Oasis in dp

I-90 runs through Illinois and just off the Mt. Prospect road exit was a place that meant something to a lot of us that grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. It wasn’t a beautiful place, just a typical 1950’s utilitarian brick and glass, I-could-easily- be-transformed-into-a-minimum-security-prison…or-a-school, design. It was the Des Plaines Oasis, a road side rest stop/restaurant/and well known gathering place for local teens in the wee hours of the night.

Even though you may have never driven I-90 through Des Plaines, you’ve probably seen it. It was the building lit by fire from the flame thrower Carrie Fisher used to torch the Blues Brothers while they made a call in a phone booth. By the time this film was made in the 1970’s, the restaurant had already changed hands from the old Fred Harvey franchise.
Here’s the scene.

They tore it down this past weekend to make way for road widening. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it got me wondering where teens will go now at 3 in the morning to eat waffles and drink gallons of coffee after sneaking out of the house.

Back then, it was the only thing around for anyone under 21 when your munchies sent you into the night in search of a plate of fries and a hot fudge sundae. Everyone I knew wandered through that place at some point on a weekend. Looking at the door in the photo, got me thinking of all the people’s hands that touched that door handle over the past 50 plus years. Friends, lovers, classmates, neighbors and uncountable others; the famous and the civilian suburbanites; they all grabbed that handle and made their way to a leatherette booth where a plastic coated menu awaited their hungry eyes. So many of them are now gone from this world, mixed with the dust of the demolition.

In some less patchouli smelling, eight track dimension of my memory, the words that Izak Dineson wrote in her book (later a movie), Out of Africa rose up again…

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me…?”

All things must pass. Thank you and goodbye, Des Plaines Oasis. You were the scene of many hilarious conversations with friends dear to my heart. And thanks Fred Harvey Restaurant (way back when) for your pencil-stuck-in-their-hairdo servers that let us just hang out when the rest of the world was closed for the night.

Somewhere in the air over where you once stood, there is a shadow of me with waffle syrup stuck on it somewhere. It’s quivering with laughter and humming a song from Tumbleweed Connection.

All things must pass. Gone but not forgotten.

Salt in My Wound

sea salt

Question: Am I missing out on some sort of secret, super delicious farm salt? Mountain salt, perhaps? Or maybe it’s prairie salt that I should be wanting…

I went to open a box of Triscuits and noticed that the label proudly announced, “Made with sea salt.” Wow. Really?

Technically, all salt is sea salt. Mined salt is nothing but seriously old sea salt that was trapped when the oceans receded from current land masses some 300,000,000 years ago. So… sorry gourmet sea salt peddlers, you’re going to need to come up with a better catch phrase.

That, or maybe I can start bottling and selling Earth Air and Wet Water. Yes, I think I will. Let me get to the patent office before someone steals my idea…………….
And this is what I do to avoid working on the damn speech I’m supposed to be giving this weekend.

Poetry Day: Where Your Wings Were


You know that place between your shoulder blades

that you can’t reach?

Even if your hands can touch behind

they are useless

to soothe the need,

to fill the place

where something important used to be.


you can reach it

with a shower brush.

Fire and joy fill the spot

as a million tiny severed connections-

evidence of your divinity-

come to life again.

It’s where your wings were


right there

part of your body

before you fell-

before you came here

to understand

what love is

and what pain feels like

and what it means to be a human.

So, tell me,

was it worth it

when you lost them?

Do you miss them every day?

You can feel them again, you know-

when someone holds you close

their hands meeting at the broken place

where your wings used to be.

The touch causes skin to sing again

and flex to unfurl your glory.

Gone now-

Tell me, human,

was it worth it?