My adventures with Douglas probably started when I was 7 years old. (Guess) Our times together prior to 1948 were of getting together and riding our bikes around the neighborhood sort of exploring parks and just goofing off. Douglas lived on Western ave. in a third floor Apartment a few blocks South of Belle Plaine Ave. and were only a Block away from each other. His Father was a Tool and Die maker and his Mom was a Housewife. Joe and Alice Marini. Doug had a pull out train set that slide under his bed that was available all year round where mine was strictly a Christmas time set -up. When the days were rainy or too cold to be out, we would get together at one or others house and play games or draw trains or make small crafts. I think our Moms were happy that we had each other to play with as they didn’t have to amuse us. I had my Sisters old two wheel Bicycle and Doug had a old two wheel Bike his dad had and we became proficient in riding around and pretending we were trains. On nice days we would pack a lunch, take our savings from the past week and go ride the Elevated Trains around Chicago.( 10 cts.)
(Riding the elevated train)
Sneaking under Turnstiles we could spend the whole day riding the Elevated and Riding the Subways of Chicago. Our Parents knew of our plans and had no objection to our wanderings, as there was no issue of two boys of 7 or 8 years of age riding Public Transportation. We would ride our bikes up Western Ave. to Wilson Blvd. (about 12 blocks to the Elevated Station), lean our bikes against the steel pillars of the elevated and along side the entrance into the Station.
(Western and Wilson Aves. 1946)
Pay our Dime and go thru the turnstile and then up the stairs to the platform and catch the first Southbound train into the city. We would transfer between trains going South to Englewood then back and catching a train out to Oak Park, then back to the city and catch a train up to Evanston. Back to Belmont Station, transfer over to the Subway and tour the Subway System of Chicago. Back to Belmont Station, Transfer over to Ravenswood Train and back to Western Ave. Total time was about 4-5 Hours and our Bikes would still be there leaning up against the pillars were we left them. All in all, a good days worth of Train Riding and it cost us a Dime apiece. One day our parents surprised us with new Bicycles. Doug got a real fancy Bike from Montgomery Wards, It was a Hawthorn, top of the line Bike.( Everything they had was from Montgomery Wards.) It even had a button on the side that was a horn, and it had White Wall Tires. Me, My dad took me to a Schwinn Bicycle Shop and let me pick out the Bike I liked the most, ( cost was a contributing factor) It was Dark Red and was a 26″ Model. I Loved it. It was from this point on that Doug and I were out to discover the world. One adventure that we had amongst the Hundreds was riding our bikes up to Wilmette, Il. for there the North Shore trains traveled down the main St. in town and we wanted to see that. Wilmette was about 10 Miles from our homes and not a easy place to get to on bikes for we didn’t ride in the streets, mostly sidewalks. We left home about 9:00 AM. and returned about 5:00 PM. A very long day. But it was an adventure for us. One day after having a long talk with our Moms, we convinced them to take us to Milwaukee via the new North Shore Electric Streamliner, call the Electroliner.
It was Fantastic and we got to sit in the First Car and in the Front seat so we had an unobstructed view of the tracks as we raced at close to 80 Miles an Hour up to Milwaukee Wis. We had lunch at Mader’s Restaurant, toured the city and headed home on the same train back to Chicago.
In 1948 the City of Chicago had a railroad fair down on the Lakefront of Chicago.
(Chicago Railroad Fair, 1948)
Both my Dad and Mom along with Doug’s Dad and Mom made a day of enjoying all kinds of Railroad exhibits and touring all the new Streamliners of the time and taking small rides on some old Steam locomotives. It was a good time had by all, and our Parents seemed to get along just great. What a good time and full of Memories.
My Dad’s Sister Arlis Married a Frenchman named Milton Gibbs and the reason I bring this up is that his Parents had a Cabin up in the north Woods of Upper Michigan outside of a town called Ishpeming. Well one week all of us drove up there, it was a journey, we all met in a place called Escanaba Mi. My Mom and Dad, Arlice and Milton Gibbs, My Dad’s Brother Ray and his wife Betty and myself and had a caravan up to and into the woods of Michigan. I remember how primitive this Cabin was, No Heat, no Electricity and no Bathrooms. I remember my Mom and Dad and I all slept in this huge bed made out of Tree limbs with a very soft but saggy mattress and a Blanket that was so thick, and heavy , but warm. There was a Cooking stove that one put wood into it to burn for cooking, A fireplace that provided much heat as long as you were in front of it. The women all sat around and talked, the men sat around and drank and smoked and I was bored out of my mind. I like adventure, but this was something I had not adjusted too. I had no idea people lived like this and call it a vacation. I was cold, I was bored, I was disappointed that there was nothing a 8 year old kid could do there. I adapted, but so glad we never went back there.