Tree Rings

Tree Rings

Chapter One, Cowboy, 1895

Chapter Two, Migrant Mother, 1936

Chapter Three, The Artist, 20,000 BC

Chapter Four, The Boxer, 1971

Chapter Five, The Boy Who Saved America, 1815

Chapter Six, The Last Jew in Vinnitsa, 1942

Chapter Seven, Nagasaki, 1945

Chapter Eight, Thanksgiving at Babcie’s, 1958

Chapter Nine, Coffee with Johnny Senger, TBD

Chapter Ten, Obituary, Howard Glenn Kraay, 1922-2015

Tree Rings is a collection of essays inspired by images.

My father’s best friend, Louie Green was a Jew and we shared Passover with his family, and they, Easter dinner with ours on those few occasions when we weren’t with Babcie, Auntie and Aunt Sadie.  Through Louie, I was first exposed to Judaism.  I first read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning in high school, not many years after its initial publication in 1959.  It was my first deep look into the Holocaust.   Forty years later, I first saw the photograph commonly referred to as “The Last Jew in Vinnitsa.”  It rekindled my interest in things Jewish that was first fired when I was a young boy.

Within months after first staring into the eyes of the would-be ‘last Jew,’ I learned about Witold Pilecki, the Pole who volunteered to infiltrate Auschwitz, and his report led me to Bronisław Czech.  Three years later, I published The Hamsa in 2010.

Early in 2017, I found myself staring into that unnamed man’s eyes once again, and I remembered something I read by Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel.

“To forget means to deny the relevance of the past.”

Tree Rings is inspired by Elie Wiesel’s words.  Life lives in images.  In photographs, finger paintings, watercolors, petroglyphs, oils, and charcoals …. pictures embrace memory like tree rings, memories held not as captives but as free spirits willing to reveal their secrets to those who care to examine them, to relive them, the good and the bad.

I invite you to share the writings that these images speak to me.  You will recognize some of the images, others you won’t.  Your stories will be different than my stories.  Relish your memories and never forget the relevance of the past.

E.S. Kraay

Chapter One                    Cowboy, 1895
released May 1, 2017

The Fall of the Cowboy
Painting by Frederick Remington

Tree Rings, Chapter One, Cowboy

Chapter Two                    Migrant Mother

released June 1, 2017

Migrant Mother

photograph by Dorothea Lange

Tree Rings, Chapter Two, Migrant Mother

Chapter Three

The Artist

released July 1, 2017

Tree Rings, Chapter Three, The Artist

Chapter Four

The Boxer

released August 1, 2017

Tree Rings

Tree Rings, Chapter Four, The Boxer

Chapter Five
The Boy Who Saved America
released September 1, 2017

Tree Rings, Chapter Five, The Boy Who Saved America

Chapter Six
The Last Jew in Vinnitsa
released October 1, 2017

Tree Rings, Chapter Six, The Last Jew in Vinnitsa

Tree Rings, Chapter Six

Chapter Seven


released November 1, 2017

Tree Rings, Chapter Seven, Nagasaki

Chapter Eight

Thanksgiving at Babcie’s

released November 23, 2017

Tree Rings, Chapter Eight, Thanksgiving

Chapter Nine

Coffee with Johnny Senger

released September 6, 2018

Tree Rings, Chapter Nine, Coffee with Johnny Senger

Chapter Ten

Obituary, Howard Glenn Kraay

released February 9, 2019

Tree Rings, Chapter Ten, Obituary, Howard Glenn Kraay
Published: February 9, 2019