Alphabet Challenge: O

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

O: Oak Park

Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

Oak Park is noted for being the place with the most houses, twenty-five, designed or remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, lived and worked in Oak Park with his wife and six children from 1889 to 1913 when he left them for the wife of one of his clients. But that’s another story.  

I moved to Oak Park with my husband and two children in 1977. In ‘83, I enrolled in a course sponsored by the FLW Home and Studio Foundation. For six consecutive Saturdays I sat in a large room at the Oak Park library with other potential volunteers listening to the experts discuss architecture in general and FLW’s life and work in particular. The class was free. I still have the three-ring notebook.  

For the next five years, I volunteered in the Book Store interacting with myriad visitors from all over the United States and abroad. And at The Annual House Walk, which at that time was held on the third Saturday in May, I gave tours. The Friday before the House Walk, all volunteers had a private showing of the homes that would be open to the public the next day. 

J. Kibben Ingalls House 1983

When we had out-of-town guests, I often took them on an informal walking tour of the FLW’s historical homes throughout Oak Park. 

I still have a keen interest in architecture, especially since my daughter became an architect and married an architect and my 17 year old grandson is planning on studying architecture in college next year.

William G. Fricke House, Oak Park, Illinois Sections & Details 1901

Alphabet Challenge: N

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

N: Number 2 Bus

When we moved six years ago, I discovered that the No. 2 bus passed our development twice an hour ending up in downtown Raleigh. I was delighted. I wouldn’t need a car. I wouldn’t worry about a parking space or deal with slow inner city traffic or forget where I eventually did park the car. I even wrote a post (Taking the Bus, December 7, 2014) about the No 2 bus. Furthermore, I wrote in my post that I had a long history of taking mass transportation. 

As a child, my friend, Carol and I would hop a bus in Jersey City for nine cents and get off at the end of the line. Then reboard the bus to retrace our route back home. I don’t remember how long this adventurous behavior lasted or how many bus lines we explored. Over the years, I have chosen busses and trains, when possible, rather than drive long distances. 

Even though I have picked No. 2 Bus as my N topic to fulfill my theme: Places I Have Been,  I must confess that after six years, I still haven’t been on the No. 2 bus. 

Alphabet Challenge: M

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

 M: Medical Intensive Care

I turned down the position of head nurse at the University of Chicago Hospital. Among the nurses hired to work in the new unit, I was the most qualified. I had been the head nurse of the newly opened Coronary Care Unit run by the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry at the Newark Hospital in New Jersey and, later, I worked as a staff nurse in the CCU in Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

Now, I was a mother of two small children, ages two and four, and the sole wage earner because my husband was in school full time. Luckily, my upstairs neighbor in the married student building where we lived, was a teacher, had two daughters around the same ages as my kids and wanted to trade off childcare. She worked part-time days. I could work part-time nights. Our arrangement would work seamlessly. 

So, I turned down the head nurse offer. Working half-time: two nights (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) one week and three nights the next, meant that I didn’t have the responsibility that goes into opening a new unit (been there, done that) or the aggravation of administration on top of delivering nursing care. Besides, my salary for working part-time nights was greater than that of a full-time head nurse position.

A decision I never regretted. 

University of Chicago–Billings Hospital

Alphabet Challenge: L

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

L: Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant

One day back in the 80’s, Lois, my good friend, and I stood in line waiting to be seated at Lou Mitchell’s restaurant on Jackson Boulevard in Chicago. As the crowd moved inside, Lou Mitchell, a white haired older man in a dark suit, handed out small boxes of Milk Duds to each patron. Lois and I were lucky to snag a booth close to the door. Although sitting at the long communal table in the center of the restaurant would be fun, we tended to talk non-stop whenever we got together, so a booth was best. 

Lou Mitchell’s diner, founded in 1923, is a Chicago icon. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and noted for its hearty breakfasts. Passing out Milk Duds is a long tradition. 

That day Lois and I had come for lunch. After we left Lou Mitchell’s we planned to stroll along the city streets, window shop and end up at Marshall Fields’ Crystal Palace for hot fudge sundaes. 

Lois and I continued gabbing after we finished lunch. Finally, we stopped talking long enough to notice the silence. We were the only customers in the place. Behind us, the waitress was mopping the floor. It was past the 2 pm closing time. We quickly stood, grabbed our coats, left a generous tip and signaled the waitress to open the locked door and let us out.   

Since that day, I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for Lou Mitchell’s. 

Alphabet Challenge: K

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

K: Kayak

In 1995, I sat in the front seat of a tandem kayak with my feet on the pedals. My friend, Carol Ann, sitting in back, took charge of the rudder. We were on a Holland American cruise of the Alaskan inside passage taking advantage of an optional activity. This was the first time either of us rode in a kayak.

Carol Ann and I muted our normal disjointed, rambling, loud conversations in reverence to the quiet around us. I kept an eye out for polar bears.

The name of the body of water escapes me. What doesn’t escape me is the memory of the  moment: the sound of the oars as they sliced into the still water; the cold air stroking my exposed face and the feeling of wonder as we glided smoothly in the kayak past the ice floats scattered about us—the kayak delivering us to this new adventure. 

John’s Live Poultry and Egg Market

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

J: John’s Live Poultry and Egg Market

In the 80’s, when I was married with a couple of kids and worked on the westside of Chicago, I frequented John’s Live Poultry and Egg Market on West Fullerton Ave. 

John’s reminded me of buying fresh chicken with my mother when we lived in Jersey City. I must have been six or seven years-old when my mother and I took the bus down Montgomery Avenue to the downtown markets. My mother led me into a large barn like store with sawdust on the floor and chickens in cages lined up along the walls. Mom gave her order. The worker in a long stained apron grabbed a chicken from the coop. With much squawking and feathers flying, he tied its legs and hung it by the cord upside down on a scale. I remember most that when the chicken was upside down it became very still. My mother agreed to the weight and the worker proceeded to slice the chicken’s neck. He dipped the carcass in a barrel with some sort of liquid which took off most of the feathers. Then rolled the body on a wheel-like contraption which removed any feathers that remained. I had watched the whole process mesmerized.

I waked into John’s Poultry store in Chicago after work one day looking for a fresh chicken for dinner. The man behind the counter told me I could pick out the chicken I liked from the cages to my right. I chose a white, clucking bird out of the many in the coop. He retrieved the bird and laid it on the scale. Just like when I was a child, the bird ceased to move. 

Times had changed since I visited the poultry store with my mother so many years ago. Now the killing and defeathering took place on the other side of a wall. 

After a few minutes of waiting, my name was called. I paid the bill and was handed a package wrapped in brown paper. The package was warm. The reality that I had chosen this chicken for death felt heavy on my chest. No longer a little girl mesmerized with the butchering process, I decided from then on, I would call my order in ahead of time.

Alphabet Challenge: I

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

I: Italy

I retired on September 17, 2004. On October 7th,  my husband, Ernie, and I left for Italy. We joined a tour with another couple, long time friends, exploring Palermo, Rome, Naples and Venice. The final week we rented a car and a villa in Tuscany. A vacation I had dreamed about for years.

Casa Pavon in Castigliore d’Orcia
The villa was once a monastery. Large window in the living room looks out on the valley

Memories:

  • Enjoying breakfast of Italian bread with butter and orange marmalade, tea and fresh pears (when we didn’t visit the café for cappuccino and pastry) 
  • Taking day trips to Siena, Assisi, Montalcino, and near-by villages 
  • Stopping  spontaneously at the roadside churches with varied facades and weathered pews  
  • Dining in the one restaurant in the village where we savored ribollita soup and wild boar
  • Drinking bottles of fabulous Italian wine
  • Watching the green hills and valleys from the living room window while sipping Limoncello in the late afternoon
  • Calling family back in the States from the public phone in the café while groups of Italian men smoked and played cards near-by, drowning out our conversations 
  • Watching the Italian laborers nearby setting up a hot plate to boil water for their spaghetti lunch 
  • Cooking dinner with meats, fish, vegetables and bread from the local markets
  • Loving the slow-paced life, leisurely dinners and magnificent sunsets 

Most of all these memories have, over the years, kept my husband and me connected to our friends who journeyed Italy along with us.

Alphabet Challenge: H

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

H: Hospitals

I counted up all the hospitals I have worked in during the 40-plus years I have been a nurse. The total is 18. These are the hospitals where I was officially employed. That is, I attended an orientation, worked forty hours a week and received a regular paycheck. 

It doesn’t include the hospitals I visited as a nursing instructor when I had to review patient charts in order to choose appropriate student assignments. 

It doesn’t include the hospitals that I visited to enroll a patient in a home care program. 

It doesn’t include the community hospitals that I visited to evaluate the care that veterans received (I worked for the VA at the time).

So, I have been in many hospitals. Hospitals prompt a plethora of memories.  

The newer hospitals don’t stir up remembrances. They are disguised as hotels. Sterile. I suppose that’s desirable in reassuring patients and visitors that germs are kept in check. The older hospitals, to me, expose the nursing effort of caring for patients at a critical time in their lives—sometimes with success and sometimes with failure.   

I visited an older hospital in 2001, right before I retired, to enroll a patient in a hospice program. The hospital was a small community facility that had little renovation over the years. 

I needed to copy a form. The xerox machine was in the basement. I hiked down the stairway. On opening the door, humidity from steam heat, warm ovens in the kitchen and the noise of the washers and dryers immediately assaulted me. 

This was a functional basement of hospitals of long ago. 

Jolted by the sensory stimulus surrounding me, I trekked along the long corridor feeling as if I was twenty years old, wearing a white uniform, spotless white shoes and starched nursing cap held with bobby pins on the top of my head. My life in nursing, unlived, still ahead of me. 

Lost in nostalgia, I almost forgot to look for the Xerox machine.   

Alphabet Challenge: G

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

G: Governors State University

Governors State University founded in 1969. Thirty miles south of Chicago

I went back to school for my baccalaureate degree in nursing when I was in my late 30’s. I’d been a nurse for twelve years and was eager to increase my skill level and deepen my professional knowledge. 

The college was recently built, close to my home and had an Olympic size swimming pool run by the YMCA. In my spare time, I became a certified lifeguard—a personal challenge not a career choice. I was still a nurse but now if my patients were drowning, I would save them. 

The best part was that Governors State University didn’t issue grades. That’s not a typo. GSU issued units of credits/competences. I had the freedom to simply enjoy the process of mastering new information. It was a sublime experience. 

My transcript

Unfortunately, under pressure, GSU reverted to a traditional grading system soon after I graduated. 

Alphabet Challenge: F

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

F: France

For my seventieth birthday, my husband and I went on a Road Scholar trip to France. It was our second time to Paris but we had never been to Provence in the southeast region. 

poster hanging on our living room wall

Our travel companions proved to be a most congenial group. They all had traveled together on a previous Road Scholar trip and enjoyed each other’s company so much so that they signed up for another trip. We were lucky to join them.

I’m not sure I can top that trip for camaraderie, great food, magnificent sites and pastoral, relaxing scenery. However, it’s not too soon to think of my next milestone birthday In 2022. Maybe something a little more adventurous than a placid trip to the French countryside. 

Gloria Steinem, my idol, went to India and rode an elephant on her 80th

This is what 80 looks like.