Phantom in the Family: Tracking Down my Runaway Father by Ken Ashworth [PDF]

An unflinching memoir about adversity that ends well from best-selling author of “Caught Between the Dog and the Fireplug.” A man digs his way out of jail and abandons his wife and four children in the Great Depression. Years later, his son, Ken, finds letters from J. Edgar Hoover to his mother and searches out who was the man he heard stories whispered about through childhood. With suspense and drama, he traces the veering and tacking of a wandering renegade and recounts his mother’s unrelenting commitment to raise their children. Tenaciously tracking clues, Ken discovers other families abandoned by his father, a half-brother living just hours away, and the only existing photograph of their father, a mug shot. This touching yet uplifting tale has it all: scoundrels, heroes – cheating, loyalty – despair, achievement. With frankness and humor, this saga ranges over much of America’s twentieth-century history, from chasing Pancho Villa and World War I and Texas lynchings to the veterans’ Bonus March on Washington and the Great Depression on through World War II and the Korean War. In the end, Ken locates his father’s lost, unmarked grave and must judge him, a veteran gassed, shelled, and bayoneted in a terrible war.