Chapter Six

Johnny and Tommy, Italian immigrants, soon moved in next door.  I will never forget how they unloaded their belongings in a horse wagon.  In those days, trash collectors, and icemen often used horses to pick up or deliver their goods, and this sometimes left a mess in the streets that sometimes the boys brought into the house.

Henry's first experience, with death, was when Tommy wounded a sparrow, with is BB gun.  Henry saw the wounded bird as she attempted to flee into his own backyard.  Tommy noticed Henry trying feverishly to reach the wounded bird, walked over picked it up, layed it down, and shot it dead.  Poor Henry was devastated at the sight of that murder, and my heart sank for him, for I had witnessed the murder of Jews, in Poland.  My little boy had just learned a valuable lesson in life, and it was to have a great impact on his morale character.

Katherine had a daughter named Hanna, and we often visited their home, on the West side, of Chicago.  She had a daughter and son, named Olga and Wally.

Henry became very much in love with beautiful Olga.  She called him, "gudjik" (button nose) and Henry was heard to have remarked, "Will you wait until I grow up, so that I could marry you?"  Olga just smiled and said, "We will see about that."  Olga was a "bobby-soxer" of the 40's and had many autographs of movie stars that visited Chicago, during the war.  Henry was devastated when Olga married Jerry, but Jerry eventually became one of Henry's best friends.

Frank married another Mary, and had two boys, Mike and Wally.  They grew up with our boys, and became life-time members of the Secret Owl's Club.  Perhaps Frank's greatest contribution to Henry's life was that he was the first one to call Henry, Hank.  This was to be his name in his adulthood.

Martin and Mary were soon to acquire a border, named Ivan (John).  We lived on the 1400 block of North Campbell avenue, and John soon received employment at Campbell's soup company.  He brought back many dented cans of soup, and this saved us much in grocery money.  John was a fat, bald man, and shared Henry's birthday.  He was a prisoner of the Russian gulags, and had many a horrific tale to relate.

Larry, Henry's new friend, next to Bob, was a very American boy, also of Polish decent.  His sister Patsy, and her friends, influenced the boys development and they learned how to play street games, like "hide-and seek" from her and her older friends.

Larry's father was a retired Army officer and very politically active. the boys often passed pamphlets for him, and it was an int regal part of the Daley Democratic machine, that was soon to elect president Kennedy.

Larry's older brother Chester "Sonny" was a typical teen of the era with his DA (duck's ***) hairdo, and leather jacket.  He loved motorcycles, and was the Fonzie of our neighborhood.  His most significant action was his heroism as he saved our house from burning down, when Henry and Roman had set a curtain on fire, while playing, with fire, in the basement.  Sonny lept through the window and pulled the burning curtains down.  He saved many lives on account of that action, and the boys never played, with fire again.

Sonny had also taught Larry, Henry, Roman, Skipper, Bobby, Mike, and Wally, to play games like the popular knife game, "Mummbly Peg," or pot "Marbles."  They seldom played ring marbles.

Larry was a bad influence on Henry as he had taught Henry how to make a slingshot out of a coat hangers, and encouraged him to shoot out streetlights and to ambush the young teenage girl's who were walking home, from Tuley High School.  The girls just yelled, "Brats!" and chased them, but were unable to catch them because of their tight dresses.

Larry also borrowed nudie magazines, from his uncle's trunk, and the boys soon learned about sex, from the books.  One time Larry and Henry, challenged Susie.  "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours." and Susie revealed herself.  The books were art brushed and censored at the time, and when the boys saw Susie's crack, they thought that she was a defective girl.  LOL

At about this time, the boys picked up the hobby of stamp collecting and I encouraged it because it enhance their knowledge of geography and history.  They joyed at trading stamps in school and it that stamp collection is now included in six albums today.  They now have over 100,000 and many of them are very rare.  I particularly am wistful, of the World War II stamps for it reminds me of our European background.

The gang enjoyed walking the three blocks to Humboldt Park.  It's wooded bike trials, botanical gardens, lagoons, and emerald topped boathouses were an inspiration to them and an adventure land.  We spend many a time there and enjoyed watching the May day, Polish parades, and the Italian men, playing lawn bowling on it's beautifully manicured lawns.  It was the inspiration for Frank Baum's novel, "The Wizard of Oz."  Little did the boys know, at the time, that their favorite movie, "The Wizard of Oz" was actually so very near and dear to them.  They actually grew up, in Oz.

In 1957, the boys rushed home to watch the mighty New York Yankees play the upstart Milwaukee Braves.  They were avid baseball card collectors, and were fascinated as they watched their heroes, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Moose Skowran, Lou Burdette, and Warren Span play the game.  They rooted for the underdog Braves as that city was kind of a "sister" city to us.

This wonderful life was about to change as we became prepared to move further West and move into our first home.

 

Proud2bavet Proud2bavet
56-60, M
Feb 9, 2007