Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Setting Back Chicago Clocks, Selling Newspapers at 4 am, Unromantically Once-Upon-A-Time…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Life & Death,Love and Romance,My Own Personal Hell,Retail Purgatory — Bob at 6:55 am on Sunday, March 11, 2018

Setting back Clocks, Selling Newspapers at 4 am, Unromantically Once-Upon-A-Time

by Robert M. Katzman © March 11, 2018

Eyes fluttering open in a silent room half-lit by sunlight squeezing past opaque shades, I remember what day it is, and though no one else can hear it, I sigh. Once upon a time, now like some white-haired Revolutionary War veteran fifty years later, I am thinking that maybe there’s no one left anymore to remember the complications of this twice-a-year Chicago South Side moment.

I woke up with all of my conflicted emotions mechanically assembled as I remembered the day, and I stopped moving, because I didn’t have to get up if I didn’t feel like it, my momentary protest against my past. My ancient past…

Running a wooden newsstand on a Sunday morning with thousands of newspapers to assemble and sell, slightly warmed by capricious kerosene heaters belching black wispy smoke along with their heat, a small army of children and adults arrive in the dark in Hyde Park, wordlessly take up their tasks. Little conversation, multiple cups of black and tan coffee steaming in a range of hand held ceramic cups from home, long before coffee was something bought on every third corner in America.

Once, people made their own coffee. Really.

(Read on …)

The Great Vladimir Horowitz, a Clueless Paperboy and the Generous Drunk…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bewilderment,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Humor,Jewish Themes,Love and Romance — Bob at 3:44 pm on Sunday, February 18, 2018

Vladimir Horowitz and the Generous Drunk

(Originally published by Robert M. Katzman © February 22, 2008)


Just how common a name is “Bob”?

When Leslie Towne Hope, born in England in 1903, first came to America, became a citizen, decided to enter show business and wanted to be considered by his new countrymen as a “regular guy,” naturally he rechristened himself as: Bob

Years ago, I used to make fun of my own very common first name, also Bob:

“I…am Bob!!”

“Thou shalt have No Other Bobs…before me!”

Well, despite the Biblical sound of my little self-deprecating joke, once upon a time there were two other older Bobs who were very much “before” me. This is their story, and it also involves a world famous concert pianist, even though he didn’t have the good fortune to also be named Bob.

(Read on …)

Love from The Abyss…by Robert M. Katzman, February 14, 1988

Love from the Abyss

by Robert M. Katzman © February 14, 1988

Written for my love, my wife, in 1988, after ten years of marriage and after nearly three years of my unemployment, when deeply depressed I learned what happens to a guy who received twenty years of great publicity running a once famous Bob’s Newsstand, and then found out nobody would hire someone like me. They said, like a line of robots: “Well, you’ll leave as soon as you can to start over.”

One month later, I was hired to manage Europa Bookstore at 3229 N. Clark Street, in BoysTown, Chicago

Discovered among her papers last night, I wanted to give Joy a Valentine, and this is what I wrote for her thirty years ago, today. We were both 37. It rhymes, but so what? No other person has ever seen it.     We, our love, and the marriage survived:


Our balances are red

Your mood sometimes blue

After ten years of marriage

My Valentine to you


Never mind Valentine was Catholic

And I a wandering Jew

Today’s meant to be a ‘Day of the Heart

To give praise, or sometimes to rue’ (Read on …)

Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy Failing Algebra & the University of Chicago Lab High School (1966)…Part Two…by Robert M. Katzman

Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy failing Algebra, and the

University of Chicago Lab High School in 1966.

by Robert M. Katzman © January 31, 2018 

Part Two

So Paul and I met twice a week for months in that small room in the library with two wooden chairs and a wooden table. I told him about how the newsstand was progressing and what I was learning, and the difficulties of learning to manage a one-armed, one-legged 69-year-old employee, born in 1896, who as it turned out was the original owner of where my newsstand was now, except his was there in 1916. This became sessions of stories about stories.

I had no identity as a writer, never considered that as any kind of career for myself and wasn’t writing down any of what I told Paul when we met, or his stories either. Like two pre-biblical Israelites carrying on a kind of oral tradition of expecting the next generations to preserve unwritten history. But we were both telling each other stories. I wasn’t expecting anything from him, but I was glad he seemed interested in this kid talking about whatever I was talking about. But when we were telling stories, we weren’t talking about algebra, so that was good.

(Read on …)

Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy Failing Algebra & the University of Chicago Lab High School (1966…Part One…by Robert M. Katzman

Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy Failing Algebra & the

University of Chicago Lab High School (1966)

by Robert M. Katzman © January 30, 2018   Part One 

Classic gritty Chicago tale about a high school math tutor and a student from very different worlds leading to a fifty-year warm friendship, which only death could end.

In September 1964, after failing a pre-freshman admittance required Algebra course during the summer at the University of Chicago Laboratory School High School, or U-High, in Hyde Park, I also subsequently failed my first year taking Freshman Algebra, too.

Somewhere among my less treasured memories is an old shoebox, and within it, besides my four different draft card classifications between 1968 and 1974, is a small rectangular piece of paper with the handwritten letter “F” placed squarely in the center of it. It meant I had to take the detested algebra class for yet a third time.

U-High’s very efficient system for helping students who seemed likely to embarrass and undermine the school’s gleaming reputation in the future assigned me a math tutor who would meet with me in the library in a private room every Tuesday and Thursday. The first week of my second year there as a sophomore in September 1966, I met Paul Moulton. I was sixteen, born in 1950, and he was forty-six, born in 1920.

(Read on …)

The 1967 Big Snow and My Unexpected Love Affair, at 16…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bewilderment,Bonnie stories,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Love and Romance — Bob at 7:39 pm on Sunday, January 14, 2018

The 1967 Big Snow and My Unexpected Love Affair, at 16 by Robert M. Katzman

Fifty years ago on January 27, 1967, the Big Snow buried Chicago and I was trapped at my older sister Bonnie’s house because she had a college party and invited me, reluctantly. I was 16 and useless around girls. Shy and clueless. I was so square that I brought some poetry I wrote with me to read in case anyone wanted to hear it. Girls my age weren’t interested at all.

(Read on …)

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