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Birthday Benediction for June 22

Driving down (or is it up) North Avenue we passed the Black Holocaust Museum and I noticed the glow of the beautiful lighting. It’s a rainy gray day that made the track lighting fixtures stand out like bursts of starlight.

I had just told Todd to be alert as we tried to remember how to use the intermittent wiper switch in my car (I can never remember so I do it manually) because the Milwaukee streets seem to be getting more treacherous at any time of day, with stolen car chases and shootings.

It’s become pretty common now to see the whites of someone eyes in my rear window driving with angry impatience practically hooked to my bumper.

I got a speeding ticket on a stretch of Downer Avenue that drops to 25 mph for a few blocks (who knew?). I was cutting it close getting to our Bible study on time after I picked up an International student on the way. We were late. Old leadfoot here pays closer attention now than she used to.

Setting pace with the traffic doesn’t always go so well. I feel the anger on the roads more than I used to as drivers inch closer and closer, threatening and intimidating. It’s not a good feeling and as I think of those lights in the Black Holocaust Museum I hold on to the feeling as I consider all that that Museum stands for.

It seems the more years I live the clearer my vision travels into the depths of injustice and it sickens my heart. A couple blocks from the Museum is the church we attended as a family when I was growing up. Dad was warned by the pastor that no one would show up for his Sunday school class with the senior highs. And they didn’t.

So he went to them. He visited the families in the neighborhood and asked the kids himself why they didn’t come. They told him what they needed was a place to hang out. There was nowhere for them to come together and gather with friends.

So Mom and Dad talked about that and when Mom discovered a coffee shop near the Wisconsin College of Music on Prospect Avenue after a voice lesson with Marion Prusing one day (I do not know how I remember that name) she thought it might be the kind of place the teenagers living around 4th and Meineke might like.

So they turned a room in the basement of the church into a Saturday night coffee house for the kids to come and hang out. Dad had a carpenter friend make some round tables and mom made some cool burlap tablecloths that the candles would drip all over. Every week she took them home and cleaned them to get that wax out for the next Saturday night.

More kids showed up than they planned on but somehow they made it work and soon those kids started coming to Sunday school. It probably helped that Dad picked up donuts at the bakery on 3rd and North and had hot water in one of those big tin percolator coffee makers ready for Swiss Miss cocoa each week.

The record box stuffed full with the singles they played during those years on a portable record player is still in our attic.

I remember these things on this day, my birthday as we drive down (or is it up) North Ave on our way to Costco. We were going to cancel our membership because we never used it. But since Todd retired, well, kind of retired, we have more time. Now it’s kind of an outing. We have fun.

And I can’t tell you how fun it is to see all my Birthday wishes, to see all the names and beautiful faces in my mind. I’ll take my time reading through them. I will treasure each and every one. Thank you so much. And if you happen to still be reading, thanks for sharing this day and these thoughts with me.

See, I love Milwaukee. Why, even with all the terrible things that happen, it’s the opposite of “horrible.” Don’t you think? ❤️ Okay, it’s time for popcorn and the Olympic trials and I still have one more card to open. It’s Todd’s.

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