- Slices of Life: Jazz Professor Chip McNeill throws himself into his work
- Slices of Life: Jessie’s first fight
- Slices of Life: The longings of … a beautiful boy
- Slices of Life: Former pastor now hand-crafting beautiful furniture
- Slices of Life: Bishop seeks life for his church despite bleakness of neighborhood
- Slices of Life: Still missing his wife of 36 years, man keeps himself occupied at Champaign laundromat
- Slices of Life: Iraqi woman relates tale of her ‘rebirth’ in America
- Slices of Life: After meeting on dance floor, Harrises waltzing through life
- Slices of Life: Entrepreneur has spent much of his adult life belying a label from his high school days
- Slices of Life: Danville woman adores her flock of feathered friends
- Slices of Life: A sacred fire: The last of a farming line, a father soldiers on
- Slices of Life: University of Illinois student grateful for his journey to belief
- Slices of Life: Dave’s Firearms is a place for camaraderie — and camouflage
- Slices of Life: Never give up: The constant message at Restoration Urban Ministries
- Slices of Life: Area families struggle to find life after a soldier’s death
- Slices of Life: Missing the music
- Slices of Life: Willie Summerville: “Somebody say ‘Amen'”
- Slices of Life: Longtime local rabbi remains forever grateful for ‘sparks of holiness’ during a dark time
By MARISA GWIDT — “Oh, boy,” Charlie High sighs as he watches a college student drag in four heaping bags of laundry. “She won’t finish in time.”
It’s 9:50 on a Monday night at Starcrest Cleaners in Champaign. Charlie’s supposed to lock the doors at 11. Yet here is this young woman, opening a silver front-loader and preparing to toss in a load of darks. Charlie, 67 years old, hobbles over in cuffed, faded jeans and intervenes.
“Uh-uh,” he mutters to the student, shaking his head as though she were about to make a grave mistake. “I recommend that one,” he says, pointing to another washer outwardly identical.
“Really? What makes that one superior?” she inquires with a smile, already starting to inch over in its direction.
The question clearly takes Charlie aback. His customers rarely engage him — the Monday-through-Friday janitor — in conversation. Charlie removes his navy blue Sturgis biker hat and thoughtfully smoothes his thin gray hair with stout, pale fingers. He then replaces his hat and leans his short, heavy-set frame against the recommended washer.
This story was written by a University of Illinois journalism student in Professor Walt Harrington’s Literary Feature Writing class taught in collaboration with The News-Gazette. Funding for the class, which was taught at the newspaper’s headquarters in downtown Champaign, came from the Marajen Stevick Foundation. The story was part of an occasional series titled “Slices of Life” that ran in the newspaper’s Sunday Living section. All the stories in the series are also collected in the book “Slices of Life.”