Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving in Chicago 50 years ago (c) J Pritikin

There is a story that movie star Dorothy Lamour was discovered working as an elevator operator at Chicago's Marshall Field. I have a similar Marshall Field story.  My second lover was discovered while I was working there as a furniture salesman.  I was on the eighth floor near the State Street bank of elevators when I noticed a good looking young elevator operator. I watched for him every time the door opened to let customers in or out. Sometimes I saw him eating alone on the twelfth floor employee’s cafeteria where I often ate with a few gay friends.  I pointed him out to them as a possible Mrs. Pritikin. Then he disappeared.  One of my friends advised me that he was working in the Marshall Field Mail Catalog Department and that his name was Charles.
The day before Thanksgiving I decided to call Charles after looking up his department in the employee telephone directory. At about two in the afternoon I dialed the number and he answered the phone. I said I would like to place an order – for him. There was a pause, after which he asked me to call him at home later that night.  I did. I asked if he would like to go out with me that evening but rather than go out, he wanted me to come over to his place on North Dearborn where he was renting a studio apartment in an old mansion.          

 When I walked up the stairs to ring the bell I noticed several people looking out a first floor window. Along with Charles they all rented rooms in the house.  They invited me into the largest apartment which had once been the library.  They confessed that they had been watching for me but with trepidation as quite a few shabby people had walked by carrying alcohol in brown bags.  They were relieved by my appearance when I came up the stairs. After a few drinks with the group, Charles walked me back to his room.  He told me he was nineteen and had moved from a small city about an hour west of Chicago.  After we chatted for awhile he invited me to stay the night.  There was not much in the room; mainly an old TV that one had to put a quarter in to get it to play for an hour and a pull-out sofa.  The next morning I was thrilled when he confided that he had never been with anyone before me.
That day was Thanksgiving.  I was supposed to go to my sister’s house for dinner  but after I found out that he had no plans for the day I called her to excuse myself from the commitment without telling her why.  We had breakfast at a local greasy spoon then went downtown to see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane at the Chicago Theater. After the movie we celebrated Thanksgiving with dinner at Henrici's Restaurant before returning to the Dearborn Street apartment for another night of bliss on the uncomfortable sofa.  A couple of weeks later he moved into my Hudson Street apartment.  My parents had been expecting me to visit them at their home in Miami over the Christmas holidays but by then I was too much in love to leave Chicago.

Our 2nd Anniversary fell on the day President Kennedy was killed.  Shortly after, I asked Charlie if he would like to move to San Francisco where I had lived for a short time in 1960.  I bought a used '57 Buick and we left for the west coast by way of Miami to finally visit my parents.  We arrived in San Francisco on Washington's Birthday, celebrated in 1964 on the 22nd of February.  My life with Charles lasted until 1968.   Both of our lives were changed forever because I had ordered him from the Marshall Field Mail Order Catalog fifty years ago.  What a magical day that was back in 1962.

1 comment:

Michael Lehet said...

That's a wonderful memory Jerry - thanks for sharing it!

Happy Thanksgiving.

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