By Brian Conlan

WINNETKA is a ten-episode memoir created and produced by award-winning actress Jessica Harper, with original music. The podcast features the voices of the Harper family, who share in the telling of their remarkable story.

WINNETKA tells of six Harper kids coming of age in Eisenhower’s post-war America, in a Chicago suburb called Winnetka. The siblings are buffeted by the rages of a father with PTSD, challenged by life in a big family, rocked by social change in the sixties, and ultimately stunned by a long held family secret.


10. Corrections

While going through our father’s files after the funeral, Sam finds stunning information about Dad’s ancestry that bounces crazily off of our mother’s. But Dad had altered his legacy. Also, his overt appreciation of my daughters has a healing effect.
01/04/1918m 39s

Bonus Episode: A Preface To Revelation

Dad's presence would be more keenly felt after the revelations that followed his funeral...
28/03/1911m 23s

9. The Ice Storm

I regret missing Woodstock, and resolve to tune in, turn on and drop out. Soon, all but one of us have left or been expelled from school. Dad melts down, then rebounds and moves his family to New York, marking the end of our childhood.
25/03/1932m 32s

Bonus Story: Drug Reboot

You really want to smoke pot? It's strong as f**k these days!
21/03/196m 56s

8. Strange Land

Just as Papa Harper dies of alcoholism, Dad gets promoted and moves his reluctant family to the east coast. Billy and Diana and I go to college, seeking sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, while the younger three are miserable in their new home.Just as Papa Harper dies of alcoholism, Dad gets promoted and moves his reluctant family to the east coast. Billy and Diana and I go to college, seeking sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, while the younger three are miserable in their new home.
18/03/1932m 9s

Bonus Story: What We Wore

You could just hear their golf clubs rattle as their parents realized their daughters were sleeping with hippies.
14/03/195m 15s

7. Faith

JFK’s assassination in ‘62 marks a sea change. I lose faith, while big sister Diana finds it, and marches for civil rights. My brothers commit a string of petty crimes, and Billy becomes the first to push back against Dad’s anger.
11/03/1930m 22s

Bonus Story: Dancing School

I had crossed a threshold, and Mom was on the other side.
07/03/195m 17s

6. Survival

By 1962, my little brothers emulate their father’s work ethic while they fear his unpredictable rages. But the Cuban Missile Crisis makes us aware of greater dangers in the world outside our home.
04/03/1928m 57s

Bonus Story: Colorado

As was customary in our family, I opted out of confrontation in favor of the harbor-resentment-for-life plan.
28/02/196m 49s

5. The Grandfather Report

Mom comes from a long line of ministers, and the goodness persists in the Emery family. The actions of Dad’s father, Papa Harper, also echo those of his forebears, but goodness has nothing to do with it.
25/02/1938m 38s

Bonus Story: Love and Crime

“I got interested in boys then. Not so much for romance as for a Billy surrogate, when he was out raising hell."
21/02/196m 43s

4. Winnetka

In ‘56, we settle in Winnetka. When, in July, Mom gives birth to twin baby boys, Dad’s temper rises like the temperature does. But he keeps us in his thrall with signs of love.
18/02/1934m 15s

Bonus Story: Housework

“The trouble with being a stay-at-home mom, wasn’t that the work was so hard, but that it was so unvalued.”
14/02/195m 51s

3. Wishing

My twin brother Billy and I are close pals. In spite of our fear of our angry father, we each wish he would shine his love light on us. The arrival of an adorable baby sister does not help our cause.
11/02/1933m 6s

2. Mom and Dad

A Marine (Dad) and a nightclub singer (Mom) are married in 1946. By 1950 they live in a Chicago suburb with three babies. Dad starts his career in advertising, while my mother struggles with being a stay-at-home mom. Dad shows an unexpected angry side, which Mom attributes to PTSD.
07/02/1930m 11s

Bonus Story: The Joke

“Memory is tricky after all. It can morph over time, and events get reimagined.”
04/02/195m 19s

1. Introduction

My family and I attend Dad’s funeral in ’13. As I listen to my siblings’ eulogies that extol his virtues, I note how our memories of childhood differ. But what we’ll all discover some days later is an awful piece of our history that none of us can change, misremember, or deny.
04/02/1914m 47s

Trailer: The Unexpected

WINNETKA is a ten-episode memoir by actress Jessica Harper. She narrates her story of growing up in the fifties and sixties in a six-kid household in Winnetka, Illinois. You might expect a tale of an idyllic childhood. But when you meet the Harper family, you meet the unexpected…
28/01/193m 37s

Introduction to WINNETKA

WINNETKA is a ten-episode memoir by actress Jessica Harper. It tells her story of growing up in a six-kid household in Winnetka, Illinois, in Eisenhower’s postwar America. It seems like an idyllic time and place, but the children are dominated by an angry father, rocked by cultural change, and ultimately stunned by a long-held family secret…
05/11/181m 42s
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