When Robert Jeschonek sat down to write his latest book he knew he wanted to capture a piece of Johnstown nostalgia.
The Johnstown resident recently had “Christmas at Glosser’s” published, and it centers around the once popular downtown Johnstown department store during the holiday season.
“I’m helping to bring back an area landmark that’s dear to so many people,” he said. “Glosser’s might be gone now but it will never die if we keep it in our hearts and minds.”
The fictional story takes the reader back to 1975. It tells the tale of 11-year-old Jack, who wants one thing for Christmas, which is to find out where his grandfather runs off to every Christmas Eve. The trail leads him on a journey through Glosser Bros., but the story takes an unexpected turn when Jack discovers his grandfather’s secret. Before the night is over Jack must take a stand in the name of Johnstown, which could cost him everything, or bring him the greatest gift he could imagine.
Jeschonek said when he was growing up trips to Glosser’s, especially around Christmas, were a part of family tradition.
“I remember going shopping, looking at the windows and the toys on the top floor,” he said. “I loved it and had such an affection for the place. So I wrote this as a way to bring it back not only for me but also for the local people.”
As part his research, Jeschonek interviewed area residents asking them their memories of the store, what they remembered of its layout and how they saw it change over the years.
“Everyone had a story to share about Glosser’s, and I loved writing about it,” he said.
The 88-page book, which Jeschonek began writing in mid-October and finished in mid-November, is available for purchase on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com in paperback and e-book form.
In addition, it’s available through the Overdrive e-book lending system at the Cambria County Library in downtown Johnstown and can be ordered at Books-A-Million in The Galleria mall in Richland Township.
A special edition of “Christmas at Glosser’s” will soon be released and it will feature pictures of Jeschonek’s grandfather, whom the character of the grandfather in the book is loosely based on.
“The reception for the book has been excellent and sales have been great,” Jeschonek said. “I’ve received calls from people telling me how they’ve enjoyed reading it and they want to talk to me about the store.”
Jeschonek, who is employed by Distributed Information Technologies Inc. in Johnstown, has won numerous writing awards and written over 100 short stories, essays, comics and books that include murder mysteries, fantasy, science fiction and young adult fiction.
He said he’s extremely disciplined when it comes to his writing and devotes two hours each day to honing his craft.
“Writing is my biggest joy, other than my wife of course,” Jeschonek said.
His wife, Wendy, is an important part of Jeschonek’s writing processes. She reads through the rough drafts of each book and offers suggestions.
“She will point out any inconsistencies or plot holes,” he said.
As for what the future holds, Jeschonek said he’d like to do more stories along the lines of “Christmas at Glosser’s” that highlight other Johnstown landmarks.
“I want to keep writing and sharing stories with readers and hopefully be successful in this field,” he said. “I’m glad to be writing at this time in my life and telling interesting stories. Writing is my favorite thing to do. It’s my passion.”
For more information on Jeschonek, visit his website at www.robertjeschonek.com.
Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.