Detroit Immigrant Leaves Legacy of a Book that Inspires Entrepreneurial Spirit + More

Detroit Immigrant Leaves Legacy of a Book that Inspires Entrepreneurial Spirit + More











Congratulations, Amy and your team of writers on your special report in the June 2, 2014 “Crain’s Detroit Business” – “Driven to Succeed – Immigration in Detroit!

Reading the inspirational “American Dreamers” vignettes made me think about my late Detroit immigrant husband, Charles Novacek. Charles not only lived the life of an American Dreamer with a metro Detroit success story, but he left the legacy of a book that inspired my entrepreneurial spirit to form my own publishing company and publish Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance right here in Detroit,

I hope Charles’ writing of this book will inspire other immigrants of all ages to write their stories and motivate the public that reads them. Immigrants have a real understanding of the gift of free expression while many of us who were born in America may take that gift for granted. Immigrants have observed that you can’t really know freedom of expression until you’re been silenced. It’s important to think about this especially with our upcoming Independence Day holiday.

Charles Novacek was born in 1928 in what was then Czechoslovakia. He lost his freedom as he grew up through his country’s occupation during World War II and the Cold War. Charles began training as a resistance fighter as a boy of 11 against the Nazis, and continued the fight against the Communists until he was 20. He endured prison and torture before escaping to a refugee camp and, ultimately, to a new life in Detroit, Michigan.

Here, Charles became a noted engineer in the Detroit area and Michigan working on many projects,  including Cobo Hall, the Detroit People Mover and Henry Ford Hospital.

Border Crossings has been endorsed by an immigrant, Madeleine Albright and has been a finalist and/or winner of 14 awards for independent publishing including a Gold Medal for Autobiography/Memoir in the 2012 Midwest Book Awards. One reviewer said about the book, “Landing in Detroit in the 1950s to search for a job opens a window into the city of the mid-20th century. How revealing to read that first person account.”

With increased interest in Detroit tourism I recently started a literary tourism collaboration with Source Booksellers, a business in my Cass Corridor/Midtown Detroit neighborhood. I have designed a walking tour of the historic street where Charles lived and wrote his memoir from 2000 – 2007 – “Book Marked on Cass Avenue: Talk + Walk.” Starting from the bookstore the “walk” traces Charles’ footsteps along his Cass Avenue walk breaks from writing.

The “talk” gives history and stories about historic landmarks along the way. One of the landmarks was a favorite of Charles – Wayne State University’s historic Old Main was where he took classes and first learned to speak English. The tour stops at other favorite Cass Avenue landmarks, including the Hilberry Theatre and David Mackenzie House and ends at the place where I live and where Charles wrote his book.  Of note: The Venn Manor was designed by E. C. Van Leyen (the architect of the Belle Isle Casino). One its first residents was automotive pioneer and entrepreneur, William Metzger who opened the nation’s first independent car dealership in Detroit in 1897.

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