“Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop No self-editing, no trash-talking and no second guessing: just go.”
Fond Memories: Chicago’s South Side
Following the July 4th weekend, the news out of Chicago reported over 60 shootings, leaving sixteen dead, including a 60-year-old woman walking up the stairs to enter her home.
Most of this gun violence is coming out of the South Side of Chicago. I grew up on the South Side in the 1950s. There were gangs but they fought with their fist, with a rare, rare shooting or knifing targeted at a rival gang member.
Unlike today, where the gun violence in Chicago is rampant, the neighborhood I grew up in was a safe haven for the people who lived there.
I have fond memories of my childhood on the South Side of Chicago.
In the summer months, days were filled with outdoor games that kept us children involved in some type of activity from morning til night. Some of my favorites were:
- Double Dutch Rope
- Red Light/Green Light
- Hide and Seek
- Little Sally Walker
- Lightning Bug Searches
We slowed down around 8:00 pm and would sit talking on one of our front porches until our parents called us in.
I was three years older than my best girlfriend, Jackie. For some reason, the difference in our age was never a reason. We were in and out of each other’s homes daily. I was an only child. But, Jackie had seven sisters and two brothers.
On Fridays I always managed to end up at Jackie’s house for dinner. Each week, the menu was either Spaghetti and Meatballs, Hamburger and French Fries, or Chili-Mac.
In retrospect, the last thing this large family of eleven needed was another mouth to feed.
Jackie and I remained close until I left the neighborhood to enter a new phase of life as an army wife.
63rd & Halsted
I lived about three blocks from 63rd and Halsted — the major shopping area for the South Side of Chicago. There were large retail stores like Sears, Goldblatt’s and Wieboldt’s. Smaller clothing and shoe stores — both high-end and budget. The two places, I liked to browse were Kreske’s Five and Dime and Grants where I could always find something to buy with my small weekly allowance.
My Last Visit
Under the Chicago Urban Renewal Program, my old neighborhood was demolished back in the late 1960s. My last visit was probably around 1975. Driving through, I felt disconnected because what I remembered was no longer there.
I wish the families now living in my old neighborhood are blessed with a new Chicago Urban Renewal Program that will address the issues they face on a daily basis — poverty, inadequate housing, inferior education, crime, and gun violence.