Is it possible to hide something as big as two football fields in a city like Chicago?

When we were at the Salvation Army Chicago Temple on Chicago’s Near West Side, 50 feet from our Madison Street doors lived a man called Saymo.  You would call him a street person.  Saymo with his shopping cart was a familiar sight in our neighborhood.  Someone told us that he once had been married to a school principal.  I never did learn his full story.

But I learned where Saymo lived.  Under the sidewalk.  Vaulted sidewalks ran along that stretch of Madison.  It has something to do with Chicago’s soggy past as a city built on marshy wet ground.  Saymo found a buckled concrete slab which allowed a person to crawl under it into a rather spacious cavity, enough for sleeping and, well, whatever a person would want to do in such a home.  Madison Street in the 1980s was still a dangerous and wild place though becoming only a shadow of what it had been during its 20th century bowery days.  Perhaps Saymo found a safe place under the sidewalk.

Perhaps Saymo’s home served as a place of hiding.  But he may not have needed a place to hide.  A person who is homeless is already hidden.  To most of us, a non-person.  Virtually nonexistent.

In the city it is possible to hide 1,500 six foot tall marijuana plants and it is possible to hide oneself.  Cities are strange places.  In the midst of so many people and so much stuff, things are hidden, even lost.  One man can be in a city crowd yet isolated, alone, anonymous.

The sidewalks there along Madison Street no longer buckle, no longer offer hiding places.  But many things are still lost in the city.  Big and small.