This past June I was fortunate to be able to visit my best friend, Laura, in Chicago. I had only been there once before, in 2010, but I was surprised by how well I remembered her neighborhood. Not that much would have changed; it is Chicago and space is at a premium, unlike here in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Mostly, it was the retail stores that had changed. However, there was this one thing I noticed this time around that was not there in 2010. Now, I don’t know if it was the time of year that made the difference or if someone had moved. But there is this one house that we passed as we walked to Laura’s place or to the train station that made my trip memorable. It had a large-ish backyard (garden for my overseas friends) for Chicago, and you could hear Benny Goodman playing. But no one was around. Every time I walked out of Laura’s door, during the day, I could hear some old swing or jazz music coming from the Victrola. How awesome was that?! I must have walked past this house five times in four days but I never caught site of who was playing the Victrola. It has obviously stayed with me.
I know Friday’s are when I feature some poem and a site online, but I think today I just want to keep it simple. The memory I just wrote about inspired the poem I want to share with you. There are no pics, no quotes, just the poem. I hope you enjoy it.
And Happy Friday everyone!
Taking a Walk in a Chicago Neighborhood
By Jessica Scott
You hear it before you ever see the old man playing the vintage Victrola,
Benny Goodman, the grand “Duke” Louis, the First Lady of Jazz Miss Ella,
and the timeless sound of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue,
the scratchy sounds still vibrant, still alive amid the car horns,
shouting kids, and blaring hip-hop music coming from speakers with the bass turned
so high you vibrate as you walk along the grey sidewalk.
He’s always there playing his music unless the rain, the cold, or the need for a nap
drives him indoors. Those are the days you notice something is missing but you
can’t quite figure out the problem: you have ‘a’ and ‘b’, so what is ‘c’? The cars still
blare their horns and the kids are still playing, the heavy bass music still vibrates the air, and you
are taking a walk around the block. It is only as you pass by his house that you realize
it was this man all along that made your day a little brighter, this old man with his tinny Victrola
bringing a little sanity and quiet dignity into your screaming, out-of-control life.