I guess y’all can’t believe that we had the nerve to drive to Chicago in July. We had to. First, to celebrate Mama Jeanette, that beauty I blogged about, and secondly, to introduce Mr. K. to my city/friends-family/sights/food, and third, to see the Bisa Butler exhibit. What?!
Mr. K. had his introduction to chez Pat’s, (Pat Charles Kline), meaning every amenity, fully accommodating fridge, beauty, and her welcoming hug. Of course, as soon as I arrive home, Nedra Shelton is on the phone and making her way over to greet us. Both Pat and Nedra meet Mr. K. as though they have known him forever. Indria Perrilloux is still in Vegas, but with us in spirit, following our every move. Ahhh, Besties!
We relaxed the next day.
I was Mr. K. was tired from driving, but still ready to dive into Chicago cuisine. In spite of it being post-Covid, there were quite a few restaurants open, and our first pick-up was corned beef samiches. Now, there are cute corned beef sandwiches, and there are slightly greasy, serious, can’t-eat-the-whole-thing, samiches. We drove to AP Deli for the real deal, and they delivered. You get at least 2-3 meals out of their samiches, and it’s sooo good.
The next day, Pat took us to the Harbor at Navy Pier for appetizers and drinks. Thank God, we had Joy Gill, another one of my sisters, with us. After drinks, we walked the harbor to, ta-dah…Rainbow Cones. Can y’all believe I adhered to Noom and had sorbet instead of my luscious 5 tier cone with cherries, almonds and, deliciousness? That’s OK. I got my rainbow at the famous Buckingham Rainbow Fountain, our next site. We waited to see the transformation. Still so beautiful, as it changed colors, the fountain reminded me of my childhood.
Why the “Thank God we had Joy?” Joy is a walking history book. We started from the Water Tower to the Magnificant Mile, to the University of Chicago, Hyde Park, including Honorable Elijah Mohammed’s home to the Obama’s residence. Joy knew all the backstories of every site, and we were thrilled to learn all the information we never knew, even as Chicagoans. Of course, both Joy and I went to St. Thomas Apostle high school, and I had a few stories about fun times spent in the Hyde Park community. What?!
Magnificent Mile, University of Chicago, Hyde Park, Joy and I at our high school reunion
The next day we were blessed to attend the beautiful celebration for Nedra and Deegee’s mom, Jeanette Fairley, and saw so many family friends who paid tribute to a life well lived That celebration went into the next day when the family gathered for food and sharing updates and memories.
Mr. K. and I went solo the next day. We explored one of my childhood favorites, The Museum of Science and Industry. (Why did everything look so big, when I was little)? Many of the exhibits were Covid-closed, but Mr. K. enjoyed the exploration there. Afterward, we set our GPS to see all of my old haunts.
We started with my last Chicago apartment on North LaSalle, and after experiencing Near North and Old Town, we GPSed to my second apartment on Roscoe, which was in a vibrant, diverse community. Oh, the memories. When I wanted Japanese food, I would simply go downstairs to Chris Kobayashi’s place. Mexican food – to Sophia Guadeloupe Maria Garcia’s aunties house. I got Greek food from Grocery Diana’s, and almost everyone I knew from those days was in the Free Theater, including one of my besties, Laurel Heiss. Peace, love, dove + Power to the People. What?!
We found a great Thai restaurant, Kinnarree Kitchen that was open-air and only a block away from a parking space. We dined while people watching, made our way back to our car, and back to the Southside we went. On the way, we passed 8 Track Recording and the Tribune, where I worked, then to Englewood, where I grew up. Nothing left in my neighborhood, but green grass. The railroad decimated my childhood streets, but a mile away, St. Martin, my elementary school, still stood. We drove back to Pat’s.
St. Martin, yes the daily, long snow walks The doors of St. Thomas Apostle
Next, Bisa Butler, Bisa Butler, Bisa Butler. Pat, my cousin-niece, Deanna Kemp, Mr. K., and I ravished every bit of the breathtaking exhibit.
A short story: I was viewing one of Butler’s pieces when I heard this woman quietly describing every thread, color, the nuances of the artwork. I listened intently, enjoying her interpretation. I stepped back a bit to see another lady. The two were together. Friends, one telling the story, and the other, blind and intently listening. I could not help but talk with them discovering that the blind lady was a quilter who was losing her eyesight. I felt an overwhelming sense of admiration and compassion for the two women. They moved on to the next exhibit, and I soon followed. The interpreter told her friend, “Oh, it’s our new friend coming to join us.” She meant me.
We all were enthralled with the Butler exhibit. I had been waiting forever to see it. Our bonus was the Obama portraits, (on Featured image), also impressive. Satisfied, we made it to our car and discussed where we would meet Nedra to eat. I opted to go to the Southside to one of the homestyle Greek restaurants that serve big portions of good food.
How ‘you gon’ get a salad, entree, wine, and a dessert for less than $20? We all ordered the Special and were like, What?!!
Finally, time to hug and love on my family, from my first cousin, Jo-Ellyn Smith, and her kids, Deanna Kemp, Wilhemina, and her husband, David, and kids. Oh, what love and fun we had at Mina’s house. Of course, we had to have Giordano’s Pizza and Garrett’s Popcorn chaser.
Next, the gathering at Pat’s with so many Chicago friends, like family visiting to meet Mr. K. and to say their hellos and goodbyes to us. Always a sacred part of my visit. Oh yeah…Chicago, always. What?!!
Yes, we did it again! We embraced every blessing we encountered in Chicago. What fun to show Mr. K. my Chicago. just as he showed me his Carolinas. I bet every one of us can tour our hometowns with new eyes, finding nooks and crannies, some unnoticed and some, new. I challenge you to discover something about where you live. Maybe a theater, a community center, park, or street. At this age, we always need something new! IJS #everythingoldisnewagain #chicagoisrefriedandgentrified
“It’s all good/love/God” – Victorine
“Whatever precious jewel there is in the heavenly worlds, there is nothing comparable to one who is Awakened.” Buddha
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
“Knowledge is a garden. If it isn’t cultivated, you can’t harvest it.” African Proverb
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By TonyTheTiger at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3092975 Magnificent Mile
By TonyTheTiger – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33848282 Harper’s Court
By Victor Grigas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42754817 Old Town Chicago
By Daniel X. O’Neil – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44051756 Roscoe
By MrHarman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20801543 Englewood