Abilene, Texas, reporter Janet Van Vleet seemed to identify with “Courtship” author/editor Martha Fitzgerald. In her Nov. 2 article advancing a week of appearances in Abilene (“Parents’ words breathe life into 1930s,” Abilene Reporter-News), Van Vleet picked up on the several ways Fitzgerald gathered material to flesh out the Prologue written by her father, Dr. Joe Holoubek, before his death in 2007.
The setting is Rochester, Minnesota, July 1937. Joe and his future bride, Alice Baker, met as senior medical students chosen for a summer internship at Mayo Clinic. Fitzgerald visited there 70 years later, also in July, researched the weather that summer, the town, and the clinic. She also interviewed a retired nurse, Sister Antoine, who trained in the same hospital a few months after Joe and Alice left. “The boardinghouses they lived in are still there,” Fitzgerald said. “And they’re still rented to students.”
Later, while working on the manuscript,Fitzgerald immersed herself in the music, downloading tunes by Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and listening as she worked. A particular favorite: Bing Crosby’s “I’ve Got A Pocketful of Dreams.”