Standards

When I was a girl, growing up in Illinois, my father belonged to a men’s club. It was the only one in Chicago that catered to German Jews. My father prided himself on the fact that he was the first Russian Jew ever to be accepted into this prestigious establishment. The Standard Club was that kind of a place. I loved the Club, as we called it, with its sweeping marble staircase, its library, the enormous open spaces that I raced up and down as a child.

Everything about the Club was huge. It suggested wealth and largesse and a secret world of men and privilege. Women weren’t allowed to be members. There were whole floors that excluded women, and my mother complained about this, often bitterly. But to me, as I dashed through the second floor, my patent-leather shoes clicking on the marble, the strong scent of cigars and men’s cologne wafting my way, this made the Club all the more mysterious.

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