Chester Aaron was born in 1923 to Russian and Polish parents in the coal mining town of Butler, Pennsylvania. He learned how to stand up for himself as a boxer at a young age, which likely helped him when he joined the army years later. Chester was part of the 20th Armored Division during World War II. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was a Staff Sergeant in the 20th Armored Division but he never participated in the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp as Chester and others in the division were tasked to do. Chester was in the 6th car entering Dachau and was asked to help clean up the camp, an assignment few could stomach. This was especially difficult for him to do as one of the few Jewish Americans in the division. These early life experience inspired several novels including About Us, About Them, Gideon, Black and Blue Jew and Alex Who Won His War.
Chester is author of over twenty three books, novels and memoirs on various topics including the war, love, and Garlic. After his first novel in 1967, he was an x-ray technician at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, CA. He was also a teacher at St. Mary’s College where he retired as a full professor in 1997. One of his pastimes, which has also inspired numerous books, is Garlic. Over the last twenty-five years, Chester has become known worldwide for the ninety varieties of exotic garlic he grows on his farm in Sonoma County. He teaches workshops in Garlic and speaks often of the health benefits of one of nature’s most potent vegetables.
ICareVillage interviewed Chester at his home in the fall of 2010 and again in 2011. As an author Chester borrows from a rich personal history and is an eloquent storyteller.