22.02.2012 - 22.02.2012 10 °C
What can one say and how can you encompass so many emotions into one day? We started a little late to miss the peak hour traffic and Daryl gave me a tour of Chicago South side which has fallen on hard times, we saw a lot of houses for sale and drove past Daryl’s childhood home which is in an area that is covered with Chicago Bungalow’s and all look the same and the owners have done their best to try and stand out in some way. I was struck by the number of churches that line nearly all the strip malls in the area. Some are regular churches but many just shop fronts called MB’s or Mission Baptist with some very strange names reflecting some very strange beliefs and even more strange people hanging around outside.
We then drove into Chicago proper; one of the things that we saw was the monument that has been erected above the place where the atom was split for the first time launching the world into the Nuclear Age, with all its ramifications. This is one of the oldest universities in the States and was created by an endowment from the Rockefeller’s. Although it is winter it has a ghostly magnificence with all the trees laid bare waiting for the spring to arrive.
We had lunch with Bridget, one of Daryl’s friends at ‘Nookies Too’ in North Halsted Street where the food and the service was excellent. Bridget is a part time comedienne and also works as a special needs teacher which is really tough. I have met many people on this trip and I am more tha ever convinced that people are good and I have found quite a number who simply make me proud to be around them. It was a good lunch but the company, as always, made it better.
In this Gay sector of the Chicago Community is also found the Salvation Army Officers Training College, which in past eras has caused some concern but has now, I understand come to terms with its situation and is very supportive to the local ethos, perhaps guardedly but has a strong presence there. As we walked past we saw an officer, Major Lori Meyer walking her dog. Of course we stopped to say hello and explained who we were and were invited in to see the Training College. This was really very generous and we spent nearly two hours looking at all the parts of this great complex. We toured the Old Building ‘Booth Manor’ and saw the Sessional Flags in the Lecture Hall, but could not find the ‘Undaunted Flag’, we even saw the ‘Attic’ where all the sessions have become graffiti artists and left their mark, I found the undaunted scribble and it did not appear that they were blessed with creativity.
Daryl is also a very good writer and writes for Sally publications but he also has this prodigious memory and he has an immense knowledge of Salvation Army History on a global scale but also within his home Territory and he asked Major Lori about her birth name and when she responded, Daryl knew all about her family and that she had 4 sisters and they were all Salvation Army Officers. As we walked through the Salvation Army Cemetery the evening before we had also seen the graves of her parents. Daryl asked if he could tell their story in an upcoming publication, and I witnessed one of those tender moments when emotion promised to spill over when Daryl explained how he wanted to tell their families poignant story for the encouragement of his readers. It was a beautiful moment outside the lift in the basement that I will never need a photograph to remember.
We also met her Husband Major Tim Mayer who is the Flugal Horn Player in the Chicago Staff Band, and we had seen him on the video the night before. We saw a whole lot of memorabilia and it was a great time that we spent with Lori in the Chicago Training College. It also brought back great memories of my time within the hallowed walls of ‘My College’.
We then visited some famous landmarks around Chicago and saw the spot where the Valentine’s Day Massacre took place and Daryl was able to tell me all about it and where John Dillinger was shot outside the 'Biorama', and also we went to the place, Mrs O’Leary’s Barn, where the great Chicago fire started on October the 8th 1871, its now the site of the Chicago Fire Departments Training facility, which is appropriate.
Then it was off to the freeways to return to Romeoville. We watched a couple more hours of the ISB’s 120th Celebration Concert at the Royal Albert Hall and there was a break from the Bands when the International Songsters sang, and who should sing the solo part in one of their numbers and there was Kerry Sampson, the daughter of Brian and Shirley (PtG) Sampson, singing the solo. She is now I understand the Songster Leader of the Regent Hall Corps and of course she sang well, I had a moment of bursting pride for Brian and Shirley.
It really was a great day and I saw so many things that a regular tourist would not see. I cemented a friendship with a new friend and although the body clock was still a little unsure of itself I felt as if this had been a great day.
Then it was packing again