Orphan Train Rider

Orphan Train Rider
Oliver Nordmark - Age 15 - Esbon KS

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


On Friday August 17th I had the pleasure of traveling to New York City to visit the New York Historical Society and especially the new DIMENNA CHILDREN'S HISTORY MUSEUM!!

I had anticipated this visit since the museum's opening in November of 2011.  The Children's Museum is a museum FOR children on the history OF children and includes a multi-exhibited area where children can learn about the boys and girls who rode the Orphan Trains.  There were many hands on learning opportunities.  My favorite was a large map of the United States.  Children could choose a state, rotate the handle, and read a short story of an individual orphan train rider who traveled to that state.  There was also an exhibit board that displayed actual letters that orphan train riders wrote to The Children's Aid Society keeping them abreast of how things were going for that child in the West.  I have several of these very same letters that Oliver (my grandfather) and his brother Edward wrote in the early 1900's.  If you are in, or travel to the NYC area, be sure and stop by 170 Central Park West to see this unique museum!  BRING KIDS!!!

Also during my visit, I stopped by the museum's library and discovered that a contact to Lukas Weinstein at the Children's Aid Society, will afford me the opportunity to research the CAS records for additional information on my grandfather and his brother and perhaps even a picture!  No known picture of Edward Nordmark exists so perhaps there is one tucked away in his CAS file.  I will be trying to find out......

And finally, I stopped by the Gift Shop where I found my friend Rene Wendinger's Book on sale.  I spoke with the staff of the Gift Shop and was given a contact to see if my two books might be added to the shop's offering on this subject. 

The weather was perfect, Central Park was lovely, and the bus ride was uneventful....a GREAT DAY to say the least!  

Monday, July 23, 2012



Check out my blog interview with LAYERED PAGES acknowledging PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES, A True Story From The Great Depression and the indiBRAG MEDALLION AWARD!

Thanks Stephanie for the invitation to interview on LAYERED PAGES!

Monday, July 16, 2012



A wonderful new musical, Orphan Train, is coming to Iowa this summer. My friend RENEE WENDINGER, author of EXTRA! EXTRA! THE ORPHAN TRAINS AND NEWSBOYS OF NEW YORK, has worked with the director of this show for the past two years, and finally it is a reality. Hopefully the troupe, with much needed sponsorship, can bring this play into more states in the very near future.
Fending for oneself as a child is a rough endeavor. Rev. Charles Loring Brace, and the Children's Aid Society, had a vision to send children away from the over populated New York City streets, to find family homes. Especially with frontier families in the West in hopes of achieving a healthier, happier life away from big-city poverty and neglect. Brace’s foresight resulted in the “placing out” of nearly a quarter of a million orphaned, neglected, and homeless street kids by train across America, in what has become known as the Orphan Trains. The transfer was the first emigration plan and the largest mass migration of children in American history. The hope for these children facing a limited number of real life options, and a multitude of challenges during the 1850s through 1930 was simply--- to be chosen!!!!

This summer, an exciting and moving new musical telling their story is coming to Iowa.

Orphan Train (book by L.E. McCullough, lyrics by Michael Barry Greer, music by Doug Katsaros) will make its Midwestern premiere Aug. 3-12, 2012 at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, 200 N. Main St., Fairfield, Iowa, for seven performances, presented by Way Off Broadway http://wobroadway.com.

Orphan Train is directed by legendary New York choreographer and director Patricia Birch. Ms. Birch has created the musical staging for original Broadway and off-Broadway shows including Grease, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Me Nobody Knows, A Little Night Music, Candide,Over Here, The Happy End, Pacific Overtures, They're Playing Our Song, and many, many more. She is a five-time Tony nominee and winner of Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, Billboard, and MTV awards, as well as a Directors Guild nomination and the prestigious Fred Astaire Award for her choreography and direction of music-driven projects ranging from Sondheim to the Rolling Stones.  Set design by Richard Finkelstein

Journey back in time to the turn of the century with the Orphan Train; witness the heartfelt stories of six young orphans who were forced out of New York and relocated by rail to Iowa in this new and sensational musical, based on a true story. Discover a candid and heartwarming family show that embraces dedication, rescue, friendship, abuse, love, separation, and more.

Tickets ($12-$38) may be ordered online at http://www.fairfieldacc.com, by calling the box office at (641) 472-2000 or emailing info@fairfieldacc.com.

Performance Times:

· Friday, Aug. 3 - 7:30 p.m.

· Saturday, Aug. 4 - 7:30 p.m.

· Sunday, Aug. 5 - 2:00 p.m.

· Thursday, Aug. 9 - 7:30 p.m.

· Friday, Aug. 10 - 7:30 p.m.

· Saturday, Aug. 11 - 7:30 p.m.

· Sunday, Aug. 12 - 2:00 p.m.

Having the capability to pay it forward to the next generation, this new musical is a call to address the problems of present day American youth whose childhood is scarred by poverty, homelessness, gangs and addiction. Like Brace, the orphan train team has a broader vision in taking the play into America’s Heartland where orphan trains legacy remains a meaningful part of the cultural landscape, and can serve as a rallying point for renewed social engagement.

As a joint professional and community based approach to presenting historic theater with contemporary relevance, this play is a perfect fund-raising vehicle for organizations; especially ones involving kids where proceeds can help our children attain success and education. The production is a perfect scenario for putting the cast on a train and retracing the route of the original orphan trains through an organized Orphan Train Heartland Tour.

With some support and muscle, the performance of the Orphan Train can make a difference in children’s lives, and leave behind something for people to think about. For more information on how you can make a difference in children facing an uncertain future, and arm them with courage and youthful innocence, sponsorship in bringing Orphan Train across America is exceptionally needed.

Please contact the Orphan Train Heartland Tour to be of assistance c/o Lawrence McCullough at lemccullough@mac.com.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES, my third book all about Oliver's children growing up during The Great Depression, has been chosen as a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree!  Book Readers Appreciation Group honors deserving independently published books and works to promote greater recognition for these "Must Reads!"  Thank you IndieBRAG!!