This is slightly redundant but necessary to the story. I offer a this story that originates in Hyde Park. When I was 15, I was expelled from a New Hampshire boarding school. I was from South Shore but my family had just relocated to Hyde Park. Upon my return to Chicago, I never stayed at home for long. I hated where I lived which was the Powhatan, which was nice but not home. So each day I would go to Kenwood High School and then walk a to 57th street and see who was around the coffeehouses, Medici and Ahmads. If I didn’t stay there, off I went to the Blue Gargoyle, a coffee house located in a church. When I first started going to the BG, it was the cheapest, warmest place to go without getting thrown out. (I was eventually banned from both Ahmad and the Medici)
I met a young Black guy named Tony at the BG. We were both runaways. He was running from the Stones around his house at 66th and Blackstone. I was fleeing my dad. We found different places to crash every night. Fraternity houses and the Quaker House basements, UC students’ apartments, wherever. At some point Tony introduced me to the “art” of burglarizing. Eventually we would rent our own place and survive burglarizing and selling drugs. The BG remained our main hangout.
I previously told the story of Loel Callahan but for filler, Loel Callahan was a divinity student and lived next door to the BG. He and Dwight Caswell founded the BG. They were good guys. Shortly thereafter they were joined by a staff member, Vic Bernstein. A square dude if ever there was one. Tall, Jewish, naive and a UC student, Vic was Loel’s backup. That meant lots of craziness all around.
A year or so later, when Loel secured a grant from the Robert Woods Foundation we started the youth program at the Gargoyle that I wrote about.
Like I said before in my previous blog, I was wanted by the police for some 50 burglaries and they were hot on my trail. (Ken Love knows more than most about that.) I had fled to San Francisco but had recently returned to help my pal Tony get out of jail, for burglary.
So, for whatever reason I decided to help Loel. Mostly because he described a program where we would do for ourselves with him as a kind of adviser. It seemed right. Shortly thereafter when we formed the Hyde Park People’s Organization (HYPPO) under the auspices of the University Church, Loel made sure we were autonomous from the rest of the Gargoyle. He convinced the church to let us take over the Blue Gargoyle 2 nights a week, running the coffeehouse and providing activities for youths. All youth related activities were run past us.
Now for the new part. Several years later while living on the North Side, I tried to start a youth program. I was 23 and wanted to help kids like Loel had helped me. I applied but couldn’t get hired by existing youth agencies because I had never completed high school. I decided to rent a store front on the north side with my savings and open a drop in center for teens.
But Hyde Parker, Tony Roberts insisted I meet him at the House of Tiki to meet another Hyde Parker named Kaye Hill. Kaye was a grant monitor for the Illinois Dangerous Drug Commission. She wanted to start a program for young at-risk girls. We talked that night and decided to work together.
Kaye convinced me that my plan was doomed to fail for a variety of reasons. Instead she taught me how to structure and organize an organization which would be capable of securing charitable donations. She taught me how to do research, write grants and more. We chose the Lakeview community to operate in. We named our new baby, Local Motion Inc. Kaye helped me write the bylaws, secure our 501(c)(3) and recruit the board of directors. I tracked down Vic Bernstein, formerly of the Blue Gargoyle staff, and now a PhD in Psychology and he became one of the first board members. He did not have the fond memories that I had for the Gargoyle but he came on board. (I just looked him up and he is shown as an Associate professor at the UofC)
Kaye and I modeled Local Motion, after the HYPPO youth program. I spent every day on the streets, seeking out the kids that were most alienated. I made contact with every street gang. About 15 of the kids I worked in and around died of gang violence in three years. Kids designed every program and activity we sponsored. We joined the Chicago Youth Network Council a coalition of independent youth service programs which was started years earlier by a group of youth service providers including Loel Callahan.
Our board of directors grew and became inhabited by community leaders/clergy, businessmen, and neighborhood kids and their parents.
I resigned 3 years later and took a job as the Youth Service Bureau Director with the YMCA Southwest Youth Outreach Program at Morgan Park/Mt Greenwood. Once again I set out to prove that kids just needed a facilitator and they could blossom and be productive. It was also when I attended the Chicago State University, University Without Walls program and got a BS in Social Services.
After a stint in the business world followed by drug treatment, I became a drug counselor for Tapestry Youth Services, operating out of the University of Chicago Social Services building at 61st and Ellis. My area of operation was Woodlawn, reaching out to kids and their families. Doing house visits could be unsettling just parking my car back then.
I was recruited a year later to open the Hyde Park Hospital’s Drug Detox Center at 58th and Stony Island. (Now closed) The year I served as a drug therapist at Hyde Park Hospital I had a daily routine of walking ambulatory patients to Wooded Island behind the Museum. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/04/25/old-hospital-in-hyde-park-is-now-a-memory/
One year later I left to attend law school at the John Marshall Law School. Upon graduation, I solo practiced for 13 years specializing in adult criminal cases and juvenile court abuse and neglect and delinquency cases.
The Blue Gargoyle went through many permutations over the years. Loel left to work overseas. The BG tried in vain to find staff who could control the youth like Loel had done. Myself and Sam D’Orlaque and friends along with the help of some other tough kids, physically and psychologically intimidated everyone who followed for the next few years. The Church brought in a social worker, then a hippie commune and then an ex-con to manage the Gargoyle and us. But no one ever engendered the loyalty of the original BG staff. HYPPO fell apart under adult interference.
This Blue Gargoyle story has a million other stories which spring from it. Some of you worked there or volunteered there in later years.
Footnote. The Hyde Park YMCA contracted around 1972 with the BG to start a youth program at the 53rd St. Y. Their programs had been destroyed by gangs. The BG had developed a reputation for its gang neutrality and excellent work with teens. The Gargoyle sent me to the Y to start a program. Among other things, I approached the Chicago Police Department Youth Division at 29th Prairie for help. They had some resources like mobile health care units and other services for youth at their disposal. They liked my presentation and their help seemed imminent. But they notified me that they were canceling their planned participation in any effort because they found out I was with the BG. The officer said that it was a known left-wing organization which housed radicals with a sketchy reputation.
This is my story and I am sticking to it.