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Our Times 3

Varda Burstyn

  • How I Became a True Radical

    I was 19 years old in September, 1967, when my new husband and I got into his funky old Volvo fastback, the one that looked like a late-forties Ford, hooked it up to a U-Haul trailer, drove from Toronto to Chicago and set up housekeeping. We rented a modest apartment, an English basement as they called it, in Hyde Park, the University of Chicago neighbourhood on the city’s South Side. Though our street and a few others where students lived were down at heel, generally speaking Hyde Park was a place of gracious homes, commodious apartment buildings, green lawns and the graceful, gothic buildings of the campus itself. Bruce was on a graduate scholarship, and he’d chosen the University of Chicago over Harvard and Columbia. He was 24, and well travelled. He knew New York and the American northeast well. He wanted to get a sense of the American heartland before he settled down to life and a career in Toronto. Besides, this was the land of Studs Terkel.

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