Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Day I Moved To Chicago Again

The day must have come but I do not remember it. I only remember arriving in Chicago. Actually, Tinley Park. Our house in the new subdivision of Tinley Gardens was not completed yet and so we moved into a local motel. No, not a "hotel." That is too nice of a name for it. It was one of those places behind a Texaco station. You know the type. Nice colored lights across the front at night made it look very inviting. During the daytime, however ... not so much. It wasn't really bad. It's just that if you wanted to watch TV you had to put a quarter in the meter. Uh huh. Really. Attached to the Texaco station was a diner. It was exactly what it sounds like. A few tables but mainly a bunch of stools anchored to the floor facing the counter. There were no backs on the stools and they swiveled 360 degrees. It's a major miracle that my brother and I didn't unscrew all of them and fall flat on the floor. It isn't because we did not try.

Dad worked during the daytime. I have no solid recollection of what the rest of us did. I do know that one night mom screamed in the bathroom because a "peeping Tom" was gazing at her through the glass slats of the crank-out window. Dad wasn't there or we probably would have had a killing. In reality, mom was more than capable of dispatching the pervert herself if she had gotten her hands around his neck.

The house we were building was about five miles away. Mom and dad managed to buy it for $100 down. That's quite funny given the current market prices. It was a simple two bedroom ranch with an attached garage. Dad way paying to have the shell built and then he was going to take it over and finish the inside. When we finally did move in I realized that this was not a perfect plan. All of the walls were mere 2X4 studs. That means the privacy ratio was effectively zero. Mom hung blankets around the bathroom to afford some privacy. That didn't help much because the plumbing was not yet hooked up. And the house was located across one street from city sewerage. That meant that a septic tank was being installed. When we moved in there were big trenches dug in the back yard. They ran the entire depth of the yard and were about six feet deep. For the first week we lived there those trenches were designated ... our bathroom. It was not pretty. Don't try to imagine it.

The water was hooked up but it was from a well dug on our own property and tasted like pure steel. So my parents and our neighbors (which was also dad's new business partner in the storm door and window industry) would drive into the downtown area of Tinley Park and fill metal trash cans with fresh city water. That's was for drinking. This trend continued until water softeners could be installed in each of our homes.

But there were many huge pluses to living in a new ... VERY new ... neighborhood. Bull dozers were parked everywhere and at night they became the dream machines of every kid that had moved onto the block. We would climb into the drivers seat and for a few precious hours practice being the ones moving the dirt and digging the holes. There were new friends. Kids we had never met. And most of them had no desire to beat me up. That too, was a major benefit. During the daytime we could ride our bikes to our content around all three blocks that had been whittled out of the corn fields on the edge of town. And as an extra added bonus, the land directly across from my house had been designated a park. Volunteer dads took the time to carve a baseball diamond out of it and for the next years I would practice being the latest star of the Cubs or White Sox, whichever team held my fancy at the moment. Yes, in those days you could root for both and nobody called you evil or a traitor. It was the game that mattered.

Finally, one day the house was finished. We had a new home. I found my way to a new school. This time there was no walking involved. No, the wheels on the bus went round and round. I got my own lunch box and my monthly bus permit was dutifully taped to it by my mom. Detroit? Who needed Detroit? I was now an official resident of suburban Chicago.

Little did I know that the best was yet to come. Tornado's and snakes. They were to shape me into the man I am today. (Snickering will not be tolerated.)


neeser said...

I am enjoying this new "series," if that is what it's called.