“Now what do we do with her?” My parents, Peter and Charlotte Stein, had just propped me in the corner of the davenport in the front room. The apartment was fashioned from the upstairs of my maternal grandmother’s two-story house on Chicago’s near-north side. I arrived nine months and nine days after they married on the twentieth of February 1935.
Old photos testify to the mohair-cushioned arm of the davenport, carefully protected by a doily, one of many hand-crocheted by my paternal grandmother. My parents’ comments at my homecoming were retold so often, they became part of the family lore. Not only was parenthood new to them, they were both only children and had no idea what to expect now that they had their own tiny baby daughter with lots of dark hair.
Born in Edgewater Hospital, I was delivered by Dr. John F. Davis, a family friend of my mother’s, who also happened to be the team physician for The Chicago Cubs. Fortunately my birth on November twenty-ninth didn’t conflict with the team’s schedule. That season the Cubs had a twenty-one game winning streak and won the National League pennant two months before my arrival.
Mother named me Lois, after a girlfriend who had moved to Philadelphia. That’s all I ever learned about my namesake. In those days of no air travel, no e-mail, and no money for auto trips or, heaven knows, for phone calls, long-distance friendships were fragile. Another reason for my name was that Mother wanted something that couldn’t be shortened to a nickname; she had hated being called Lottie as she grew up. Her plans for me went awry: Often I had my name shortened to “Lo”. High school friends couldn’t resist calling “Hi, Lo!” to me, thinking they were being so original. To ensure the simplicity of my name, my parents decided not to provide me with a middle name. As a result, until I was married, any official forms listed me as Lois (None) Stein. And often the parentheses were missing. I wished I had another name; Louise, maybe. A number of years ago I was amazed to learn a “Lois Club” exists with chapters all over the country. I never thought that having the same name was enough of a bond to consider joining the club. Not surprisingly, every member is “of a certain age,” if not of a certain sex. Some unfortunate men were actually named Lois....
Fourteen pages of photos illustrate both my story and the era from 1935 to 1957