Franz Weinschenk was born into a Jewish family in Germany in 1925. He and his family were lucky to escape from there in 1935. After graduating from Fresno State University in California, he served in the Army for two years and then became an instructor and Dean at Fresno City College where he worked for 60 years. He currently lives in Fresno with his wife Sally. An enthusiastic runner, biker, and swimmer, he recently was the first over 90-year old to finish the Merced Gateway Triathlon. He served as the host of a public radio show called “Valley Writers Read” featuring local writers for over twenty-five years.
A month ago while we were going through our accreditation process, I read “Accentuate the Positive,” Franz Weinschenk’s account of accreditation at his college, and was amazed by his portrayal of Pinky Pinkerton,the school’s other staff members, and the accreditation committee. Last night I started reading his second story in “Now What?”, “Homecoming,” and could not put the book down. From his poignant tales of escaping Nazi Germany to the nostalgic recollection of Brooklyn to his insightful observations of immigrant (both for his own family and those of Mexican farm workers) life, Franz integrates humor and wisdom into each piece he writes. His engaging voice and his ability to draw upon his life experiences make me feel as if I am learning history and listening to friend. –Ivan J.Simon, English Department Chair, San Luis Obispo High School
Now What? is a collection of 10 short stories by Franz Weinschenk – Some are historically significant; some sad; some funny; some enlightening; all entertaining.
“Accentuate the Positive”: And what do you suppose happens when the college gets accredited by professors like Dr. Lafcadia Weltgeist?
“Homecoming”: You wonder, “Now What?” as the Nazi-brownshirt searches for you and your mother who are hiding in a closet.
“Just Another Day At The Office”: With the storm raging full force and the electricity off all over campus, how are you going to get those two students out of that in-between floors stuck elevator?
“Memories of Brooklyn”: When first coming to America, they lived in Brooklyn. Wonderful memories – Dewey Junior High, yo-yo’s, handball, Red Barber and the Brooklyn Dodgers, sewing shoulder pads, not to forget the girls jumping rope: “Lulu had a baby- She named him Tiny Tim- Put him in a . . . . pot, to teach him how to swim.”
“Norm”: Nobody works harder or longer than Norm as he tells us what he thinks go into making “a really good man.”
“Madera”: The family decides to move from New York to Madera, California, so that Father can have a bookkeeping job at $80 a month and a house for his family to live in free.
“The Marimba Band”: “Now What?” when there is a ton of opposition to a tiny one-unit class for students who want to play in a marimba band?
“If Music Be The Food Of Love, Play On” says William Shakespeare. But if, while you and your fellow musicians are playing, the family that lives right above you lowers a Nazi flag so that the huge swastika in its center is right in the middle of your front window, “Now What?”
“Chris” is an art teacher already very much against the war in Vietnam. One night, he has his students launch balloons with anti-war propaganda on them. And that upsets just about everybody.
“Become a ‘Late Bloomer’ Like It Says in the Brochure”: Paul, who’s been a severe stutterer for 36 years, takes Mr. Purcell’s English class and gets so mad at him, that for the first time in his whole life, he starts talking.