“It was 1966, the year that I graduated from Central Catholic High School in Lafayette, Ind., and the year that I moved into the Rita Club. I was anxious to move back to Chicago, find employment, and live life on my own.
I was 18 years old and managed to talk my Lafayette friend Elizabeth (Gay) into moving to Chicago with me. She had never lived in a big city. We used to go to dances in Lafayette just about every weekend where live bands would perform. … We were both 18 and ready for adventure.
The Rita Club was located just a few steps away from the corner on North Avenue and Wells Street where Norwell’s drug store once stood. … [The neighborhood] had a lot to offer. It was alive and vibrant with all sorts of activities and places to go. It was also at this time a bedrock of the counter culture movement, the love and peace movement, and ‘the hippies.’
Miss Cogley, the proprietress of the Rita Club, had managed it for several years before Gay and I arrived. … I could tell she was religious, and very professional looking in her appearance. She was in her late 80s at the time. She had also run another Rita Club on the West Side of Chicago for about 23 years before coming to the North Avenue site. She seemed very proud of the place and took her responsibilities seriously.
Gay and I were able to find employment within a week after we moved into the Rita Club at the Chicago Tribune in the Advertisement Verification Department. We took a bus to work just about every morning.
I learned a lot during my stay at the Rita Club. My room there was like a sanctuary from the world and the streets, a safe haven. I eventually learned to manage my money better. I learned the value of hard work which gave structure to my life as well as the value of a good education. I also learned to be more careful about the choices I made in life and who I call my friends. Above all, I learned to appreciate and value my mother’s prayers.”