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The Battle of Chestnut Hill

In Toledo, Ohio, 1934, during the heart of the depression and nearly 80 percent unemployment, the despair of factory workers gave the Toledo Electric Auto-Lite Co. a rich advantage over workers. Grisly working conditions, unfair production quotas and paltry wages were standard employment practices. With exposed hydraulic press machines stamping out shapes in metal, the punch press operators of Department Two were easily identifiable by their missing fingers. 


Knowing that hundreds were waiting to take their jobs, the men of Department Two made a difficult decision to strike for workplace safety, higher wages and, more importantly, recognition.  


The Electric Auto-Lite Co., in return, touted a million-dollar reserve to break the strikers and any formation of a union and, therefore, hired replacements. They used tear gas and vomiting gas against a growing picket line pushing a resistent group. However, unbeknownst to the company and the strikers, the picket lines would quickly swell with support of thousands from the most unlikely people, the unemployed.  


What resulted was an all-out fight for “The Battle of Champlain Street" that would, ultimately, bring in the National Guard and leave a deadly path of destruction.  


Champlain Street tells the story of this pivotal US workers strike. This novel is based on true life events. 




a novel

In 1934, Ruth, a young housewife, gives birth to a severely handicapped son. Whispers of disgrace and shame swirl in the community as she desperately tries to teach him to be normal. Her embarrassed husband is unsupportive and her mother pressures her to place him into the Insane Asylum. Fearful for his safety, she resists their demands and cares for him at home.  


As her son grows and her family expands, feeding, bathing and changing him become increasingly difficult. Reluctantly, she considers the Insane Asylum, until a 1946 Life Magazine article appears, documenting mistreatments, assaults, and massive underfunding of the asylum system.  


At sixteen, her son’s strength is that of a man and she loses the battle to care for him. He is placed in the Insane Asylum where she witnesses barbaric conditions and inhumane atrocities.  


This is the story of Ruth’s enormous plight to protect her son from a state system designed to keep feeble minded imbeciles incarcerated and away from society. This novel is based on true life events. 




"Oh my God this story was beautiful! I literally cried just now reading the end of it."

Mandie - Goodreads Review

"I was so profoundly impacted by Broken Pencils; I don’t have the words to express how much this book means. I give it the highest recommendation possible."

Terrie - Amazon Review

"Every active member of every 12 step program should read this novel more than once-"

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