p.m., Bazzett will share some excerpts from “Daisy: Pieces of a Life,” followed by a Q and A. All of Bazzett’s books, including including “Daisy,” are available now on Amazon and on the Bazzett website and publisher Rathole Books.