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Enter the debunking article

A tree grows near Woodward
Is the leaning tree still there? When I was a student in the Divinity School, we lived and worked as resident heads in Upper Fisher, one of the six houses in Woodward Court. We moved into the dorm when our oldest son, now a junior in high school, was only 14 months old. We believe that Kyle helped us land that lucrative job. We were told the housing office wanted a “family presence” in the dorms.

On most any sunny afternoon, after my hours of studying and writing, Kyle and I would walk out of Woodward Court, past the funky, all-metal, modern art, which he was too young to climb, and cross the street toward the Oriental Institute. Kyle would climb, under my careful watch, on the leaning tree that grew sideways in the little bit of green space next to the O.I. We would be waiting as Kris, my wife and Kyle’s mom, walked home across campus from her job in the University of Chicago Hospitals. When Kyle first saw his mom as she turned the corner toward us, he would sprint toward her knowing he would be hugged and kissed with all of his mother’s sweet attention. It was, she always said, the best moment of her day.

Not much later, another son was expected. The female undergraduates in Woodward Court and Kris had many conversations during those nine months that I was not welcome to share. Walking across campus to the hospital was a little too much effort for Kris in the last minutes of those nine, long, Chicago months. So our neighbors in the dorm, resident heads in Upper Wallace, drove her the couple blocks to the emergency room. Once Kyle settled in with some toys and his pajamas in their apartment, I called the University Police for a ride.

When they heard my story, “My wife is having a baby,” they responded very quickly. Our son Michael was born at the Hospitals on August 21, 1991. He came home to sleep in our family heirloom cradle next to us on the third floor of Woodward Court. Kyle had been supplied by the housing office with a twin bed just like his college-age friends whose rooms were all around us. Many days I sat in a rocking chair holding our newborn son and gazing out our apartment window at beautiful Robie House across the street.

Woodward Court is part of our family heritage. The students adored our young sons. We had a regular and dependable list of babysitters. The cafeteria staff catered to our family with devoted attention. When Chicago winters stopped their outside playtime, Kyle and our neighboring resident head’s son Mark would race their tricycles in a large circle around the common unit beneath the cafeteria. The students graciously enjoyed these noisy little boys in their living space.

We live in Pittsburgh now, and our boys have not been back to Chicago. But we keep these family memories alive, and someday we will return to stand on the sidewalk next to that sacred space, admire the new, and tell stories of our days in Woodward Court.

Mark Englund-Krieger, PhD’98
Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for space and clarity. In order to provide a range of views, we encourage writers to limit themselves to 300 words or less. Write: Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 5801 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Or e-mail:



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