FAMILY FUN AND ADVENTURES
My Parents and Siblings grew up during the Depression and by the time I came along things were starting to improve. In 1940 my parents bought house at 4024 N. Campbell Ave. It was in the North center Neighborhood of Chicago and it was a nice house. About a block away to the South and across Irving Park Blvd. was a Park, Paul Revere Park. It had a paved path around it and a big Field House that posed many programs for kids to join and a huge Wading pool with a fountain in the middle. Douglas my friend and I would spend a lot of time there during the Summer. Prior to my parents buying their first house on Campbell Ave. they lived with My Dads parents on Merrimack Ave. a little ways North and several Blocks West. It was the depression and no one could afford a house. My Mom and Dad lived up in the Attic with my brother and Sister, My one Uncle and Aunt lived in the basement with their two kids, Ray and betty, and my other Aunt and Uncle, Milton and Arliss, shared the first floor with my grand-parents. It was common at that time to have multiple Families living together. My Uncle Milton worked for Ball Canning Company and would later in the 60’s be transferred out to California. My Uncle Ray was a Meat Cutter and would later become the head of the Meat Cutters Union in Chicago. My Dad was an Apprentice in the Steamfitters/Pipefitters Union in Chicago and would become the Superintendent for Bechtel Construction Co.
From conversations with my Brother everyone got along just fine. The men had fun running a Whisky producing mill in the Basement and sold Whiskey to the taverns during Prohibition. My brothers job every morning before going to school was to rotate the barrels in the rack. During my Childhood I remember us all getting together for picnics and birthdays and the Holidays. My favorite Uncle and Aunt was from my Moms side, her Sister Eleanor and Ed. They would always pick me up for a weeks stay at their house and take me along when they would drive out to Woodstock Il. to visit my moms other Sister Mary and her husband Elmer. They had a farm there and a Son Wayne. Uncle Ed would joke with us two and take us Fishing and into the Town of Woodstock for a Chocolate malt. I remember one day he said to Wayne and I, ” Just call me Ed” no need to call me Uncle. Well it was several weeks later he and my Aunt Eleanor were over at our house and My Uncle said he’d give me a Quarter if I would play a song on the Piano. (I took Piano lessons) after playing them a song, he gave me a Quarter and I said, “Thanks Ed” My father jump up and gave me a slap that I still can feel today and said ” That’s your Uncle Ed, and you will call him Uncle Ed till the day you die” My Dad was strict, Old German ways and respect was paramount. My Uncle Ed explain to my Dad what he told us and Apologized for doing it, But I could see in my Dad he was not happy with my Uncle Ed.
Speaking of Uncle Ed, He and my Aunt lived down on Western Ave. just south of Grand Ave. in Apartment above another one of my Relations Aunt Margaret, my Moms Mothers Sister who also live there with the The McElroys. On an invite from Aunt Eleanor my Mom allowed me to take the Streetcar down to their Apartment. As you’ll learn, I was an adventurer and I had no hesitation in taking this trip. I got to ride the Streetcar all the way down Western Ave. It cost my Mom a Dime to send me there.(1948). Of course Aunt Eleanor was there waiting for me and to make sure I got off at the right street. as I think back, my Mom must have known I had a good head on my shoulders and was responsible enough to make the trip at eight years of age.
My Dad was good to me. He built me my first pedal car out of sheet metal he had made for me at work, He’d take me to see Trains, he taught me Baseball and bought me my first Bicycle. He taught me to drive a car, He was generous at Christmas time and even though he was NOT a Religious Man He did applaud me for doing what I did for Church Services. Than one day he snapped! He became an Alcoholic I don’t know what caused it or why he started to drink, but life in our house changed from that time on. I have all kinds of Memories, good memories of my Dad when I was growing up, but very few of when he started drinking.