Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

My 68th Halloween. Trick, or Treat?…by Robert M. Katzman

My 68th Halloween. Trick or Treat?

by Robert M. Katzman © October 31, 2018

 

Well, of course, Trick

What did you expect?

The Trick for me is, this far gone

Is to remember what the Treats were

As your life unfolded

(Read on …)

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers (complete story in order for the first time)…by Robert M. Katzman

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers

By Robert M. Katzman ©

First published by Bob Katzman at 10:47 pm on Sunday, July 11, 2010 

Not your usual love story.  

A fifty-year saga about a Chicago West Side tribal immigrant’s tale, encompassing:  Friendship, Jewelry, Gangsters and the real meaning of lifetime friendship, no matter what.

A puzzle with so many pieces, all steadily adding up to Joy’s diamond ring.   

 

On December 31, 1977, New Year’s Eve, I invited my long-time love, Joyce Esther Bishop, then 27, to dinner at a famous old Chicago steakhouse.  Specifically, The Kinzie Steakhouse, but which is now far better known today as Harry Caray’s Steakhouse, after the now deceased and legendary Chicago radio announcer for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, famously remembered for yelling: “HOLY COW!!” after every home run hit by the home team.  

Aside from Joy’s full-time day job working in the city, she also worked at my original Hyde Park store, Bob’s Newsstand, every weekend.  She was either selling newspapers, stuffing the Sunday newspaper’s weekend components inside each paper or keeping an eye on all the numerous part-time employees and/or the endless stream of customers.  

This was back in the days when Chicago still had four separate daily newspapers and was the last remaining American city to be so blessed.  Now there are only two Chicago newspapers left, both post-bankruptcy, and in their present (2010) shrunken and sensationalized formats, they would have seemed other worldly to either of us in 1977.  

The then fiercely competitive conservative Chicago Daily Tribune and the more liberal Democratic Chicago Sun-Times, were rich and mighty Midwestern icons of journalism, seemingly able to last forever, just thirty-two years ago.  What happened?  

Joy was certain that I loved her, since I told her so every single day (and still do).  I was also convinced that she loved me too, in the unmistakable ways women get that idea across to the objects of their affection.  

(Read on …)

I Planted A Lithuanian Tree Today…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © July 20, 2018

I planted a tree today.

The grayish-bluesy sky was gloomy, threatening to rain, and I was standing in my garden thinking:

 “Good”.

 Some days drag themselves like there are elephants hanging onto each hour. I had no plans, no list of anything to do, no calls to make. I thought,

“Bob, plant a tree”.

(Read on …)

Wildflower Diary-2..by Robert M. Katzman

Wildflower Diary (2)

by Robert M. Katzman © June 23, 2018

 Short essays, reflections & captured moments about prairies, plants, food and people worth writing about, at various times:

 July 30, 2017

My original essay, posted separately:

Wildflower Diary: Caring For Joy’s Garden”

https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3550

 March 6, 2018

 Ok, this is my grandfather, South Side Jacob the Carpenter’s quick recipe for tiny seasoned red potatoes with cheddar cheese. He was from Byelorussia, born in 1882, so ya gotta take that into consideration. He used unusual tools to achieve his aims.

Here it is:
So, you roast the red potatoes on a metal tray for about 4 minutes in an oven, broiling them at 450. Then take them out, go look in your closet for a steel hammer with good balance to it. Wash off the serious part of the hammer, then beat the hell out of them little potatoes (with the skin still on) until they are totally defeated. Kinda like what happened at the 1968 Democratic Convention. But, I digress.

(Read on …)

Grief Hits Like a Brick: April 27, 1975…by Robert M. Katzman

Grief Hits Like a Brick: April 27, 1975

by Robert M. Katzman © April 27, 2018

 

Never knew when it would hit, how hard it would hit, or where.

Didn’t think it would be in my kitchen in Wisconsin on a sunny Friday morning, on the 43rd anniversary of when I met a beautiful young love I’ll never see again.

It is one thing to type that.

It is another thing to experience the totality of that slammed door all at once on the first anniversary of that endlessly shared day with her, without her.

Oh, she’s gone.

Forever.

And the pain of it unexpectedly just smashed into me with a suddenness that made me think I was going to break into pieces, very wet pieces. Tears poured through my fingers where I was holding my face, dripping on my greying beard, down my neck soaking my black T-shirt. And they kept flowing because there was no way to turn them off. Fifty weeks after Joy’s funeral, I’d figured whatever I was going to feel, I’d already felt.

Wrong.

(Read on …)

Finding a New Girl at 17. Finding a New Woman at 68. How?…by Robert M. Katzman

Why is today different from all other days? Because on April 20, 1889 Adolph Hitler was born in Austria. Growing up Jewish on the South Side of Chicago, I learned this date when I was very young, perhaps seven. History matters when you belong to a people whom other people hunt to kill.

But maybe that was because ten days after that date on April 30, 1945, he killed himself in an underground bunker as the American and their allied armies were swiftly closing in on Berlin from the West, and the Russians were closing in on Berlin from the East. And exactly five years later, I was born on 59th and Cottage on April 30, 1950.

As a wary Jewish child, uncertain about who might hate me next, sometimes I used to say to myself:

“Good. I replaced him”. Meaning to me, I erased the evil man. Children can create essential fantasies.

With such somber history imprinted on me so young, it fostered a fascination with history throughout my life. Who did what to whom; why; when; how come this army defeated that army; why do people kill over religion; land; water; women; why do some people think they are superior to other people; and one day I thought to myself:

If a tiny black Pygmy from Central Africa could give a blood transfusion to a tall blond Swede thousands of miles north of them in order to save their life, well, we must all be the same. We look different, but we are all the same. It’s so simple.

That revelation hit me at about ten, and I found prejudice to be ridiculous. Which means my children and grandchildren also grew up with no prejudice. What is taught works both ways, depending on what a person feels is essential to creating a welcoming world, or a world with walls and barbed wired to keep out the “lesser people”. Evil can outlive you just as easily as kindness. I choose to give a person a chance.

(Read on …)

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