6C Chicago Bohemian Society
October 30, 2007
The three cousins told the rest of us (privately, out of earshot of our aunts) that Diana had so dominated their father, the doctor, that he died a “broken man.” I was not surprised, though I fond Diana less irritating than I had found my Grandmother Agnes.
After Grandfather Harry had died, broken or not I don’t know, Agnes had left Chicago and come to live with Naomi in Orange County, California, so I do remember her. I did not like her, but then I didn’t like most of my family very much.
My three sisters had apparently been part of bohemian Chicago society in the 1930s. I can drop a couple of famous names, at least in retrospect. Apparently my family knew the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, at least slightly. I believe when I was a baby I was introduced to him once, or at least displayed to him.
(Although my daughter did not know Frank Lloyd Wright, she has a strong dislike of him and his work. I have not discussed this with her in detail, but Wright’s life was filled with commotion and turmoil. He does sound like a bit of a jerk, although perhaps a very talented jerk.)
My Aunt Naomi once told me that she and the other bohemians of her time used to sit in cafes and talk about the great novels they were going to write, and other works of art they were going to create, but in most cases they just talked about them and never got around to actually doing the writing and creating.
To illustrate the value of hard work, Naomi told me that one of the members of the café society would disappear for long periods of time, and actually write a novel. Several more books appeared over the years. His name was Nelson Algren. His most famous book (which I’ve never gotten around to reading) is Man with the Golden Arm, a book about morphine addiction.
Algren who had been in jail (for a minor crime) like many people of his time was a leftist and an advocate and spokesman for the poor and outcasts of society. I don’t know if the comparison fits, but I think of him as sort of the “Jack Kerouac” of his time.
As bohemians, my father’s three sisters all had artistic ambitions. Although she did not become a famous ballerina, Naomi did dance professionally. Apparently the apex of her dance career was dancing in the chorus line of a road company production of the famous Musical Oklahoma.
As I mentioned, Diana became involved (like her mother) in children’s theater. My impression is that the work she did in this area was not as dreadfully awful as her mother’s. Next, Henriette the opera singer.