So here is a short list of what is going to be in the story:
A bit about the parents: 1930s Chicago ambitious law student works at Hardings Restaurant in the Loop where he meets the former art student now waitress thanks to the Depression who becomes his wife. He’s an ardent Catholic, her family are atheist activists from Poland, but she promises to raise the kids in the Catholic church, anything to land this catch. A law student husband was a big accomplishment for a girl in 1930s Chicago.
1949, they now have three children, three girls age 11, six, and a newborn, me, Kathryn. Family moves from Chicago to the rural area along Route 20 on the way to Elgin. The young criminal lawyer invests in 20 acres of farmland surrounded by woods. The house on the land may have been a mansion. It was huge. It had a ballroom and a tower. It was in the woods between Bartlett and the country club. We saw sheep on the other side of our fence.
Family became active in the new little Catholic Church in Bartlett, where Father Thomas Berry Horne, the pastor who came with the new church from Chicago singled them out quickly as friends. Dad became an usher, mom played the organ during Mass, and priest made visits to the family home several times a week. Dad traveled a lot for work, mom was bored and alone on 20 acres with a newborn and two older girls.
Father Horne was soon diddling the mom and the six year old. Eleven year old was painfully humiliated at being ignored by the pedophile priest and kept running away from home, for reasons no one understood. Mom carried on shamefully with the priest, but it was rural Illinois cloistered in wealth, plus she was an atheist at heart, and grew up in the Roaring Twenties.
Father Horne lost interest in Patsy, as she grew older and by the time she was 10, he had dumped the plumping awkward little girl in favor of Kathy who had just turned five.
Kathy was an enthusiastic participant with the pedophile priest. Out there on the ground in the woods he lit fires in her with the cloudy Illinois sunshine in the trees behind him. After Father Horne’s visits Kathy would run around the house panting with excitement, out of control energy. On other occasions when mom was practicing her organ music for the upcoming Sunday Mass, little Kathy would go off to the rectory behind the church with Father Horne, playing with him on his little mattress on the floor in his room. There was wine. There was some strange thing we smoked in a pipe. Kathy could hear her mother’s organ music coming from the church, the discordant clang of her hitting the wrong keys as she practiced a Mozart sonata.
My family was a pedophile priest’s dream come true: wealth, reverent Catholic dad who was never home, atheist mom who was bored and neglected her kids, plus we weren’t just rural we were out in the woods. But then we upset his applecart so to speak. My dad ever the real estate investor sold the house in the woods and we built a beautiful new home from scratch, right in the town of Bartlett (now Village of Bartlett in the middle of a mass of suburbs, but then a sleepy town about 8 square blocks with a train station and. . .)
The brand new house was a bike ride away from the church and soon little Kathy was showing up at all times of day, panting with excitement as she knocked on the rectory door, chasing around looking for Father Horne because she wanted to do it some more. Father Horne would be embarrassed when she’d track him down. A couple times he acted like they hardly knew each other. Kathy was getting confused.
But ever enthused about all the things the pedophile priest had showed her, Kathy started to tell it to the world. She’d babble about sexy things she did with Father Horne at the dinner table embarrassing her parents and their guests. She talked about it at school, at church. One time she even took a few kids from the neighborhood in Bartlett up to a tree house where she led them in self-touching techniques, showed them all how to masturbate, not even knowing that’s what it was called. She had a tree house full of boys and girls touching themselves all just because she was so excited about what the priest had shown her and she wanted to share it with all her friends so they could feel all that excitement too.
People were starting to talk.
So one day Kathy and her dad piled into the 1953 Plymouth, an exciting day, Kathy got to go all the way to Chicago with her dad and nobody else. They went to a cathedral like building. Kathy was taken into a big dark room with large office furniture, high ceilings, and wall-length windows, but it was dark -- Chicago skies. Out of the dark came the face of a man, the bishop they called him, and he looked down at the little girl and spoke with a brogue. “You’ve been doing a great deal of talking about you and Father Horne haven’t you, my dear?” Kathy nodded. Cardinal Stritch then put his face down very close to hers and said in a very stern voice but it still lilted in an almost melodic way. “You babble, my child. You have to stop babbling.” Then he leaned closer. “Sometimes it’s better not to tell the truth, to tell a small lie, if the small lie will help protect a greater good.” Kathy knew what he was talking about and she kept her mouth shut. She did not mention what the priest did to her again for 40 years.
In 1979, 25 years later, little Kathy was now Kay and living in Texas. One thing led to another and at age 30 she had a degree in Journalism from UT Austin and landed the job of a lifetime. NASA created a position for her in the public affairs office at LBJ Space Center in Houston. It was a time when NASA was expanding. They’d just hired the first class of astronauts for the space shuttle. Kay was sharp and NASA actually did create the job for her after her creative letter writing campaign. So in September of 1978 she had her own office on the sprawling south Houston site. Kay mainly edited the inhouse newspaper, but she also wrote press releases about work going on at LBJ space center, where about 25 thousand people worked in development of a lagging U.S. project, the Space Shuttle.
A couple reporters were grilling her one day, saying, come on, you know there’s a lot of danger with the tiles the way they are now on the shuttle.
To be honest, in the office next door to Kay a PR guy from Rockwell had been working about a year and he had whispered that truth to her a while back, and to be honest, everyone who worked on the Space Shuttle knew the tiles might burn up on re-entry, as they did in 2003 when the Columbia burned up and the entire crew died.
“There’s not a problem with the space shuttle tiles any more. They fixed it with the glaze. Those stories are all exaggerated.”
That job at NASA did not last three years. Once stories started to get back to her bosses about the way I pursued astronauts at parties and my carrying on with pilot types and flight engineers who stayed around them, or anyone really, the lowliest tech, as long as they were somehow connected to this roadway to the sky that was the space program, I’d go after him.
Another reason I couldn’t keep the job at NASA was the 15 page security form they gave me to fill out. But see, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Little Kathy and Dad came home from their day trip to Chicago and the family suddenly had even more money than it had before. Plus dad had a new job in corporate law so we packed up and moved to California. The brand new beautiful house in Bartlett went up for sale and we drove out Highway 66 and bought a home in San Marino, south of Pasadena.
Somewhere along the way we stopped going to church at all.
To be continued. . .