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Fred Babbin

(1925 / Chicago)

57th and Kenwood

The neighborhood described in this poem is in the University of Chicago area, as it existed over 60 years ago. Most of it no longer exists, due to one of the first Urban Renewal programs in the United States. The 'Bomb' refers to the atom bomb, of which the University had a large part in the planning. I worked there for a short time. I wanted a picture of that corner for my poem 'Lost', and Ms. Schlesinger kindly sent it to me, so I wrote this poem.

Dear, Dear, Ms. Schlesinger
You are the messenger
That brought back my memories to me.
Old Lola Goff, The Tropical Hut,
John Snowden, Shag Donohue
And Bob Marshall too.
Joyce Piven
(whose nee name I just cannot think of) ,
Who strode into Steinways
like Cleopatra,
with everyone staring, and thinking, “Who is is she? ”
The Woodworth tree, with it’s nails of poison, that shortened it’s life,
Replaced by another, not real at all.
And Ms. Lawless, forerunner of Gordon’s,
Who isn’t there either,
She had a hi-fi, with classical records,
where lunch was Paradise contained.
And John Snowden was Chef, so charming and willing to please.

With the Bomb in the background, with no one aware,
there were Socialists, Communists,
Artists and writers; also philosophers,
And girls on the make.
(Beware, You Boy Virgin, with your naivete,
And so easily crushed by these Lorelei maids.)
All gone, all gone,
A new party is there
Who replaced the new party
That replaced the new party
that was previously there.
There are only memories, ancient as Egypt,
With only photographs that I can share
with you.
Thank you..

Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Edited: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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Comments about this poem (57th and Kenwood by Fred Babbin )

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  • Michael Tugendhat (7/18/2010 12:04:00 PM)


    Loss in this poem is crushing, but you seem to retain a sense of calm in photograph. The only line I woud change would be the one relating to Egypt, doesn't feel as fresh as the rest of the poem. Good write.

    Michael (Report) Reply

  • ..... Dog God 8hate (3/26/2010 7:45:00 PM)


    Is the City of Big Shoulders as broad today?
    Has the presumption of ingenious, and yet,
    ingenuous stylers really augmented effect?

    Not for me, not for me!

    . (Report) Reply

  • Ben Gieske (12/4/2008 8:11:00 AM)

    “Who is is she? ” is effective. A good way to preserve the past. Adds more than a photograph can provide. Who can do it better than one who lived there? Well done. This might not mean much to those who did not know the neighborhood, but should alert us all to the lost of those places which exist now only in our memories. (Report) Reply

  • Not a member No 5 (6/28/2008 4:19:00 PM)

    The passage of time and life caught in full flow and held there by a writer who is well aware of its flowing on. There's nostalgia and gritty awareness in this. An attention commanding snapshot. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Viola Grey (5/13/2008 6:38:00 PM)

    like a photo, you showed me something I have never seen, yet clearly understand what you're saying about it. (Report) Reply

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