Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mrs. Helen Weinlandt passed away on March 20, 2014.

Look. It is impossible to say a few words about somebody who  lived to be 103. So anything you say is necessarily shortchanging a very full life.

I am trying to think of one tiny thing:

It is maybe 1957. That makes me maybe  10 1/2 years old. I am sitting on the porch of our O'Hare house at the corner of Pomander and Neptune Walks. It is in the evening, getting towards dusk. Summer. 
There was always one evening in the middle of the week that Mrs. Weinlandt would walk by our house, always around the same time to go to the Post Office. The Post  Office was on Pomander Walk, sort of diagonally across from our house.
It was regular, this one evening, middle of the week  in the summer. Like quiet clockwork.

There were two phone booths in the lobby of the Post Office. Mrs. Weinlandt used to call  New York on weeks when Mr. Weinlandt was in the City.

When she would walk by, she was quiet, sometimes looked at us, nod her head hello. I remember smile. I remember quiet. Perhaps my mother would say hello to her, she would say hello to us, and she would walk into the post office. And always a nice smile. It was always quiet that time of the evening.

Then, after a while, she would come out and walk home. She had a flashlight later in the summer when the sun went down earlier.

Nothing unusual about seeing people walk by our house. For instance, usually around the same time Mrs. Severe, old white haired lady who ran the candy store, would walk by our house to go to the playground. Ms. Severe would swing on the swings quietly, alone, just after dark when all the kids were gone. This was after she had closed the candy store for the night. Probably around the same time that Mrs. Weinlandt would make her weekly telephone call.

Nothing unusual about any of this. Just some pictures I have  in my head.
Mrs. Weinlandt used to walk to and from the phone booth for lots of summers, even in years that most people started getting telephones (party line only).

A long, long, time later, Jeff told me why she kept going to the phone booth at the Post Office: they didn't get a phone in their house  for years.   Bill Weinlandt was a wise man. And I guess he didn't want to lie to his friends in the City. He wanted to honestly tell his business associates that he had no phone at the beach, so they should not try to get a hold of him when he was on vacation. I am sure the Weinlandts liked it that way. Eventually, I am sure, they got a telephone. I know Danny has a phone number out there. I called him last summer. But until they  finally got a phone, Mrs. Weinlandt walked to the post office to make her calls.

But I keep having that memory:  Mrs. Weinlandt, walking, quietly, evening, to the Post Office, going in for a while, then quietly walking back. Back, forth, long time ago. Real peaceful. Nice smile. Perfect quiet evenings, a long, long time ago. 

I still see it.

Helen Weinlandt, at 84

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