In the follow interview, author Jack Rose talks about the inspiration, preparation, and process of writing his autobiography, Thanks Jack, In Need of a Miracle. His book spans from a brief family history to age 17. It follows the amazing story about how from birth Rose was considered a “replacement child” by his mother upon being born two years to the minute that his brother Jack died at the age of 12. It follows him through his life growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts as the youngest of seven children, including Jack, who stayed by him and protected him through several ordeals throughout his young life and beyond. Rose says that he has received only positive feedback on the book by readers who wanted to know what happened next. Here, a few of these questions are answered as well as insight into his motivations for telling his story.

LS: Where did you go or who did you consult when putting together your family history and photographs for the book?

JR: We’ve done a lot of research on the family. We visited Jamaica and Scotland. We found records and talked to relatives who still lived there to get insight on my family’s background. We found a church that had baptismal records of my dad and his siblings. I always thought that my dad was the oldest of 15 children, but it turned out he was the third born. He had two older sisters who died young. My mother was Anglican, and her ancestors were missionaries of England. We found a church that my grandfather had built in a mountain community of Jamaica. We found confirmation records of my mother. My grandfather donated the land, and two churches were built by my ancestors who were Presbyterian ministers as far back as the 17th century. We found a lot of information about the Webb family on my mother’s side.

LS: What about memories of life during the war? Was that researched at all?

JR: I did some research to make sure that my memory fit the time frame of life progressing in the Rose family and life in general. I remembered all of the problems that came during the war. How there was nothing in the stores to buy. Luckily my father was able to work for years at the Indian Motorcycle factory which kept things from getting even worse. We weren’t farmers so the people working for him who were farmers gave us eggs, milk, and chicken donations. I remember waiting with my mother at 6 a.m. for the store to open so we could make a break and find whatever was there. Also, my brothers and cousins were in WWII, and my earliest memories were in 1942 when I was four years old, and the war was just getting started in the U.S. at least.

LS: How do you think childhood has changed since you were a kid?

JR: Childhood has changed dramatically. We had so much non-fearing freedom. We did a lot of things like cutting through the cemetery to go fishing and swinging on birch trees. Kids today don’t have any opportunity to do that, feeling comfortable to go fishing and not being afraid that people would apprehend us. We never had TV until I was a teen, and the TV you got was pretty limited. You made fun on your own doing things like building a boat. Now there’s just a mess of houses where we affectionately called the Dingle. I don’t know why it was called the Dingle. Even with my own children growing up, everything we did was organized without the type of freedom I had. Kids today have fun doing damage. I live in northern New Hampshire up in the mountains. I have a fairly new 2005 Dodge pickup truck. When I went to lunch one day, someone took a sharp object and dragged it across the fenders. That’s what kids find to do for entertainment today.

LS: Did the belief that Jack was watching over you make you fearless to attempt some of the things that you did in your life?

JR: My inspiration to write this book actually came years later. I mention in my introduction that in 1959 I decided to pursue my desire to go to college in California and nearly got buried in a landslide at Yellowstone Park on the way there. We woke up to find that a disaster at Yellowstone had taken place the night before. I shuddered to think that we could have been amongst them. It made me think about making a list of all the times I got out of trouble. I thought back to what my mother had said about Jack coming to her after a year of suffering from depression. She had this vision nine months before I was born. The first memory that jumped into my mind was the auto crash. Next the lake and jumping off the bridge. I knew he came to me and had formed a pact with God to protect me. As years went on I added to the list. Things happened after the crash to the landslide and beyond. It’s just not a personal story but a good story, somewhat humorous and serious as well, and I have two more on the way.

LS: So there will be sequels?

JR: Yes, I have a sequel to the book and a short story collection I want to publish. Some were outtakes taken out when editing this book. Some of them my editor convinced me to save to go into a new book.

LS: You mention repeatedly in the book that you struggled with English as a kid. What give you the courage to write a book?

JR:Later in life I became an engineer and started three companies. I got good at writing sales proposals and engineering specifications. I then became aware of the value of Microsoft Word and what it could do for me. I also had to develop a knack for dialogue. In engineering, we don’t use dialogue, it’s monologue. I also like to read. I like John Irving and John Grishom. I didn’t want it to look like a documentary. I had to go back and think about dialogue and what I could visualize what we said. Those things gave me enough inspiration to write it. My editor and I then agreed to end it at the accident.

LS: What happened to the car after the accident?

JR: My brother had an old clunker and gave it to me. It was very disparaging to go from driving a 41’ Ford to an old clunker.

LS: When did people start to call you Jack?

JR: After high school I had planned on going to the University of Massachusetts. Then Mom had a stroke and couldn’t help me. I had to help her. My school wanted me to go into the ROTC. My brother got me a job as a tool design draftsman. I felt it was the first step to getting into engineering. Then the shop went bankrupt. I went to an engineering company in Connecticut. Six out of the nine people in the engineering department were named John. The man who had hired me, who was also named John, didn’t want to give me the job because of my name. So I told them, ‘As of today, you can call me Jack.’ I had always wanted to be Jack. My mom wouldn’t let anyone call me Jack and would tear up whenever they did. She believed I was the replacement child for Jack. Whenever I did something wrong she would say, ‘ wouldn’t have done that.’ I wasn’t him. He was special. My siblings remembered how he would intercede for them. He was special to them too. I always wanted to be that person. So I took my chance.

LS: Have you kept in touch with all of the characters in the book?

JR: Unfortunately no. We lost track. Jan, who I took to the prom, became Mrs. Rose. Then we moved to California. Bogie [my best friend] went into the Marines which was good for him. He had stopped growing mentally and physically. He was never the same after that. I took on a new life in Connecticut. I didn’t look back.

LS: Has anyone approached you about having read the book and how it impacted or related to them?

JR: Yes, people have come up to me and said, ‘I have had things unexplained happen to me’ and ‘it opened my eyes to things I’ve often wondered about.’ If I’ve given someone the opportunity to do this, then I’ve accomplished something.

To purchase a copy of Thanks, Jack: In Need of a Miracle contact: Jack Rose P.O. Box 2050Conway, NH 03818



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