© 1999 by Kathryn E. Darden
"No wonder they call it the windy city," she said
to herself as she hurried down the busy Chicago street, clutching
her fashionable straw hat. Trimmed with exquisite colorful
flowers, ribbons and tulle, Gene more aptly referred to it
as her Easter bonnet having worn it two weeks earlier.
earlier she was home for Easter with her family. After a delicious
breakfast she helped prepare with her mother, Gene went with her
parents to the small church they had attended since she was a
baby for the Easter service, wearing the same ensemble she now
Gene Marshall, already a legend at this fairly early stage
of her career, loved Easter and spring. She loved decorating colorful
eggs with her mother to put in a basket with coy blossoms peeping
out from amid the eggs. She loved the attending the special Easter
service with her family, dressing up in her "Sunday best," wearing hats trimmed with flowers.
Actually, Gene just loved spring flowers, from the first crocus
that peeped up from the ground as a traditional harbinger of spring
to the later flowers: daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, lilies, daisies,
and roses. She loved the tender buds on the trees, the hint of
warmer weather in the air. Since her birthday was today, two weeks
after Easter, she considered flowers and baskets and the warmth
of spring to be her birthright. But there was no warmth here,
only wind, and in the city it was hard to find flowers.
"It's my birthday, so I will make it spring,"
she had thought defiantly early that morning as she placed this,
her favorite spring hat, at just the right angle on her head. "I will it to be spring," she said determinedly as
she donned her smart suit, a soft sage green that spoke to her
of new growth, the color a woods takes on as the leaves start
their tremulous flowering. Giving herself a final glance of approval
in the gilded full-length mirror in her elegant suite (compliments
of Monolithic), she marched smartly through the hotel lobby. The
doorman in his understated but regal uniform who opened the door
for her looked admiringly at her retreating figure. From the top
of her floral bonnet to the toes of her matching pumps, Gene Marshall
was the essence of spring, an Easter parade of one.
Now Gene decided she had made a big mistake, fighting the wind
for possession of her hat, noting the overcast sky and feeling
the icy blast of the Midwestern wind through the thin material
of her sage green suit. She hurried on to the fashionable downtown
restaurant where she was to meet the local fan club. This was
not the way she had wanted to spend her birthday. Gene Marshall
loved her fans, but she loved her family more. She had intended
to spend the two weeks between Easter and her birthday with her
close friends and family at home, but Monolithic Studios and her
own agent had conspired to send her on a publicity tour for the
past week and a half ending here, in this windy, cold and
lonely place that was Chicago.
Spotting the restaurant across the street, Gene was startled
to find that she was hurrying past a small park. Almost hidden
behind a brick fence, a small garden beckoned. Gene made a quick
decision after checking the time and quickly found the entrance.
She slowed her pace as she walked down a quaint path. Here were
trees, trees with a hint of green showing. A robin chirped at
her as she strolled by. Then a ray of light broke through the
clouds and illuminated a patch of lovely woodland flowers. "Why,
it IS springtime, even in Chicago!" thought Gene. She felt
a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, and soon she was
Glancing at her watch, Gene once again turned her steps towards
the restaurant. As she crossed the street, a lady and gentleman
stepped forward to greet her. At that moment the sun made its
appearance as the last of the clouds left the sky. "Miss
Marshall, I believe you have brought spring with you," said
her handsome host. Her hostess commented on Gene's lovely suit
and hat as she ushered her into the private room festooned with
flowers. When they entered the room, the gathered crowd broke
into the familiar strains of "Happy Birthday to You"
but above the singing she heard an even more familiar sound. "Why,
I'd know that fancy Easter bonnet anywhere," boomed a beloved
voice. There at the table of honor, almost hidden behind a huge
basket brimming with flowers, were her mother and father, a very
special gift from her loving fan club.
Gene had a wonderful time with her Chicago fans and her family,
and came to regard Chicago as one of her favorite places. In later
years she was heard to say that she loved Chicago for its grand
buildings, its beautiful lake shore, its wonderful shopping, the
theaters and the many lovely fans who lived there. "But most
of all, I love Chicago because it was there I learned you can
find springtime anywhere as long as you carry it in your heart."
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