Last Saturday morning Nina Sandlin gave the initial yank on a cord attached to a white sleeve covering a new street sign at the southeast corner of Wilson and Artesian. Then she said she bet some small volunteers would like to take over, and she stepped aside when three children promptly stepped up. Nina watched with the rest of us as the sleeve fell away, and the corner assumed its new identity as the Honorary Lee Sandlin Way. Nina pointed out her second-floor apartment on the far side of Artesian and told the crowd that now, when she looks out her window, she'll see this tribute to her late husband. Lee Sandlin wrote some of the finest journalism the Reader'
s ever published, and then one acclaimed book after another until his sudden death
last December silenced him.
About a hundred people gathered for the short ceremony, which fortunately was carried out in the shade and concluded by the time the day's heat started to bite. Forty-Seventh Ward alderman Ameya Pawar said a few words, and so did several friends. Refreshments and a collection of Lee's books were set out on the front porch of the house on the corner.
Nina Sandlin came to Pawar with her idea of an honorary street designation, and once she'd shown that her neighbors were solidly behind it, the alderman was an enthusiastic ally. She tells me, "Seriously, it's pretty easy to get one of those brown signs. They are everywhere, and there are thousands of them in Chicago (just see HonoraryChicago.com
—Linda Zabors is the founder of it). So some might think it's not a huge honor. But my feeling about that is, sure a lot of authors are in the library. But hey, Shakespeare is in there. Dickens is in there. It is a fine place to be."