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Thursday Letters: Muddy Waters’ home needs facelift

Muddy Waters home on South Lake Park in 2013. | John H. White~Sun-Times

My father-in-law, Tarik, has lived his entire life in and around Istanbul, Turkey. One of his favorite blues artists is Chicago’s own Muddy Waters. However, if Tarik ever visited the North Kenwood home where Muddy lived and rehearsed from 1954 through 1974, he’d be sorely disappointed — and sad.

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This past weekend I took the opportunity to go see the house myself at 4339 S Lake Park Ave. The morning’s light drizzle fell upon a home in such rough shape that it bears the Red X — the dubious distinction bestowed upon buildings by the Chicago Fire Department that means “building unsafe to enter, even for fit people wearing helmets.”

How can it be that the former home of an international icon, a pioneer of the Chicago electric blues, is left to rot? I refer you to Buddy Holly, another world-changing 1950s musician whose childhood home (a replica, actually) now anchors the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas — a city not much bigger than Aurora. It boasts a full museum and gallery, parties, private event space, and education and outreach programs. All of this helps keep Buddy’s wonderful legacy alive and gives people a reason to visit Lubbock. They are soon marking Buddy’s 80th birthday (Sept. 7) with a special celebration.

Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters

Our buddy Muddy? His birthday has been forgotten. Chicago, a city obsessed with “big plans,” has thus far failed to genuinely pursue even modest designs for preserving and showcasing its rich musical history on the South Side. A Muddy Waters museum can only be rightfully constructed at 43rd and Lake Park. Yet here we are with a Red X and a measly, bent historical marker on the front boulevard. Tarik and all the millions of blues fans around the world have no reason to come to Chicago or extend their stay to experience this pathetic site.

Let’s get the family and stakeholders together, make no small plans and raise no small money. Note: Political will and commitment required. But think of the accompanying economic and cultural benefits for North Kenwood and for Chicago at large!

Chris Noth, Bowmanville

All wet

The poll that shows 61 percent of voters support the water tax to save the Municipal Employees pension fund is all wet. This tax is for the alderman past and present who are in this fund. Because they continually agreed year after year not to contribute their fund and other city pension funds, it’s only fair that they raise their own contributions to make up the shortfall.

Robert Megaro, retired city worker

Cape Coral, Florida

Thank you, Chicagoans

Chicago’s stamina to cope with massive tax increases, untold debt (due for payment in 2038) red-light hi-jinks, daily increases on utilities and bills — we are not even aware of yet — has tested Chicagoans patience in the face of a crime wave and leading the nation in murders.

Pretty picture? How our average citizens cope is amazing —with kids in schools, parents in nursing homes, others left to take their lives sitting on front porches. Chicago police, men and women, are out protecting the city, fire fighters are out putting out fires. Only our Cubs are in a positive winning posture.

Where do Chicagoans get their stamina, grit and vision to continue on? No longer hog butchers — instead digital problem solvers can be found throughout the city. Even McDonald’s is looking for the pixie dust at Harpo’s old location. The city is on the move based on its own fortitude, vision and heart — ingredients not yet taxed!

Thank you Chicagoans, you are a remarkable amalgam of foolhardy souls, entrepreneurs and winners — even as the city is stumbling, we should all feel proud being Chicagoans, in spite of our government here and in Springfield — in the words of a most cherished hymnal — we shall overcome.

Vincent Kamin, Loop