Val Capone and I connected when we first met at the 70th anniversary Roller Derby celebration in 2005 at the Chicago Hstorical Society.
She and her Windy City teammates were the first of the modern Roller Derby that I had ever met. I had heard that something had started in Texas, but really wasn’t aware.
Our friendship has grown over the years, and a lot of it is based on our love of Chicago.
Of course there is more: although a star and a great example of modern Derby, Val is also a lover of the history of the game. I am also because it is part of my DNA.
But although I have been a Californian for many years, the Chicago area is where I grew up. I was an unwilling resident at first; my sister and I had to leave our hometown in Portland after our mother died, and since my father’s business was in Chicago, that is where we landed. First we lived in the Edgebrook part of the city, and then we moved to the suburb of Glenview.
And every week my cousin Bob and I went to the marvelous Loop. We enjoyed the Field Museum, the museum of Science and industry, every camera shop, and always ending up at the creaky old Coliseum, the home of the original Roller Derby, and if we were lucky the Westerners were in town and we were able to see all of the greats: Wes Aronson, Billy Bogash, Ivy King, Kitty Nehls, and on and on. These were my heroes, all bigger than life and just marvelous athletes.
I have lived in so many cities, from New York to Miami to Denver to LA and many more. But Chicago just has a magic to it. And every time Val writes about it I am reminded. In all honestly, I would rather spend time in Chicago (if away from Sonoma) than any place. I also am a graduate of Northwestern, which is located in Evanston, just north of Chicago. When I was there, it was a “dry” town, the home of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. So we would journey a short distance to Howard street, on the border of Chicago and Evanston, which was about as “wet” as a street could be. And we could hear any kind of music, but pariculary Chicago blues and jazz: George Brunis on the trombone. And at the London House (downtown) there would be Sarah Vaughn.
And today you have Rush Street, and a great Aquarium, and tall buidlings and all set on the most beautiful Lake Michigan.
Last year I had the pleasure of showing a good friend this city for the first time, and by doing so was able to relive all the wonderful sites, and restaurants and places…….did you know that the all faiths Bahai Temple in Wilmette sits on the exact site across the world from the original temple in India?
I used to pay 50 cents and sit in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, and who else do you know that saw the Cubs in their last World Series in 1945? And the legendary George Mikan played for the American Gears basketball team whose home games were in the Coliseum. And I saw “the raging bull” knock out Bob Satterfield at Wrigley field in one of my father’s promotions…..and the Chicago Bears with Sid Luckman play the Chicago Cardinals also at Wrigley Field. and the world championships of Pro basketball (before the NBA) at the Chicago Stadium; where the Harlem Globetrotters, who could really play great ball defeated the New York Rens in the finals.
I was so fortunate to have spent most of my high school and college years in this amazing city. And thank you, Val, for constantly reminding me of the wonders of the city with the huge shoulders……your loving husbitch.
Be aware of where you are and what you do……..it is the foundation for great memories.