Monday, August 28, 2017

Let Me Introduce You to My Dear Ones, Now Departed

Some talk to the living and get their wisdom. I talk with the dead and imagine the wisdom they would have imparted to me. I bring questions to them and we also present them with problems and challenges I face in my life. And I gain wisdom from what I imagine to be their different perspectives.

My first imagined conversation with my parents and grandparents, Zichronam Livracha, of Blessed Memory, took place in October 1999. The subject was God and Prayer and since then we have had many more conversations on a wide range of topics. After my Aunt Claire LeBrint Metzger and Uncle Rolland Metzger died, I expanded the conversation to include them along with my Aunt Perle LeBrint.

Let me introduce you to my loved one, now dead, who participate in conversations with me.

My mother, Rose LeBrint Fuchs, who died in January 1991 and my father Leonard (Len) Fuchs who died in March 1997.
 
Leonard and Rose, date unknown

My grandfather, Henry Fuchs, my father Len’s father. Henry was a wise and gentle man, who had strong faith in God. Henry was married to Anne Fuchs (my father’s mother) for over 50 years. When Anne died, he made a second marriage to Bea Winston.
My grandmother Anne Fuchs, my father Len’s mother. Anne had a heart condition that severely limited her ability to function. Preparing a Sabbath meal for our family tired her out. My two sisters and Ihad to be very quiet and good when we were around Grandma Fuchs. When I was 10, Anne had a stroke that paralyzed her right side. She walked with a brace and she could not speak except in jumbled up words. Because of her health problems and to my great regret, I hardly knew her. 

Anne and Henry had only one child, my father Leonard.

Anne and Henry 1955 with their granddaughters Betsy, Judy, and Sue

My step-grandmother Bea Winston Fuchs. To Bea, my sisters and me were accepted as if we were her own granddaughters. Bea and Henry were married almost 20 years. They both died in 1979, Henry in March when he was 99 years old and Bea at age 80 two months later in May.

 
Grandpa and Bea 1965 (as we called them)

My grandmother Anna LeBrint, my mother Rose’s mother. Anna and my grandfather Abe had five children within eight years. She felt that having so many children was a burden. In addition to being a mother, she was a business woman, buying and selling two flats and three flats in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood.

My grandfather Abraham (Abe) LeBrint, my mother Rose’s father. To quote my mother, Abe “had a love affair with America” and had a successful printing business in partnership with an American born friend.

My aunt Perle LeBrint was the youngest of Anna and Abe’s five children. She lived with and was financially dependent on her parents her entire life. Perle was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 27 in 1945. Anna watched out for Perle after the diagnosis, ensuring that her daily insulin was administered safely and correctly. Perle died in 1965, four months after Anna died.

Anna LeBrint 1961, Abe LeBrint, date unknown
Perle LeBrint, date unknown


My aunt Claire LeBrint Metzger, the fourth child of Anna and Abe. Claire was a single working woman in Chicago until age 53 when she married Rolland Metzger and moved to Dixon, Illinois,.

Uncle Rolland Metzger came into my life after he married Claire in 1967.

Claire and Rolland had one house in Dixon and a second house in Chicago. I was very close to them and would sometimes drive to Dixon to visit, but frequently they came to Chicago to go to the theater, their favorite restaurant Ann Sather’s and also to join us for holiday meals at my house. Claire and Rolland survived my mother and father. Claire died in 2002; Rolland in 2005. They were like parents-contemporaries- friends to me. They had a young attitude and enjoyed keeping company with me and my husband (when I was married) and my friends.
 
 Claire and Rolland 1979

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

1966 San Francisco Working Girl Among the Hippies

Perhaps the Mamas and Papas song California Dreamin’ gave me the idea to leave Chicago and head to San Francisco, after I graduated college in March 1966. Or it might have been the taste of freedom that I got during my 1965 solo trip to an international course in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

I did no research and no pre-planning. I had some money to cover expenses for a few months, but I had no job lined up and knew no one who lived in San Francisco. I didn’t know about the hippies and flower children who were flocking to San Francisco. This wasn’t surprising. During my college years 1962 to 1966, I paid no attention to the “outside world.” In fact, I wasn’t even aware of -- and I don’t remember to this day – where I was and how I felt when JFK was assassinated (on November 22, 1963).

My parents were dismayed and worried about my going alone to a new city and they demanded that I write them weekly once I got there. In 1966, long distance telephone calls were expensive and considered a luxury so requiring that I call regularly was not an option. My mother visited me once and decided I was doing OK.

Unlike the hippies, I was a working girl, earning a living at a series of 9 to 5 jobs. I had three clerical jobs in one year; they were easy to find and easy to leave. I moved three times in that same year, from a rooming house in Pacific Height to an apartment with pot-smoking roommates in Haight Ashbury and then to a studio apartment on 7th Avenue, just south of Golden Gate Park. 

I had a wild time in my own way. But certainly not as wild as the hippies I wrote about in this January 4, 1967 letter to my parents. At the time, I had a clerical job with the American Red Cross and was making plans to find an adult profession, either in social work or as a teacher.

Hi Mom and Dad:
You asked about the hippies of San Francisco, the gypsy beatniks who abound in this city. I used to live in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, on Cole Street with a few roommates. One of the reasons I moved from there was that I didn’t like the run down condition of the neighborhood due to so many unemployed kids who crowded into apartments and hung around on the streets.

Last weekend, I spent a few hours at a festival of sorts in a long grassy strip between Haight Ashbury and the Golden Gate Park. There were some folk-rock groups and some weird musical groups playing far out instruments, and throngs of people milling around. There was a group of Hell’s Angels, and they were fascinating as were the hippies. These kids, most are in their late teens and early 20’s, are a modern day version of gypsies, with their weird dress (ranging from rags to vintage clothes from the 1920’s and earlier) and their raggedy kids, and their uninhibited ways. Many are on pot (marijuana) much of the time and LSD is widely circulated. When I lived in Haight Ashbury, I felt threatened by the hippy life style. They seem to live from day to day in a way I couldn’t stand, because I need security.

I admire their freedom though. They improve on a lot of petty things that the well-fed middle-class in the U.S. is obsessed with. In some ways, I want to be like them – to be part of that cult.

My job plans are taking form. I’ve applied for a welfare job. If it comes by next September, I’ll take that job and see what I think of “social work.” If I don’t get the welfare job, I will go to San Francisco State and work on my elementary school teaching credential.

Had a New Year’s party with Peter, who is a grad student at State, working on his master’s degree in set design. He is very creative in the use of wild unusual materials. We had a good punch and everyone got high, though no one got drunk or sick. Most of the people I invited didn’t show up, so it was mainly Peter’s drama friends. But it was fun, and I never lacked (for) someone interesting to talk to. A college classmate of mine was up from San Diego State, where he is studying biology, and he came to the party. He was very “out of it.” I think he is not used to mixing with offbeat characters. I knew no one except Peter, my college classmate and a friend from Cole Street, but I drank enough punch and I suppose I’m quite outgoing when the choice of people looks interesting.

I can’t say it enough, I’m so proud of you both and of our family, for we are all interesting people who don’t stagnate, that’s for sure.
Love, Betsy

P.S. Got your annual New Year’s letter (pictured below). I didn’t like it because at the moment I’m not “planning for a social work career,” as you indicated, and somehow the whole thing seemed braggy (sic) and very smug. We have reason to be smug about our successes, but it makes the possibility of setbacks, which always come, very hard.

How can the Fuchses fail or have rough times? Kind of inhuman picture of us.


Achievements reported in the Fuchses 1967 annual New Year's Letter:
Susan - eldest daughter: Married to a doctor, home-maker, new mother.
Betsy - planning Social Work career.
Rose - mother: back to college (at age 60), all A's so far.
Len - father: nominated to Chicago Board of Education, moved to larger office.
Judy - youngest daughter: National Merit Finalist. Freshman at Cornell (University). 
Great Grandfather Henry and charming wife Bea (step great-grand mother).


The P.S. in my letter foreshadowed my setbacks in trying to find a profession suitable for a woman college graduate in the 1960’s.  At the time, there were only two: social work and teaching.

In spring 1967, without much thought or planning, just like when I made my decision to go to San Francisco, it came to me that it was time to return home to Chicago. I was frustrated with the routine job at the American Red Cross and with my boss who gave me what I considered “make work.” I felt like I couldn’t continue working at The Red Cross and stay sane. 

I didn’t have the patience to wait until September to learn about the Welfare job.

And I missed the seasons.

And I missed my parents. 

I got a job as a recreation/social worker at Chicago State “Mental” Hospital and took teacher certification classes at night. But I didn’t have the maturity to keep the Chicago State Hospital job and couldn’t control the seventh graders in during four weeks of student teaching. So for me social work and teaching were out and instead, I took a nice safe job as an office clerk. Nothing for Mom and Dad to brag about in their next New Year’s Letter.

Eventually, with loads of on-the job training and the help and support and encouragement of great bosses and work-colleagues, I found a profession that suited me in the field of System Analysis/Information Systems. By then, my parents were retired and traveling the world and were grandparents, so they had other things to report in their New Year’s Letters and they no longer needed to report on my career. Or maybe they didn’t because they never could figure out what I did as a Systems Analyst/I.S. Support Technician. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Like a Circus Parade

January 5, 2014
Bea and I are sitting on the couch in her living room, in our pajamas, looking out of the big plate glass window at the snow coming down.  As usual she has her Android and I have my tablet and we are both on Facebook. 

She posts this picture with a comment:
“Welcome to the south suburbs winter wonderland. I saw a snow mobile going east on one of the larger roads. I'm lucky a neighbor blew out my sidewalk. Hopefully, I'll make contact with a snow removal guy tomorrow! I'm sure not going anywhere today.”

I add a comment on her Facebook timeline::
 “Sitting across from you seeing the same thing. LOL”

And we giggle.  

We share pictures and stories about the Chicago snow storm that our friends are posting on Facebook and the time goes by, and the snow keeps piling up.

But underneath our lazy amusement and Facebook fun, we worry – when will we get plowed out and we are restless – we want to take a walk in the beautiful snow.  It’s Chicago. It's winter and the snow is deep on sidewalks and streets and the temperature outside including what they call “real feel” these days is 30-40 degrees below zero.  Schools are closed. We know we must stay in.

I’m staying with Bea for a week as she recovers from major laparoscopic surgery.  Our cars are snug in her two-car garage, which is unfortunately at the end of a long driveway.  We have plenty of food, we are enjoying each other’s company, and it is very beautiful outside.  It’s only one day of snow and cold, but we are already tired of being snowbound.

January 6, 2014
Bea gets the name of a snow plow outfit and calls them.  Nope. They are not taking any new customers.  She mentions that she is recovering from very recent major surgery and they take pity on her and soon we see a big snow plow truck and three men at her house, ready to tackle the snow.

It is just like a circus parade coming down the street.  Something is happening!

Bea has recovered amazingly well and is able to be up and about, moving more slowly than usual.  We are so excited about the snow plow that we are on the move, from the front of Bea’s  house to the back, looking and snapping pictures out of the front window, the side windows along the driveway, and the back window by the garage. Back and forth, again and again we go, reporting to each other on the progress.

 “The two guys are shoveling in the back.” 

“The truck with the plow is going down the driveway.” 

“Now it is backing up!” 

“See how they are piling up the snow.”

“You can see the pavement.” 

We marvel at how coordinated the guy in the truck is with the two guys shoveling.  They each do their part; they know what they are doing and never get into each other’s way. 

Finally they are done. The driveway is clear, the sidewalks in back and front and the stairs are shoveled.  After Bea gives the guys a generous tip, we fall down on the couch and of course we post our pictures of the guys and their truck and the plow on Facebook .

Bea adds this comment with her pictures ”Found a wonderful snow removal company! What a marvelous job! Whew!”

My pictures are slightly different and I include this comment “Rescued by great team. Great relief. But still staying inside today”.

We are out of breath from the excitement of it all and we are exhausted.  We no longer have to go anywhere on this cold snowy day.  We are satisfied that we had our own version of the circus parade coming through town.




Beatrice Friend, of blessed memory, died on January 6, 2016.  She was a loving and wise friend, the sister of my heart, and this story is posted as a reminder of how full of life she was and of how many wonderful memories we made together.  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Henry Darger, My Down-the-Hall Neighbor

I knew Henry Darger, the reclusive outsider artist.  He was my neighbor. He lived down the hall from my ex-husband David Berglund and me and we shared a bathroom!

David and I lived in a three room apartment on the second floor of the building at 851 W. Webster Avenue in Chicago and Henry lived in a room at the end of the hall. We were neighbors from March 1969 until November 1972, a few months before his death. Henry was a legacy tenant from the 1930’s when 851 Webster had been a rooming house.

We didn’t know Henry was an artist, nor did our landlord and landlady, Nathan and Kyoko Lerner, nor did any of the other tenants in our building. Henry’s work was discovered after he died: over 15,000 pages of a fantasy novel illustrated by hundreds of water color paintings and a large number of 30 foot wide murals. Henry Darger’s work is exhibited all over the world and has been valued in the millions of dollars.

In 1971, David took this photograph, the only one of Henry Darger in his later years. As he often did, Henry was sitting on the front steps of our Webster Avenue home. You will find this photograph in most publications about Henry Darger. You will also find my formerly married name Betsy Berglund and David’s name in books and articles about Henry. We were sometimes interviewed about our interactions with Henry when he was our neighbor.  David died a few years ago, but I am still asked about Henry by authors and film producers now and then.

I recently read an article about Henry that indicated he lived in an apartment at 851 Webster. Not true!  He had one room, with a small closet containing a sink (no toilet), at the end of our common second floor hallway.  And he shared a bathroom (toilet) with us. As you can see from the layout drawing of the second floor at 851 Webster, we accessed the bathroom from the hallway. 

David and I were hippy-want-to-be’s. We went camping frequently. We didn’t mind sharing the bathroom and we didn’t mind going out of our apartment to get to the bathroom.  It was an unconventional arrangement but we wanted to be, we hoped we were, an unconventional couple.

Henry had his own sink and he must have washed up there because to the best of our knowledge, he didn’t take baths or showers. So we rarely had to negotiate who would use the bathroom at any given time.

There was one time, however, when Dave gave Henry a bath. It happened when Henry was sick and very frail, shortly before he had to be moved to the Saint Augustine's Catholic Mission home in Chicago.

Quickly while Dave bathed Henry, I took his clothes and bed sheets to the laundromat down the street and washed them.  His clothes had layers of dirt on them and the bed sheets were gray from ground in dirt. The primitive tent-camper in me was able to handle the grime – though his clothes were much dirtier than our clothes when we would return from a week of back-packing and camping. Kyoko Lerner, our landlady, wrote in the introduction to the book Henry Darger’s Room (published by Imperial Press 2007)  that Henry looked like a homeless person,  dirty and uncared for, as was the too-long and greasy-looking coat he wore. The same could be said about the clothes I washed; they were dirty, greasy and certainly uncared for.

During this time Henry stayed most of the day in bed. Daily I took him breakfast, toast with butter and jelly. I crossed his room to get to the bed, past piles of stuff. Papers and magazines and unidentifiable clutter were piled high on the big oval table in the center of the room, and were stuffed into cabinets and bookcases and were lying on the floor and in the closet. The room, like Henry, looked very dirty and uncared for.  The walls were gray from years of neglect; the piles were dusty and disorganized and looked like they hadn’t been touched in years. Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago has recreated what they call the “Henry Darger Room.” See photo at http://www.art.org/collection/henry-darger/  The Intuit room is clean and the “clutter” while coming from Henry’s room on Webster Avenue, has been artfully arranged.  It is very different from the real Henry Darger room that I saw when he lived in it.

Henry’s door was often open and we could hear him talking to himself. Once or twice I heard two distinct voices. Henry’s regular old man voice, soft and unassuming, was answered by a higher pitched child-like voice. The conversations were muted and I couldn’t catch the content, but Henry’s voice seemed contrite in response to the other voice which was strong and aggressive and seemed to be scolding Henry.  

Before Henry got sick and we got personally involved with him, Dave and I would sometimes peek into his room. We were put off by the papers and stuff piled up and the dirt and by our sense that we were trespassing.  Perhaps a tenant in our building, or maybe a visitor, must have gone into the room and looked closely at the few of Henry’s drawings that were hung on the walls. I don’t remember who told us, but someone reported that Henry had "dirty" (obscene) hand drawn pictures in his room. Later after Henry Darger’s work was discovered and studied and displayed, all could see that the little girls in a number of his drawing and paintings were nude and had penises.  Our thought at the time was that Henry was strange and these particular pictures were harmless and strange, just like Henry.

Henry came into our apartment only once, on Christmas day 1971. Though we were Jewish, our custom was to have dinner with my parents on Christmas day and that year, Dave invited Henry to join us. A Valentine card addressed to David was found among Henry’s treasures and odds and ends. Included with the card was a hand-written note from Henry "For Christmas presents I would like what I need most... ivory soap... shaving cream... and something to eat Christmas afternoon chicken no turkey I hate it."  Henry joined us for  our "Christmas dinner."  He came on time, sat with us at the table and ate what we served.  I hope we didn't serve turkey! He didn’t engage in conversation with Dave or me or my parents.  After dinner, he quietly and quickly left and went back to his room.

Many have seen Darger's paintings and drawings; some have studied his written works.  There has been much about Henry Darger the person in books and articles and films, quite a bit of it speculation.  The last time I visited the Intuit Center for Outsider Art and viewed Henry’s room, I realized I had another perspective on the Henry Darger Story.  Hence I'm sharing my remembrances of Henry, when he was the Berglund's down-the-hall neighbor. 


I end with a picture of  the hippy want-to-be's David and Betsy Berglund in our Webster Avenue living room. Behind us is a white blow-up couch and to the left of David is a black bean bag chair. The doorway behind Dave led to our walk-through closet and gave us access to the kitchen and bedroom. Not pictured but to the right of me was the door to the hallway which gave us access to the shared bathroom.

For more information about Henry Darger and his paintings and writings, refer to the many websites that describe his work in detail.

I recommend two books that discuss Henry Darger's life and attempt to give the reader perspectives on Henry's very difficult upbringing, his high intelligence, his limited socialization skills and how these and other factors affected Henry's life and art.   Each author has his/her own theories which you the reader can accept or not.  

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing, specifically the chapter "In the Realms of the Unreal" about Henry Darger and his upbringing and his solitary life in Chicago.

Henry Darger, Throwaway Boy: The Tragic Life of an Outsider Artist by Jim Elledge

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Alex 2.0 "Becoming the Man I Am Meant to Be"

My family includes those related by blood and those related by love and choice. In 2010 my nephew-by-choice and by heart Alexandyr Reid-Watkins told me he was transgender and would transition from female to the male. 

Alex has become the man he always was and I am learning from him what it is to be transgender. I invite you to learn along with me through an essay Alex published  June 12, 2015 on a GoFundMe page he set up to raise money for re-assignment surgery, as well as through our subsequent on-line conversations. 

Alex has graciously allowed me to post to my blog his essay along with our Facebook conversations. 

Thank you Alex! 


Alex writes: I came out as trans in early 2010. This was something that was 20 years in the workings. Coming out certainly liberated me.  However, I did not feel complete. I started hormone therapy in May of 2012. That helped me feel more whole. I believe top surgery is one of those things that if completed will combat my dysphoria with my chest. I am not a small chested individual and I am saving up money on the side. It has been a slow process.

I've recently decided to embark on a personal mission: Alex 2.0. The time that I've given myself is 1 1/2 years to become the best possible person I can be. I fell into a depression and let myself go a little bit, but now, I'm working on my physical fitness, as well as saving for surgery and becoming the man I know I'm meant to be.

I am always educating people on trans issues and have no qualms about any trans-related questions, no matter how personal, so long as they are respectful and coming from a place of genuine curiosity. I have lost some friends in the process, but I have also gained tons more and so many friends and family have been supportive of me throughout my transition and for that, I have been eternally grateful. I thought about doing some sort of fundraiser and people recommended that I try gofundme, so, here I am.

I also wish to thank everyone in advance for helping me achieve the one thing that will make me finally feel outwardly how I feel inside. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am planning on having surgery done by a doctor who comes highly recommended to me.  $6,000 is his current price for Double Incision method (the procedure I would need to have done).

Betsy’s comments: All this is new to me and I am grateful for how open Alex is about himself and Alex 2.0, his process of becoming.  And I am grateful for his challenge to me and all of us to go beyond “accepting a trans person because he (she) is your friend.”

I have a lot more to learn and to assimilate and to accept about transgender individuals.  And Alex continues to teach me (and others) through his Facebook posts which I share now with you.

June 5, 2015 Alex posted on Facebook: So, in light of this Caitlyn Jenner story, I have seen both sides of the spectrum as far as acceptance goes and I have seen a lot of trans phobic rhetoric as well. Being an ally is not just accepting a trans person because they are your friend. You can't accept one person as trans and somehow deny other trans people because of certain stipulations you have placed on said friend, i.e. "Well, I don't mind that you're trans, but I don't like other trans people because (insert excuse here)". You're either supportive or you're not. That's it.

Another thing is, I have finally made a GoFundMe website for people who have expressed interest in helping me achieve my goals can support me financially, if they have the means to do so. 


Lastly, as always, thank you all for your continued support. It seriously means the world to me.

Note from Betsy: Unfortunately, Alex was not able to raise enough money through GoFundMe and his website was shut down. 

June 12, 2015 Alex posted on Facebook: I know that there is a lot more research out there nowadays than before. Just note that Google is not always accurate and people's trans experiences are not all the same. Something that may hold true for one trans person may not be the same for another.

For me, no question is off-limits. I do not get offended when people ask personal questions when they are genuinely curious about something. Times are changing and people are learning a little more about trans people, but there is still a real stigma about it. Especially with all the media hype and negative publicity. I personally believe that nowadays, it's probably the hardest person to be (as far as the LGBT spectrum goes anyway) because a lot of people are still really not knowledgeable enough about it or are just too uncomfortable with the notion all together.

June 18, 2015 Alex posted on Facebook: I was reading something today and it led me to a series of thoughts. I have often wondered why people associate gender identity with sexual orientation, and then I realized, even though it's an umbrella, LGBT (and all the other acronyms) are all bound together, so I can clearly see now how people who are unfamiliar with that world confuse them so often. Not saying anything bad about it, but, it does make much more sense now. [Food for thought].

June 20, 2015 Betsy responded on Facebook: Thanks for this. It is confusing I read this and can't separate it all out. Write more please.

June 22, 2015 Alex’s response: Well, I was just meaning how LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual), all refer to a person's sexual orientation, whereas T (transgender) refers to gender identity. They clump all of them together (LGBTQIA - Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual) even though being transgender has absolutely NOTHING to do with your sexual orientation whatsoever.

I think that people confuse all the alphabet letters and identities often because they are lumped together and though it is getter better now, people often misunderstand trans people or think that being trans has to do somehow with being gay or lesbian or something else when, in fact, your gender identity (as male or female) makes you male or female.  For example, if you are FTM (female-to-male) and you like women, this does not make you a lesbian because your gender identity is male and you date or are attracted to women, you are considered a heterosexual male. And that works all the way across the board. MTF (male-to-female), if an MTF likes men, they are a heterosexual female. And so on and so forth.

Of course there are many other identities now as we see from the current expansion of alphabet identities:  LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual) but that is a whole other conversation entirely.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chicago: Lawn Chair Winter Duties

White on white - White on black



















White on white:
lawn chairs waiting patiently for their guard-chair duties.


White on black:
lawn chairs bravely-firmly-doggedly holding parking spaces
wrestled from the snow by hard-shoveling Chicagoans.

In Memoriam: 1960-2013 The Purple Hotel Lincolnwood, Illinois

In 1960 the “Purple Hyatt” was built
on Touhy
in Lincolnwood
in the state of Illinois

The bricks were blue purple
a mistake some claim
in truth
the architect protested
but the owners wanted purple 
and so the hotel was built
and called by all the Purple Hyatt

The vertical structural beams
were outside
white in contrast to the purple bricks

We loved this building
for its simplicity
for its beauty

It was our landmark and held our stories
from the 1960's and 1970's 
our stories of NOW conferences, weddings, first dates,
bar mitzvah parties and New Year’s eve events

In the 1980’s the gangsters took over
In 1983 there was a murder in the parking lot

We no longer went there
most of us were too old for NOW conferences and first dates
and we went elsewhere for weddings and bar mitzvah parties and events

In 2004 a red neon sign appeared on the roof
PURPLE HOTEL
Red is not purple!
The sign was so wrong, so very wrong

The purple hotel stayed open
and a friend attended a New Year’s Eve party there
a good party, she said
"but we could tell, there were not many more years left for the hotel”

In 2007 mold was found in 208 of 225 rooms
at the former Purple Hyatt, the renamed Purple Hotel
and it was condemned
closed

Still it was my touchstone
it was our landmark
when we drove down Touhy
past the building with the vertical white beams and the purple bricks
it told us where we were and who we were

In 2013 it ended
In August at the Lincolnwood Fest
and a few purple bricks were available for a donation of five dollars
people lined up around the block to get a purple brick
to remind them of the stories of their lives

I don’t have a brick
a brick is not my touchstone
a brick cannot contain my stories
a brick doesn't recall my memories

September 2013 demolition started and I mourned and took photographs week by week

September 25: No Trespassing No Bricks Available

Bricks carefully removed panel by panel - perhaps for sale or reuse?

 October 12: East end intact - west end coming down


November 1: Severe mourning as more bricks come down
View from east end at Lincoln Avenue, a few purple bricks remain, white structure the last to go

Smaller and smaller, going, gone, almost gone
My heart is broken: it is only a building but oh how it hurts