Monday, January 31, 2011

Return to Chicago 1936-40 9 yrs.-13 years old

4th, 5th, 6th, 7th grades.This year my father is employed at American Printing Ink Co. in the line of  work appropriate to his education.  Family moved from Milwaukee to 4513 Greenview Avenue on north side of Chicago, 2 1/2 blocks from our school, Our Lady of Lourdes and 3 blocks from the playground.
Chase Park
I spent many hours of play at nearby Chase Park. I loved what we called 'the ringers' and would sport terrible blisters on my hands. The ringers were a string of about 8 ringers in the row of ringers hung by chain from a metal support, much like ones swings hang from. There was a wooden wedge platform I mounted at the start which raised me from the ground enough for me to catch the very 1st ringer in one hand.. Then with a thrust of my body I would leap forward for the 2nd wring. Now the objective was to twist my body 180 degrees around and get enough forward swing to catch on to the 3rd ring and so on down to the last and then return one ring at a time to the platform where I started. I needed to rub a chalk on the palms of my hands both to protect them and to keep them from slipping. This was never ending challenge to me, much to parental dismay. I would come home with the large broken open blisters on the palms of my hands. At this ‘awful’ stage I would need to do without my ringer fun until the blisters healed. The park was across from our school and provided many hours of fun for us. They flooded a rink in the winter for all neighborhood kids to skate on.  

Especially remember the black, pot bellied stove in the center of this shack where we could put on our skates or retreat to  warm our fingers and toes and the smell of woolen mittens drying against the stove, and inside that stove a blazing, red hot fire. The shack would have kids of all ages coming in and leaving. We could freely visit this park just so we would be home for dinner or for whatever was on the day's schedule. I found this piece on the Chase Park’s history.
In 1920, the Lincoln Park Commission converted a deserted semi-professional baseball field into Chase Park. Known as Gunther Park, the ball field was home to the Niesen-Gunther team beginning in 1905. The facility went out of business in 1913, during the construction of Chicago's north side professional baseball field, Wrigley Field. A community member suggested the conversion of the old ball field into a park in 1914, and several years later the Ravenswood Improvement Association and some local officials petitioned for the park. The Lincoln Park Commission finally began land acquisition in 1920. Within the next two years, tennis courts, a playground, an athletic field, a wading pool, and a fieldhouse were constructed in Chase Park. In 1934, the Lincoln park commission was consolidated into the Chicago park district. The Park district demolished Chase Park's original fieldhouse and replaced it with a new building in 1976.
Chase Park was one of seven neighborhood parks created by the Lincoln Park Commission. Five of them were named in honor of President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet members. Chase Park honors Salmon P. Chase (1803-1873), who served as Lincoln's secretary of the treasury from 1861 to 1864. In late 1864, Lincoln appointed Chase Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Early in his career, Chase became well known as a defender of runaway slaves and leader in the anti-slavery movement. As one of his initial acts as Chief Justice, he appointed John Rock, the nation's first African-American attorney to argue before the Supreme Court.

We attended Our Lady of Lourdes elementary, We had BVM nuns in the school once again as we had at Gesu Grade School in Milwaukee. Elayne and I continued our piano lessons. I think the lessons helped pay school expenses. Tuition was $2 a month per child. Noontime there would be a few kids walking about the playground holding a flat box suspended from their shoulders. The box held candies, like peppermint patties. We would buy one for a penny and if inside the chocolate covering we saw a colored creme we could win a prize. One noon hour as I arrived in the school yard a Sister approaching saw that I was walking with my head down. She greeted me and gave me a directive that I must walk with my head up high. I found this information below from a parish bulletin.  ...we closed the School program 3 years ago due to low enrollment, but the building is still intact and providing a home for our large Religious Education program and a full-time Adult Medical Job Training School. In addition, the class photos are still on the first floor walls.
Elayne and I wore these one piece, navy blue, pleated, wool serge, uniforms. We had stiff, white collars and cuffs which snapped on and off.  We would remove them at night and scrub them with a brush and sudsy water to wear the next day. Eventually they would develop cracks and when too many we had them replaced with another set. As we grew older, 6 & 7th grades we would get so sweaty. We wore red wool tams. The boys wore tan dress shirts and knit navy blue ties. After school we must change out of uniforms and don play clothes. This way we could wear them longer before needing to wash clothes. Our pastor, Monsignor Campbell, was a jolly white haired man.  We  attended a children`s Sunday Mass, 9 AM in full uniform.  
Older boys would deliver white or chocolate milk to the classrooms. With a long pole we opened or closed the windows, or remained after school to erase blackboards, clean erasers or dust. We considered helping sister an honor and a privilege. There were altar boys and patrol boys or crossing guards.                    


At dismissal time Sousa records were played from the office and came to us over loud speakers. We marched to the music from the building to our respective corners. Reminds me of a special happening at home each morning when mother had the 'Breakfast Club' on the radio. Little Jimmy learned to march all about the house.
Don McNeil's Breakfast Club
The host called it 'marching around the breakfast table'. At school there would be occasional fire drills. Sometimes the janitor would bring in sawdust to sprinkle on the floor for a special cleanup.
At scheduled times I would return to school at 7 PM for my Girl Scout Meetings held in the school basement. Several times we scouts traveled together to the Des Plaines Forest Preserve on Saturday for a campfire and wiener, marshmallow roast. 
I have special memories from each grade. 4th Grade my teacher was Sr. Mary Edgar. She seemed to love song and drama and shared her talent with us. “I’m Happy when I’m Hiking off the beaten track. I'm happy when I'm hiking pack upon my back. Up hill and down the valley, along some winding lane with a real good friend to the journeys end tramp tramp tramp tramp tramp tramp--”. We had  a play in which we dressed in full costume as colonial folk. And I recall 
                        John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

                         His name is my name too.
                         Whenever we go out,
                         The people always shout,
                         There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.
                         Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah                                    

She was my favorite teacher of all time and probably an important reason why transferring from Milwaukee to Chicago went so well for me. We studied the History of Chicago, Chicago Fire and all that from a blue, soft covered text. I often copied answers from my sister’s last year History Workbooks for I was just a year behind.

Billy was in 3rd grade and just the right age to begin altar boy training. He would be required to learn the rubrics for his position. Along with he'd need the Latin responses to the priest's words when assisting at the altar. Et introibo ad altare Dei iuventutem meum  etc. I will go up unto the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth etc.

Mass Server's Card

Billy would be reciting his memorization all about our house so that Elayne and I began to learn the words along with him. There were four sides to know perfectly. After mastering his card and having the rubrics down pat he became ready to be placed on the altar boy schedule for the week.
I found this site with a beautiful copy of Mass Servers Card. St. Joan of Arc parish, Fairview, Camden, New Jersey.

5th Grade Sr. Margaret Mary, quite elderly, Spelling Bees, standing up quickly when Fr. Runkle entered her classroom for special religion classes, ‘Good morning Fr. Runkle’,  during which he gave us the opportunity to ask him questions, the examination of conscience sort. 6th Grade, Sr. Barbara and my Confirmation year in which I chose Barbara as my saint’s name and read up on her life. That year we exchanged names for Christmas gift giving. I was totally disappointed when I opened my gift which was a tiny 8” doll pillow which this boy’s mother had made from drapery material to ‘fill the bill’. Recall the clothes made from drapery in Sound of Music. There was still poverty in the neighborhood in 1938. We had a Valentine box. I was beginning tonotice special boys that year-- Donald Turner and James  Furstal.

Elayne adds that Sr. Barbara also her 6th grade nun shared that she taught Elmer Layden, the Notre Dame great and he sent her a football game which the boys in her class played some noon hours. Elmer also gifted her with their classroom radio.