Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thanks for the Ride, Russ!

"I was a friend of Russ Tutterow."

Chicago was my home in the late 80's when knowing Russ Tutterow connected me to a new family far away from my hometown, Berkeley Springs, WV.  A fresh theatre college grad from "back east," I arrived in Chicago and settled in my first studio apartment.  Russ was my first dinner guest.

I will never forget the look on his face staring at my Italian sausage plate of spaghetti.  I guess it really was kinda funny; but Russ graciously accepted my West Virginia hospitality, an expression of gratitude for his help when I was new in town, during the days when the Chicago Dramatists Workshop was still on Halstead (right street...I think?...it's been such a long time!)

While attending one of the many gatherings of playwrights, during the holidays of 1989 Russ looked at me all decked out in my finest holiday comfy clothes (I was barely 5 feet and 7 months pregnant) and said, "Angie...you look like a Christmas bulb!"  Bob Goodman giggled.

Later in early 1990, when I found myself soon to deliver my first baby much earlier than expected, Russ went to the airport to pick up my mother, arriving from West Virginia.  Over the last 25 years, she has never forgotten this ride and I have often heard her retell the story where the first words she heard getting off the plane were from Russ Tutterow: "Congratulations!  You have a new granddaughter!  The baby arrived early, delivered after an emergency C-section just a little while ago."  Now remember, Russ had never met this woman.

Quickly receiving a hard slug in the arm from my West Virginia momma and a surprised "NO! Already?!"...Russ then drove my mom to Ravenswood Hospital to meet the first grandchild of her only daughter.  This, my mom will share, was a ride she will NEVER forget.

My mom, me, and Russ Tutterow.
In the hospital after Caity was born, Jan. 1990.
Arriving to Russ' car, he gently explains with a twinkle in his eye that his car had recently been stripped, by thieves!  Unsure exactly what to expect, my mom rode to the hospital driven by Russ Tutterow in a lawn chair!

Still, she too will add "I was a friend of Russ Tutterow."

Shortly after Caity was born, I eventually moved back to West Virginia where I remain today.  Of all the excitement of living in Chicago and loving the theatre scene, what I always missed the most was the ever warm hug, twinkling eyes, and smile of Russ Tutterow.

The news of Russ' passing yesterday morning makes my heart sad because

"I was a friend of Russ Tutterow."
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