Monday, July 25, 2011

Missing Virgin. Last Known Address: Beverly Neighborhood circa 1990

My grandparents lived in a tiny two-bedroom house in Beverly many years ago.  To this day, I have no idea how they managed to jam six kids and a dog in that place.  My grandfather was a Chicago policeman who spent his Depression-era youth in a Roosevelt work camp to help support his parents and siblings.  He lived most of his life convinced that the sky was about to fall  -  a common view amongst many Irish of that generation.

My Papa:  "I may be smiling, but I'm fairly certain the Irish are going to be tossed out of the country next week."

I have some very early memories of visiting my grandparents at their house on Washtenaw.  Riding out from the burbs, my siblings and I knew we were getting close when we started spying all the Virgin Mary statues on people's front lawns.  It became a game: who could find "a Mary" the fastest?  It was like Where's Waldo? The 1977 Edition.

Even though I've lived in Beverly for almost 6 years, it just recently dawned on me that I have never seen a Virgin Mary statue since we arrived.  I suppose generations change, displays of faith alter, and saints go out of vogue (being the bad Catholic I am, I had to Google "Mary" to make sure she's actually a canonized saint.  Apparently, she's considered a "super-saint"...who knew?).

So at a block party on Saturday, I caught a glimpse across the street of a Virgin Mary statue praying in some shrubbery. I grabbed my camera to take a picture of this throw-back display. As I was clicking away, my husband walked up.

Joe:  What are you doing?

 Me:  It's a Mary statue!  I haven't seen a Mary statue on someone's lawn for years!

Joe:  Uh..Marianne?

Me:  (trying to get less glare on the night photo, annoyed) What?

Joe:  You're standing in front of a church.

And as God as my witness, lightening flashed across the Chicago night sky at that exact moment.

Forgive me, Jesus.  I'm Googling the mass schedule for Sunday.


  1. What's a bad Catholic?
    Is that like, the opposite of a Catholic, or just a diluted version? Why are you a catholic?

  2. Interesting. Bad Catholic (for me): not going to church as much as I should. Catholicism in Beverly is a bit like Judaism - not just simply a religion but rather an entire way of life that encompasses the people (Irish), the practices, and overall lifestyle. Yet if we didn't live here, I'd probably take my friend's dad up on one of his "conversion seders." I figure there is only one God and it's not as important what you call him. I get everybody's name wrong anyway.

  3. Hmmm. I could write paragraphs on this. Here's one example: A bad Catholic is one who would eat meat on Friday's during lent if his Atheist wife didn't remind him it was lent. And then make him a nice tuna noodle casserole to humor him. How long can comments be? I've got plenty more examples.

  4. Your visits and purchases at the word factory and repackaging of such leaves the thought that your share the same diseases of Joyce, Hemmingway, and the other notable Irish scribes of the past. Every single one of us has a great life story to tell but only a decimal of us have the blessings to do so. How about a mystery novel?

  5. Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog.
    Have a nice day!

  6. Come to 107th. We have some down this way! Or do we not count as we are technically Morgan Park???

  7. Anonymous (Atheist Friend) - Your comments can be as long as you'd like. Several people have suggested a page for "Funny Things Atheist-Friend Says." I'm starting to take notes.

    Anonymous #2 - Just a mom blog here. Nothing more, nothing less. By the way, Hemingway's name has only one "m," not two.

    Veronica Lee - Thank you! We did have a nice day, but I've really got to remember the sun screen more.

    Anonymous - give me an address. 107th & what? I'll stalk the block for photos. Thanks for the head's up!

  8. I think I grew up with a Mary statue but now my parents have a St. Joseph statue (patron saint of lost causes and policemen) in their lawn. Does that count? Jeanine

  9. Jeanine - You have so got to take a picture for me! I'll take any shots of any religious figures in front of people's houses. That's awesome.

  10. Will do, but I think I should clarify that it was purchased with the intent of being St. Jude, but because of the shalaleigh (I know I butchered that spelling) he holds, I have a sneaking suspicion it might actually be a St. Patrick's statue. Jeanine