Maria Sutton, of Denver, remembers that day in 1961 so clearly. She was in the car with her mom and her mom’s friend. "Travelin’ Man" was playing on the car radio. Like most teens, Sutton was more interested in the music than the conversation the two adults were having. That is until her mother’s friend mentioned a name only to be quickly hushed. Later on, Sutton confonted her mom about that name she wasn’t supposed to hear.
"That’s when I asked her, ‘Who is Joseph Kurek?’ And she just looked at me very dismissively and said, ‘I don’t know what you're talking about.' And I said ‘Mom, I overhead your conversation. You have to tell me. Who is Joseph Kurek?’ The look on her face frightened me, startled me more than frightened me, because her face turned white and she lowered her eyes and said, ‘Joseph Kurek is your father.’ And that was such.... It’s hard to explain that moment. For 13 years, the man I had been calling my father was not," Sutton said.
It turned out, he was her stepfather. And so Sutton decided to look for her biological dad... a search that took would take 43 years, uncover some painful family secrets, and would teach her about the brutal treatment of the Slavic people during World War II. Sutton spoke with CPR’s Pat Mack about her new book, The Night Sky: A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back.
[Image: Johnson Books]