Playing for dollars and smiles at O’Hare
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Long before sunrise, Sharon Dawn Middleton gets out of bed to pile on layers of clothing for her commute to O’Hare Airport from her Northwest Side home.
Middleton, 74, catches a 5 a.m. bus, then the Blue Line L for her gig as a street musician on O’Hare’s ground floor. She would like to arrive earlier but there is no earlier bus.
Bitter cold doesn’t deter her; she showed me a nifty vest she wears with battery-operated warmers, “a dandy thing to have” to combat subfreezing temperatures, she said.
In the airport, Middleton sets up a short camping stool, a small amplifier and storage cubes made of fabric in which generous travelers will drop a buck or two or maybe 20 if they appreciate the music she plays either on a stringed instrument called a psaltery or the flute-like recorder.
For three years Middleton has played at O’Hare, outside one of two main terminal doors not far the L station and the elevators for the main parking garage.
O’Hare doesn’t have many spots for street musicians, and this is one of a coveted few, Middleton said. They open on a first-come, first-served basis.
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