‘Meet the Author’ with Irene Milko Cooper | TheUnion.com

‘Meet the Author’ with Irene Milko Cooper

Irene Milko Cooper describes her perfect day waking up feeling rested, having a cup of tea and coffee cake, and reading the newspaper. At the age of 92 she enjoy's the simple things in life.
Submitted photo to The Union |

Local author Irene Milko Cooper has recently released her memoir called, “Looking Back — Life in Detroit from the Great Depression to World War II & the 70’s.” We caught up with Cooper and asked her a few questions about her life and her book.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Munhall, Pennsylvania in 1925. When I was a young girl my parents moved to Detroit, Michigan where jobs were in abundance, especially in the auto industry. But then came the Great Depression. Soon thereafter I contracted polio. Thankfully I made a full recovery.

During World War II at the age of seventeen I left high school to do my part in the war effort. My post was at the Packard Automobile factory on the assembly line helping to manufacture fighter plane engines and body parts.

After the war ended I continued to work for about five years until I met my husband, Jack. We married in 1949 and eventually had four daughters — Debby, Lisa, Donna and Janine.

In 1976 Jack was transferred to northern California. I went back to work when my two younger daughters were in high school. I worked for several companies in the Bay area along with Apple Computers as a receptionist in the personnel department. I remember waving good morning to Steve Jobs when he came in.

Jack and I moved from Saratoga to the Grass Valley area in 1982. We were blessed to have 33 healthy years of retirement together. We enjoyed traveling (going on cruises), spending time with family and friends and buying and selling antiques and collectables. I’ve co-authored a book with my husband called, “How to Have a Money Making Garage Sale” available at Amazon.com.

What brought you to this area?

My husband Jack had a co-worker in Menlo Park who told him about Lake Wildwood. We drove up from the Bay area and drove into the community. Even though it was winter and overcast we saw its charm and knew immediately it was where we wanted to retire.

We are so glad that we made that choice. It was one of the best decisions we ever made!

How did you get into writing?

Mrs. Renfro, my literature teacher in elementary school inspired me to write. She introduced us to the various children’s books on the market.

I don’t know where she found the books she read to us, but I can still remember how interesting, intriguing and at times how funny they were.

Would you believe that when the bell rang for us to go to our next class we made her finish the paragraph she was reading? We would be quietly gathering our pencils, papers and books and begging her to finish the paragraph or better yet, the page!

Mrs. Renfro was the most wonderful teacher and a great storyteller too!

What is your favorite book or who is your favorite author?

My favorite book of all time is Gone with The Wind. I’ve probably read it over a dozen times. The author Margaret Mitchell is one of my favorites. Her ability to paint pictures with words amazes and inspires me.

I also enjoy true crime stories. Ann Rule is my favorite true crime writer.

What is your book about?

Looking Back is an autobiographical memoir. It is linear in nature, starting off with my earliest childhood memories of growing up in East Detroit during the Great Depression.

I also write about working in Detroit during World War II as a teenager, then marrying my soul mate Jack, having four daughters, moving with my family to the bay area in 1976, going back to work at Apple Computers and then retiring up to the Grass Valley area with my husband.

I also write about starting a home business in my golden years, buying and selling antiques and collectables. My husband and I co-authored a ‘How to’ book about that experience which is also available on Amazon.com.

What inspired you to write this book?

Mrs. Renfro was my first inspiration. Also, my daughter and her husband are both writers. They helped give me the confidence and they showed me the path of how to self publish my memoir on Amazon.com.

What do you find most challenging about writing a book?

For me, the most difficult part of writing is finding the time to write consistently on a daily basis. Also, editing and proof-reading is no fun but it has to be done!

What is your key takeaway or message you hope readers find in your book?

I hope that my book will inspire others to write about their life experiences too, especially elders who have lived through so many different times. Their memories will be lost for their families and for posterity if they are not documented.

Where can people find your book?

My book is available on Amazon.com. The full title is: Looking Back — Life in Detroit from the Great Depression to World War II & the 70’s.

How would you describe your perfect day?

The perfect day for me begins with waking up feeling rested, then having breakfast (some tea and coffee cake). After that perhaps a morning walk or reading the newspaper (The Union of course!).

I would enjoy writing in my journal for a bit then after having lunch, watching one of my favorite shows like Doctor Phil or Doctor Oz. I also enjoy taking a leisurely nap before having dinner.

As you can see my perfect day consists of nothing too wild or crazy. At the age of 92 years old I’m just grateful for the simple things in life!

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