How I Came To Be Me

This is my first blog post. I am so excited to be sharing stories from my life with all of you I hardly know where to begin. Like any new friendship, you should understand a little of how I came to be me.

I will start by saying that in the mid-‘60s, I realized that men were the moneymakers in the world and their type of work was very different from what was expected of women. I decided that the only way to get ahead was to work in men’s fields. That decision not only increased my income, my life suddenly became a lot more interesting.  The details of most of the jobs belong in the blog but a brief list of my careers includes but is not limited to: preschool teacher, dancing teacher, school bus driver, driving teacher, waitress and cook in various restaurants and owner of a restaurant and bar. However, the work I most loved and from which I retired was as one of the original female police officers allowed to work in the squad cars with male officers. My working experience over 25 years was exciting. I received many Honorable Mentions as a police officer and Field Training Officer; each is a memory and has a story. Oh yes, I also fought City Hall and won!

My personal life has been out of the ordinary as well. There is my unusual upbringing with 3 mothers and 2 fathers - all through death not divorce.  Between the adoption, deaths and marriages, when I was 14 years old, one of my ‘new’ aunts asked how happy I was with a new mother to take care of me. I committed the faux pas of being as honest as a teen can get when they forget sometimes people might actually pay attention to what they say, “Personally, if I’d been my Mom I would have carefully considered the consequences of marrying my Dad. Somehow, none of my parents seem to last very long.” The total silence afterward sure let me know that was a truly “OOOPPPSS!!” moment.

If that wasn’t enough, within a month of my birth I ended up in Cook County Hospital contagious ward with erysipelas – a type of infection related to rheumatic fever and over 95% fatal in 1940. My new adoptive parents were told to buy a grave for me and they did. As you can see, I never needed to use the grave and my Dad was able to be put to rest with one wife on each side of him.

I born with a major birth defect, a full cleft palate, & this required me to be put into a special program that was then known as the “University of Illinois: Division of Services for Crippled Children (DSCC)”. Every year for my first 6 years I spent a couple of weeks in St. Mary of Nazareth hospital for surgery on my cleft palate.

When one of my mothers died a natural death, a peculiar set of circumstances sent me to live at Angel Guardian Orphanage at 2001 Devon Ave in Chicago. I spent 4 years in that Dickensian Orphanage and really resented being there when all I was missing was a mother. So I ran away – bad move! All my worldly possessions were bundled in a crocheted scarf with 1 inch holes all over. I was lucky that all I lost was my toothbrush, a small comb and my dignity when the cops hauled me in for being AWOL from the Orphanage. The nuns forgave the first runaway attempt although I was beaten with the edge of a yardstick but the second time runaways had their heads shaved.

Quite aside from the fun and terror I had as a Chicago street cop, I’ve raised a daughter who is severely hearing impaired - but don’t tell her that. Her ability to live and work in the hearing world has been phenomenal. I have a son who had a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), from a motorcycle accident when he was 24 years old. I’m very cognizant of the problems and programs available to these adults with brain injury. Remember, even a stroke is considered a TBI. I’ve fought insurance companies and won. TBI is part of the multitude of casualties that afflict returning servicemen and women from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. My son was a non-combat veteran and is now involved in a Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse with many other service veterans who also have TBI from combat.

I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends and family throughout my life. My interests spread far beyond the life I’ve described above. I’m an artist whose paintings and multi-media pieces have appeared in various juried shows. I’ll try to include some type of drawing with each post as I go along and as soon as I set up my studio for simple line drawing. As for schooling, I’ve gone to school like some women coffee-klatch. I’m sure I have over 120 hours of college but it’s spread over so many areas that I probably couldn’t gather enough hours in the same subject to qualify even a single two-year degree.

However, the real purpose of this blog is not to just tell you about me but to find people who are interested in sharing their own experiences with me. I want this to be a dialog with you. It is my hope that you, the reader, and I, the writer, will connect in ways we can presently only imagine. I chose the name “Digressions” for my blog because that’s a tendency I have with my friends. I have yet to have any kind of a conversation with friends without digressing and then more digressing; eventually we realize we’ve covered new theories of anthropology, art, people, writing, books and even aging. In my retirement I have started an art project that I hope will outlive me, a fish pond within a unique setting.

I have a special love for Chicago. In fact, I can’t think of any real reason that I’d ever want to leave this city. I love the neighborhoods, its rowdy and often seamy politics and its wonderful lake front.

I am basically a night person.  As much as I try, I don’t manage to wake up early in the day so my posts are likely to be every night – late at night.  On the other hand, I intend to post something 5 days a week.  I want to say Monday through Friday but depending on the time I actually post, it’ll probably be Tuesday through Saturday.

I also would like to have different topics for different days.

For example:

  • Mondays will continue the story of how I got to be me.
  • Tuesdays will be  things I’ve learned about anthropology, art and even my never-ending project – my fish pond.
  • Wednesdays will be stories about the various jobs I’ve had and there are some very unusual tales.  Many of these are not ‘war stories’ from the CPD but I won’t hesitate to include some of them.
  • Thursdays will be more of a law, medical, technical kind of blog…I do not mean IT or any of this new fangled stuff but more like if someone wants to know something about a topic I’ve addressed, I’ll try to answer. I must stress over and over, I am not a lawyer!! As a Chicago Police Officer, I was an ‘Officer of the Court’ for 25 years. Plus, I simply love the law! I cannot and will not ever advise on the law but I will try to explain in layman's terms what certain things mean and why/how they are used. Also, I am not a doctor!! However, as a layperson and the medical problems I’ve had and my children have had, I’ve learned how to navigate the medical system and insurance companies. I cannot and will not give any medical advise but I'll do my best to explain things that you've been told and if you want to ask questions, feel free to do so.
  • Fridays – well, Fridays will be for all kinds of Digressions.

I'm new at this blogging business so I may have no success in trying to keep to any plans or ideas such as I've pasted above.  But I'll try.

Above all, I love the people of Chicago. I want to hear from all of you.

Filed under: Autobiographical


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  • Nice first post. Very unique life experiences you bring to the table.

    If you want to interact with a wide range of interesting Chicagoans, then you've come to the right place, everybody here is really cool.....expect for Jimmy Greenfield, and those guys that write lists, also there's this one gay dude that should use spellchecker more. Other than that, cool place and cool people, some are even quite attractive (Exhibit A: gwill).

  • In reply to gwill:

    I looked for you in ChicagoNow but couldn't find you. I'm so new at this stuff that I need someone tyo lead me by the hand to get somewhere on the site. Can you please give me instructions on how to find you? Thanks Dorothy

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    You are awesome. I am so excited for you. You have such a wealth of knowledge. I'm happy you have the chance to share it with us all.
    Best wishes on your success!! Mary

  • In reply to Mary Demas:

    Hi Mary,

    I'm still trying to get a handle on this new information technology.


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