Author Kathy Baumgarten discusses her book Strictly a Loner. She relates the story of how an eccentric, elderly boarder in her home was determined to save a million dollars before he passed away, no matter what the cost. Paul Larson hosts and produces “Author Visits,” an online series about books, their inspiration, and the publishing process.
Kathy was born in Niagara Falls, New York, the daughter of a WWII veteran. Attending public schools in that city, she enlisted in the Air Force after graduation. Later, while raising a family, she enjoyed travel to Europe, settling in Plattsburgh in 1990. She served as a La Leche League Leader locally and later pursued her education through the military and at Clinton Community College, earning a B.A. in Social and Cultural Perspectives on the Family from Empire State. She completed her military career in the Vermont Air National Guard (2008) with service in the Middle East, a transformative experience which further spurred her life-long interest in literature and writing.
Currently, she works supporting military retirees and veterans, as well as writing her weekly column in The Lake Champlain Weekly, “Jabberwocky,” which explores the essential joys, sorrows, and conflicts at the heart of the human condition. Recently, she began making her most popular stories available, in “An Away Manger” and “The Button Box.” She is learning to play the piano, enjoys church service and teaching others about family history, putters at gardening, and loves long walks around the historic city.
Whether the subject is her military service in Kuwait, a visit to the London Zoo with a nursing toddler, assisting locals in the clean-up of post-Hurricane Katrina Mississippi, or observations on the quiet beauty of Adirondack snowflakes, her unique, modern storytelling voice makes her a ‘must-read.’
Strictly A Loner: My Life and Times With Plattsburgh’s Poorest Millionaire
“All the doors were numbered- Earl lived in #2. It had two twin beds, but one was hidden by a score of bulging paper sacks. There was one chair; the curtains were plastic (circa 1965) and no decorations. Just one teacup, one spoon, one fork, one knife …and stacks and stacks and stacks of newspapers.” This was author Kathy L. Baumgarten’s first peek into the secret life of Plattsburgh’s “poorest” millionaire, Earl Stevenson, the man everyone saw walking around town but no one really knew.
The memoir covers a seven-year period of their times together and is as close a look into the life of a miser as most will ever get. The quick-moving story pulls you right in, makes you laugh, cry, and shake your head. An invigorating examination of poverty, aging, mental illness, and attitudes about money, readers of all ages won’t realize they’re learning… they’ll be too busy trying to figure out what happens next.
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