Syd's personal story

Syd grew up in Albany Park, on Chicago's North Side. This neighborhood provided him with many happy urban memories: touch football games in the street, pinners tournaments in an alley behind his apartment, and softball games in a neighborhood park. Syd's the youngest of three sons, and to this day his mother introduces him as her baby. He credits both parents for his storytelling flair. Syd's father, a used-car salesman, told stories with a deadpan approach. At age 90, Syd's mother could still go to the grocery store and turn the trip into an opera.

The two highlights of his teen years were meeting his future wife Adrienne at a neighborhood library and being an All-City halfback on Roosevelt High School's undefeated championship football team.

Syd attended Harvard College. He chose the Harvard Graduate School of Education on a whim because its one-year MAT program allowed him to stay in Cambridge until Adrienne graduated from Radcliffe. After they moved back to Chicago and married in 1967, Syd began teaching high school English. On another whim in 1982, he took a summer class in storytelling, which became his second career. He retired from high school teaching in 2000.

Adrienne, who taught Lamaze for 25 years, is a freelance health and textbook writer. She also runs her red pencil over everything Syd writes. Recently they gave their marriage a tough test by co-authoring two hour-long stories. Happily, they're still married.

Sarah and Zach, whose childhood exploits figure prominently in Syd's personal stories, have grown up and established their own homes. Sarah is currently assistant director of communication for the Golden Apple Foundation, connecting teachers via conferences and the Internet. She is married and lives in Chicago. Zach lives in New York and tours the world as an electronic artist, creating software that explores the creative uses of technology.