Jennifer Garrity, PA

Senior Writer

In her early twenties, Jennifer married and moved to Europe, where she raised three children and learned to speak German. She began writing professionally when her youngest child was still in diapers and eventually earned a Bachelor of Science in History. Her blended love of writing and history emerged in the form of seven published historical novels, then slowly changed shape as she began to discover the joy of getting to know real people and telling their stories. Jennifer is passionate about bringing a person’s unique story to life so that it jumps off the page, straight into the reader’s heart. She enjoys exploring the historic streets of her new hometown of Philadelphia, cooking a variety of ethnic foods, and reading biographies.

As a Story Terrace writer, Jennifer interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

A Generous Portion

My husband Kim has always been befuddled by my family’s tendency to slice a pie or a watermelon into what he calls, “Johnson-size pieces.” If there are four people around the table, then a pie is cut into fourths. If there are six people at the picnic, a hefty watermelon is cut into sixths. Should there be only two people present, a chocolate bar will be broken in half. After all, if dessert is worth eating, it is worth eating in generous quantities! These robust servings have always been completely normal for us Johnsons but seem excessive to Kim, who grew up eating delicate slivers of pie and slender wedges of watermelon.

When our children were small, I made contact with a distant Johnson relative in Sweden. Shortly thereafter, we bundled our family into the car for a road trip from our home in Belgium up to Scandinavia, excited to meet Per Anders and explore my family’s roots. A widower in his sixties with white hair and bright blue eyes, Per-Anders welcomed us into his cozy Gothenburg home and cooked us a delicious meal of fish and potatoes.

“Would you like some ice cream?” he asked the children when dinner was done. They nodded eagerly. He looked at us.

“None for us, thank you,” we replied. “We’re too full.”

“Me too,” he said. “I’ll just serve dessert to the little ones.”

Soon our host returned to the table with a rectangular box of ice cream, newly opened and completely full. Our three children grinned in anticipation of the treat.

Then we all watched in amazement as Per-Anders picked up an ice-cream scoop and proceeded to divide the contents of the box into three enormous servings, one for each child. Soon the box was empty and their bowls were overloaded. As the kids giggled over their good fortune, Kim and I exchanged a knowing glance. My great-grandfather, who happened to be Per-Anders’ great-uncle, had emigrated to America a whole century before, but neither distance nor time could obliterate what clearly was a genetic trait.

Kim may still disapprove of Johnson-size servings, but it’s tough to argue with heredity. Ever since that evening in Sweden I have gone on my merry way, serving up gigantic portions of dessert, secure in the knowledge that I am merely living out my family heritage!

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