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(Romper Room—Chicago, 1954–1975)
It’s December 1967: the summer of love is over.
Miss Betsy saw footage of it on the evening news—long-haired California boys and girls, naked or nearly naked, smoking grass and wearing pounds of beads. But the summer of love never touched down in Chicago, and it certainly isn’t going to come here now while Miss Betsy stands on the windswept El platform, waiting for the train that seems to get later and later each morning. Her knit cap reaches her eyebrows, and a scarf covers her mouth and dripping nose. Her coral-colored coat goes all the way down to her ankles, and she wears the collar up like a vampire. The cold is so concentrated it’s easy to pretend that the skin is burning instead of freezing, and Miss Betsy sometimes passes the time imagining that she’s standing stock-still in the middle of a house fire while flames lick her flesh.