One of my favorite people was Jean Gornik. She ran the Damiano Center and I blame/give credit to her for starting me singing in public.
I was reminded of Jean after our meeting with Holly Sampson at Glen Avon this morning. As Claudia and I hashed over the subject of the oportunity gap, Claudia mentioned that she had been reading about Gornik in a book for her Religious Classes. I’d heard of it before, Getting to Maybe.
The passage about Duluth starts on page 176 and gave me some dates I’d wondered about. I recall cooking and serving lunches one Friday each month starting in the Reagan Era hard times. Sure enough, the book mentioned that the soup kitchen began ladeling out food in 1982. I continued serving lunch with other Glen Avon Presbyterian volunteers until 1998 when Damiano handed over the cooking to people it was training in as chefs. That program was defunded a couple years later and I resumed my place on the serving line.
I’m not sure if I began singing to Jean in the old or new millenia but she told me she was an Italian, despite her married name, and that she loved Frank Sinatra. I began belting out lines of “Strangers in the Dark” and other songs by that generation’s many Italian/American singers to amuse Jean and the folks lining up for lunch.
I have branched out beyond “Amore” but I can still ruin a good lunch.