| 11 | Wednesday December 17, 1986—one more meeting downtown

    
      We didn’t hear from them for nearly two weeks.  We were getting worried about whether we still had a deal, but Manuel counseled us to wait for their call.  We finally got it, and four committee members went down to Park District headquarters with Manuel on a cold and windy December 17th.  Anna Lilia was in Puerto Rico.  Ernesto was in Miami.  Nora was in her native Germany.  

     Jesse Madison was sitting on his conference room throne, along with his team.  He was chatty and collaborative--clearly over his anger: “The problem with Plan C is…we just can’t afford all that shrubbery!  Not for the whole City.  But I talked to Don Nash; he’s an old friend, a distributor for Coca-Cola.  He does  things for young people, improves recreational opportunities.  So his distributorship will pay for your trees and bushes.  The other playlots won’t get it, but this is just a pilot program.  If it goes citywide, we have to cut more costs.  I’d like to put a small monument in there, crediting Coca-Cola for helping defray our costs.  Take a look at the final plan.”  He passed out a detailed architectural drawing that looked like Plan C.  We approved it in design, but disapproved of any commercial advertising.  The subject was never again raised. 

     Madison continued:  “Now, we’ll start construction in March.  First we’ll dig out all that concrete.  [insert dated photo of bulldozer] And we’re going to put a big sign on the fence honoring the neighbors who made this happen.  What do you call yourselves?”  “LSNA,” I said.  “No, it’s not going to be LSNA,” said Madison.  “It’s going to be ---what’s the name of your playlot group?”  “Parents for a Decent Playlot,” said Delia.  “That’s it,” said Madison.  “It’s going to honor Parents for a Decent Playlot, and the Chicago Park District.  [insert dated photo of sign on fence] Oh, and I want you to come up with a new name for the playlot.  You can choose whatever you like.  Within reason,” he smiled.

     “By mid-year we’ll have a ceremony; make sure there’s a large crowd. I want you to be finishing the touchup that day, so we can get photos of the community working.  We’ll provide a picnic lunch; then we’ll have the ribbon cutting.  I’ll try to bring the Mayor—this is, of course, assuming we’re still in office!  I also want to recognize Don Nash.  But I don’t want any more surprises.  From here on, we’re on the same side.”  

     After this meeting, the five of us went out to de-brief with cocktails--to celebrate.  We went to Casa España, a Cuban-owned restaurant on the south side of the circle around Logan Square, where Dunlay’s is now located.  We walked past the men shooting dice in the darkened bar, and got a table.  We ordered large margaritas.  We had called the Extra to tell them we had breaking news.  A reporter in the office agreed to stop by.  He did an interview and took our picture. 3 The next day, we prepared a flyer announcing the agreement with the Park District, which we circulated door-to-door, just before the Christmas holidays. 4

     It had been only 5 months since Manuel had first gone out cold, door to door, fishing for an issue…and he had caught the big one.    [insert dated photo of Manuel in front of playlot]

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