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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 14, 2013/ 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5774

Wise men recall how 'elevator men know their building'

By John Kass

John Kass


JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Capitol Hill elevator operators have long had to endure a terrible indignity: politicians staring at the backs of their defenseless heads.

But now, to make matters even worse, federal elevator operators have become symbols of wasteful federal spending as part of Washington's Federal Shutdown Lite.

The wasteful spending part is true. The ancient manually operated elevators are gone, replaced by computerized panels of buttons. Taxpayers don't need to pay operators to push buttons, not even for Sen. Dick Durbin.

Yet as elevator operators have become metaphors for antiquated systems and out-of-control spending — like absurd minor characters from the old movie "Brazil" — there's one thing Americans should consider.

It's that existential back-of-the-head thing.

"I've had people staring holes in the back of my head for 47 years," longtime Chicago elevator operator John Nelson once told me with a sigh.

That was eons ago, in 1989, and Nelson was pushing 70 then, an elderly gent running one of those old-fashioned elevators in a dying building in Chicago's Loop.

"For years, I considered it, wondering if they thought about what goes through the mind of an elevator operator," Nelson told me in his elevator at the Unity Building.

And as he said it, face front, I couldn't help but stare right at his skull.

Life is hard enough without your entire life spent with perfect strangers staring at the back of your head.

"I finally realize that people looked at me as if I wasn't there," he said. "As if I were an inanimate object. . . . It used to be a place of action and excitement!"

Such old-style elevators are all but extinct, with their Victorian cages and levers, the drivers building psychic shields to protect themselves from the indifferent eyeballs of their riders.

They belong to old cities, and memories of old cities. And in government buildings, they were patronage jobs.

"You always took care of the elevator operators on your beat, and they'd take care of you," legendary Chicago newspaperman Bernard Judge told me the other day.

Judge was the Tribune's city editor when I was a copy boy here as a kid. He'd scream "COPY!" and we'd jump and come running.

Years before, he covered the Criminal Courts and learned the value of elevator operators.



"One night, I was just about to leave," Judge said, "and one of the elevator guys whispered, 'You'd better stick around.' So I did."

A few hours later, with other reporters gone, the county sheriff and state's attorney sent cops on a surprise raid of the jail's federal tier.

They found Chicago mobsters with complete kitchens in their cells — frying pans, tomatoes, onions and hot plates, knives, cash, even a fish-scaling knife.

About the only thing Judge forgot to mention in his scoop for the Tribune was whether the wiseguys used a razor to slice the garlic so thin that it would liquefy in the pan.

"I learned the lesson," he said. "The elevator men know their building."

These days, only a few remain, like the one in the Fine Arts Building, where Brian Feeley works.

Feeley, 44, has been working as an elevator operator there, with the lever in his hand, for the past year. He said passengers who see his elevator for the first time are usually amazed.

"They say, 'That's pretty cool.'" Feeley said. "They like it. When new people come into the building, they are, 'Wow! I didn't know this existed anymore. A manually operated elevator — that's cool!' The reaction is always pretty positive."

How did you become an elevator operator?

"The old-fashioned way. I knew somebody who knew somebody," Feeley said. "I was basically out of work, and this is a full-time job."

It got me thinking about the great Norman "Pops" McGarrity, an old-time prize fighter and South Side butcher.

When I was a boy, Pops worked for my dad in our little supermarket. He was like a member of the family. He was in his late 70s then, a little guy, about 5-foot-5, but with real shoulders on him.

He was light on his feet and had big hands and long arms. He had a friend, another old fighter, a guy named "Spider" who'd show up every once in a while.

And every night after work, we'd drive Pops to the Half Moon tavern, in a stretch of bars where Irish immigrants went to find work in the mornings on nonunion construction crews.

During the day at the butcher shop, Pops would putter around, slice some steaks, chop a chicken, but soon the heavy saw work became too much for him. His eyes were going, and we didn't want him to cut his fingers off.

So he'd sit in the corner on the end of a wooden Pepsi crate, drink coffee and in his brogue tell my brothers and me his stories of the great Irish fighters of an even older time.

Finally, after months of this, my father said he could no longer afford to pay Pops to sit around. Pops understood, told us not to worry and said he'd go find something. He was half blind and we were sad, but he put on a good front.

A few days later, he returned to the store with some astounding news.

"Boys!" shouted Pops. "I got me a new job!"

What kind of job, Pops?

"I'm an elevator operator at City Hall!"

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.



Previously:



10/07//13 President Obama should go moron hunting
10/01//13 Geezer zombies, coming to a reality near you
09/25/13 When politicians misuse words: Oh, the enormity!
09/11/13 Of dogs, Dems and Damascus
08/19/13 Forget the tears. The Jacksons know they got off easy
08/13/13 Bros filling the void --- with 'My Little Pony'
07/31/13 A serial sexter stays in New York's mayoral race. What’s next?
07/26/13 Show some appreciation for the new prince
05/29/13 Mr. President, save us from Xbox One
05/23/13 Tornadoes sound like eerie silence --- then evil
05/15/13 How the unassimilated are transformed into terrorists
05/07/13 Lives lost mean 'Benghazi' should be more than a political buzzword
04/30/13 American football industry is on its deathbed
04/25/13 Boston terror can't be packaged neatly for American audiences
04/18/13 In the world of acts, the urge to help overwhelms
03/11/13 Senate battle between a libertarian whippersnapper, crotchety establishment
02/25/13 If only Jesse Jr. would have read his own book
02/11/13 Secret drone strikes simplify Obama Doctrine
01/29/13 Making a pet project out of Neanderthals
01/17/13 Spielberg stops 'Robopocalypse,' perhaps on orders of evil master robot
01/07/13 Reality TV, how deep can it sink?
11/08/12 Thanks, voters, for caring enough to argue
11/05/12 It's Romney by a head
11/01/12 Sandy swoops in to save Obama. Should it be allowed to?
10/18/12 The other side of the emergency room curtain
10/15/12 Droopy Chia candidates get a do-over
10/04/12 :Schoolchildren's stomachs rumble; drama queens grumble
10/01/12 : Chia Obama vs. Chia Romney: May the best greenfro win
09/25/12 : With bitter campaign in full swing, you need to watch some movies
08/02/12 : Toasting culture's absurdities
04/24/12: Why do you have to sell your privacy to win?
10/13/11: Stupid things men say to pregnant women
09/26/11: Desk zero: ‘Contagion’ lurks just outside office bathroom
09/08/11: Light up your lottery tickets, pass the Hopium
08/31/11: It was only a paper moon , but a legendary hoax
05/27/11: For 2012, it's Obama vs. the smoothies
05/05/11: Is it time to de-friend Pakistan?
04/12/11: China stretches the bounds of decency with cow-human-breast milk
03/23/11: No you're not in control; get over it
02/28/11: Chicago wanted a strongman, and it got one
01/26/11: Oh, c'mon, c'mon, Rahm-bo a victim? That's a stretch
12/13/10: WikiLeaks and Assange pretend there are no consequences
12/09/10: Trendy toys don't stand up to playthings of yore
10/11/10: Obama and his pals need some scarce Hopium for the next election
09/14/10: Obama gets a little bossy with tacit endorsement of Emanuel
08/18/10: Dead Meat walking, but heat to be applied again
07/28/10: No verdict, but Blagojevich trial still has its winners, losers
07/26/10: Obama's fall guy in Shirley Sherrod case is Vilsack the Pooh
07/21/10: Loathing of Steinbrenner softens after his death
07/19/10: Summertime, and the race cards are easy
06/28/10: Does Congress have the guts to fix what court gutted? Honestly, no
12/17/09: Belt-tightening presidential aspirant leaves room for Spam
09/27/09: ACORN can teach the GOP a thing or 2
09/03/09: Blago as author gets it wrong yet again 06/22/09: Obama's latest political play should shock no one
06/17/09: Presidential satire takes Hopium break
06/11/09: E-Verify works, so, of course, let's not use it
06/09/09: First Lady Macbeth's the man, so in your face, Eminem
06/02/09: Judge Sotomayor would think me most unwise
05/12/09: Parents, enjoy this time, in all its creepiness
03/18/09: Stem cell policy shift brings a sinking feeling
03/09/09: Name That Blago Book contest names its winner
03/05/09: Contest: Name Blagojevich's book
02/16/09: Dems undercut aid for U.S. workers
01/20/09: Let the carving begin on Tombstone's tomb
01/12/09: Obama serves Reid taste of Chicago Way
01/02/09: Jesters don't pick up the race card in a nationally televised news conference and slam it into the face of every Dem in the Senate, a palm heel strike to the tip of the nose, leaving all of them watery-eyed, their lips stinging
12/24/08: Governor waxes poetic, but Combine rolls on
12/23/08: Got corruption? Get Jesse Junior G-Man
12/18/08: Will ‘feditis’ spread to Obama and Daley?
12/15/08: Man behind curtain is wizard of Rod, Rahm

© 2012, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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