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Everything Happens for a Reason

Archive for the category “Family”

SATURDAYS

4024 N Campbell Ave.

I always enjoyed Saturdays around my house back when I was 7, living on the North Side of Chicago on Campbell Ave. Life back then was peaceful. The War was over, People had jobs, it seamed everyone was starting out anew in their lives. Service men had returned, They were getting Married, as did my Brother and Sister, buying new homes ,starting new families, Car makers were back making new cars and people were buying them. Fancy ones. Painted in bright colors and offering new and invented accessories  like Radio’s, Clocks, and fancy upholstering.

1947_Chevy_Fleet_Master-a

Up early on Saturday Mornings. Dad took me to Church at 7:30 in our brand new 1947 Chevrolet as I had to serve Mass at 8:00. I was in 2nd. grade at St. Benedict’s School on Irving Park Road and Levette St. and I was an  Alter Boy there. After Church if the Weather was good, I walked home, about 8 city blocks, If not Mom or Dad were there to pick me up. Back home I changed clothes and had Breakfast which was a new cereal that had come out in the stores, It was called Rice Krispies.  Saturdays meant Shopping day at the Sears Store at Milwaukee Ave. and Cicero Ave. They had a Hillmans Grocery Store in the lower level. Mom and I spent most of the Morning Shopping with a final stop at Lutz’s Bakery on Montrose Ave. for after Dinner Cake or Pies for Sunday Dinner.

Lutz

My Mom didn’t Bake, She cooked some damn good meals but Baking Sweets was not her thing. That was left to Grandma Girard My Dads Mom,or my Aunt Eleanor my Moms Sister. Sometimes my Sister came along with us but mostly it was my Aunt Eleanor who did her shopping along with us. Back home for Lunch which was a Cold Cut lunch meat Sandwich on a Kaiser Roll, A Pickle, and maybe a cookie for dessert. In the afternoon it was a walk down to the North Center Theater on Irving Park, Lincoln and Damen Aveues for an Afternoon Matinee to see the continuing saga of Tom Mix or Hopalong Cassidy or Superman or Buck Rogers Serials along with 25 Cartoons and a News trailer all for 5 Cents. I always bought a Holloway Bar for 2 Cents. After that show was over I would walk down about a block to the Bugg Theater on Damen Ave. for another Movie and another 25 Cartoons. Usually the feature film was Abbot and Costello. That cost me another 5 Cents and I still had my Holloway Bar. On the walk back home I still had enough to buy a Archie Comic Book for a Dime and I had  some change left over to put in my Piggy Bank. The house always smelled good when I got home as Mom would have the Saturday evening meal cooking and I was hungry by now.

Shopping was different then , There were no Malls to go to. Stores were not grouped together I mean each neighborhood had a building on the corner that was either a small Mom and Pop grocery Store or a maybe a Bakery along side it. Maybe one neighborhood had a Meat market that everyone from several blocks around would go to for cuts of Meat but for Clothes it was a travel to a Sears store or stop at the Montgomery Ward store and order what you needed from their Catalog. My Dad being in Construction throughout-out Chicago found stores that specialized in certain things and we travel on a Saturday to them. Like for shoes, There was this shoe store on Roosevelt road around Halsted St. near downtown Chicago that had as my Mom would say” They have prices that we people can afford.

Thom Mcan

It was a Thom McAn Shoe Store that I always got my shoes from as did my Dad and Brother. There were other shoe stores in and around Chicago but the largest selection was always Downtown. There were Florsheim Shoes, Father and Son Shoes along with those sold thru  the Mayfair  Stores or the Fair. Mom and my Sister use to go to Wiebolds on Belmont and Ashland Avenues for their shoes or go Downtown Chicago to Goldblatt’s  on State Street for their clothing and Shoes. One boring part of a Saturday morning was going with my mom and Sister to Woolworth’s Dime Store and sit and wait while they went thru the Simplicity or Butterick pattern drawers looking for dresses to sew. That always took so long and After I walked thru the Dime Store and looked at everything, they were still there going thru patterns, but I was always rewarded for my patients with a stop at the Candy Store for a treat.

Saturday Evenings were always fun. My Dad had purchased a thing called a Television Set and they had it set up in the Living room and after a good meal prepared by Mom, My Brother and his wife Elvira and my Sister and her new Husband Stan would take some of the Dinning room chairs into the Living Room and we’d settle in to watch what programs were being broadcast that Saturday Evening. I don’t remember what shows were on but It was new and we all sat together and watched. Mom would make Popcorn later and we would have a Pepsi along with the Popcorn. Mom had gone out a few weeks ago and bought about 6 of a new thing called TV Trays. I enjoyed Saturdays when I was young. The big thing was we all were together as a Family. I miss that now and then more than anything.

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MIXED FEELINGS

My Girls are celebrating their Birthdays this Month and their entering the best time of their lives right now. I remember my self going into my 40’s and at the time I thought I’m really getting old, but it turn out to be the most exciting time in my life and I ended up enjoying my 40’s. I really felt like an Adult, I had mature Ideas I did Mature things I drove a Mature car and I dressed like a person my age should dress. My Family lived the good life with multiple cars, we sold our old house and bought a large modern house, purchased a Sailboat, Sailed the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico  every Winter for several years, We did Vacations two or three times a year,  The Girls went to the best Colleges, Obtained their Masters. Our income surpassed are spending habits and we owned stocks in all the best companies. It all started to happen when we got into our 40’s so you ask “why are you so sad”?  I’m 30 years ahead of them and I know my days are limited and I want to be here when they get to be my age so they, as I am doing now, look back and see on how great it has been. For their doing all the right things.

When I was in my 20’s I thought I’d never survive Vietnam. It’s very nerve racking when someone is shooting at you, I mean I enjoyed adventure and I was scared but I also had that thin red Line and I guess that got me thru the service and back home again.

The 30’s were hard! Remodeling an old house we bought so we could raise kids in it. Making an old car last a few more years. Our repair and remodeling expenses exceeded our Income, raising two girls and sending them to a Catholic School was costly but that’s what we wanted to do. Somehow it all worked out and “We did it”.

I believe in having a good education, It will get you a good paying job and wanting to succeed drives a person to better themselves and also to drive there children to succeed.  having discipline in raising children and on ones endeavors will eliminate errors and assure successes and also one important thing, having two people who share the same philosophy on the direction of their lives and of their children is a must. two opposing views won’t work for a relationship nor in the raising of a family.

My advice,  Live a good life, Laugh at your errors , Love all that come into your life but also, take the time and the responsibility to make it all work.

IN OTHER NEWS…….

Rather than going into hock, or worse yet sell off our first born, we decided to stay home this 4th. of July. Gas prices being what they are, forking out a large sum of money to repair our AC unit in the Van, Four new tires last Month, Oh yes, Second installment of Taxes this month, it’s becoming almost impossible to stay at the Poverty level. So, we figured that for us to have a nice quiet 4th. of July at home, we would take our last few dollars and splurge on a nice Meal. Corn on the Cob, Super Salad, and a slab of Ribs. Time came to cook the Ribs, it’s Raining, I shucked the corn, buttered it and wrap them in Tin Foil ready to go on the grill. Made a great Salad using Carol’s Super salad Dressing, Rubbed the Ribs, wrapped them in Tin Foil and ventured out into the elements Tongs in one hand and my trusty Umbrella in the other. Now I’ve been nursing the tank of gas in the Grill now for about two weeks, but figured I could get this meal done with before it ran out. Have any of you ever heard about Murphy’s law? His Laws don’t lie! The directions from Weber’s Grill Recipes  says to cook the Ribs for an hour on a medium heat turning now and then, but try not to puncture the Tin Foil wrapping. At approximately 45 Min. into the cooking, the Grill Burped and sighed a relief  as it consumed the last bit of Propane from the tank. Luckily I went and had our spare tank refilled yesterday so I was ready if the situation called for replacing the tank. It’s Raining! Hard! Time to call in the support team. KAY!!!!  As we both stood out there in the pouring rain, Kay holding the umbrella, me switching tanks, The Brush and the bottle of “Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce floating in the pan and the sound of Massive swear words being distorted by the ever pounding rain I got the new tank hooked up and turned on. The igniter won’t work! It’s wet from the rain, Kay run’s into the house to find our portable igniter, I’m left with the umbrella, wet, and really starting to think, Is this meal really necessary? Kay returns and I relight the grill. How much time was used changing tanks? I’ll say 20 Min. A meal that should have taken 1Hr. 20m Min. ended up taking 2 Hrs. In a scene from a Comedy Vaudeville Act, the two of us trying to get the meal into the house was hilarious! I loaded up the tray with the Ribs, Corn, the empty bottle of BBQ sauce, tongs, spatula, brush, hand over the umbrella duties to Kay, She held the screen door while I tried to do balancing act getting thru the door way with the Goodies! Oh by the way, did I tell you it was raining like Hell? We sat down to our meal, both of us wet from the rain, we cleaned our glasses, and said a little prayer and indulged in a 4th of July meal. After we finished, and were surveying the mess on the table waiting for the other to get up and start the clean up, we looked out the window and the Sun was starting to come out. I said, “4th. of July Kay” What? “4th. of July Kay”. “You mean Happy 4th. of July don’t you?” I’m not Happy! I said.

Forecast for the tonight…. Rain.!  No Fireworks.

BIRTHDAY PARTIES

It’s been a long time since I sat in on a 5 year old’s Birthday party. Sophie, Kay’s Grand Daughter had a Birthday party at their House complete with a several slip and slide water apparatuses and a about 15 young girls and a few boys along with their Parents to celebrate her 5th. Birthday in a grand fashion. Kay and I were invited, even if we weren’t, we would have still shown up, just for the Birthday Cake and some Ice Cream. Let me explain!

We arrived on Friday afternoon amid torrential rains and Thunder Storms, and the forecast for the next few days was much of the same. The grass needs cutting, house needs cleaning, supplies needed to be bought, and several plastic pool items needed to be inflated, and the look on a 5 year old Girl who was starting to realize that her Birthday Party my not come-off as she and her mother have been planning for the last several weeks. The corners of her eyes were full of tears about ready to cascade down her cheeks each time the Weatherman would say that there’s about a 80% chance of rain all weekend. Mom and Dad had purchase this huge inflating water slide for the party and a chosen location to set it was decide on, but first, the Grass needed cutting, but Dad couldn’t cut the grass because it was raining, and the outlook was for more rain on Saturday. Mom had all the food and treats and grab bag gifts bought, the Cake was on order, the Balloons had been delivered, and all we could do was sit at the window and watch it rain, and rain it did!

Saturday. Forecast was for rain all day. The tears in the corner of Sophie’s eyes were ready to go over the dam. We spent the day cleaning up the house, cleaning out the Garage, and the patio decks. Kay and Sophie put together all the Party Favors, we set up the Ice Cone Machine and the Cotton Candy machine and made a few test runs of each one. Dad set up the Tractor to the Bush Hog and was ready a a moments notice to go out there and cut some grass. We played games, we colored books, we even baked some cookies to past the time, but alas, it continued to rain. Then on the 6:00 clock news, came the most exciting news we’ed heard all day, Sunday should be partly Sunny with only a 30% of Rain. A cheer went up in the house and a smile was on Sophie’s face. That night as Kay and I laid in bed we listened to the heavy rain pounding on the house and windows and prayed that it would end soon and that tomorrow would begin on a Sunny note.

I awoke at 6:30, my usual time to a strange brightness shining into our bedroom window. Sun I shouted, Sun!  I jumped from my bed and ran into Sophie’s bedroom, opened the blinds and said “The Suns Shining Sophie”  I think I’m the only one in our combined Families that wakes up with a Happy and Positive Mood! Fine, I said, I’m going to get up and enjoy this day. Phooey on the rest of you.  Washed my face, combed my hair( what little I got) got dressed and proceeded down stairs. Made a pot of Coffee, let the dogs out, walked around the house looking up at that beautiful blue sky. The grass was still wet, but given a couple of hours in this sunshine, it’ll dry in no time I said. Within an hour everyone was up and moving. Plans were being formatted  and it looks like Sophie will have her 5th Birthday Party after all. Plan was to have the Party from 3:00 to 5:00 and now it’s 11;00.  Brian fired up the Tractor and began cutting grass. Kay and I helped blow-up the few pool toys and ran the hose out to the back yard for the Slip and Slide. We set up tables and chairs, dragged the Grill around to the back and by 2:30 we had everything ready to go. I grabbed a chair and set myself up out of the way and began to take pictures of all the kids arriving and the look on there face when they saw the Slip and Slide. On went the Bathing Suits and the Party has officially  started. Birthday Parties are sure different from the ones we use to have when our kids were growing up, but I guess that’s a sign of the times.

The food was great, the treats superb  and the day it self was a winner for a 5 year old Girls Pool Party.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOPHIE !

CHICAGO VISIT

My Sister bless her Heart, turned 85 today. We celebrated her Birthday yesterday. It was a Surprise Party for her at her house in Hinkley Il.

That was something I wouldn’t miss for the world.  We knew it would not only be a Birthday Party but also a Family Reunion. I haven’t seen some of my Nephews and nieces for a very long time being were all scattered around and like me, a few States away. Good to catch up on what everyone’s been doing and meeting new members to the Family thru  Marriage and Births.

When I was a young boy, our Family would have every Summer a Family get-together at one of my Aunts Farm in Round Lake Il. (This was in the 40’s) and Round Lake was a fair distance from the city of Chicago and really in the Country. Today it’s a Suburb of Chicago and quickly accessible from anywhere in Chicago. It’s not in the Country anymore. (Urban Sprawl) Everyone would bring a dish and we all sat around a huge table out under an old Oak Tree. The older ones would  sit and talk the day away, We would play Baseball,  and check out the Barn and the different Animals on the Farm. But the best part was the Food and abundant Soda Pops that were down in the old stone-walled basement of the Farm house where  it was always cold. There was no Coke or Pepsi, it was Strawberry Soda, Grape Soda, Root Beer.  Being a City Boy, being on a Farm for the day was always exciting and an adventure for me.

Family get-togethers are becoming a lost tradition nowadays, Why? I don’t know. I think Communication has a large part in it as keeping up with going on in the Families now is just a call away on your Cell Phone.  A day out in the Country and a gathering of Family around a  huge table of food and communicating face to face with Aunts and Uncles, Grandma’s and  Grampa’s, Nephews and Nieces is a good thing and should be brought back again into our Society and to help strengthen the Family units. Lets do it, But please, leave your cell phone back at house.

CIVILIAN AGAIN

My Sister set up a room for me in their basement to live while I got myself acclimated to Civilian Life again.  My Mom had a nice room their also. I retrieved my car   from the storage garage that they had stored it in, and made arrangements to see my old employer again. Frank belles was no longer a Plumbing and Heating contractor in a store front building in Berwyn Il. but now a very large contractor with a Michigan Ave. address in Chicago. It was Bellis-Hanley now and Stan Bellis was pleased to see me again. First thing he said when I saw him again after 4 years was,” Ready to go back to work again?” “Yes Sir” I replied.

Bellis-Hanley had several Multi Million contracts/Jobs going all over the Chicagoland region. At lunch we talked about old workers and where there at now and his plans for the company and If I would be willing to be a part of Belli-Hanley. He wanted to start-up a Refrigeration Service Dept. and new I had some refrigeration Service behind me from my earlier times with the company. I said I would like to try that and would almost do anything for him after the glowing resume he sent the Navy when I first joined. ( I finally got to read that letter when I turned in my Service Jacket at separation).

Stan said he would figure that he could have the Refrigeration Service Dept. up and operating in about a year and that would give me the opportunity to get some classes behind me in the new and upcoming Refrigeration Business, mean while I could start work tomorrow if I wanted at the new Standard Oil Building in Downtown Chicago.

Standard Oil Building 1971

Stan said the Building is only about 4 stories up at the moment and not quite ready to employ several dozen Pipefitters but maybe by March of next year. This is November. I told him I have about 60 days leave coming and was planning on not going back to work till after the first of the year.  He said “call me after the Holidays” and I’ll put you back to work, but in the mean time get some refrigeration Classes behind you and send him the bill for the schooling. I agreed.

I spent the Winter going to schools and taking corespondent courses and learning what there is to know in the up and coming refrigeration business. I kept in touch with Stan Bellis and told him about all the new tools and equipment he would have to have and asked him if he wanted to be in the large Building type service or the small door to door service business. Stan replied “Both”.

I spent a nice Winter schooling myself and going out and visiting old places, but as they say, “You can’t go back”. I looked into getting myself an apartment near by and found one right in the town of Fairview, Downers grove. I had accumulated about $1000.00 in savings and all the money I had sent home to my mom, she had saved also and she returned it to me saying that as long as she lived with Margie, and had a job, she didn’t need it. So one day I went Downtown to Chicago and walked into John M. Smyth, the Furniture Store and started looking at Furniture. A Salesperson approached me and asked if I needed help. I told him “yes” I told him i was recently separated from the service and had just rented a beautiful Apartment in Downers grove and I needed Furniture for it. He then asked what style of Furniture I wanted and I told him I wanted it to look like an Old English Home. I like a busy room full of pictures and color. He said he was an interior Decorator for John M. Smyth and worked out of the Oakbrook Store and would like to set up my apartment to my liking  I signed an agreement and got my self a line of credit although I said I would pay cash. He would come out to the Apartment on Friday and in the meantime, If I saw anything I liked, to tell him and he would put it on hold. His name was John, and he was about as queer as a Three Dollar Bill. It never bothered me and he did a wonderful job of setting up my Apartment just to my liking.

The next day or so I think, I stopped in to the IGA in Fairview for some groceries when I saw this girl. We both looked at each other and knew that we knew one another. “Glen”  she said, “I’m Bill Stocks Sister, Carol.”  God, I’ve haven’t seen her since she was about 16.  Ten years or so ago, We made plans to get us all together at a Restaurant and spend the time getting re-acquainted again.

To make along story short, we dated and eventually ended up getting Married a year later. We had two Beautiful daughters and they’ve grown up to be wonderful Women, giving us two Grand children. This story and it’s continuation can now  be told by others of my life to date.

This Blog  has been fun and the going back and trying to remember dates and events has been challenging to say the least, Please don’t hold them to me as being accurate as my memory is not as good as it used to be. I didn’t tell everything that took place as I thought it was Superfluous , Boring, and not relevant to the story. There is not a whole lot that I would have change to date, Well, maybe a few. I’m a Happy Camper with life as it has evolved and approaching 73 years of age, I’ve sure enjoyed the adventure so far and looking forward to the next one!

Me

YOU’RE IN THE NAVY NOW

Charles Thomas Bailey was what you would call a good old Country Boy  He prefered to be called Tom which I did. He came from a town down in South Central Illinois call Pawnee, just south of Springfield. Tom was a Carpenter by trade and this was all new to him also. On our flight to Boston they feed us a meal which consisted of Chicken Breast and Leg. I mentioned that this was an awful small Chicken they served us and Tom replied, ” well what do you expect for a Chicken grown on a Airplane”! After landing in Boston we had to report to the Navy desk there in the Airport and they gave us tickets for the bus ride up to Quonset point ( Davisville) Naval Base in Rhode Island. Arriving there about 10:00PM. that night we checked in at the gate and were told to bunk down in the Transit Barracks and someone would come and get us in the Morning.

Morning? it’s dark outside when this person came walking thru the Barracks banging on the beds telling us to get up, dressed and be at the Base Reporting Office in 30 Min. Well we reported in and after about 4 hours of getting our Hair Cut, receiving Navy Clothing and talked to like we were stupid. We were walked over to the Mess Hall for some lunch. We were starved!  We were assigned a Billet to stay in and sleep and given a locker to put are new clothes in and told to wait, that someone would come and get us. All in all, there were about 12 of us from all over the country, and enjoyed talking to the others and where they were from and what they did. I knew from talking to my Brother that the Military was very fussy about how you kept your locker and bed looking so I tried my best to make my things look organized and neat.

Around 4:PM. a Lieutenant introduce himself to us and explained what was going to happen over the course of the next 6 weeks.  We were taught to handle Firearms, March, and to wash and fold our clothes just the right way and place them in a special way in our locker.  We filled out more forms, questionnaires and applications that had to do with how much of our base pay would be sent home and how much you would keep. While we were in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, we had a chance to visit a few places nearby in the New England area on Weekend Passes. Before we finished our basic training , we were taken down to Newport R.I. for Fire Training on board ship, although we were told that probably none of us would ever be on board a ship.

I was given two weeks leave after Training and I returned home to my Mom before I was to Travel to Little Creek Virginia for more training. It was during this time that the Airlines went on strike and nothing was flying, so I had to take my Corvette and drive to Virginia by my self. After I arrived there and checked in I was told I’d have to leave my car in the Post Parking Facility and could use it till I was finished with my training. The Training consisted of how to survive and Military Code in Combat. This lasted about 4 weeks. During our training 4 of us Sailors were sent down to Gulf port Miss. to observe some equipment and how it worked as we would be assembling like items later on. We were also tought how to use the “Critical Path Method”  of Construction during Less then Favorable conditions. After our return to Little Creek, we were given orders to report to Coronado Calif. in six days.  But there’s a Airline Strike on!  “Well you better leave now” I was told. California here I come!

I picked up my car and was headed out the gate where about 20 guys I was in training with were all standing outside the gate with there Hitchhiking thumbs a waving. “Where you going ” they asked I said” Coronado California” I said. Only one Sailor was going to the same place so I said :get in” and another adventure began. It took us 4 days to get from Little Creek Virginia to Coronado California with a sack of McDonald’s Hamburgers in the back window (to keep them warm). I have a few stories to tell about driving across America, but I’ll save those for a later Blog.

HI, I’M YOUR UNCLE SAM.

I was Twenty Two now and had a good paying job. I had enough money saved and I wanted a new car. Why I bought a new Corvette I’ll never know. It was fast and cool. Gas was getting expensive lately (23 Cents a Gallon) and there were a lot of places I couldn’t take it. Like Apprentice School, (31St. and Kedzie), Jobs in places you wouldn’t want to park it all day on a busy street.  I would use my moms car and she would drive mine. What a sight to see an old Grey Haired woman driving a sports car. I dated a lot of girls that I would meet in Bars and clubs from as far away as Aurora Il.  and as close as Westmont Il. I never got serious with any of them as I couldn’t afford to change my lifestyle. I did have one that I liked a lot and she wasn’t in any hurry to make any changes either.   Her name was Jeanne Schuster and she was a transplant from Hanover Il. Out by the Mississippi River.  She worked Downtown at Borders Books in the loop as a Secretary there.   We would double date with a few of her friends as well as a few of mine and it was left at that.

Then one day in January I got this letter from my Uncle Sam wanting me to join him in some required Service to our Country.   You could hear the brakes Squealing as my life came to a stop  I had 90 days to get my shit in order before turning myself into the Army.  I didn’t want to go into the Army, I always consider myself as a Navy person.   So I made a trip down to Navy Recruiter and had a nice,  comforting talk with him.  I explained to him my situation with going to Apprenticeship school to become a Pipefitter, Supporting my Mom that I would rather be a Sailor.  I told him I had two more years to go before I was a Journeyman Pipefitter and took a chance  that I wouldn’t be called up till that time. I didn’t want to take a deferment as that one  with time.eligible for the draft till 25.  I wasn’t shirking my obligation to serve in the Armed forces but I was gambling on the time element. He sent me home and wanted to see a letter from my employer as to my status and work ethics, what we had in expenses (Mom and I) and debt.

I return the next week and gave him the papers he wanted, The letter from my Employer was sealed so I never got a chance to read it. He had his Superior( Lt. Commander) sit in with us and after reading and looking at the papers I brought in, they offered me a package I couldn’t refuse.  If I went down to the induction center in Chicago and took the exam they gave and my evaluation was good, I could defer active duty for two years, commit to the U.S.Navy as a Construction Warrant Officer and sign up for 6 years active duty and 4 years reserve.  I agreed! You know me now don’t you. I love an adventure.  Well right after I graduated from Pipefitter Apprentice School, Mom and I sold our house and made arrangements for her to move in with my Sister and I got ready to join the Navy. I had to report down to the Induction center on Monday the 15TH. of May and it was Snowing. 4 Inches we got, and the Navy wanted me to take the Exam again which I did, and about 50 of  us  guys  stood up and pledged our allegiance to the Armed Forces of America. There were two of us going into the Navy that day, Charles  Thomas  Bailey and myself.  We sat around for better part of the day there, they served us a lunch, and about 2:00 PM, they shuffled us of to the Airport to get on Plane to Boston, then by Bus to a place called Quonset Point Rhode Island to start our Enlistment. neither one of us had ever been on a Plane before and for that matter, never been out of Illinois. WOW, another Adventure!

GIRLS ARE EXPENSIVE.

Verlee Fritz was her name, and I had such a crush on her. She had dark hair, good build and was as tall as I was. I had her in several of my classes and I could not take my eyes off of her. I so wanted to date her or take her to a School Dance but I was scared. You see, Verlee was  a popular girl and belonged to several after School Clubs and was very sociable with a lot of other Guys and Girls, I had a hard time being Sociable with Girls after attending a Catholic School that frown at conversations between Boys and Girls. I found it hard being that way and at times, I sometimes thought I would be beneath her in a Social setting. I would go to the Youth Center every Saturday Night in hopes of seeing her and would work myself up “If I see Verlee there  I’m going to ask her to Dance” but I never did. I never did go on a date with her, but she was always, always in the back of my mind.  I had the opportunity to see Verlee again at our 50 year Class reunion and I gave her such a big hug and told her that I had such Crush on her and now, some fifty years later, I’ve had my wish come true. She is  just as  Beautiful now as she was when she was 16.

Reunion 007-M

 

It was while I was working as a stagehand and artist for an upcoming production of Brigadoon that the Music Dept was going to put on ( I belonged to the Choir in school) That I met Carol Dow. She was in the Play and I watched her perform, sing and act. I offered to be an extra during the play just so I could be around her. We talked and it seemed we both enjoyed each others company. After the the Play was over I asked her out to dance and we had a good time and went out for something to eat afterward and from then on, we became “Steadies”.

Now I found I had to save more of my money as it was customary for the guy to pay the way for his date. I had to fix up my Dads old car and make it presentable each time I picked her up. there is not much you can do to make a 1949 Chevrolet look good as it was my Dads old work car. Occasionally  Dad would allow me to use their new car to take Carol out on a special date. It was a 1956 Chevrolet and use to spend hours cleaning and waxing that car. I was going thru the money I made as a Stock Boy at the IGA and found that I had to ask for more hours so I could afford to have a girlfriend. We dated all the way up till I Graduated 1959. We broke up Mutually as I was going to go to College and she had another year to go in High School. We both were ready to move on. I never saw or talked to her again after that.

That Summer after graduation I saw my Mom and Dad get a divorce basically over his Drinking and not being able to hold a job. Mom had gotten a job as a Bookkeeper for the Village of Western Springs  and soon was promoted to head bookkeeper for the Village. She was making good money and got me a summer job there working for the tree trimming dept, and I managed to save a good bundle of money toward College. I was ready to tackle College at Northern Illinois University going for a Major as a   Commercial Artist. I could Draw and I was good at it as my Counselor told me in High School and that might be the field I should put my endeavors toward. My grades were average to good and I did very good on my SAT tests.  Mom and I figured we could make it money wise and with the new job I had at a Hamburger place new in town called McDonald’s and letting me have all the Hours I could handle, it was going to be alright.

Well we were wrong! Later that  Summer my Dad died and left my Mom with a bundle of bills, no life insurance, a small funeral, a grave site purchase, we were broke. College was over for me for the time being. I needed a good paying job to help my Mom and to keep the house we had. My Brother Quin suggested I become a Pipe fitter and with my Mechanical skills he could get me into the Pipe fitter Union Quickly. So started my new career as a Pipe fitter

So as quickly as it started as a Freshman in a new school, it ended 4 years later Graduating, foregoing College and becoming an Apprentice in the Pipe fitters Union. Those 4 years went by so fast and saw so many things in my life change as it change in the world around me. I grew up fast, as most kids did to a  changing world around them. I adapted!

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DOWNERS GROVE IL.

In this town of about 11,000 people back in 1950 it was called a bedroom Community as people would take the train into Chicago to work and then return home to Downers grove to sleep, But that was about to change. More and more people were moving out of Chicago to the country to escape crowding in the city, new-found wealth in jobs. Companies were also moving out of the City bringing their workers with them. Today we call it Urban Sprawl. Downers found it self growing faster than it could handle. New roads needed building, Soon gravel roads were being paved, increased from two lanes to four. New traffic lights, new utilities being taxed and expanded new housing developments were popping up everywhere. But before that all happened, there was the Downers grove I knew. After the War my Parents looked into buying some land in Downers Grove My Sister had gotten married and they bought a House South of Fairview on 61st. St. One of the Principal Land Owners back then was a Family known as the Freidenhagens who lived on the corner of Fairview Ave. and Second St. in a Huge Farm House. They had a Barn and a few Horses which I use to feed Apples and brush when ever my Dad would visit Walter Freidenhagenand my Mom would sit with his wife on the porch and talk.

The Community of Fairview was mostly a stop on the CB&Q line, only a few Business where there. Leo’s Restaurant and Donut Shop, a Freezer Locker store where you could rent freezer space, Barber Shop and a Drug store. a Auto Parts place. A Sinclair Gas Station on the corner of Maple and Fairview, and down a ways on Maple was Cliff Billinglys Shell Gas station and auto repairs. Sometime in the Mid-50’s the Freezer place closed up and a Man by the name of Walter Krammer remodeled the building and open up an IGA Grocery Store and from then on the Community of Fairview became busy, growing place.

Us Guys, Bob Grenendal, Don Klipera  Bill Stock, and myself all lived within 6 Blocks of each other and we walked to school together every day and even work at a part-time job as Stock Boys at the local IGA food market on  Fairview Ave. On Saturdays we were Baggers at the Market, and would break for lunch and go next store to Leo’s Donut Shop for a Hamburger and coke and play the Jukebox while we ate. On our days off, we’d go Hunting after school. Bob and Don would walk to my house and the three of us would walk down Fairview ave to 63Rd. St. and then down a ways to the East to a Farmers Field who we knew and would give him a Half Dog (Pint) of Whiskey that Bob and Don picked up at Leo’s Donut Shop, who also had a shelf full of small bottles of Whiskey that he sold. Leo knew us and the reason for us purchasing the Whiskey.  One of the first Convenience stores for that time. Bill didn’t come along as his parents didn’t allow him to have a gun. Can you see that today, Three boys carrying Shotguns down the street and it  didn’t raise an eyebrow.

Several hours later with our pockets full of Pheasants and darkness setting in the Three of us would head back into town. There  every Wednesday at 55Th. St. would be Officer Frank, One of Three police officers in Downers Grove, waiting for us. “Throw the guns in the trunk boys, I’ll take you home”. Life was good in Downers Grove back then, and we were a bunch of good kids. Then something happened, “Girls”, Hanging around with the guys was about to change.

When School Started again the Fall of our Junior Year we had all become a little  less interested in hanging around with each other. I really don’t know why, maybe we were getting older and the things we would do together were not as important anymore. We still went to Football games and walk down to school on Friday nights to the basketball Games and return to Leo’s Donut Shop for a Coke. Mostly the conversation was about Girls we liked, and the excitement of maybe seeing them at one of the Games.  Bob and I had our favorites pick out and Bill had his even though he was a year behind us two. Don was also a year behind but his enthusiasm  for Girls wasn’t as strong as the rest of us. Don was not as you say an attractive looking Kid, He wore thick glasses and smoked like a freight train and his clothes always looked like he slept in them. and his grades were terrible  We offered to help, but his direction in life was different than ours. He lived with his Brother and Mother both who were very strict  Don just wanted to get High School over with and go to work with his brother in a Factory in Melrose Park. He lived in terrible conditions in his House and would rather we meet  at one of our houses  then meet him at his house. Bob’s Dad worked at Western Electric in Cicero an had a stay at home Mom. Bills Parents were always receptive to the rest of us, and we enjoyed listening to them talk in there Canadian Accent. Bills Dad worked for Swift Meats in  Downtown Chicago. His Mom was also a stay at home Mom. Then Douglas called me and said that they were moving to California. His Dad was transferred out there by the Tool and Die Company he worked for and were moving their factory from Chicago to Anaheim  Cal. and they were paying his way to move his Family out there. He promised to send me his new address when they got settled and he did. We continued to write each other for many years to come.

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