DAYS FOUR THROUGH SEVEN of our trip we were staying with Jerry and Gretchen Hochburger in Bartlett, IL. My brother Stewart and his children, who live nearby, always come together there for a meal when we visit, and that happened Sunday evening. Stewart will be 84 years old on June 25th, and has had some health issues in recent weeks. We learned that he has made the decision to move out of his house in Elgin, which has two stories with steep stairs, into an apartment in Elgin on one floor. That may happen in the next few weeks. His friend Carol lives in the same apartment building and I visited her with Stewart over the weekend and got to see the kind of place he will be living in. We're all hoping this will be a good move for him, but it is never easy to leave a place you have lived for over forty years. His daughter, Rebecca, who has been living with him in the house, will remain there and, hopefully with Stewart's help, will continue to sort through and clean out "stuff," - of which there is a great deal! While we were there she brought over an archive of the Christian Century magazine - a pile of issues from the 1950s, when I was in seminary in Chicago, containing articles of interest because they were about issues and persons important to me in those formative years. She also found a 1966 program from the Newport Folk Festival - very possibly one that I had left there 45 years ago! It was full of fascinating information about the folk music scene in that era. All these things had been in the basement and reeked of mildew, so they are now sealed in plastic and I hope to digitize them when we are in Wyoming -- outside in a stiff breeze!
DAY SIX was Memorial Day and we watched a small parade that went by the house up to the local cemetery and then followed along to join in the ceremonies in the cemetery where the names of all the war dead from Bartlett in every war from the Civil War to the present were read, a cannon shot off three times, guns fired and taps played, a speech by the mayor - the full American Memorial Day ritual.
Afterward we all went to our favorite restaurant, Walker's Pancake House in Schaumburg, IL, home of the "Dutch Baby," Ellen's favorite pancake. The food there is always great.
DAY SEVEN, Tues., March 31, Ellen and I drove into Oak Park, IL, and toured the Frank Lloyd Wright home, and did a walking tour of other Wright homes in the neighborhood, of which there are many, as well as Unity Temple, his first public building, which is an active Unitarian-Universalist Church. This was a fascinating day. The homes are architectural icons, the day was beautiful, the spring flowers, shrubs and trees were in all their glory, lawns were lush - it was great. Wright's home has so many features that made it both beautiful and livable; it is a joy to be in. Photographs were not permitted inside his home, but here are some from the neighborhood and from Unity Temple.
Another little feature of our time in Bartlett was that Stewart brought over three novels by the Scottish novelist Samuel Rutherford Crockett. Our Crockett roots do go back into Scotland (we think), so we may be related. But we don't know how exactly. S.R. Crockett was an immensely popular novelist in Scotland in the late 19th and early 20th century. His best known novel was The Stickit Minister. I'm reading one of the novels Stewart brought over, The Gray Man (1896). It is historical fiction set in the time of a feud between rival factions of the Clan Kennedy: the Cassillis and the Bargany, in Ayrshire, in the late 1500s. It features actual historical personages such as John Mure and Sir Thomas Kennedy, and events such as the roasting of Alan Stewart in the Black Vault of Dunure Castle. Great stuff!
We always have a good time in Bartlett. We laugh a lot. We are very grateful to Jerry and Gretchen for being such gracious hosts!
DAY EIGHT On Wednesday, June 1st, we headed southwest to Columbia, MO, home of my daughter, Betsey, son-in-law, Rob, and granddaughter, Katie, which is where we are now as I write. More on that in the next installment.