Once the bakery had been in operation for a while, a health inspector came to assure the operation was sanitary and safe. He inspected the bakery from top to bottom, and said everything was in order. Everything seemed fine and I was sure we had passed. Yet, after completing the inspection, he just stood in front of the oven and was making no move to sign the health certificate. I wondered why he was stalling and just standing around and then it dawned on me, “Boy, am I stupid. Chicago is the city of the greased palm. Everything operates by way of kickbacks.” Realizing what needed to be done, I immediately said to him, “Sir, can I offer you a complementary loaf of bread?” He smiled and said, “Certainly!” With this I rushed to the front of the bakery to wrap up a fresh loaf for him. When I presented it to him he signed the certificate. Yes, I was learning how to be a good businessman in Chicago.
The Clark Street Bakery was located on the north side of Chicago in the early 1980’s. This is a portion taken from the “Forward”…
The goal at the bakery was to produce good-tasting and nutritious baked goods for the people in the area, and the bakery used only organic whole grain flours, less refined sweeteners such as honey or molasses, and vegetable oil rather than lard, shortening and a lot of butter. No chemicals such as preservatives, dough conditioners, bleaches, or food dyes were used in the baked goods. The bakery sold its goods as a retail community bakery as well as supplying natural food stores and coops in Chicago and Evanston.
Although not originally intended, the bakery was not your ordinary business enterprise. We had a sort of missionary zeal to deliver fresh nutritious baked goods to the people of Chicago. Because our goals were worthwhile, a number of people served as unpaid volunteers to help at the bakery, including two men, Randy and Hans, who lived in the bakery with me the first year. Other people came to work at the bakery as paid employees without my solicitation simply because they wanted to work there and shared our ideals. Some people in the community came as ‘friends,” just to hang out and partake of the social atmosphere. The place functioned as a community drop-in center at times. Over time this rather unique group of people became a type of family who cared for each other and supported each other in the many crises of life.
Tremors In The Cloister is the first book I have published and it came out in July of 2015. Several people have asked me what inspired me to write the work and so I hope this piece will answer the question for those who are interested.
One reason I wrote the book is that it is a unique and interesting story in its own right which would interest a wide category of readers. It is a true story which has one theme of a younger immature man being mentored by an older man, but an unusual twist is that the setting of the story is in a monastery. Very few people, even Roman Catholics, know about the life within a monastery. Another aspect is the changes which have occurred in the Roman Catholic Church in the past fifty years and some of the controversial issues of the past and present.
Father Julian was an older man who had had Parkinson’s Disease for years and we developed a close friendship when I became his chauffeur and assistant in his many naturalist pursuits. He felt strongly that marijuana helped alleviate the symptoms of his disease and although he wanted to publish an article on his experience, he was never able to do so due to his physical problems and the unsympathetic social climate. As there are over one million people who have Parkinson’s Disease in this country and four million worldwide I felt morally impelled to present this information to others. It is not a cure, but it at least helped reduce some of his suffering, particularly allowing him to sleep at night.
I also feel that Julian provides an example for those who suffer from some chronic illnesses of a person who coped with his illness well and lived life as fully as possible. He faced the difficulties of his illness with courage and did not give up or become depressed. He was not one to complain about his illness or seek the sympathy of others, but tried to relate to others as normally as possible. As I have had fibromyalgia and chronic pain issues for several decades, I find my memory of him helpful in this regard. If he lived his life as full as possible without giving up, why should I not do likewise?