I was invited to give a talk about my mom, Joan, and her diary Home Front Girl at the Schaumburg Township District Library in Illinois, part of the greater Chicago area. Joan grew up in Chicago, so I was thrilled to be able to share her story with natives of the area.
The trip consisted of more than giving a talk. As I was staying with a dear college friend, Phil, we undertook an exciting and unexpected treasure hunt to find out where my mom, Joan, lived in the 1930s and 1940s.
Phil and I were thrilled to find out that his job as an organist at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the University of Chicago campus which Joan attended had personal resonance. Joan and my dad, Bob, were married there in 1943!!
Joan was certainly aware of the namesake of the Chapel. When she was 14 years old, she wrote a poem in response to the death of Rockerfeller (that’s how she spelt it!).
[1937; John D. Rockerfeller [sic] died May 23, 1937]
To Mr. Rockerfeller
I’d rather be myself
With broken shoes and dirty face
And keep my youth and joyous hopes
Than put myself into your place.
For I am young and you are old,
Mine has just begun and yours is cold,
I’ve all the world before me yet–
While you have lived — can but forget
I’m hungry now — and tired, too,
But still I’m happier than you,
The only thing that time can hold
For you is death. For you are old,
And I am young
And life is yet unsung
Within my heart,
I’ve only just appeared on Earth
While you depart.
I took many photos in the Chapel while Phil brilliantly taught his super talented musican students.
I took a video inside the chapel.
Here is some lovely music played by my friend’s student as I wandered and wondered in the Chapel in 2015.
Joan writes about hearing the President of the University of Chicago speak well after the war has begun in Europe, but before Pearl Harbor. She is 18 years old when President Hutchins talks from the Chapel.
Sunday March 30, 1941
Hullo. Heard Hutchins today on the radio—spoke from [Rockefeller] Chapel. I meant to go and hear him but didn’t arise early enough. He was good, he was wonderful. He was right. “The proposition is peace.” Probably most people won’t agree with him—again…
 Here is a copy of Hutchins’ speech that Joan heard: http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1941/1941-03-30a.html.
Little did she know when she wrote those words that in less than two years she would be married to my dad there! I’ll be posting photos from that event in a few weeks.
Here are more photos from my talk in Schaumburg.
The mysterious ways of time passing and people connecting in unexpected ways…..