December 1997

...And That's My Opinion

by Sandy Goldman

The bells ring for those who can hear.

Charlotte Goldberg heard the bells and throughout her life she responded. The bells rang first in the early 50's when construction crews appeared on Sheridan Road to construct high-rise buildings on the lakefront. "Oh no," she said and Oh, no it was!

There are perhaps a handful of people living in Rogers Park today who will remember Charlotte Goldberg. She was 75 years old. For all those years she was a fighter for ideas and for ideals. "Charlotte often disagreed with some RPCC Board members", said John O'Neal, a former RPCC President. "But she always took the high road. What will the general assembly want she would ask us? We must do their bidding. Let's bring it to them and let's discuss and let's vote. Let it be the assembly's decision. We are not little gods." She was feisty!

She fought also on the health front for many years. Finally, she lost that battle. Too many attacks on the heart in the body that pumped adrenaline from day break to dark night. She motivated many of us to action. She knew how to battle. She knew when to battle. She was a fighter. She responded to the bells!

On October 21, 1997 the bells rang for the last time and Char stopped fighting. Oh, maybe she stopped a bit before that (some do)!

But I choose not to see that. I remember the other woman. The one who organized the famous "Bags of sand from our endangered beaches" mailing to mayor Richard J. Daley, protesting development and encroachment on the Sheridan Road Lakefront. Everytime we walk on the beach or swim in the water, we should be grateful to her and her contemporaries who held their positions, against all odds and despite all detractors. They fought with fortitude and courage and they prevailed.

In 1952 Charlotte helped organize the RPCC and eventually, became the Executive Director, serving until her retirement in 1984.

The bells rang again in the 1970s when Char and other community leaders formed the Allied North Side Community Organization (ANSCO) to prevent the former Edgewater Country Club property from falling into the hands of a condo/shopping center developer. Today, we enjoy Warren Park and the Robert Black Golf Course instead. It could have been different, but she heard the bells!

Charlotte held dear the RPCC Housing Court Program. She was proud that it became the model for other programs throughout the city. She basked in its successes and how much difference it could make in the lives of people: "Good housing; good people; good community. We must strive to keep out the bad guys," she would say. She would go to housing court and back it up. She played in the center ring and she battled the big boys: lawyers, aldermen, slumlords, judges and some developers. Often she convinced them and often as not they became friends (but she never let down her guard). Many of these friends attended her retirement party in July 28, 1984 and praised her.

I served several terms as 1st Vice President and President while Char was Executive Director. My first real introduction to her came during my tenure as Chairman of the annual Hi-Neighbor Day Carnival in 1970. It was during a rain delay when we were sitting in the information booth. Charlotte looked at me and said, "Why don't you become a director?" She told me of the council activities to save the beach and Warren Park and about RPCC input into the Lakefront Protection Ordinance. She spoke of building inspections; Tender Loving Care Awards; the Interfaith Clergy; the Nortown Rogers Park Mental Health Assoc. and all of the other things the council had done. Little did I know that she had given me the $10,000 speech. It was the same one she had given to so many before and to so many after: she rang the bells for so many. She gave me a barrage of reasons why I should join and I did.

 Charlotte believed an informed community would make the right decision. She believed in grass roots democracy. To say that we never crossed swords during my tenure would be inaccurate. But to paraphrase Alexander Pope, Charlotte became a friend, a confidant and a teacher in the affairs of community--and I thank her!


Now, the bells have tolled.

Now the bells are silent.

They wait to be rung!

...And that's my opinion.

And I'm Sandy Goldman

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