Sally Schwartz in front of her cigarette lighter collection.
I am so pleased that Sally Schwartz agreed to answer my nenasnotes questionnaire. Sally and I have known each other for many years and when I retired one of the many articles about me that appeared in the local press asked about my favorite things in Chicago…one was the Randolph Street Market. I had attended all of Sally’s endeavors through the years and never missed the RSM. Sally saw the article and asked if we could get together. Over breakfast at Ina’s (don’t we all miss that fantastic unique restaurant and Ina’s huge warm personality, at least we can follow her on Facebook and read her restaurant recommendations in the Chicago Tribune. Just not quite the same!!!!) we discussed everything we could think of and I casually said, “if there is any way I can be of assistance to you, let me know”! Sally didn’t miss a beat and said come work with me! I became the Fashion Director for RSM for several years and assisted vendors in their presentations, did fashion lectures and, of course, brought in clients and helped them shop. I am no longer formally with the Market but am called upon to attend special preview nights and, of course, attend (and shop, of course) the monthly Markets, how could I miss them! I love posting finds on my Instagram and Facebook sites as well as showing some of my RSM treasures in nenasnotes. What is more important is that Sally and I have become very close friends, a friendship I treasure! Here are her thoughts…..
WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
I was always organizing activities and very creative, not always practical, in how I approached the world. Stuff came very easily to me as a kid, I was very resourceful with materials and loved making macramé, writing and playing songs, choreographing dance numbers, putting on plays. The first event I remember actually spearheading was a kid’s carnival to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. We had tickets, a roller coaster(of sorts), dunk tank, I think I was around 8. Then when I was 11 I threw a Valentine’s Party with my best friend and we had the whole class, we made valentine’s for the girls who weren’t going to get any and just wrote “love your secret admirer” on it. Everyone went home happy. Then I threw an 8th-grade graduation party, and on and on. I used to write and type my college papers while throwing a party, I would sit with my typewriter while everyone partied around me. I guess I thrive on chaos.
Sally with husband, Reid Brody. One of my most favorite couples, they are amazing!!!
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”
When I met you, Nena!! My first big party with my own party business at age 25, I got you to donate goodies from Saks for the wives of all the big daily newspaper publishers — you were (and still are) my idol! (Nena’s note…Oh My!!!!) Then my biggest profile success when I first designed the Chicago Antiques and Collectibles Festival in the mid-90’s. It was like throwing a party and having everyone show up for it. It sort of shocked me to set out to do something and actually do it. But let me say that it is very easy to do something amazing and have it be a fluke and lose it all. When I lost the site where that event was being held (it was sold and now has townhomes on it) it took me 10 years to relocate to the West Loop so you could say I had it, then I lost it, then I found it again.
One of my favorite photos of Sally and her treasured daughter, Kasey Kozak, at a summer Randolph Street Market.
HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
My passion was for collecting art and antiques, but also for throwing parties. So I was buying real vintage props to decorate my parties and was running to snippychuck and yarrsville (my mom’s expression) to flea markets. There was no market in the city and I thought it would be fun if there was.
Sally holding court in her Cabana at the Randolph Street Market.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
If I couldn’t be a movie critic or a travel writer, I think I would enjoy being a secretary and just being told what to do. Also a professional greeter or telephone operator. I can talk to a wall and you don’t take that kind of work home with you!!! But I also love coming up with logo design and designing products.
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, could and have, read it over and over and over. I also love Madame Bovary, Scarlett & Black, Cousin Bette. I don’t really love anything current, I love the visual period description of lavish settings and characters in these books.
I love the great movie sets but there are too many to mention, I could watch movies all day. Gigi, Funny Girl, Fiddler on the Roof, all the great musicals I could watch over and over. Turning Point with Shirley MacLaine, Suddenly Last Summer with Katherine Hepburn and Liz Taylor. Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks. Trainwreck with Amy Schumer is an all time favorite.
The Glencoe Theater – it no longer exists but it’s where I saw everything from Winnie The Pooh, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and Jaws. Best giant boxes of Good & Plenty. Went to many a birthday party and date there.
My mom used to take me, she actually danced at the Lyric in a ballet when she was a kid and always pushed me to take ballet which I did for many years. I was pigeon toed and couldn’t turn out, it was very frustrating but I still love going to the ballet. I always loved seeing anything Twyla Tharp. But seeing Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake (I think) and seeing Baryshnikov in anything.
Madam Butterfly and La Traviata
TYPE OF MUSIC
I love guitar, anyone who can play and sing well – from country to jazz to blues to classical
I used to love Charlie Trotter’s, I grew up with him and had many a special occasion there. My new fave is bellyq in the West Loop, so delicious, perfect.
Collecting cigarette lighters and reading. coloring books are so fun – I used to play the mandolin but I would have to cut off all my nails. I really wish I could cook or do gardening but I’ve been horrible at both.
A portion of Sally’s lighter collection in its new home.
HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC
We have a modern house with lots of period furnishings. It ranges from mid-century modern to 1940’s to French Victorian to global. I guess this is what is referred to as eclectic!
The ruler of the house, Purrcee, bejeweled and sitting on one of Sally’s needlepoint antique chairs!
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE
Tim Samuelson, the Chicago Historian
The whole Rat Pack – Frank, Dino, Sammy
And of course, NENA!
I’d have it catered, maybe have fondue pots — and obviously unlimited amounts of cool cocktails
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST
Nevis and anywhere in the Caribbean
FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART
Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture, Nuclear Energy on the University of Chicago campus, the site of the first nuclear reactor.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
As someone who didn’t owe anyone money!! As having a good heart and leaving the world a better place.
Nena’s note….no one could have a bigger better heart and with all Sally does she is definitely making the world a better place!!!!
Next Market Saturday and Sunday, February 25 and 26 from 10 to 5 each day. www.randolphstreetmarket.com
FROM SALLY’S RECIPE BOX
Sally’s Easy As Beans Veggie Chili
2 cans 15oz each black beans drained & rinsed
2 cans 4.5oz each chopped green chilies
1 can 14.5oz Mexican stewed tomatoes undrained
1 can 14.5oz diced tomatoes undrained
1 can 11oz whole kernel corn drained
4 green onions slices
2-3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 Teaspoon dried minced garlic
Combine all ingredients in a 5 qt slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 5-6 hours or cook on low 8 hours. Makes 8 cups. Serve with shredded Mexican cheese, chopped onions, and sour cream.
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