Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-02-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Chicago Whispers
by Sukie de la Croix

facebook twitter stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Excerpts from an interview with a 64 year old woman

"I joined the Air Force when I was 21 years old and I had a homosexual affair before I left, but I was never in a gay environment. I didn´t even know what the word meant. I never heard the word gay. Anyway, I joined the Air Force and then I was in a gay environment.

"I looked the part, I always dressed the part, and I never knew I was. I remember when I was young, just dating, I remember blowing smoke into other girls´ mouths and getting pleasure out of that. We were young and we were experimenting with cigarettes at the time, but for me it was pleasurable because I was blowing smoke and it was like a kiss. Just like a kiss, but I didn´t know it at the time. I look back on that, thinking, I always favored being with girls, I had crushes on the nuns. I always used to say how pretty some of them were, comment how young they were. I went to Catholic school, on the South Side in Bridgeport, a Croatian school, St. Jerome. Then I went to Little Flower on 81st and Prairie, which was an all-girls Catholic High School. Then I got very sick, I got rheumatic fever. Then we moved to Tucson, Arizona, and there I was in the first Catholic High School in Tucson ever, and they didn´t even have it finished yet. This was way back in 1951, 䚄."

"I went into the Air Force in 1956. I left three years later, I signed up for three years, for the men it was four, now it´s even four years, men and women. I would have made a career out of it but I had a medical discharge. I told you I had rheumatic fever when I was in high school and it left me with a heart murmur and the doctor told me at my discharge physical that eventually I would have surgery and I did. When I left I came home to Chicago and my mother found out I was lesbian, she was pulling out of the dresser drawer all my jeans. She blamed herself, of course, like all mothers do. But then my whole family came to understand it, or accept it, not understand it. That was around 1960.

"My mother introduced me to the first gay woman in this city that I ever met. My mother was a cook and a waitress and they used to work at Edward Don and one woman always reminded my mother of me. I was in the Air Force at the time and when I came home she was so proud to introduce me to these ladies, and that was my first circle of friends. They took me to bars. The first one was the Volli-Bal on Clark Street.

"The first time was scary because I wasn´t used to the whole gay scene. I was so controlled; when you´re in service you´re very controlled. You´re told when to eat, when to dress, and how to dress. I was very scared because the women were very into playing parts at the time and there were a lot of women there that seemed to be big bold brassy butches, and their femmes were really femmes. You didn´t mess around with them, you didn´t even talk to them. The butches wore men´s clothing and the femmes wore women´s clothing, ultra ultra dressed. I remember going into a bar and we had to have three articles of women´s clothing. We couldn´t wear a fly front in our pants.

"But some of the women used to wear men´s jockey shorts, or boxer shorts, T-shirts. They emulated the guys an awful lot. We had no rules, none to follow, so we emulated our brothers. That´s exactly what it amounts to. So what you look like now, we looked like and then some. And we were subjected to maybe the bar being raided. We couldn´t dance together. All the bars were then were gathering places."

Palm Gardens

"In the middle of that bar ... a straight German guy who owned that bar ... in the middle of it, on the inside of the bar was an organ, and he used to play that organ all the time, and he must have had a lost love, really, because he used to sing the song, ... he couldn´t sing ... but this song held so much emotion in it, and it was called "I Laughed At Love." I´ll never forget that as long as I live. It was a real bright bar, it wasn´t dark like bars are, it was very bright, like German bars are bright. You went in there to drink and all these big bulldykes were in there. Again I was afraid, but I met a lot of the people in there and I met this guy who was very gentle, very, very nice. And whatever went on went on, he didn´t care. It´s not that he didn´t care, he let it go. It was one of the best bars I´ve been in. Looking back on it, I didn´t know it then. That guy really threw his whole heart in there. Everybody that went in there was like his kid, it was just wonderful. But I was young and to me it was a very rough bar. I can´t go rough."


"Oh that was fantastic! They had really great ideas. I think Nancy Reiff was the front for Felicia, Jim Flint ... that´s my own personal opinion. You walked in there and there were tree branches in the ceiling and there were Italian lights ... they were way ahead of their time. The hostess wore a tuxedo, you knew she was a woman but she was a very feminine looking type. Nancy would show you around, or be around, or whatever. I don´t know why they didn´t take off, it was so great, such a great bar."

Memory Check: Volli-Bal ( 2124 N. Clark Street ) , Palm Gardens ( North Avenue ) , Marilyn´s ( 432 N. Clark Street )

Be a part of reclaiming our history. Send your stories, memories and information to Sukie de la Croix at OUTLINES. He also interviews over the phone or by e.mail

facebook twitter stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Point notes community college program to hold event 2018-02-20
Clarence Darrow Symposium Marks 80 Years Since Darrow's Death March 13 2018-02-17
Clarence Darrow Symposium to mark 80 years since Darrow's death March 13 2018-02-17
Point Foundation helps LGBTQ community college students, applications open soon 2018-02-16
Bill introduced for school curriculum including LGBTQ history 2018-02-16
Holocaust museum official on making a difference 2018-02-14
STAYCATION REVIEW Millennium Knickerbocker, History, and a bit more 2018-02-13
History Lezon fest, nine short plays for Women's History Month 2018-02-12
Courageous Conversations, Activism Then & Now, at DuSable Museum Feb. 21, 2018 2018-02-07
Woodward/Bernstein event Feb. 8 at NEIU 2018-02-07
Sue the T. rex goes nonbinary 2018-02-06
Artists mark start of Black History Month at Center on Halsted 2018-02-05
Black Lives Matter Global Network dedicates Black Futures month to Erica Garner 2018-01-31
Sally Ride's widow forges new frontiers at San Diego school 2018-01-31
NATIONAL Pro-LGBT groups' lawsuit, LPAC's search, iconic gay bar closes 2018-01-30
Transgender director makes Oscar history 2018-01-28
Chichester receives Damski award 2018-01-24
Center on Halsted to host Black History Month Series, At the Intersections 2018-01-23
THEATER REVIEW Insurrection: Holding History 2018-01-17
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Telling gay WWII history 2018-01-10
PODCASTS 'Mattachine' podcast creator brings the past back to life 2018-01-10
Chicago cultural scene opens gates for Museum Week 2018 2018-01-05
Leather Archives & Museum welcomes new executive director 2018-01-03
Podcast to detail Mattachine history 2018-01-03
Chicago Icon: The Marge Summit Story, Part One of a two-part feature 2017-12-20
LGBTQ figures part of new Marshall mural 2017-12-05
BOOKS The random history of Judy Wieder 2017-12-05
ALMA recognizes recent award winners 2017-11-14
Change Over Time Journal calls for LGBTQ papers 2017-11-14
Hall of Fame induction strikes joyous notes 2017-11-09
LGBT Hall of Fame inductees to be honored Nov. 8 2017-11-08
ALMA honorary event Nov. 9 2017-11-08
Professor/writer Danny Cohen featured at Holocaust museum event 2017-11-08
Cleve Jones speaks on preserving LGBT-neighborhoods, politics 2017-11-07
Leather spot Touche marking 40th year 2017-11-01
Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame inductees to be honored Nov. 8 2017-11-01
Looking back: LGBTQ History Month's canon 2017-11-01
Cleve Jones event Nov. 6 at Sidetrack 2017-10-31
Brick by Brick event to celebrate saving and growing LGBTQ history 2017-10-27
LGBT HISTORY MONTH Behind the lens: Photojournalist Kay Lahusen 2017-10-24

Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.