Chicago Panhandler Project

18 May
Chicago Panhandler Project

Mary A Chicago Panhandler

Mary Stands in a Doorway

With Ronda Levine, I am working on a book on the subject of the panhandlers in Chicago. I take trips to the windy city and both photograph and interview the city’s panhandlers.

The first person I interviewed was Mary. From the time I started the interview to now I can truly save I love this woman. She is a warm lady with a lovely face and grandmotherly voice. She is very open regarding her life, or at least he view of her life.  Mary is crazy. I don’t mean crazy as in Steve Martin crazy. I also don’t mean crazy as in Rain Man crazy.

Initially she came across as quite lucid and it took me quite awhile to realize something was amiss. She talked about prison, the mayor and her teacher in ways that stopped making sense the more she talked. While she does have a tenuous grasp on reality, she appears to be doing OK in regards to being cared for (or caring for herself)

I don’t know if she really was in prison nor if she has a husband. I am thankful that even though she is living in a different reality, it isn’t one that is horrible and scary.


I am setting up a separate site for this project and you will be seeing work appear on both sites including transcripts. Stay  tuned.

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Posted by on May 18, 2010 in Musings


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