Roberta Markbreit: Teacher, Author, TV host
Skokie resident Roberta Markbreit has written an autobiography about her childhood on the North Side of Chicago during the World War II years. | Photo cortesy of the author
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:08AM
Longtime Skokie resident Roberta Markbreit never forgot from where she came.
In fact, she cherished her upbringing in her North Side Chicago neighborhood so much that she decided to write her autobiography: “On the Street Where I Lived: Autobiography of a Child.”
“I keep coming back,” Markbreit writes to open her book. “It would be late afternoon, and there was I, sprawled on the shadowed sidewalk, playing jacks, the chill along the inside of my arms and legs, under me, inside my skin, the chatter of my friends swirling about me. The sun was settled beyond the street where I lived, warm against my back.”
Markbreit writes lovingly of her childhood world during World War II years, a more innocent time, and she captures the relationships she had with her father and mother with warmth and great feeling.
Married to former NFL referee Jerry Markbreit, the author was a newspaper writer and substitute taught and was a full-time English teacher at Niles Township High School District 219 for eight years. She also has produced and hosted the Contempo cable TV show and another show for more than 20 years in Skokie.
“On the Street Where I Lived: Autobiography of a Child,” self-published by Inkwater Press, is available at local books stores such as The Book Bin in Northbrook, The Book Cellar in Chicago and Women and Children First in Chicago as well as Amazon.Com and other on-line sites. The book is also available at www.robertamarkbreit.com.
Q. What made you decide to write a book?
A. I didn’t consciously decide to do it. I sat down and it all came pouring out. I just felt a need to write about my childhood because I had all these memories that I carried with me all of my life.
Q. How long did it take to write the book
A. It was 10 years on and off. I was dedicated to making a schedule – like two hours a day 2 p.m. to 4 p.m, but it wasn’t so easy to stick to that because a lot of things happen in life. I wrote whenever I could.
Q. Did you share your writing with anyone as you wrote over the years?
A. There were some vignettes that I shared with my husband who encouraged me, but not the whole book. I think the reason it was so important to me to do this was because my childhood was a time I remembered so vividly. There was an innocence about the time I grew up in that I wanted to share and that I could never forget. I really wanted the book to be about how important childhood is. The way a child sees the world.”
Q. Can you describe the “Contempo” local access TV show?
A. It’s an interview show I’ve hosted and produced for many years. We talk to all kinds of interesting and different people — everyone from public relations people to doctors and lawyers and many others. There never seems to be a shortage of interesting people to talk to.
Q. Are there any shows that stand out over the years?
A: There was a girl who had disabilities all of her life and she said she was called stupid by people, but she was smart and made something of herself. She owns a McDonald’s now. There’s been others – so many interesting people over the years.”
Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or putting on a TV show?
A. For 10 years or so, I painted in oils and I really loved it. We’ve travelled, too, and we have enjoyed that so much.
Q. What has kept you in Skokie for so long?
A. We really love Skokie. It’s become such a melting pot here. Our own block is like a little United Nations here.