Once upon a time there was a little girl
growing up in Hyde Park. Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois, United
States of America, Earth! That's what she used to say when someone
would ask her where she was from. Her parents had taught her
to say, "Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois" and the street
address, too, in case she was ever lost. Then she could tell
someone her address and a nice person would bring her home. But
she liked to add 'United States of America, Earth' because it
sounded so 'grown up'. She was, you see, just a very little girl.
When she became an elderly lady, she still
remembered that address. But if she were lost and asked you,
a fellow Hyde Parker, to help her find her way home, I'm afraid
that you wouldn't be able to. I'm not saying this to be insulting.
There is a very good reason. I'll give you a hint. When she was
a very little girl, she lived on Oak Street. Ah! I see you think
you have this licked. You would take her to downtown Chicago.
But she lived in Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois, United States
of America, Earth, remember? Surely you can't have forgotten
what she remembered for 96 years! I see that you are mystified.
Allow me to explain.
In 1909, the city of Chicago modified street
numbers and names. In other words, they changed them! Oak street
was renamed 53rd. Now that sounds familiar, doesn't it? Changing
street names is something that time travelers don't take into
consideration. Obviously, they should! They could get turned
around and lost quite easily.
But let's return to our elderly lady. One
day as I sat with her, I gazed at her crinkled, friendly face
and asked her if she had ever been my age. It seemed hard to
believe but she assured me that she had. In fact, when she was
a little girl, Hyde Park was also quite young. You might say
they grew up together.
I asked her to tell me what she remembered
about Hyde Park. After all, street names were not the only things
to change. She seemed delighted by my unexpected request but
a little uncertain of where to begin.
I suggested our church, since that was
where we were sitting, waiting for the rain to stop. As it turns
out, she knew a lot about the church! Like the downpour outside,
she drenched me with wave after wave of memories. Some of them
fit together, like the parts of a story. Other memories spilled
over and spread out, like pages taken from different books. I
was able to capture some of them, like fluttering butterflies,
and present them below. But I might have a few misplaced facts,
or the sequence not quite right. Therefore, don't think of this
as a story. Instead, think of it as an old-fashioned slide show
peppered with her memories of the early days in Hyde Park, particularly
the first church.