Hostile Innuendo | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Hostile Innuendo


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To the editors:

As a twenty-year resident of that "neat and clean" red and white house, just across the street from the new vacant lot (and we don't paint every year), I can't help asking, "Who is Marion Karczmar, and why is she writing such strange things about us Cleveland Avenue residents?" ("Tina and Rosie Don't Live Here Anymore," April 22.)

The best thing about our block is and always has been the variety represented by the buildings and their occupants. Yuppie lawyers and brokers and executives (the "snooty, well-groomed newcomers," no doubt), the "aging old guard," and even the occasional neer-do-well tenant have managed to live here in comparative harmony. We'll miss Tina's and Rosie's watchful eyes and willingness to accept UPS packages in a block nearly deserted on weekdays. There's no better security than nosy neighbors who are at home a lot. We'll miss Tina's concern for the few neighborhood children. We'll miss those fattening block party goodies, even though spinach quiche and Perrier have joined the cakes and beer in recent years. Where was Marion last January when we block residents gathered at a farewell party for Tina and Rosie and met the young broker whose house is scheduled to rise from the vacant lot?

It was my husband, that Republican motorcycle lover, who organized the first block party many years ago. Assorted neighbors old and new have helped coordinate block parties over the years. Rosie's son and sometime tenant (yes, he is her son, and he does work for the city) usually arranged for the party permits. We have all been grateful for Tina's and Rosie's help. Surely no one has ever been forced to attend one of those parties.

Incidentally, Tina's tenants included her son and her grandson as well, as any block resident should know. Why all the hostile innuendo? And since when have obesity, a loud voice, and cooking with garlic been crimes?

I don't mind being described as someone "almost never seen in the neighborhood." After all, as a full-time college professor and a part-time graduate student, I don't have much time to sit on the front stoop. But apparently invisibility is no more admirable than was Tina's and Rosie's constant, audible presence. I can only hope that Marion will soon be able to flee to a suburb where the life-style will suit her discriminating tastes and the residents will meet her standards of genteel and sophisticated behavior.

By the way, as almost any Cleveland Avenue resident could have reported, Tina's most famous culinary achievement is mostaccioli--but I realize that's harder to spell than lasagna.

Marlys Styne

N. Cleveland

Marion Karczmar replies:

Mrs. Styne has erroneously interpreted my objective description of what I observed on a block on Cleveland Avenue as "hostile innuendo"; she has attributed some judgments that are not to be found anywhere in the article. I never referred to or even thought of "obesity, a loud voice, and cooking with garlic" as crimes. Nor did I anywhere suggest that invisibility is a bad thing. I merely express reality as I perceive it. Mrs. Styne hopes for my departure to the suburbs; apparently her tolerance of diversity does not extend to me.

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