My fellow displaced Saints fans without tickets to Sunday’s game are gathering at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, Illinois. That makes it old home week. Twenty years ago I was features editor at the Berwyn / Cicero LIFE Newspaper.
Cicero is where Al Capone retired. Little old ladies willing to talk say he kept a nice garden and minded his own business. The glamour part of the job was asking Vlasta Sneeburger, America’s polka queen, about her appearances on the Late Show. Berwyn is the home of one of the biggest elderly populations in the country, so when there were no other stories available I would hang out at the senior center for gossip. One couple reunited after a high school falling out. “Couple Scratches 65-year Itch” was our headline.
The senior experience is coming in handy - my dad went into a nursing home this week. I’ve been feeding him dinner because his new thing is getting his hand almost to his mouth then changing his mind about the whole endeavor. Between our Native American heritage and Dalton Gang ancestors, it’s like trying to feed combined Cowboys and Indians with Alzheimer’s. He tried to snatch someone else’s dinner tonight because his took too long to get to the table. Almost got it, too.
They play country music on a continuous loop in the cafeteria. But thanks to the hurricane, at least I get to be there to listen to country music and spoon mashed potatoes into my angry father who sometimes tries to steer the spoon back toward me. And I'm there to write "Dr." on his glasses before his name to help him remember.
Leon Redbone played Fitzgerald’s Wednesday and says the Mayan calendar gives us six years to exist as a planet. That’s not too long to have to feed someone. And at least those six years will include the Saints winning on Sunday. I was probably one of the only people in Chicago to fall asleep when the Bears won the Superbowl. I was at a Superbowl party so no, not a big sports fan, but the Saints are going to win.
For New Orleans, for our last six years as a planet, for my last 17 months as a nomad, for my husband whose ‘67 Galaxie 500 had the original Saints sticker on it and is now imploded (the car, not Jeff), the Saints are going to win.
Bill Fitzgerald is generously giving NOLAChain Chicago and New Orleans Musician Relief Fund friends the Side Bar to watch the game. I’m lobbying for the main bar, as nobody puts Baby in the corner. Sports fans rarely get Dirty Dancing references, so nobody puts Saints Fans in the corner. Bill has legitimate concerns about our cheering as the Bears lose and getting the crowd worked up, but that will ensure that I’m awake for the whole game.
Fitzgerald’s is where I started doing Poetry Slams and singing acapella songs in the 80s. In the 90’s my husband met me singing acapella at Carrolton Station in New Orleans. Last Jazz Fest we met Bill Fitzgerald at Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge. Some of my best friends are bars, and they eventually tie everything back together.
The Road Home Program has spent $19 million on employee travel but does not have the budget to itemize. They have now distributed 200 grants to New Orleaneans. If Leon Redbone’s Mayan calendar is right, maybe that won’t seem so horrifying in 2013.
It gives Louisiana time to win 6 more Superbowls and get out at least 66 more Road Home Grants. These days, the road is the same coming back.