A Slovenian peasant boy leaves the family farm in Austria and goes off to the big city to study music. In 1914, he is performing with the opera in Paris. Overnight, his world is shattered. The First World War begins. This makes him an enemy of the state. His name was Tony Leskovar.
A generation earlier, we have the baron and the maid–and a baby. The child is sent to Vienna to work as a kitchen maid. She receives money from a mysterious benefactor, and off she goes to America not speaking a word of English. Her name was Karolina Stangel.
Joe Lozar follows her west to a fledgling smelter town. He builds a saloon. He builds a business. All is on the upswing until he is afflicted with gold fever and faces off against one of the most powerful men in the state.
Annie grows up in that Wild West saloon surrounded by rough and ready smeltermen, steeped in the ways of the Old Country. She becomes a formidable woman, not one to be trifled with.
They are the author’s grandparents and great-grandparents.
East of the East Side tells their remarkable true story. The contrasts are fascinating as the tide of history sweeps these courageous, up-from-the-bootstraps immigrants and their offspring from peasant farms in the Slovenian region of Austria, to the sophistication of Imperial Vienna and the glittering world of the Paris opera, to New World ruggedness–the untamed American West, the land of boom and bust–Helena and East Helena, Montana, the notorious copper metropolis of Butte high in the Rockies, the Slavic enclave of East Butte, the Flathead Indian Reservation, and the fertile desert of eastern Washington. Two world wars shake the foundations of their lives as they chase the American dream with bumps and potholes and twists and surprising turns along the way.