Chapter Four

About this time, Grandpa Martin, and Grandma Maria, finally arrived from Germany.

Poor Henry did not remember them and he was awestruck that such, "old people" could actually exist.  He was fascinated by their luggage and played with the belt-buckles on their suitcases.

Along came a younger friend "Bobby" from down the street, and lil Henry entertained the young red-headed kid, with stories, in the backyard, as Katherine and I peeked in awe at the wonderful imagination, this young child possessed.

Bobby's dad was a Marine veteran of Iwo Jima, and was considered the "tough guy," of the neighborhood.  My husband, Tad, frequented a bar across the street, from "Moony's" (Bob's dad) bar, since it was usually populated by the European immigrants, from Poland, the Ukraine, Germany, and Italy.

Bob was a very nice boy and, I could tell, that he loved Henry.  They were both young boys of Polish descent, but Bob's family was in the United States, much longer.

Bob's parents bought him toys that we simply could not afford, but Henry enjoyed playing with the cowboys and Indians with Bobby.  He even let Bobby massacre him sometimes. LOL

Henry got very jealous when Bobby, got his Davy Crockett coonskin cap, and begged us to get him one, but we simply could not comply.

Both boys then became endeared to the Superman TV series and one could see them, "flying" around with towels draped around their necks.

Soon, a little gang was formed as Larry, and Skipper, entered the picture.  Skipper had a sister named Susi, but she wanted to play house, and doctor & nurse, with Henry, and he didn't want to feel like a "sissy" so he only did that, when none of the other boys were watching.  Susi soon adapted, however, and became quite a "tomboy."

The young boys were greatly influenced, by the television re-runs, of the "Our Gang" comedies, and soon formed what they called, the "Secret Owl's Club."  They even had their own secret hand signal as they waved their hands under their chins and went "whoo, whoo."  (LOL).  Of course the boys didn't allow girls in their secret meetings, but Susi was constantly trying to crash them.  The boys had a hiding place under the stairs of a home in an alleyway.  (In later days it became a drug hangout, and was fenced-off).

Grandma and Grandpa both became employed with grandpa becoming a tool worker at Radio Steel (home of the Radio Flyer wagon), and grandma becoming a cleaning lady at the Chicago Tribune newspaper, in downtown Chicago.  They soon purchased an apartment building, down the block, we moved into the upper flat and Henry loved that panoramic view of the street.  Across the street was "Pop's" candy store, and the boy's were always hustling our guests for money as they bought their bags of candy for five cents a bag.  I must say that this was a bargain, but it foreboded dental problems, for the boys, in later years.  I should have taught them to brush their teeth.

Oftentimes, when the older gentlemen were downstairs at grandpas, the boys were asked to buy a pack of cigarettes for twenty-five cents a pack.  Little did we know then, that all of the silver coins that we were using would be worth a fortune now.  There were silver dimes both Mercury and Roosevelt, Washington Quarters, Liberty Half Dollars, and Morgan Dollars.  All of the penny's were made of copper then, and one could still occasionally find an Indian head penny, even though they went out of circulation, in 1908.  If only the boys hadn't had a sweet tooth, and saved their coins, they would've been able to later put down a down-payment on their mortgage.

We finally got our first television set, in 1956, and Henry quickly became a living TV guide as he had memorized all the television programs, on all four channels.  The Lawrence Welk show, Show of Shows, Red Skelton, and Milton Berle show became our favorites, while the boys loved Howdy Doody, Micky Mouse Club, and Crusader Rabbit.  Fortunately our programming didn't conflict much, but I do recall Henry rushing home for lunch to watch Lunch Time Little Theater and Elmer the Elephant.

In 1956, we enrolled both Henry and Roman to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School and they had to walk two blocks, and take an electric streetcar, a half mile, to get there.  The fare was five cents apiece, but the streetcars had two entrances and sometimes the boys tried to sneak in the back entrance so that they could save their nickels for candy.  This was soon corrected as the city posted conductors at the rear entrance.

Henry must have been listening to radio at this time too.  I can't to this day fathom where for they had no transistor radios at the time.  But you can often hear them singing "One Eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater," or "Davy Crockett."

The boys were hanging around the veteran's bars too, because they were singing in chorus. "You're in the Army now.  You're not behind the Plow.  You'll never get rich, you son-of-a-*****!  You're in the Army now."  Oh my!  (LOL) this certainly caused some consternation amongst the Christian folks in our neighborhood.  Mooney soon stopped them from singing that but I'm not sure whether it was because he preferred "Halls of Montezuma," instead of the Army song.



Proud2bavet Proud2bavet
56-60, M
1 Response Jan 24, 2007

It facinates me that the songs, shows, and living are familiar even to ME, even though I didn't arrive on the scene until the mid 70's! lol. And the Radio Flyer place... my 3 yr. old son has a rocking horse and tricycle from R.F. ! Some things are "timeless " I guess! Also, I sure hope your kids have great senses of humor like their dad, with all this funny tattling you're doing on them!! lol.