A Son of Philly in His Own Words
by Susan Haney Cossitt

"The journey was enlightening and not without my father’s humor. Sometimes he smiled when he talked, and I could see his eyes dance to the memories of those days."

Tom Haney’s daughter shares his life story in this tender-hearted biography. Cossitt describes how the book’s beginning began on “an ordinary afternoon that proved to be extraordinary and life-changing,” as visits with her father soon opened to revelations of Tom’s early childhood and later life in the military. She begins with the boyhood of this descendant of Irish immigrants. Tom grew up in Philadelphia during the days of prohibition and the Great Depression. She recounts his love of sports, Catholic upbringing, education, and the family tragedy that deeply impacts him. We learn about Tom’s struggle to choose a vocation, finding love with Mary Jane, and the onset of World War II that shapes his life in the military.

The second half of the biography segues into and focuses primarily on Tom’s military career during the war, his developing relationship with Mary Jane, and eventual transition into civilian life. Cossitt provides sentimental details of Tom and Mary Jane’s love and marriage and the regrettably sad, losing battle against Mary Jane’s dementia in their nineties.

Complete with black and white photographs, the narrative and stylistic choice of the book is an interesting one, pieced together by the “blueprint of the biography” given to Cossitt by her father in personal conversations, audiotapes, and love letters between him and Mary Jane. Through this, Cossitt comes to understand and appreciate her father on a deeper level, allowing the reader to share in this admiration. There is some historical background of places mentioned and military facts and terminology that are of passing interest. But altogether, this is a nostalgic story that will appeal largely to readers and lovers of biographies and military history. One will respect the loving patriotism of a man Cossitt honors as not just her father but also an American veteran and hero.

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