Gloria Hartmann, shown with her sisters, Veronica and Camillia in 1974.
Gloria in second grade in 1965 at Cotton Avenue School in Hudson.
Gloria Hartmann dedicated her book to Anthony Bezdziecki (Uncle Tony), who was always there to rescue her from her sisters’ pranks.
Christian Saavedra did the illustrations for Gloria Hartmann’s memoir, ’Don’t Listen to Your Sisters,’ including this cover.Plains Township native Gloria Hartmann, the youngest of five siblings, wrote a book on how her older sisters played childhood pranks on her.
It seems everyone dreams of heading south to Florida to escape hectic jobs and intemperate snowstorms. But even though Gloria Hartmann, 54, a Plains Township native, moved to Lake Worth, Fla., in 1991, she has never stopped embracing life’s challenges. Most recently, Hartmann began her career as an author by publishing “Don’t Listen to Your Sisters,” a retrospective look at growing up in the 1960s as the baby of a middle-class family, in January of this year.
Hartmann’s success across a range of fields — including relocating to favorable climes — emanates from her goal-oriented nature. “When my husband and I decided to relocate to Florida, we made it our goal to have a house in 5 years; we did it in 4,” Hartmann recalls. A member of the Class of 1975 at Coughlin High School and of the Class of 1985 at Allied Medical Career School, Kingston, the dedication with which Hartmann pursues her passions has served her well in her day job: she is a Quality Improvement Coordinator at Delray Medical Center. The Delray Beach, Fla., hospital is ranked among the top 50 in the country.
Though Hartmann finds her position at the hospital fulfilling, the vibrant artists’ community found in eastern Florida fed her creative appetite. Hartmann sang professionally from 1977 through 1991 with husband Bill Hartmann, who worked to bring his pop rock music acclaim in Pennsylvania and upstate New York. In 2005, she developed a seizure disorder that forces her to avoid loud noise and bright light. While Hartmann may not join her husband frequently on stage in Florida, she has been able to devote the time she once reserved for singing to a brand new passion: writing.
“In 2009, I began jotting down a story idea about my childhood, and in 2010, I seriously put it to paper,” Hartmann recalls, “I was 5 years younger than my sister Camille and 7 years younger than my sister Veronica, so I alternated between being their annoyance and their plaything.”
Hartmann drew from a vast repository of hairy, bizarre, and always hilarious childhood incidents to create a 36-page paperback memoir richly illustrated by Christian Saavedra. To bring her creation to life, Hartmann used AuthorHouse, a self-publishing company that uses print-on-demand technology to produce a wide variety of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry titles.
“One of my coworkers at Delray Medical Center actually published her book through AuthorHouse first. About the time she showed me was when I was getting serious about publishing my manuscript. I took it as a sign from God and pursued the company.”
While Hartmann asserts that self-publishing entails a great deal of work, the most laborious task of all may have been keeping her intentions to write a book from her siblings for two years.
“I received my copies of the book in January and mailed them to my siblings so that they all got them on the same day. I wanted to surprise them. I wondered if it would ruffle feathers, but I decided to stick by my story.”
Natalie Smith, Hartmann’s oldest sister, loved the book, despite the fact that she was not written about — or perhaps because of it. “I was very proud to learn about what she had been up to,” Smith says. “If anyone has ideas they want to pursue, I say go for it. How many times do we hear ‘no’? Take a chance. One more no won’t hurt.”
Even Veronica Ciuferri and Camille Matrunich, who figured prominently in their sister’s book, were wild about it.
“It really is a very nice book. It brought back a lot of old memories. Gloria has always been outgoing, and always into something. It was a surprise that she wrote this book, but at the same time, it was not a surprise,” says Matrunich.
“I’ll never forget getting the mail the day the book arrived,” Ciuferri laughs. “All of the siblings besides Gloria still live in the area, so even though she sometimes sends packages, I was still asking myself ‘What’s this?’ as I opened it. Then I pull out a book, and on the cover I see a drawing of my Uncle Tony and my sister with her tongue frozen to our mailbox on the cover. I was hysterical with laughter,” she adds.
While Hartmann may joke that writing the book was her form of retaliation against the pranks her sisters pulled on her as a child, she insists the book was created out of love and a desire to reflect on growing up in an idyllic neighborhood.
“Really, I wrote this book for me, but I also wrote it so my sisters could remember,” Hartmann says, “It also invites adults to consider what sort of sibling they were — the one that did the pranking, or the one that was pranked. Everyone has stories like this. The book is geared toward anyone from age 23 to 86. I hesitate to have children read it, as I’d hate to give them ideas for pranks.”
In addition to her sisters Camille and Veronica, some of Hartmann’s old Plains Twp. neighbors worked their way into the story, but the relative with the most permeating influence on Hartmann’s book is her deceased uncle, Anthony Bezdziecki.
“Uncle Tony was just the model of a man and the perfect neighbor. He was the kind of guy that would give you a ride, fix your bike, or watch your kids. Growing up, he was my savior,” Hartmann says. It was often Hartmann’s Uncle Tony that attempted to protect her from her sisters’ schemes. In fact, Hartmann’s title, “Don’t Listen to Your Sisters,” was her uncle’s oft-repeated warning. She dedicated her first book to his memory.
AuthorHouse representatives informed Hartmann that her book’s sales are exceeding the company’s average benchmarks, but not even this welcome news has made her complacent. Hartmann hopes to publish a second book in the future, this time with a large publishing house like Harper Collins. While she has many ideas for which manuscript she will work on next, Hartmann is considering writing a sequel to her first story in which she details some of the acts of retaliation she committed against her sisters.
Ciuferri welcomes such a sequel, insisting that she cannot recall any atrocities Hartmann committed against her. Matrunich, however, is much more enthusiastic about the prospect. “I hope so!” she declares. Matrunich, like all of Hartmann’s siblings, are sure such a sequel would prove to be as hilarious as its predecessor.