Monday, January 2, 2012

1954 University of Chicago

A postcard shows the Midway running east/west  between the University and our married student housing. The Meridian greenbelt had been the site of the 1934 World’s Fair. Now it is just a greenway or park area. Crossing the midway we'd cross a street onto the grounds to the beautiful quadrangles and Rockefeller Chapel. 

We moved some of our belongings into University of Chicago Married Student Housing, a big name for the 2-story army barracks. Ours was on the corner of 61st Street and Kenwood Avenue. These were located across from the University, on the opposite side of the Midway. The barracks were wood, clapboard construction  without insulated walls so they could be cold and drafty. Beside each front entry was a large mounted oil drum with a spigot. University kept it filled with oil for  heating needs. 

On my approach, I take a few steps in from the sidewalk up onto a small, wood, porch  where the front door opened into an enclosed stairway to 4 apartments, 2 down and 2 up at the top of that stairway. Our living accommodations were on the 1st floor. As I opened the  door on the left I stepped into what was to be our living room. 

Opposite side of this room was a wall which divided that space for a children’s bedroom. The boys would bunk in here.
Here is a picture showing the two at the ages when we left the farm and began our new life chapter.   Their bedroom furnishings included the military bunk beds. Patrick would continue using the crib for a while and eventually graduate to the bunk. 

At the far end of the living room stood the oil heater which we were to pour oil into its rear tank from 5 gallon pails using a funnel, much like the one my family had when we moved to Tullybracky. To the right and beyond the living room was our kitchen and pantry. There was  a gas stove for our cooking needs, space for a refrigerator beside the kitchen window, which we bought new. A kitchen table and chairs stood at its edge. We were able to put the Easy washing machine in the pantry space and eventually a clothes dryer,  a new household convenience soon on the market. What a help this would be for me. Sharing that square footage to the left was our master bedroom and a bathroom, toilet bowl, sink and   shower stall.  Included were 2 matching mahogany dressers, very solid construction. We kept them with us after University life and at one point in time they were  painted. Our daughter, Joan, kept the same dressers with her and painted them blue. You will find them in her home today. There were no closets. We purchased a clothes rack. I would keep the children’s clothes in a tall moving storage box, especially as the seasons changed. Also, the boys would continue to grow into and out of their clothes. Many would be hand-me-downs from cousins. We found a cheap, used, rather large, awkward,  flip down couch to double for occasional sleeping and placed it, too, in the living room. The floor covering was red linoleum. How it did shine when freshly waxed. 
The walls and floors were not very sound proof.  Especially disturbing were June Oak’s  heels cliquey-clacking on the non-carpeted floor above. She rarely retired early. 

To dry our laundry I carried the baskets from the front door [no back doors] out onto the sidewalk, around and behind our building to the green area, set up with poles and lines for each family. 
I soon found at times the soot was so bad that it dusted the clean laundry. Diapers were gray/black. I believe Chicago hasn't that severe a problem any longer. We had to deal with it. Drier not installed for years yet. This picture shows well the rear of the barracks with its escape back wooden stairway and our upstairs neighbor Diane Grinches.   These were the terminating years of the ‘Baby Boomers generation’. There were many small children living here, only a few of school age. 

We dried laundry on Clotheslines

The barracks were in a black neighborhood. Most housing, save a few University buildings this side of the Midway, were now black ghetto, even the adjacent apartment which overlooked our yard. If I would walk to 63rd Street, just a few blocks south I’d find a very busy shopping district with many people walking the streets, mostly black. We had a stripped down vehicle for the children to play in and out of, and a set of swings. Old truck can be seen in the swing set picture's background.

Michael Bruce on ladder

Eventually, we came onto an old TV set, our very first TV. We painted it black. We used it for controlled viewing. Children watched Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo and Miss Francis on Ding Dong School. I read recently Miss Francis was to one generation what Fred Rogers was to the next.
Dancing Bear, Captain, Moose, Mr. GreenJeans

Bruce had his old desk beside our bed. This was his desk from up in his farmhouse bedroom, softwood, 2-drawer file drawer, painted yellow when he was in high school. Joe had used it. Otto had used it. We kept it with us. He also kept his turntable we used to play records, especially Luther’s Nursery Rhymes.  He’d be deep in study into early morning hours as I, in my night’s sleep, lay in the bed beside him, an arm’s reach away. We’d often have a problem in the daytime if dad wasn’t at school for he’d want to sleep. These quarters were tiny, and the boys were up, of course. It was tedious for us trying to keep the noise down. He’d complain sometimes about the ‘noise hurting his ears’. I discovered many, many  years later this wasn’t just a complaint. After years driving tractor with so little engine muffling , his ears had been affected. He had Tinitus, or ringing in his youthful ears. Eventually, at one of our housing meetings it was arranged for the entire barracks to practice quiet hours from 1-3 each afternoon which helped. 
Patrick gets a push from Patsy White

MK on swing w/ringers

Camera shot is looking north across the Midway. Through the trees one can make out the University campus. Not much greenery close in around me. Merely a play yard and laundry lines between 2 of the barracks.

Bruce had met a few friends in his Physics class who roomed together, one being Roy Oliver. We will meet up with him later in our lives. Bruce found some study time away from home with these young men. [Source of black-eyed pea soup recipe] He was able to get a nice part-time job at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital, University of Chicago searching for radium leakage, which paycheck helped with our groceries. We did most our shopping at the CO-OP in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Bruce and other students in a lab class

My brother, Jimmy, had always loved uniforms since the time he was four years old  when he ‘marched around the breakfast table’. I told you of this early in my story. This inclination he had seemed to influence him eventually to leave Marquette University and enroll at Annapolis. To do so there were a string of requirements to meet. One needed to be accepted and referred politically. With all prerequisites met, in July, 1954 Jim left for Annapolis. Before we knew it he was home again. Reality proved nothing like his youthful dreams.
I drove to Hebron to visit Otto by myself. We drove all around the area as we visited together. He was about to return to Germany. I had to find out if he had been OK living with the Jacobsons. Some lingering guilt, no doubt about it.  He seemed so happy and content. Shortly after that visit he did leave for his home in Germany. We kept corresponding by air mail.
North School Arlington Heights, IL

My brother, Bill, was teaching a while in Arlington Heights where he met Mary Theresa Coughlin in her second year of teaching, now teaching 1st Graders. First year Mary taught Kindergarten at Park School  where Angela Gould was teaching her first year. This is how my brother, Jim, met Angie. In the near future brother Jim and Angie would marry. Mary and Angie would then be sisters-in-law.

Michael and Patrick in Stewart Yard

                                      Sometimes we drove to Hebron to visit family.

Patrick and MK canning tomatoes
This picture has a memorable view looking away from the house, across the green lawn with the beautiful oak trees, and into the large orchard. I am pregnant for I am wearing baggy clothes. Cannot see what I am doing though Patrick appears interested. The black pot is on the picnic table along with empty Mason jars to preserve tomatoes via hot water bath method. 

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