Living most of my life around the Elmwood Strip, I have come across a wide array of characters – Elmwood personalities. There was the Lady in White, and to this day Eric Starchild and Sylvester, and a few others. These are the people that, love ’em or don’t understand ’em, make the street an interesting place (understatement of the year).
Yesterday a friend told me that he heard that one of the longtime Elmwood familiars had passed away. Jeanne, or “Screaming Jeanne” as she was known in certain circles, was no longer with us, he said. He then pulled out his phone and showed me a video of Jeanne that blew my mind. It was a clip from Woodstock (1969) with Jeanne describing the philosophy of emotional colors. In the video, Jeanne, rather eloquently portrays the relationship between colors and emotions.
After watching the video, I was awestruck that this was the same person who had become such a troubled Elmwood fixture later in life. While I had never carried on a normal conversation with her, I was aware of a few others who had. Mostly I saw her ranting and raving as she walked down the street, confronting unsuspecting people along the way. Looking back, I was also aware of her love for animals, as she would alway stop to pet my dog – something that I found remarkable, as the presence of animals appeared to suddenly snap her into a lucid state of mind. Jeanne also had her good months and her not-so-good-months – at times she would simply go about her business. Other times it would behoove passersby to cross the street when they saw her approaching.
Reading the comments following the YouTube video, a number of people recognized the Woodstock hippie as Jeanne from Elmwood Avenue. A friend of mine notified me that her given name was Valerie “Jeanne” Cooper, and that people just called her “Jeanne”. For those of you who knew Jean as “Screaming Jean” on Elmwood, here’s a completely different look at her back in 1969…
*Lombardo Funeral Home, visitation Tuesday, June 23rd, from noon to 4 pm, at the corner of Linwood and Summer streets. Service to be announced at a later date.