Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Climbing Chicago - My Spring Break Ascent of the Dan Ryan Woods Hill.

Easy ascent in the Winter of 1965 - me and guys from 75th & Wood.

For the most part . . .except when Maury Lanigan decided to kamikaze guys and then rub their mugs in snow and threaten further outrages of a much more sinister nature were one to rat him out.
I am a man who enjoys a challenge and the testing of my male mettle with a vigorous assault on the senses and the spirit. I watched the entire Cheyenne Marathon presented on Encore Western channel only this Christmas break without taking meals and answering the call of nature with an Olympic dash and powerful discharge of uric fluids that fair shot me airborne during the Cheyenne Bodie Theme Song.

Yes, sir!

Yesterday Leo President Dan McGrath and I travelled to Kankakee to inspect vehicles that may be become part of the Leo Motor Pool.  Midwest Transit Equipment is largest purveyor of buses, shuttle wagons, casino caravans and vans for sale and lease to schools and charities. This vast surplus sales venue just north of the Kankakee County Fairgrounds reminded Dan of the Navy's Mothball Fleet which he passed daily as sports editor of San Francisco Chronicle

We had a productive visit followed by a meal of man-sized proportions at the legendary Longbranch in L'Erable, Il.

During the meal, we discussed our shared duties and obligations to Leo HS over the spring break.  Dan would man the ramparts development and organizational on Spy Wednesday and I would post myself visible in the hallowed halls on Holy Thursday.  We would both steward the school on Good Friday.

"What will you do with a day off, Pat?" asked my superior and friend.  I gave the issue of time-off some thought.  " I believe I will attempt a morning ascent of the hills of Dan Ryan Woods," I answered with my temperamentally uncharacteristic challenge to physical exertions.

" Well, good luck to you."

Luck indeed.  Generations of Leo High School footballers and very few of Little Flower gridiron Argives ran the slopes of those challenging hills in full pads and helmets under the Spartan eyes of coaches Arneberg, Hanlon Foster, Lord and Houlihan.

The Dan Ryan Woods boasts the highest land elevation above the city of Chicago and at one time was the greatest toboggan slide in the world.

Below is an aerial view of the Woods within the City. Remember top is North and bottom south:

At 87th noted by the pine tree is the highest point above Chicago.

I tasked a Sherpa - retired Chicago Parks Supervisor and physical fitness director Marlin "Bud" Speed.  Bud Speed managed the field houses at O'Halleran Park at 1800 West 83rd Street, coached CPD Bee-Wee Football and ' ran the order' for the Leo Lights and Heavies between 1965-1975.

Bud knows these hills. Bud gave hundreds of Chicago lads lessons in the life vigorous.

I asked Bud Speed, " How should I best prepare for this ascent?"

"When's the last time you climbed?"

" 1966, or there about . . .No!  I just remembered I had to climb the hills at the Leo Freshman game with Gordon Tech this fall . . "

" I really don't give a shit.  What are you climbing the hills for anyway, old age made you soft in the head as  every where else?"

You any of you noticed that mobidly obese behemoths not only gulp gallons of Diet Pepsi, but also tend to commentary of every other person on the planet but elepant on the rascal?

Nevertheless, I had interrupted Bud's viewing of the latest edition of Jugs and Ammo in order to prep for the climb.  Ignoring the commentary on my sagging excess epidermal manifestations, I continued, " Should I carbo-breakfast or wait until completing my descent?"

" Eat first, Dipshit, that way you won't die hungry."

This AM, after taking my daughter Clare and two of her buddies for day Two of their Red Cross Safety Certification Classes at the Chicago AG School, I followed the master's instructions to letter with a Chicago Style Hot Dog ( 1 only & certainly no fries) and amended the dietary regimen by firing up a Marlboro Red.

I faced the summit and pressed headlong up the 40 Degrees incline. I thought of my friends and acquaintances who had endured this crucible during the dog-days of August Triple Sessions and laughed my ass off.  Thank God, I did not go to Leo.  I would have probably just faked an injury or submitted to the branding of "Pussied Out!"  Hurtful remarks make not a heart attack.

From the tree-walled summit I took in the majestic panorama of my native south side.  This is a happy place to have been raised.

While bending into my climb, my neighbor and Leo football veteran Mike Regan '70 cell phoned a number of retirees and Catholic League long-teeth.  Upon my descent, I was greeted with applause and well-done.  Mike had been exercising his dog, when he spied my exertions.

" What are you soft making that climb?  I still have Hanlon and Tony Kelly nightmares.  All that glue you used to sniff must have finally taken hold."

Not all.  I like a challenge.

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