Basting Stitches

Just trying to hold it all together.

In early February, when All This began pulling its long shadow over our lives, I joked to my husband that I might be particularly well-equipped to handle the situation.

I’m a homebody by nature. All my hobbies are domestic, or can be done at home. I can already make bread or provide a decent chicken soup for the invalid. And I’ve read plenty about the influenza epidemic of 1918. I was made for this, I told him. We both laughed.

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Unearthed: Lady Bledzo (Pt 2)

Lady Bledzo, Part 1


Poised on a spare desk in the Chicago Avenue Police Station, Lady Bledzo didn’t look like she’d just come from a fight. In her crisp white suit and jaunty tie, with a fur across her lap, she looked like she was ready to go shopping.

But excursions to Wieboldt’s or anywhere else would wait.

There had been a fight, right on the sidewalk, and now there were reporters eager to hear her side of things. Lady Bledzo posed for photos and smiled at their questions.

She was happy to oblige.

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Unearthed: Lady Bledzo (Pt 1)

Lady Bledzo lit up newspapers for two years in the mid-1920s. Like a cabaret version of Billy the Kid, she came from nowhere, made a great scene — and then disappeared. By 1928, there was no trace of her.

bledzo faces banner

She never held a defined occupation. She never got a listing in the census or the phone book. For weeks I’ve been trying to stretch the few available items about her into a full story. I even called in the assistance of Graveyard Snoopette. She, too, was stymied by this mysterious woman.

I have to admit that a full accounting can’t be done. Like Lady Bledzo herself, her story is not tidy nor complete. It will not be contained.

Her name came out of those Chicago Tribune archives. One name, with many variations to humble the researcher: Lady Bledzo; Rose Bledzo; Lady Rose Bledsoe; Lady Rosa Bledzo; Rose Leonora; Leonore Bleedson; Eleanora Bleedson; and twice, Lenor Grear.

And worse, I’m pretty sure that none of those are her actual birth name.

Fire up the Dusenberg and roll down your stockings. This one is a real lulu.

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The Waiting Room

When I think about my genealogy subjects — my dead people — I like to amuse myself by picturing a waiting room. By that I mean an actual modern waiting room, full of non-modern people.

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