Sunday, March 21, 2010

Orphanage: Pt 1

After I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I had been adopted from the Lake Bluff Orphanage in illinois, I received an email from a man who was doing a documentary on the orphanage, which had since closed. Iwas shocked, until he said that he had heard about my mention of the orphanage from an article in a community web newsletter, by someone who had apparently flagged the name and had told part of my story on their website! Here is that email:

Dear Linda, My name is Kraig xxx. I am forty-four years old and a lifelong resident of Lake Bluff, Illinois, where the orphanage you were adopted from was once located. If you happen to get some e-mails or posts from people in town this week, know that it’s because “The Gazebo News”, which is the official Lake Bluff web news site posted a link to your story.

My childhood home was just four doors down from the orphanage. My brother and I played with kids from the orphanage and one child (now a man) is a good friend and was in my wedding as well as my brother’s wedding. I was so touched and moved by your story. The irony and timing of reading your story is even more incredible. You see, the orphanage is no longer here. It was torn down in the 1979, much to the dismay of many disheartened community members. When the orphanage was closed, the name changed to Childserve and offices were relocated to another community about 15 mines north of here.

This year, The Vliet Historical Center in Lake Bluff received a huge box of information containing orphanage scrap books of pictures, news paper clippings, etc. from Childserve dating back to 1900 when the orphanage began. Also included were journals and photo albums from many of the superintendents that ran the orphanage. I have been “sifting through" all this stuff for the past two months because I am currently in the process of writing and producing a documentary about the orphanage with another lady in town, Cathy xxx. We are not a professional film makers, but we love to make movies on subjects we are passionate about.

So here’s what I can tell you that might fill in some blanks: The building at the top of your page is the Mackey Memorial Building. It was one of eight-red Georgian brick buildings that took up an entire block which was the orphanage. The picture of you below with your adoptive mother is taken on the front steps of the Mackey Memorial Building. The gray-haired lady to the left is Ms. Margaret Brooks, the 3rd superintendent of the orphanage in 1942. The other woman is not familiar to me.

Many of the new infants spent their first few months in the nursery at the Swift Health Care Building (located just 100 yards east of the Mackey Memorial Building) or at Mackey. The Mackey Memorial Building was the built as the primary replacement school building.The first floor contained school classrooms, a nursery and administrative offices for the staff. The second floor contained more classroom space, a library, chapel and a room for tutoring. The basement space was used primarily for industrial education space, including a print shop, wood shop, shoe repair and clothes shop and club rooms. Mrs. McIntosh & her husband, a wealthy Lake Forest couple, donated the funds for the building and requested no expense be spared to make it as attractive as possible for the children.

I have an original short 10 minute video (8 mm film) that was taken in 1931 that brings everything to life that I’ve had transferred to DVD that I’d be happy to send to you. It’s pretty rough and jumps around alot like much of the film taken at that time. There are some quick shots of the nursery that you more than likely spent the first three months of your life at. I also will keep my eyes open for pictures and the time that you were there. Because you were there for a short time, odds of a picture, other than the one you already have, may be rare. Most of the pictures seem to be of kids ages 2 to 10 years who spent many years of their lives at the facility. If you would like to send me your mailing address, please feel free and I’ll send a copy of the DVD to you. My cell number if you wish to talk is xxxx.

After the initial shock of reading this email, which came totally out of the blue, I went to the website that had apparently referenced my post, and when I read it I was momentarily confused, thinking that I was reading about someone who had a similar story to mine! Realizing they were talking about me, I left a comment about my shock and a little about how I felt about being adopted and the hole it leaves in your history.

True to his word, Kraig sent the cd, and I was so touched by seeing actual 'life' at the orphanage, knowing that but for the luck of the draw I could have been one of those children who went into toddler-hood and beyond there, but also knowing that one of those people in this 1938 footage could have been someone who actually held me all those years later in 1948.

Ok, fast forward to January 2010. I remembered that Kraig had said that he planned on presenting his documentary in December 2009, and wrote to ask him how it had gone. This was his response:

Good to hear from you. I haven't spoken to you in awhile, so some updates: This has taken me on a journey FAR more than I ever thought when I started the project. My original thought was to tell how the orphanage got started, how it ran in the early days and the important people that made that happen, and then close with the closing and destruction of the buildings - end of story.

What has happened in the process of researching and contacting countless people to tell the story has lead to a story of reuniting old friends and staff. I've been able to reunite kids who were at the orphanage for many years of their lives and who had lost track of their friends - many of which were basically their only family growing up. This has taken me to New Mexico, Denver and other places in Illinois I can drive to. I'll be going to Arizona in March.

I may even come to see you - if that's okay somewhere down the road to have you tell your story. So that being said ... I realized a few months ago that this story is not going to be finished until NEXT Christmas. I think the last time we were in contact it was over 4 or 5 months ago when I thought I could have this done by this X-Mas.

So, if you were under the assumption that my adoption story was would be wrong! Because today, Sunday March 21, I have received yet another email from Kraig. More about that later. (to be continued...)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blog Anniversay

During the pain and sickness of the last month, I missed noting my blog anniverary - one year on Feb. 25. It's been an interesting year, I've met so many nice people, and I've learned a lot about myself, what I like and don't like. Like what, you might ask?

(1) I learned that as much as I like to write, I'm not really an author or an entertainer. I pretty much write as if I'm talking to someone in person, which is funny since I probably wouldn't be talking to you if you were here in person (we all know I have socialization issues!). There's not a lot of razzle dazzle or anything really educational, and to me seems almost boring, but also like talking to a neighbor over the fence. I've talked about bluebirds, snakes, flowers, pets, grandkids, driving down country roads, clouds, my 'stuff', pee on public toilet seats, cuckoo clocks, and adoption, childbirth, and miscarriages.

(2) I'm not attracted to a lot of razzle dazzle blogs, but rather to bloggers who talk from the heart and seem like regular everyday people I might meet over the back fence or in line at the grocery store, like Ginger with her chickens and Susie with her homemade dog treats. We have enough things in common to share an email here and there on this and that, and that's the part I really enjoy.

(3) I'm attracted to people who are 'flawed' in some way, like Annie at Quiet Commotion, who are working thru issues from a dysfunctional past or poor health and are not afraid to share their thoughts and feelings about it. This isn't surprising, since I had a dysfunctional past, and also wanted to be a social worker at one point in my life. Like I'm always saying, I love the blood and guts of what makes up a person's life along with the joys and triumphs.

(4) It took a while, but I finally found the older generation out there. In the beginning, because I was following my niece Wendy, I was seeing mostly stay-at-home moms and home schoolers, and a lot of crafters and ebayers. Then somewhere along the way I stumbled onto Julie at Midlife Jobhunter, and thru her blog list I found my 'niche'. Not that I don't enjoy the younger moms and women and their trip thru the adventure I've already been on, but I also like being able to talk about my grandsons with those who won't find it boring! And then there's Bernie at Old, Who Me? who is writing from her eighth decade of life!

(5) I'm attracted to people who love animals. Dana and I shared a gazillion emails about the death of her beloved Lucky and then the adoption of her new fella, Beau, and Donna and I have shared training ideas for her rescue Izzy. But even if it's just someone who loves their pet enough to show a photo now and then or who includes their pet in family news, like Mary's humongus poodle Griphon, that's the kind of person I like to read.
(6) I found a few men out there! Glenn and his down-home tales and short stories, Tim who writes quirky posts and poetry that he knows I don't 'get' but read anyway, and Dan and Ron who are photograhers who share their view of the world thru a lens.

(7) Comments are my favorite part of blogging (like you didn't know that already!). I've been known to leave comments longer than the other person's post, and I read all the comments that others leave on other's posts.

Well, I could go on and on. My follower list is pretty short compared to most of my readers, and my blog list isn't too long either. But that's fine with me - I think it feels more intimate. I won't link to everyone, as all you have to do is look at my list! In addition to the ones I've mentioned above, there's Lorna and her search for a healthy life, Ethlemae who writes the most incredibly detailed and entertaining stories of her real life, Renee with her three sons, Missy with her book reviews, Bernie at On My Own who is the nicest and most inspiring person I have ever 'met', Rosaria raising my social consciousness and sharing her passion for writing memoirs and encouraging others to do the same. I know I'm missing some, but my hands are getting tired of typing, and you'll know you're on my radar because I visit you on a regular basis!

In looking back over the posts I've done this last year - approximately 123 if you include those still in draft - I do have a few favorites, including Confessions of a Demented Mawmaw about my temper, Watch Out for the Animals about keeping an eye on our neighbors dogs, the one about the suicide of my brother-in-law titled How Do You Get That Lonely, and the series about our baby bluebird.

What about you? Is there any post or topic in particular that keeps you coming back to visit me?
If you haven't guessed already, this post is a thanks to all of you for stopping in to visit, for wandering to MY wayside, and for sharing yours with me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Eva Jean

After several weeks of stomach virus and mind numbing back and hip pain, I haven't been able to focus on anything long enough to write about it. But I figure I can't go wrong with some photos of the white goddess.

Eva Jean and her flying duck taking a nap.

Enjoying a rare warm winter afternoon.

Indulging in an afternoon nap with blankie.
Tonight brings another time change ... bringing us closer to spring! It can't come soon enough for me! I look forward to seeing everyone's photos of spring flowers.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday's Favorites: Kitchen Window

You may have heard me say that I have a really small kitchen, which means I also have a really small kitchen window. Like the buffet I've written about before, I have a tradition of what I put in any of my kitchen windows, the same thing every time: the stain glass flower that my sister-in-law, Sandy, made for me; a yellow flower pot that we inherited with the house we bought in 1974 with an ancestor of the ivy that was in it at that time, my bluebird sun catchers, old bottles that we've collected over the years, and seed packages.

Although the window is small, it looks out onto a large yard, only just coming into it's fourth summer of being somewhat landscaped. There were no trees or bushes when we moved here in Dec. 2005. On the horizon is the green area I've talked about before (the hundred year flood zone), where just today I watched a heron glide in and make a graceful landing, and where I look toward the awesome sunsets that we get all year round.

The photo above was taken when the rose of sharon was in it's first year of blooming, and the dogwood tree was also only two or three years old. The hummingbird feeder is hanging off the side of the deck and usually covered with and surrounded by hummingbirds, so we get to see them up close and personal as it's only three feet from the window.

This is about 7am on a foggy morning, with the moon still up in the sky. The crepe myrtles are so heavy with blooms and dew that they were dragging the ground.
So although the window is small, it looks out onto many wonders of nature. I can hardly wait until this coming spring and summer, when the bushes and trees will be reaching their maturity, and the cherry tree next to the deck will be tall enough so that we will be eye to eye any birds that nest there up. Only a few more months!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Must Read

If you haven't been to visit her already for this week's post, jump over to Ethelmae's place to read this story, the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Not only a review of a book about an incredible and true story that you probably heard about in the news, but how this true story touched her own life. She can spin quite a tale, this Ethelmae!