Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Parkside Avenue ghost

Every day, such adventures, such discoveries! Interesting comments yesterday including one from correspondent Kimberly, talking about her dad having played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Kimberly, what was your dad's name? What did he tell you about playing with the orchestra?

Leonard Pennario played several times with the Chicago Symphony but that would have been a little after the era when Kimberly's father played with them, I am thinking.

Isn't it fun taking a little time out every day from our busy schedules to think about things like this?

It is better than thinking about the news, I will say that. My personal stressful news item o'the day concerns St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, splitting from the Episcopal Diocese. The reason they're breaking away doesn't matter. What matters is that they are losing their church building, so they are going to be buying...

(Drum roll...)

.... Temple Beth El, on Eggert Road! It is so blah and suburban!

Normally I wouldn't care. Worship in a CVS if you want to. But come on. With the Catholic diocese's tragic and unethical downsizing, there are so many historic churches going begging. My old church, St. Gerard's, a scaled-down model of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, has been left for dead at the corner of Bailey and East Delavan. St. Gerard's was named for beer brewer Gerhard Lang, who donated the land. St. Bartholomew is the patron saint of beer brewers. That seems to me a match made in heaven.

Think about it, St. Bart's! Then have a beer and think about it some more. Here is your chance to be a hero and to save something irreplaceable that is about to be lost forever. Do it!

Beer reminds me of my supernatural story of the day. We are telling spooky stories every day for the month of October, in observance of Hallowe'en. Howard tells me I should keep explaining that because otherwise people who stumble on this blog will think I am some kind of a witch. Witch I am not. With witch, today's story:

In my UB days I lived for a few years in a downstairs apartment on Parkside. When my roommates and I moved in, we noticed some child's writing on the kitchen wall. In a corner, in small letters, someone had written:

"This house is haunted. Whoooooooooooooooooo"

We didn't think much about it until weird things started happening. Doors began opening by themselves. Friends who visited would get a weird feeling. Once my roommate Mary Ann put a necklace on her dresser and when she woke up the next day it was broken into three pieces. That is what she told me anyway.

Also there was the matter of the creepy mirror. But that is a whole separate story for another day. So is the one time when I actually thought I saw the ghost. I will have to deal with that separately too.

Here is what I would like to tell about today. When I went home to see my parents I would tell them about our ghost. My father was very interested. He loved stuff like that. But my mother had less patience for my stories.

"You kids, your ghost has a name," she told me, "and its name is Schlitz."

Looking back, I wonder if she was right. Because the years pass, things happen, I move here, I move there, I get jobs and quit them, date, break up, date again, break up again, meet Mr. Right, get married, meet Leonard Pennario, go to California ... all these things pile up, so now, when I remember the Parkside ghost, I am not sure any more that I saw what I saw and felt what I felt. That is the way ghost stories go.

But it sure seemed real at the time.


Bill said...

The Diocese really missed a bet. What they should have done was closed the parishes in the suburbs-- the ones with the hideous 60s and 70s architecture that look like somebody's basement rec room. Although the burbs are where the population is, all of those people drive to Mass- so make 'em drive into the city! This would have revitalized neighborhood bakeries and breakfast places, and would have improved the aesthetic experience of the flock.

My other thought is that all of the closed churches should be converted into brew pubs, but that's probably even less likely.

Anonymous said...

My dad was Oliver Willis Smith. His father was Harland Willis Smith from Lockport. Harland was a composer, music teacher and church organist. I waited too long to ask my father about his days in Chicago sadly. Harland taught at the Oliver Halstead Music School in Lockport. Daddy has some of his musical training from there. I know too little about that time in his life also. Take that as a cautionary tale to get stories from the elders while there is time.