Gene and I were married in 1964 in Chicago, Illinois in the Chapel in the Sky. This 568-foot skyscraper is the tallest church building in the world. It serves as a Neo-Gothic monument to the Methodists’ commitment to “the Loop” in downtown Chicago at a time when pressure was great to move to the suburbs. It is the home to the First United Methodist Church of Chicago, the oldest congregation in the city.
Mrs. Walgreen (of the founders of Walgreen’s) put up the money to have the chapel built in the steeple. It is hidden up at the top of the skyscraper church.
Our wedding was very intimate and special in this “Chapel in the sky” and a lovely memory.
Our best man gave us a private dinner with a strolling violinist in one of the downtown hotels and a night stay at the hotel as a wedding present. The next morning Gene took the “L” back to Loyola and I had an early morning flight to Cleveland, Ohio that our best man was on. Life in the windy city was an exciting time and we met and knew some of the most amazing people.
February 29, 1960 was a historic day for Chicago and the world. Playboy magazine owner Hugh Hefner decided to open up the world’s first Playboy Club on Walton Street in the Gold Coast. The club provided the first appearance of the Playboy Bunnies. As VIPs of the club, key-holders could enter the club at anytime and indulge in an atmosphere filled with music, alcohol and nubile women. The flagship Chicago location was so successful that it became the busiest club in the world. These clubs became known as “Disneyland for adults.” The Chicago Playboy Club helped solidify the greater Rush and Division Street area as one of the most happening areas in the country during the 1960’s.
As a graduation present from Dental school Gene was given a “Key” to the Playboy Club. You could eat free on Wednesday nights. So guess where we spent many Wednesday nights?
Money was tight but we managed to be able to enjoy so much spectacular entertainment that Chicago offered. Also our apartment was so convenient to where everything was happening in the world of entertainment in Chicago.
Our apartment was located not far from a club called Mister Kelly’s. We frequented Mister Kelly’s a great deal and saw the most incredible entertainers, one of which was Barbara Streisand in one of her first appearances.
From around 1956 until its demise, Mister Kelly’s was a springboard to fame for many entertainers, especially jazz singers and comedians. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, “it was a supernova in the local and national nightlife firmament.
Below a reporter Charlie Dawn reports on Barbara Streisand’s successful show.
CHICAGO AMERICAN — June 13, 1963
Dusk Till Dawn
Popular Songs Unusually Sung
By Charlie Dawn
Take popular songs like “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “Cry Me A River” and you listen, today, with half-hearted interest. But take those same songs with the unusual dressing Barbra Streisand gives them and they become alive and thrilling all over again!
Miss Streisand is the young songstress who has done a Broadway show, made numerous featured personal appearances on television network shows, and now is capturing the fancy of Chicagoans in Mister Kelly’s on Rush Street.
She opened her first engagement in Mister Kelly’s this week and judging by the crowds who have gathered to hear her—early and late— her 3-week showing will be a hefty winner!
For those who seek unusual treatment in song presentation, Miss Streisand is the answer. And for those who merely want entertainment the answer is the same.
With Peter Daniels as accompanist, Barbra unfolds many fine songs, all dressed in Streisand style. “Cry Me A River,” the way she does it, sort of makes you forget about Johnnie Ray who introduced the number. And “Happy Days…” takes a new stance in the Streisand program.
Among other winners this comely lady presents are “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home,” “Keeping Out of Mischief Now,” “Who Will Buy?” and “Down With Love.”
With singing — and performing — talent like this, it’s no wonder Mister Kelly’s is doing a bang-up business!
Sometimes we had to drive to Skokie to see some amazing concerts. Even though our car wouldn’t go in reverse we managed to find parking places on corners where we just could go forward. Since we didn’t have the money to get it fixed we always found a way to get around.
We saw one of Nat King Cole’s final performances in Skokie in 1963. It was amazing and one of the highlight performances of my life. I remember it that way still today. He died the next year in 1964 of lung cancer.
We loved Chicago so very much and would have stayed there after Gene graduated if it hadn’t been for the winter weather. I can remember the icy wind whipping off the lake almost blowing you off your feet and making your knees bleed. It was soooo cold!
We did return to New Orleans and set up an Orthodontic practice on what is called the west bank of the city. Ten year later our marriage ended in divorce. I have spent about thirty years being mad at Gene for messing up my dream. Just a few years ago I decided to bury the hatchet, so to speak, and “forgave him.”
You see I finally have figured out that my dream may not have been his dream. I figured out that life goes on and goes on very well by you. I figured out that I could be in charge of my own destiny and be happy and successful. I figured out that no one promises you a “rose garden” unless it’s an exceptional person that you just haven’t meant.
In forgiving Gene I have found he has become my new “BFF” and that makes me happy.
So my lesson on living well today and for the rest of your life is to “forgive.”
Do it now “Forgive” because it’s freeing and can release so much tension and unhappiness in your life.
Write me if this lesson suggestion “to forgive” has helped you!