WINNETKA: A Memoir

WINNETKA: A Memoir

WINNETKA is a ten-episode memoir created and produced by award-winning actress Jessica Harper, with original music. The podcast features the voices of the Harper family, who share in the telling of their remarkable story. WINNETKA tells of six Harper kids coming of age in Eisenhower’s post-war America, in a Chicago suburb called Winnetka. The siblings are buffeted by the rages of a father with PTSD, challenged by life in a big family, rocked by social change in the sixties, and ultimately stunned by a long held family secret.... Show More

Episodes

April 1, 2019 18 min
While going through our father’s files after the funeral, Sam finds stunning information about Dad’s ancestry that bounces crazily off of our mother’s. But Dad had altered his legacy. Also, his overt appreciation of my daughters has a healing effect.
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Dad's presence would be more keenly felt after the revelations that followed his funeral...
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March 25, 2019 32 min
I regret missing Woodstock, and resolve to tune in, turn on and drop out. Soon, all but one of us have left or been expelled from school. Dad melts down, then rebounds and moves his family to New York, marking the end of our childhood.
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March 21, 2019 6 min
You really want to smoke pot? It's strong as f**k these days!
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March 18, 2019 32 min
Just as Papa Harper dies of alcoholism, Dad gets promoted and moves his reluctant family to the east coast. Billy and Diana and I go to college, seeking sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, while the younger three are miserable in their new home.Just as Papa Harper dies of alcoholism, Dad gets promoted and moves his reluctant family to the east coast. Billy and Diana and I go to college, seeking sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, while the young...
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March 14, 2019 5 min
You could just hear their golf clubs rattle as their parents realized their daughters were sleeping with hippies.
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March 11, 2019 30 min
JFK’s assassination in ‘62 marks a sea change. I lose faith, while big sister Diana finds it, and marches for civil rights. My brothers commit a string of petty crimes, and Billy becomes the first to push back against Dad’s anger.  
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March 7, 2019 5 min
I had crossed a threshold, and Mom was on the other side.
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March 4, 2019 28 min
By 1962, my little brothers emulate their father’s work ethic while they fear his unpredictable rages. But the Cuban Missile Crisis makes us aware of greater dangers in the world outside our home.
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February 28, 2019 6 min
As was customary in our family, I opted out of confrontation in favor of the harbor-resentment-for-life plan.
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February 25, 2019 38 min
Mom comes from a long line of ministers, and the goodness persists in the Emery family. The actions of Dad’s father, Papa Harper, also echo those of his forebears, but goodness has nothing to do with it.
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February 21, 2019 6 min
“I got interested in boys then. Not so much for romance as for a Billy surrogate, when he was out raising hell."
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February 18, 2019 34 min
In ‘56, we settle in Winnetka. When, in July, Mom gives birth to twin baby boys, Dad’s temper rises like the temperature does. But he keeps us in his thrall with signs of love.
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February 14, 2019 5 min
“The trouble with being a stay-at-home mom, wasn’t that the work was so hard, but that it was so unvalued.”
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February 11, 2019 33 min
My twin brother Billy and I are close pals. In spite of our fear of our angry father, we each wish he would shine his love light on us. The arrival of an adorable baby sister does not help our cause.
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February 7, 2019 30 min
A Marine (Dad) and a nightclub singer (Mom) are married in 1946. By 1950 they live in a Chicago suburb with three babies. Dad starts his career in advertising, while my mother struggles with being a stay-at-home mom. Dad shows an unexpected angry side, which Mom attributes to PTSD.
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February 4, 2019 5 min
“Memory is tricky after all. It can morph over time, and events get reimagined.”
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February 4, 2019 14 min
My family and I attend Dad’s funeral in ’13. As I listen to my siblings’ eulogies that extol his virtues, I note how our memories of childhood differ. But what we’ll all discover some days later is an awful piece of our history that none of us can change, misremember, or deny.
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January 28, 2019 3 min
WINNETKA is a ten-episode memoir by actress Jessica Harper. She narrates her story of growing up in the fifties and sixties in a six-kid household in Winnetka, Illinois. You might expect a tale of an idyllic childhood. But when you meet the Harper family, you meet the unexpected…
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November 5, 2018 1 min
WINNETKA is a ten-episode memoir by actress Jessica Harper. It tells her story of growing up in a six-kid household in Winnetka, Illinois, in Eisenhower’s postwar America. It seems like an idyllic time and place, but the children are dominated by an angry father, rocked by cultural change, and ultimately stunned by a long-held family secret…
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