Neighborhood Girls

My friend Lois grew up in the thick of Logan Square, one of Marv’s old neighborhoods, and he likely would have known exactly the building where her family had their sheet metal shop and apartment.  If he had visited her Madison home,  Marv would certainly have recognized the tiny 1920s kitchen of his youth where, amidst original cabinets and lights, Lois serves me tea, selected from the Wall of Tea Tins.

Marv cultivated friends who, like Lois, could find joy in the beauty of cheap (free) things that others overlooked.  I can easily imagine his reaction to the variety and number of tea tins crowding shelves clear up to the ceiling.  Right away, the distinctive red treasure chest, a battered old Zvetouchny tin, would have caught his attention.  “Oh my, oh my…,” he would have chanted,  as astonished as if magician had just pulled a gold coin from behind his very own ear, perhaps punctuating this phrase with a little chuckle.  “That’s an old one, a really old one.”

We would have had tea, playing Guess That Corner, as displaced Chicagoans are wont to do, and maybe he would have told Lois why Zvetouchny (“The Aristocrat of Teas”) was so special to him, a story which, sadly, I do not know. In the quiet kitchen, surrounded by nothing more than a breeze through the open windows, and neighborhood friendship, Marv would have feasted on two pleasures he prized above almost anything else – laughter, and plenty of hot, black tea.


No Gods, No Masters

As far as I know, Marv did not believe in God.  He had little tolerance for any form of psychic comfort that involved what he considered to be self-delusion, setting a curiously high standard for a man who led a double life until his 60’s.  (It seems pretty common for us human beings to cherish beliefs that reveal our blind spots and shadows, and Marv was no exception.)

But he did believe in Pooh, and in the urgency of being in this life, as it is now.  And if I have ever shown any courage, it has come out of trusting that in this belief, he really did know what he was talking about.


As touching as it is to see Marv’s picture, it is his handwriting which goes straight to my heart.  He commented occasionally that he meant to try writing in script again; and once or twice mentioned that he printed everything because he felt his script writing was very poor.  Though a few other mementos equal it, nothing I own is more precious to me than this note, which he sent with a housewarming gift for my first days alone again, as a gallant woman.

87 Years Ago

While this picture may seem to be about a bowl of watermelon, it was actually an excuse to record Marv’s hands, and to remember the times I wondered why they were so much larger than mine, the times I watched mesmerized as they whisked a flaming torch over metal, turning it into liquid, or flew effortlessly along the guitar, turning it into music.  I want to remember, too, how small he was, 87 years ago tonight, maybe feeling hungry for the first time in his life, and to wonder at how tiny his hands were then.

Ironing a Red Shirt

maybe if your parents are always there for you,
you miss them all the time after they are gone.
maybe if your parents are never there for you,
you miss them all the time when they are gone.
maybe if your parents are always there for you,
you don’t really miss them when they are gone.
maybe if your parents are never there for you,
you don’t really miss them when they are gone.
maybe when your parents are gone,
they are always there for you,
and you miss them all the time.