The Opera Lesson

Lydia Lombardo

Pigeon 01“Remember Colombino,” said my dad, “no matter what you do in life, always do your very best.” Now Colombino was not my given name; it was my Dad’s way of telling me he loved me by calling me “little pigeon” in Italian. He was never demonstrative in his affection – I seldom saw my mother and him embrace, but I knew he loved me, and he showed me in so many ways.

One way was his daily invitation, when I was old enough to leave my mother and the back of the store where we lived, to come “help” him in his shop. A cobbler who learned his trade when he emigrated from Sicily at the age of 16, he considered repairing shoes and leather garments an art. He never used anything but the finest materials and was so meticulous in his stitching and dyeing that customers seldom could find where the tear had been.

Because his little shop was located in what is now known as Wrigleyville, he became the repair expert for the Chicago Cubs, and I remember players  (More…)

Zooming With My Family

Diane Russell

zoom-appNo doubt you now have heard of Zoom, which is used extensively to conduct virtual meetings since the spread of COVID-19.  OLLI also is considering its use for group communications.

Have you considered using Zoom to keep in touch with your family?

One of my sisters and her family live in Chicagoland, while my other sister lives in Tucson. We were together as a group most recently on Christmas Day in 2018. When my 30-year-old niece, Amy, suggested that we gather virtually using Zoom, I literally jumped at the chance.  Instead of gathering as Brady Bunch heads to share our recent safer-at-home stories, we danced!   (More …)

Tails of Love

Don Menzel

I’m an admitted forever hopeless doggie addict. It all began when I was a fifth or sixth grader in my little home town where dogs ran free and nobody locked the doors of their homes. Must have been around 1949.  “Blackie”  and I roamed the town free as the wind. He was a cocker spaniel mix and a fierce defender of me when any of my buddies, some of whom were bullies, gave me a hard time. He didn’t know many commands, but there was one he always knew: Sic, sic, sic! Given this command, he would bolt after any person or dog or cat, whatever. And, he knew how to bite. In those days, a dog that didn’t bite was not a good dog.

Blackie was totally obedient when I whistled for him. Every winter I had to make sure his doggie house could withstand the cold blustery winter wind and snow that came howling over the Illinois plains. My mother never allowed him in the house, no matter how cold it got, and cold winters are ever present in Central Illinois.  (More…)

The “Art” of Riding Roller Coasters with Tom

Diane Russell

It was love at first sight. They met eating dinner outside at A1A Café in downtown Brandon, Florida, in October 1994. They clicked because of an unusual talent that they shared: the love of drawing cartoons!

They compared notes about drawing styles as well as unusual body and facial shapes throughout the meal and laughed often. They lingered over evening goodbyes. While one of them lived in Brandon, the other one lived in Des Plaines, Illinois. Would they ever see each other again?

I am describing the first time that my father Art, a professional cartoonist, met my future husband Tom, a high school art teacher who had drawn Popeye flip cartoons as a kid.  My dad was sold on Tom as a possible boyfriend for me after that first meeting and was determined to help out our interactions in any way that he could.  (More…)