Road Trip to Indiana, Part II

When I awoke Friday morning, little did I know how much Lucy the Cocker Spaniel and I would end up having in common by that evening.

I can’t help but think my brother Paul had something to do with what happened, too. I had often asked if I could spend a week or two at the house. It’s so beautiful there and I imagined myself spending all day writing by the pond, or on the patio. I thought of it as my own personal Ragdale, if you will, without the application process.



Even though I am a delight of a houseguest, Paul was never very enthusiastic about the idea of me spending an extended period of time there. Terry said I was always welcome, anytime. Maybe Paul was kidding, but after what happened Friday night, I’m not so sure.


Terry went to work.   

Lucas treated the house and surrounding areas like a national park, snapping photos of every thing from every angle.

I spent most of our last full day outside, playing with Rudy and Sky.

Never pet a cat while wearing a Bandaid.
Never pet a cat while wearing a Bandaid.
Sky; Mid-belly rub
Sky; Mid-belly rub
Rudy, striking a pose.
Sky-selfie; she didn’t want me in the photo.

Lucas offered to prepare supper, so I got out of his way. When Terry came home, the three of us sat down and ate every delicious thing Lucas had prepared, and enjoyed a nice peaceful evening together.

Until the itching began.

During supper, I couldn’t stop scratching the right side of my mid-section, right where my jeans sat on my waist. I didn’t think much about it but as we cleared the table, the itching became unbearable. I picked up my shirt a tad, and, since I can’t see over The Girls,  asked Lucas if he saw anything unusual.

Unusual is asking your almost 21-year-old son to check out your abs, or the place where abs should be.

Lucas, who didn’t seem traumatized by my request, took  a quick look, yelled, “Oh my god,” and backed away from me. He’s usually pretty “chill” about most things in general, so I knew he wasn’t joking. I ran into the bathroom, hoping I was tall enough to see my mid-section’s reflection in the mirror.

I stood on my tip-toes. There they were. Welts. Red welts. Itchy, red welts had invaded the right side of my abdomen. One was working its way toward my belly button, and several began to form on my right arm and leg, as well.

I ran out to show Terry who immediately said, “You have chiggers.”

“I have What-ers?”



Terry got out one of his bug books and and said, “They’re not still on you.”

Of course, I heard, “they’re burrowing into your skin, having babies, and making you itchy!” I took this news calmly, flailing about the house, shedding clothes as fast as I could, and perhaps shrieking a tiny bit. I heard later that Terry told my mother, “I’ve never seen so much of Leslie.”

I think I kept my underpinnings pinned, but can’t remember. The thought of bugs setting up camp on my body, combined with the itchiness was driving me mad. Mad I tell you!

I took a shower and boiled my clothes. Terry told me I had the  worst case of chiggers he’d ever seen.


I could now empathize with Lucy, except I didn’t smell bad.

I sat on the sofa in clean pj’s, and texted my girlfriends back home for support. When I told them Terry brought me Benadryl, and a cup of tea, you could almost hear the collective, “Awwww” crossing over the border from Illinois. Terry has always been so sweet and thoughtful, and I’ve always felt lucky to have him as my other brother.

Terry with Corey and Brandi.
Terry with our great friends, Corey and Brandi.

My friends were sympathetic and even texted me remedies they had looked up online:




Richard was not as kind. After penning beautiful texts and leaving loving voicemails all week, I received this:


And this:


I had taken many photos with my phone that day. As I lay on the sofa, I decided to calm myself by looking at the pretty pictures I’d taken using the magic box (the Benadryl was kicking in.)

As I scanned through to the end of the photos, I sat upright. I remembered Terry reading out-loud that chiggers tended to jump onto human hosts from low-flying plants, usually at dusk.

By George, the pictures on my camera made the evidence jump out at me! The scene of the crime was as clear as my skin had been before the chiggers invited themselves over for a snack. I had solved the Mystery of the Invading Chiggers!

Exhibit A:

Rudy lolling about in the low-flying plants.

(Exhibit B is not technically an “exhibit,” but more of an an explanation.)

Exhibit B: Who do you think was sitting with her right butt cheek amongst the low-flying plants, while balancing herself on the patio with her left one in order to take this picture?


Lucas drove all the way home so that I could knock myself out with Benadryl, sleep, and try not to scratch (scratch, scratch, scratch!) That night at home, I tried the Vicks Vapor Rub and salt idea. Wow! It worked! I did it for two nights and it really helped. Of course, I had to wash the salty sheets because Richard didn’t like being exfoliated by errant salt throughout the night.

But the best trick I learned was one I figured out myself: The Reverse Bridge Pose Powder Application. Since I couldn’t wear an apparatus to confine The Girls, I realized that, thanks to the laws of gravity, and some knowledge of yoga, a Reverse Bridge Pose was ideal for applying powder underneath those otherwise hard to reach areas.


Oh, and one final thing. I “designed” this t-shirt to commemorate our trip:


Yes, Beth*. There will  be a part III about our incredible day Saturday at Greening the Statehouse in Indianapolis, with Jesse Kharbanda, and Caitlin Priest.

*I am now required, by the laws of Beth, to insert the name “Beth” into every post.

The Silver Linings

Terry, my mother, my sister, our family, and friends will never be able to understand or accept losing our two favorite people, especially within 19 days of each other.

But, we can tell Norman’s jokes, if we can remember them and (even harder) tell them as well as he did. And, we can eat and enjoy every single morsel of food, especially if it involves peanut butter and/or chocolate.

The man even ate Iguana once. My parents were vacationing in Mexico and at dinner one night my father ordered the #7, not knowing what it was. He told me he had said to the waiter, “This meat is very good! What is it?” The waiter said, “Iguana.” My father said, “It tastes like chicken!” I’m not sure if he kept it down, but he was an adventuresome eater who truly savored food, as well as family, friends, and life.

And, we can honor Paul by dancing like no one’s looking, telling jokes, laughing, knowing not to take ourselves too seriously, being present and in the moment, learning and trying new things such as whittling, playing the banjo, and cutting down a dead tree with a chainsaw from inside a rowboat in the middle of a pond (well, perhaps that’s not such a great example! Mom, it never happened!)

Paul wasn’t afraid to live life. He and Terry hiked mountains, went caving, traveled the world, and enjoyed every single thing they did together; even splitting firewood with an ax for the wood-burning stove that warmed their home.

When Paul decided he wanted to learn how to ski, he went to the top of a mountain in Utah. He didn’t waste time on “bunny hills.”  There are many more things I could say, but I will keep my promise that I’d never tell my mother about them.

We can also strive to quietly achieve at least one or two of Paul’s qualities of which there are too many to list, but very few people innately possess. He was kind, gentle, humble, non-judgmental, generous, funny, knew what the meaning of the word “fair” was, and diplomatically tried to make the world a more fair and better place. He was that rare person we were all lucky enough to know and will never forget.

Paul’s friends and colleagues in Indiana would like to hear from his friends, family, and classmates. Only you have the insight into what it was like growing up with Paul.

I was much younger than Paul, and much, much younger than Beth, so I don’t remember much, except that I thought he was really cool. And he had the best hair. And, he was the only person I’ve ever known who could ride a unicycle around the block while juggling.

Please read the message below and respond directly to Jesse Kharbanda

Share Your Reflections, and Learn More

If you would like us to add a tribute that you’ve written about Paul’s life or have any thoughts or questions about the Paul M. Chase Memorial Prize, please reach Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, at

Contributions to the Paul M. Chase Memorial Prize can be made at:

Thank you,

Terry Briner, and the rest of Paul’s family
Home » Paul Chase Prize

Paul Chase Prize

Paul Chase was a great advocate, lawyer, son, partner, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend.   In his more than thirty year career as a lawyer and advocate, Paul stood up for the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly, and the financially struggling.   He advanced the causes of affordable energy, climate change action, civil rights, consumer rights, health care access & affordability, and renewable power.   Paul’s remarkable abilities, character, humor, and warmth were widely appreciated by the entire breath of the Indiana public interest community (as seen by the tributes below), including our organization. Paul, our treasured personal friend and professional colleague, was tragically taken from us, due to a car accident, on June 25, 2014.

In celebration of the life of a true champion of social justice, the Hoosier Environmental Council has established the Paul M. Chase Memorial Prize.

HEC aspires for the Memorial Prize to be not only an annual honor to a worthy young Hoosier who follows in Paul’s footsteps, but a fund for a modest annual scholarship.    We are very thankful that this Memorial Prize has the blessing of Paul’s beloved partner, Terry, and that our announcement of this honor at Paul’s memorial service on July 2nd provided comfort to Paul’s family overall.

If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please go to our Donation page and write “Chase Memorial Prize” in the comments box of the Donation page.   If you would like to give a general gift to HEC in memory of Paul, please write “in memory of Paul Chase” in the comments box. In either case, we will notify the Chase Family of your thoughtfulness and your generosity.

Learn More About Paul’s Life and His Great Impact

Our treasured friend

Fran Quigley, a law professor and long-time advocate for social justice, wrote a tribute in the Indianapolis Star, and Shelia Suess Kennedy, a prominent political commentator and law professor, wrote a piece about Paul here. John Cardwell and Nancy Griffin, champions for health care access and affordability, write of Paul in the Indianapolis Star.   Mike Leppert, long engaged in the Indiana political scene, shares his thoughts about Paul.   Many mini-tributes for Paul can be found at the Shalom Memorial Funeral Home page as well as in this Indianapolis Stararticle.


Share Your Reflections, and Learn More

If you would like us to add a tribute that you’ve written about Paul’s life, write to us at, Subject: Paul Chase.
If have any thoughts or questions about the Paul M. Chase Memorial Prize, please reach Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, at

Cruel Summer


paulpic copy

At 7:30 P.M. last night, Wednesday, June 25th, 2014, everything I’ve ever believed in, hoped for, or placed my faith into was shattered.

I received a  phone call from Richard who had left for Florida at 3:00 A.M. with his brother, David, to help their parents move into a new condo.

When Richard called I had just returned home from the hardware store after having coffee with my friend, Alyson.


He told me to sit down, so I sat on the garage steps. He said that he had the most  horrible news to tell me. I asked him if my mother was okay. Was it my sister?

“No, it’s Paul,” he said.

“My brother? He’ll be okay, right?”

“No, he was killed in a car accident.”

I yelled at him that he was making it up. I told him he was lying. I told him it wasn’t true and  then I hung up. I ran into the house from the garage, up the stairs and back down again. I heard a sound that I had never heard before. It was coming from me.

My son Lucas and his friend, Robert, came running to find me to see what was wrong.

Without thinking, I repeated what Richard had just told me. I remember hearing Lucas smash something. I don’t know what it was, as if it even mattered. I didn’t care. He had every right to do whatever he needed to do at the moment.

Robert left just as Veronica walked in with her boyfriend, Aaron. Richard had called her, too, even though I didn’t want him to because she’d have to drive home after hearing about her Uncle Paul.

Feeling guilty for not being able to comfort my own children, I ran outside. I heard that sound again. It was otherworldly; a combination of a wail, a scream, a cry, and a moan. I fell to my knees and asked God how he could take away my father and now my brother in less than three weeks.

Not that it made it any easier for us, but my 82-year-old father had become handicapped over the years.The lung cancer he had only recently been diagnosed with was shrinking, and we went out to celebrate his clean CT scans. Then, on Friday, June 6th, 2014, his heart suddenly gave out as he walked into the house with my Mother, looking forward to eating the Burger King and Duncan Donuts they had just bought.

But my brother? He was 58. He had a great life. He was in love with Terry, his life-partner of  38 years. Paul was the favorite child. Terry is #2.

Paul deserved to be the favorite child. He was perfect. He was gorgeous. He could grow an afro that defied gravity, and a garden that came alive in perfect harmony. He was smart, helpful, humble, caring, generous, creative and talented in so many ways, and had a soothing voice that instantly made me feel safe from the moment I was born.

My mother referred to Paul as a “Professional Do-Gooder” because he gave up being a partner in my father’s law practice in Chicago to lobby on behalf of non-profit organizations, such as groups that supported people living with HIV/AIDS,  AARP,  and, most recently, Covering Kids & Families of Indiana, to improve healthcare access for everyone.

Just last Sunday (four days ago) he had driven here from Nashville, Indiana. We knew he could only stay one night because he had a conference in Indianapolis early Tuesday morning, but he came to go over a few legal matters with my mother.

When he arrived, he went with Beth, Sam, my Mother, and me to the cemetery to visit my father. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go to the cemetery so soon after burying my father, but knowing Paul would be there gave me the confidence to get through it. It wasn’t easy, but it ended up being comforting.

I don’t know why I didn’t get to say goodbye to Paul on Monday, like I usually do. He said he had sent me a text so I could come over to Mom’s to say good-bye, but I never received it. It was okay because we both knew we’d see each other again soon. He said he’d be coming into town more often now that Dad was gone, plus my mother and I were planning the first of many road-trips to visit Paul and Terry.

Two days later I was on my knees, that sound involuntarily bellowing out of me, as I screamed, “No! This can’t true.” I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder and turned to see my friend Rosa. Richard had asked her to come to the house to stay with me for a while.

When I saw her, no matter how many times I said it couldn’t be true, she told me it was. Her husband, Art, and their son, Noah came and embraced me, too.

Eventually, I knew it was true. I had just recently begun to get the images of my father’s body in the hospital and in his casket out of my brain when images of my brother started to flood my imagination. A car accident? The images were too horrific for me to let them take over. I didn’t even know what had actually happened.

We came back into the house from the yard. My sister and brother-in-law, Sam, arrived. Our friend Steve, who Richard had called, walked in, grabbed me and held me.

Terry had called Beth to tell her, and then Richard, poor Richard, to tell him. Everyone in our family knows that Richard is the best messenger.

But, Mom didn’t know, and Richard wasn’t here to tell her. After nearly three weeks of trying to get used to living alone, she had finally decided to go out to dinner with friends.

There’s a Jewish saying that bad things happen in threes. My sister and I were sure my mother would collapse and die the moment she found out about Paul, so Beth called Mom’s doctor to ask for advice. I suggested Mom be placed into a medically-induced coma; a good reason I should never become a doctor and stick to my day job as a writer.

Art, who is a doctor, and Sam, who is a gentle soul and whom my mother adores, were elected as the most competent to go to the house to tell my mother. The rest of us waited to see what Mom wanted us to do. I thought she might want to come to our house, to get away from her house for the night, but she asked that Beth and I go to her house. Lucas insisted on coming with us.

Between the three of us, the sound of the loss of my brother was perverse and scary. Lucas waited patiently for Beth and me to release our Mother, and then wrapped her safely in his arms.

The howls of grief escaping from my sister and mother began to make me shake. I felt dizzy. I needed to go home. Rosa, who had stayed with Veronica, Aaron and Noah came to my Mom’s house to pick up Art, Lucas and me.

Veronica went to sleep in her room. Lucas and I slept in the living room with the dogs. Richard flew in this morning. He had offered to fly to Indianapolis, and then drive to get Terry in Nashville and bring him here, but Terry didn’t want him to do that. He wanted to drive here. We thought Terry was going to drive alone, so we were relieved when he said his friend, Rhea, was coming with him. So here we are. At my mother’s house, waiting for them.

I’ve always believed in a being greater than me. I always thought things happened for a reason; that is until 7:30 last night.There cannot be a reason, or even an explanation, for my brother to have been killed.

My mother said last night that we’ll never recover from this. I think she’s right. It’s just us girls, now, and our wonderful husbands and kids, but our family of five has been ripped apart within the span of less than three weeks. There just can’t be a purpose for that.

Please understand if my writing is sporadic for a while.

Thank you,


Please read these beautifully written tributes about my brother, Paul:

“At a Loss for Words About a Loss” by Sheila Kennedy


“Kindness Wins” Opinion piece by Dr. Quigley, Clinical Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis

“Paul Chase Accomplished Much for Indiana”










The African American Jewish White Girl

AADC 1981-82 warming up at TV studio before performing and filming Lemonade Suite

In 1974 I chanted Hebrew as a member of the Jewish community in front of family and friends, and celebrated my new-found womanhood at North Shore Congregation Israel, in Glencoe.

In 1981 I danced onstage as a member of The African American Dance Company (AADC) of Indiana University, and celebrated the resurrection of Lazarus’ “dead” body, played by the only other Jewish white girl in The Company on the stage of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Indianapolis.

After the performance, we were treated to a delicious dinner supplied by the Women’s Auxiliary of the church. I ate food that was better than anything I had ever tasted. I said to one of the male dancers, “Wow! That spinach is really good!” He laughed and said, “That’s not spinach. That’s greens.” Talk about feeling white.

Years later, while having lunch with our friends, Savannians Alex and Michele Raskin, at Mrs. Wilkes’ Boardinghouse, I learned the secret of making great-tasting greens. Now, I make some of the best non-Kosher greens east of the Mississippi.

As members of the AADC we danced, took lecture classes, had exams and learned about African culture. We learned how African dance evolved, forming the basis of tap, and many other forms of dance. Since my mother was a tap dance teacher for 25 years at the Carol Walker Dance Studio, I found it all fascinating.

Professor Iris Rosa (ProRo) founded the AADC in 1974, and poured her heart and soul into all of us. The alumni were recently told that ProRo is retiring at the end of the year.



My parents performed in many benefit shows together while I was growing up.

If you have one of these, please leave a comment after this blog post.
If you have one of these, please leave a comment after this blog post.
 [Barat College- in master class with Dennis Wayne of Joffrey ballet c. 1974 Taking a Master Class from Dennis Wayne of Joffrey Ballet at Barat College c. 1975.  Notice I straightened my hair so it would look nice. It didn’t look that nice after the class.
I was a dance-studio “rat.” I grew up at the Carol Walker Dance Studio, in Highwood, Illinois, where my mother taught tap dance classes for 25 years, and my much-much older sister, Beth Chase Avraham, and I used to perform at local schools with The Carol Walker Dance Troupe. Of course, because of the huge age difference, we didn’t perform together.
After taking a Jazz class with Randy Duncan or a Modern Dance class with Carol Walker, I’d come home and thank my parents for genetically giving me their strong legs and sense of rhythm. After ballet class, I’d come home and “thank” my father for genetically giving me his flat Fred Flintstone feet that made being able to get on pointe next to impossible.

Auditioning to become a member of the AADC was especially important to me because, even though our years at I.U. never overlapped, my brother had been a member of The Company five years earlier.


The experience of being a part of the AADC family is an integral part of who I am now. Plus I had the opportunity to dance every day, which I loved, and to perform frequently, which I didn’t. But, once I’d get onstage, I had no choice but to do what I was supposed to do, which helped take my mind off of being perpetually nauseated. Vomiting onstage? Not cool. Unless you’re a 70’s rock star.

I remember once standing frozen in the wings, thinking, “There are four other dancers already out there. They won’t miss me.” Iris Rosa, the director of the AADC, found me and told me to get onstage. I’m glad she did. I didn’t like it, but I knew I’d eventually get used to it. I haven’t.

I know that a big part of the reason I didn’t go out on-cue was because all I was wearing was a purple leotard, purple tights, and tap shoes. Nothing else. No skirt to cover my adipose tissue. No dress to smooth out my curves or tame my boobage. Plus, my boyfriend at the time had thoughtlessly remarked that in that particular costume I resembled a grape. I broke up with him shortly thereafter.


The first time I remember truly enjoying myself onstage was when we performed at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The stage was low and closer to the audience than any other stage on which I’d tried desperately not to throw up. And, being able to look into the eyes of kindergarteners who sat with amazed, mesmerized faces thoroughly enjoying every single move we made, gave me a newfound confidence to smile at the faces smiling back at me, allowing me to temporarily forget how terrified I usually felt in front of an audience.

I knew I didn’t have what it took to be a professional dancer; like arched feet, weighing 80 pounds, and little things, like being able to balance and pirouette on pointe,  so I decided to transfer to Lake Forest College to study Creative Writing that upcoming fall.



My final performance with the AADC was in the spring of 1982 on the main stage at I.U.  I was going to miss this family with whom I had spent nearly every day during the school year. We had fun, especially when we weren’t in rehearsal and spent entire classes dancing to Michael Jackson’s 1979 album “Off the Wall”.

But I was excited,too, because my parents had come to see me dance. We debuted “Lemonade Suite,” a piece that combined Iris Rosa’s choreography, Dr. Kenneth Ware’s original score, and the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks.

My bio in the program read, “Leslie Jo Chase (dancer) is a junior from Highland Park, Illinois. Majoring in General Studies, this Capricornian likes to dance, play tennis, read, and cook.” I was grateful the editor of the program added our astrological signs; otherwise, mine would have been as plain as, well, white bread.

I was one of the dancers in a part of “Lemonade Suite” titled “The Mother.” It was the most dramatic piece in which I have ever danced, and the only one that didn’t cause me to be afraid to be onstage.

The stage was dimly lit. The background music sounded like a funeral dirge that intensified as we walked slowly and aimlessly with blank stares out onto the stage, and then fell to our knees.

We clutched and contracted our midsections, as if we’d each received a fastball to the stomach delivered by a Major League pitcher, as the narrator spoke the first word of the poem with agony in her voice: Abortion.

My parents must have been so proud.


There was much more writhing, contracting, and rolling around the stage in remorse as the narrator repeated the words of Gwendolyn Brooks, “I Loved you All.” It was haunting, and powerful, and, just a tad embarrassing because I knew my father was videotaping it.

The last segment of ”Lemonade Suite” was “The Wedding Dance.” That was really fun, and not at all embarrassing to perform. But, I had to rein in ”the girls” by binding them up with an ace bandage beneath my dress to prevent getting  a black eye.

That would have been quite the Pas de Don’t.

The audience didn’t just sit there clapping politely when we finished a piece. This audience enthusiastically showed us all of its love — while we danced — by cheering, screaming, clapping, and then jumping to its feet yelling, “Break that body!” Their infectious enthusiasm and encouragement moved me to dance better, harder, and have more confidence than I’d ever had before. I knew I might never feel that way again so I let loose and became “Leslie, the African American Jewish White Capricornian,”  “breaking her body” to the delight of the hundreds of people in that auditorium. It was exhilarating. It was magical for me.

For my parents? Oy.


But, to this day, they laugh about a letter I sent to them that included an article and photo from a local newspaper about The AADC. I noted on the side, “I’m the first person on the left on the 3rd step.” My mother called and said, “Did you really think we wouldn’t be able to pick you out?”

Before the end of the year, we recorded a DVD of “Lemonade Suite” at the I.U. television studio. It was shown on local cable stations and used as an educational tool in schools, helping children learn to make good choices.

Years later, I contacted the Black Film Center at I.U. and bought a copy of the DVD that I watch from time to time, always feeling proud to have been a part of something so profound. (Of course, when I showed it to my husband and kids, they thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen.) But, most importantly, I actually DID weigh what my driver’s license said I weighed for once in my life.

My brother and I went to th 25th reunionIMG_3281 of the AADC in Bloomington, Indiana in 1999 and were invited to come back in April, 2014, for the 40th reunion. We thought about going, but then realized it fell on the same weekend our family had decided to have an early Passover Seder so everyone could be together to celebrate our peoples’ freedom from bondage in the land of Egypt, as it is said.

I’m looking forward to the 50th reunion, so, in case anyone on the planning committee is reading this and wants the three or four Jews who were in The African American Dance Company to be able to celebrate with you, Passover is Tuesday, April 23rd through Monday, April 29th, 2024.

If it doesn’t work out, don’t worry. I’ll just sit in the dark, alone, waiting for the invitation to the 60th anniversary. May we all live and be well, and still be breaking those bodies!


My brother, Paul Chase, was killed in a car accident on June 25th, 2014, three weeks after my father passed away from a sudden heart attack on June 6th, 2014. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If only we had attended the 40th anniversary celebration. But, we didn’t. Iris Rosa, and her husband, Anthony Artis, attended a memorial service for Paul in Indianapolis, on July 6th, 2014, created by all of Paul’s friends and colleagues. Iris, the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met, brought along an AADC 40th anniversary commemorative pin, and gave it to me at the service. It’s one of my most prized possessions.

Images of Lemonade Suite are the legally protected property of Indiana University.