Category Archives: Arts: Biography-Autobiography

From “Tell It Slant,” Excerpt #2: Encouraging Rejections

(Excerpt #1 is here.)

In the spring of 1956 — Chuck was in eighth grade — orders came for the family to  leave an Air Force base in California. His father, now a major, was aircraft commander of one of the largest bombers ever, the B-36.

Click was assigned to join a squadron of these bombers at Ramey Air Force Base, in the northwest corner of Puerto Rico. These planes flew long missions — often reportedly carrying nuclear bombs — likely around the periphery of the Soviet Union and “Red” China, though their course was secret too.

Some of the Puerto Rico experiences were pivotal for Chuck, in several ways.

For one thing, since there was no local English-language TV service, Chuck was perforce obliged to wean himself from TV, and thereby transferred almost all his
free time to reading. Here he had help from the Caribbean climate and the Air Force: Puerto Rico was continually hot and humid, with frequent rainstorms (and a major hurricane, Betsy, in late 1956); air conditioning was still a rare luxury. Continue reading From “Tell It Slant,” Excerpt #2: Encouraging Rejections

From “Tell It Slant”: Fighting for A Future

Adapted from Tell It Slant, a biography of Chuck Fager, by Emma Lapsansky-Werner.


St. Paul, Kansas, 1939

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
                           — Yogi Berra

Plowing to a fork in the road.

This story begins with a young man coming to a fork, pushing a mule-drawn plow down a long furrow on a small farm in southeastern Kansas, in summer heat, circa 1939.

The young man was Callistus Fager, known as “Click” to his friends. On that day, like so many, Kansas farming would have been sweaty, dusty work. But that work was about all that was available. Kansas, like much of the United States, was mired in what is now called the “Great” Depression.

Even many years later, Click Fager remembered the unfamiliar noise he’d heard behind the plow, that summer day: a buzzing that wasn’t a farm sound. Continue reading From “Tell It Slant”: Fighting for A Future

Coming Tomorrow from “Tell It Slant”: Fighting for a Future

Wednesday June 12, I’ll post the first in a series of excerpts from Tell It Slant, the new biography of Chuck Fager by Emma Lapsansky-Werner.

It’s a story of life in “interesting times,” and begins with two of its main motifs — religion and war — shaping lives and events.

Watch  for  it  on this page.

(An initial post from June 10 is here.)

“CHUCK: It had been several years. When I arrived, my grandfather Fager was sitting in a simple rocking chair, on the small lawn in front of their tiny post-farm retirement cottage, in St. Paul, Kansas.

Lanky and taciturn, he wore much-faded overalls and a white straw fedora pushed back from his forehead. He rose to greet me, and said, “Hello Charles. Haven’t seen you in a day or two.”

Then he sat back down, began to rock slowly, and pulled out a pocketknife.

Unfolding the blade, he plucked a small dark stick from beside the chair and began to whittle it into curled fragments that skittered across his overalls down into the green grass. Sereta bustled back and forth from the house, and often made comments, but usually referred my queries to him.

It was not a productive conversation. To almost every question, his answer was the same, like a mantra, and this is it in full . . . .”

A New Book: A Quaker’s Life in Our “Interesting,” Tumultuous Times

Emma Lapsansky-Werner and Chuck Fager at the Quaker History Roundtable, summer of 2017

Continue reading A New Book: A Quaker’s Life in Our “Interesting,” Tumultuous Times

A Biographical Excerpt: The Best Friend & The Last Big Surprise

An excerpt adapted from the forthcoming book: Tell It Slant, a Biography by Emma Lapsansky-Werner, with Chuck Fager:

Chuck’s first grandchild was born in September 1994, and named Amber Dawn. She and her mother, Chuck’s daughter Annika, lived in Martinsburg West Virginia.

One early milestone on Amber’s road lay almost five hundred miles northeast, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Chuck felt a need to introduce Amber to her “Uncle David” Eppers there, and time was short. David was Chuck’s best friend, and all his four children called him “Uncle David,” though there was no blood relation.

Chuck knew the clock was ticking, not least because the Pendle Hill psychic had said so. Continue reading A Biographical Excerpt: The Best Friend & The Last Big Surprise