Monthly Archives: October 2021

Still Learning!

It is interesting how a visitor can come to your hometown and bring such new information!  It may not be unusual because the tourist has hit the books and knows exactly what he or she is  looking for; whereas, the locals trudge right pass unknown treasures everyday.

To that point, a friend and I stopped to ask several locals for the MLK Memorial in Atlanta and we were shocked when several hunched their shoulders as if to say, “I dunno.”  After a while, it became both comical and mostly tragic and we found the humor in it rather than burst into tears.  That was in the late 70’s.

But, I digress.  This is about Brian Doyle’s book Chicago which I recently finished and relished. A lot of places were familiar but I had to admit that he gave me several lessons though this has been a home base for many moons.  Doyle came here for five seasons right after graduating from Notre Dame.  He wrote for a magazine and it was his task to find stories about everyday people.

Yes, I will ashamedly admit that Mr. Doyle had to tell me that Lincoln Park, which I have visited trillions of times was named for Abraham Lincoln. Maybe I knew it some point. I knew that the streets in the Loop are named for the US Presidents, but I guess the fact that the parks were named for them escaped me.

And that mighty Grant Park is named for Ulysses S. Grant and our beloved Jackson Park for Andrew Jackson.  I think I recently recall that Washington Park was named for George Washington because of the recent statue controversy.

In some aspects, I am just as guilty as those people were in Atlanta on that sunny day. In our busy, rapid lives, we rush right by these monuments as we hurry to catch a bus or wave down a taxi. We miss so much!

This book, Chicago, took me up and down so many traveled roads He added the love and cohesion of community, the importance of the generosity of spirit and the role of writers who help keep it real when people get lost in the shuffle. Doyle reminded us of the beauty of storytelling and how those stories keep us going as we remember past events.

And lastly, Brian Doyle talked about the name of Chicago which came from the Potawatomi  Native Americans.  Chicagouate or chicagoua was a form of garlic/onion which grew in abundance to where they say the river poured into the lake.  Further research revealed the Native Americans only traded with their kin.  Thus, Jean Point Baptist Dusable married a Potawatomi woman and was then able to participant in trading.  It has been written that she was ‘crucial to his success.’

Chicago recently renamed Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point Dusable Lake Shore Drive. Yes, it is a mouth full, but it seeks to get the historical facts somewhat straight. What we do know is the trade industry gained traction from the point where the Chicago River empties into Lake Michigan. And the rest, as they say, is history.  Many thanks to Mr. Doyle who left us too soon, but whose words and good works shall remain.

Lynn M.
October 23, 2021

I Believe

When great spirits transition from this life,
I believe that their bodies may disintegrate,
Into a trillion little, tiny particles.

Then perhaps, God gathers those pieces
Into His Hand and gives a mighty blow,
As a child blows on a dandelion.

And then, those small pieces of the whole
Spread themselves into our living rooms,
Our homes and most assuredly, deep into our hearts.

And that is why, as we mourn,
In a flash, we see that person again.
We see their twinkling eyes, calm demeanor or quiet knowingness.

We recall our conversations as we unknowingly
Stood in the presence of greatness.
In our slow acceptance of this life change,
We understand that we have just gained a new
Guardian Angel who will nudge and point the way
From that new perch from on High!

To: Mr. Timuel Black

Lynn M.
October 16, 2021

Cousin’s Pebbles

Delta Wings

When I think about my cousin, Shelia Lynn, I admit that she wore my name a year before I arrived and was called just Lynn.  We lived together briefly as children in Memphis.  We were all sheltered at our grandmother’s house who played Mother Goose.

Yep, both of her daughters had returned to the nest and each had four children in tow.  Eight kids in a tiny house but boiled over with love.  Somehow, it worked and lifetime bonds were tightened among us.

Later, we were reconnected as young women. Her family remained in Memphis but our family had moved on to Chicago. However, our family always returned to Memphis, at least once a year. I remember going to see her act at Front Street Theater, there.  She allowed me to come backstage with her  to her changing room. I sat there and quietly watched her apply her stage makeup.  Amazing!

By the time she entered stage right, I was sitting in the audience. I do not remember the name of the play but I do know that I was filled with awe and wonder. This would be the beginning of my noticing Shelia’s choices and I took away the parts that I found admirable. She was silently dropping pebbles for me to follow in my own timing.

Shortly, thereafter, her bravery and spunk caught my eye again when she moved to Atlanta to become a flight attendant. She graduated in the first class of black women to get their wings for Delta Airlines.  She flew with them for over 30 years! Our paths continued to cross at different intersections. 

As fate would have it, we both returned to Memphis and lived there in the early 80’s. This time, we became closer than ever as we shared our hurts, our pains and acknowledged each other’s accomplishments.  I purchased a large wall map and whenever she called me from various locations, I would put a stick pin there on my map.  She was still silently dropping pebbles and charting out new family paths.

Her colorful descriptions of places like hot Atlanta or snow-bound Boston or the tropical islands stayed with me.  She spoke of one place where she could pick fruit from the tree from outside her hotel window.  Though I was doing my own thing, I did take copious mental notes as she shared her adventures.  She was still pinning those pebbles in my mind.

As the gods would have it, I did make it to Atlanta. I lived there for two years and met life-long friends as I struggled through the terrain.  And, yes, quite like Johnny-Come Lately, I made it to the islands more that once. Her pebbles helped me to slowly make it to snowy New England. Once there, I enjoyed walking around Boston’s Back Bay as I took in the sights and sounds of the city for four years. So, all I can say is, “Thanks, cuz, for dropping those pebbles behind you!”

Lynn M.
October 9, 2021

Ode to a Grifter

If  you just leave, I can again breathe,
Your actions have dismantled my sheath.

I am quite depleted and worn down,
My substance has wavered. Please no sound.

I need to be quiet; alone now,
So then, I can unfurrow my brow.

As my cisterns and cups fill back up,
After you continually did sup.

So, just go away and do go far,
No more to give. You lowered the bar.

As my lungs expand with that fresh air,
I can push ahead with little care.

Lynn M.
October 2, 2021