Showing posts with label Tales of the South Side. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tales of the South Side. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tales of the South Side & Billy Corgan: Barks Coleman's Childhood Home for Sale



By Bob Goldsborough
Special to the Tribune
7:48 a.m. CDT, April 28, 2014
The four-bedroom, raised ranch-style house in west suburban Glendale Heights where Smashing Pumpkins founder and frontman Billy Corgan spent much of his preteen and teenage years has been listed for $175,000.
One of the most successful rockers ever to come out of the Chicago area, Corgan, 47, now lives in a massive vintage mansion on Lake Michigan in Highland Park.
But for close to a decade -- from 1977 until he graduated from Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream in 1985 -- Corgan hung his hat in his family’s 1,531-square-foot house in Glendale Heights.
Corgan’s father, blues and rock guitarist William Corgan Sr., and stepmother, Penelope, paid $49,000 for the house in 1977, according to public records. After the couple divorced in 1983, Corgan, his brother and his half-brother all continued living in the home with his stepmother, according to court records.
After graduating from high school, Corgan moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. for a brief stint before returning to Chicago and proceeding to form the Smashing Pumpkins. In 1986, Penelope Corgan sold the house for $80,000 to . . . 

I deserve a big old spank for not giving Chicago rock retiree and celebrity pain-in-the-ass his props, yesterday! Well, I was busy and that is certainly no excuse.  The Chicago Tribune posted the above article on the front page, because Billy Corgan's "childhood' home is on the realtor's block.

How about that? Well, did you know this ?

Driving home from Leo High School yesterday, I took a turn west through the old neighborhood along 76th Street.  I noticed a for sale sign on former the home of Terry "Barks" Coleman. Barks was the son of button accordion genius Maurice " Mossie" Coleman who immigrated to Chicago during the Irish Civil War from northwest County Kerry.

Mossie Coleman was a pathologically taciturn gentleman, who closely kept his own counsel, but otherwise spoke volumes when his huge fingers danced on the buttons of his vintage Salterell  Le Bouebe with like of Joe Shannon,  John McGreevy,  Eleanor Neary,  James Keane,Sr, Frank Thornton, Jimmy Neary, Maida Sugrue and the great Terry Teahan at Hanley's House of Happiness on 79th Street, AOH's Cannon Hall on Halsted and at every Ceile in Chicago.

Mossie worked as a stationary oiler/fireman at the old Audy Home which was a very good trade and bought the Georgian two-story home at 76th & Wood Street in 1955. Mrs. Coleman worked as a waitress at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall in Morgan Park on the weekends and raised the four boys Terry, Austin, Brice and Maurice, who later went by Maurey eschewing the Turkey bird*cognomen.

Terry was my age and pal'd it up all through grammar school and into high school.  Terry became "Barks," in 6th Grade when he came to school each day with a nasty chest-deep cold and emitted massive Barks when he coughed and annoyed the perpetually annoyed Sister Doralese, RSM.  " Barking, Barking Barking Terry Coleman! Ye'll bark yer last on the next go round, my fine man! No room in the TB home for the likes of ye?" She was as pretty as she was nice.

Barks has that name, like every young person who grew up on the south side and a handle attached by dint of signal flaw, physical, ancestral, or moral to his/her presence on earth.  Barks fit Terry Coleman like a glove, or cheap pants.  He will carry that name into eternity.

Barks learned button accordion from his father and transferred his talents and skills to the Farfisa Mini-Organ in 1966 and played with a local garage band at dances, block parties and beer summits in the abandoned house Ronnie Graff and Al McFarland discovered over by Lindbloom High School.  Barks Coleman was in demand as a musician and was picked up by Cyrcul Jerques - 
Five neat guys from Little Flower, Tommy More and St Sabina's parishes - That's Barks at the keys in the greaseball shades.

 Barks could do all the requisite organ and piano riffs to the best tunes of 1960's. He could Paul Revere, Young Rascal, Wilson Pickett, Vanilla Fudge, Kingsman and Steppenwolf with the best of them.

His old house is up for sale, just like Uncle Fester of Smashing Pumpkins. 




* "In the South side of Chicago, the term "turkey bird" is often used to describe a person who was born in Ireland. Although both my parents were Irish American, my father was a "turkey bird," while my mother was born in the United States. My siblings and I often affectionately referred to our father and his Irish-born friends as "turkey birds." Neither my father nor his friends ever took offense to this term and, in fact, used the term themselves to define a person’s exact roots. Recently one of my brothers was at a family party and started to discuss the origin of this term with a nephew (whose father also was born in Ireland). A woman, who is not of Irish heritage herself, but whose husband was born in Ireland, overheard the conversation and took great offense to the discussion. From where did this term originate? Is this term used throughout the United States? Has the nature of this term changed? Is it now considered offensive? Was it always offensive and my father and his friends just had thick skins?"  Kathleen Klinger

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tate Buckthorn - King of the Knitting Cowboys: Cadets Ain't G-Men



Tate Buckthorn Knits '. . .you have a problem with that? Let's hear it on your hind legs, barkside out, Pard.'

Some cowboys sing, some play the Guit-box, some others toss the lasso, but Tate Buckthorn's knits.  He knits sweaters, throw rugs, baby socks and when perturbed his bushy eyebrows.  Many a dry-gulching, back shooter learned that the purl'n and stich'n irons in the thick calloused hands of Tate Buckthorn can be as deadly as the shoot'n irons on his hips and  tied to his thighs.

Back in '38, when the Amerikadeutscher Volksbund was grabbing all of the best tables in Chicago's beer-gardens, Tate Buckthorn drovered a herd from the louvered rail-cars on the tracks above Canaryville's Root Street and into the Union Stockyards of Chicago.  He was tall on the saddle and knitting away like a widow woman with an eye for the Sears Catalog boys in swimming trunks, but her mind on the gospel messages. Yep, he was busy on the saddle, but with an eye on the 94% of beeves that survived the rail passage to the slaughter pens.

A group of boys from Morgan Park Military Academy were on field trip to the stockyards that day and noted the tall, bronzed figure standing on the ornate Charro saddle hugging the back and belly of  his14.2 hand bucksin stallion, Purl. Tate was doing what the Mex charros call a suerte - showing off.

The teenage boys were wowed by the cowboy's balance and command.

One big, red-headed lunk with jug-ears and buck teeth under his garrison cap halloed, " Hey Lady! Better take a chair and tend to your knitting!"

Tate slowed the pace of Purl some and went as bright-eyed as that school marm back in Fort Smith went,when Tate presented her with a hand knitted sampler containing a pornographic two-dimensional  suggestion for a mutual  day off and answered, " Pard, let me tend to your knitting."  With that, he sprung from the back of Purl and landed square in front of the cadet.





" Well, Red, ain't you the curly wolf, just!   I knit to keep focused and focus is the difference between keepin' a whole skin and taking a steer's antlers in the ribs, Pard.  Some Pokes sing, some twirl the lasso and I knit."

Tate leaped back into the saddle, " Follow me, Red and drag along all them army loafer Pards of your'n and we'll all get familiar with some Sasparilla."  They repaired to a corner store at Wentoworth and Root streets with a blue and white painted  coffin- like ice cooler packed with bottles of root beer next to the store's front steps and entrance to the shop.

Tate Buckthorn treated each of the score of boys ( that's twenty Bufflao Head, brethren) in caps and green uniforms to a bottle of Old Dutch a piece while he squatted on his haunches and knit. The boys petted and cooed over the great horse caparisoned in silver latigos and saddle strings. The door swung open with great noise and violence.  A man emerged wearing  very tight fitting black top-coat.  Under his black bowler hat set the pair meanest grey eyes this side of the Old Man.  He had a muscular thick neck that challenged the collar of his tan shirt and bulged the knot of bow tie out into the public.

" Move on away from my door so people can traffic into my shop  You have ( he said Half) your Pop now go!.  This is private, now!"

" No reason to put the bulge on, Pard. Me and these h'yar saddled-chaps and my old Cayuse, Purl, don't mean to obstruct the trail none."

" Well, take your knitting elsewhere."

It got quiet. . ..two quiet.

Tate stood full to the flush, but let the insult pass.

" Hombres, lets move across the street to that other corner." Indicating the sign above the grocery and notions shop hung sign bearing the name of the owner.

" I take it you are Mr. Hintern-Schnüffeln."

" I have that honor. Why?"

"Some handle.  I see you do not sell beer to Indians.  Get a crowd of Comanch are these parts?"



The Bowler'd square head went blood red,  " There are many tribes of Indian."

Tate Buckthorn sized up the warning sign as well as the owner proprieter.

" I'appears to me, that you lay claim to a wide field."

"  Soon, we will not need such signs, nor require an explanation to the likes of you and all Untermenschen."


" Well, Juniper, I'd wager my next six packets of hard money that you arfe one of them Papier-Aufhänger Liebhaber Wer hasst Juden, Schwarze, Katholiken, Zigeuner und Fuller Brush Männer.

" I do not hate Fuller Brush Men!  You . . . Sie sprechen sehr gut Deutsch für eine Satteltramp.

" Do you sabe un culo kansas antaño patadas?"

The store owner pulled a Ruger MK III .22 automatic from his coat pocket and threatened Tate, but more so the twenty cadets.

Alle von euch Ratten, weg von meiner Tür bzw. diesen Cowboy, der der Jude Krankenhaus auf 29th Street senden!"

The threat of violence and race-baiting rhetorical flourishes by the bowler wearing Bunds had taken the rag of the bush and Tate's wrists rolled yarn by the yard from the twin needles yet clutched in his gnarled hands.  The Bowler'd bully boy's Nazi heater clattered to the cement and the big buck-toothed red-headed cadet from Morgan Park Military Academy kicked the gat far way from the two combatants and into the Canaryville gutter,

With the Teutonic trouble-making desparado ensnarled in butternut wool, Tate tightened the yarn on the Heinie Hyena until the coppers arrived.

The man was charged with threatening boys with and unlicensed hand gun and taken to hoosegowl on 35th Street.  He was booked.

Tate was surrounded by the boys who had had an adventure in the stockyards.  The big redhead thumbed back the brim of his garrison cap and offered, " Mr. Buckthorn I learned a great lesson today."


Tate smiled high wide and handsome, " Tend to your knitting Red! Tend to your knitting and visit the gospel mill every Sunday!  . . .and drink Old Dutch Root Beer!."

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Tales of the South Side -The Victim


Aunt Olympia thought him "Sharp! Real Cool Man!"; his contemporaries . . . not so much.

Listen to your relatives . . .with a handful of salt.  Uncle Jim might suggest a tatoo.  Cousin Buck might offer a suggestion on head-gear akin to Elmer Fudd's haberdashing noggin.  Aunt Stell might think you'd look cute in a slutty-biker chick's leathers and Dad might even suggest WWI leggings for cold winter days.  Listen, nod, but be wary.

Quinn Swallowski  listened to Aunt Oly and selected only really stylish low-priced menswear from Zembski's Family Store on 41rd by Archer and dressed accordingly.  Quinn wrapped himself in smart low-priced fashion and does so to this very day.  Others might find a Brooks Brothers look at a modest tariff but Quinn went full Zembski's at retail . . .and looked it.

"Forget them Baskins, Sears, Munky Wards, Joe-College Red Hanger wallet lifters, Quinn; go by Zembski over by Archer there. Save you money and look nice." the large and meaty mouthed Aunt Olympia commanded.

God generously featured Quinn corporeally -" He looked nice.  Nice hair, nice eyes, nice teeth - nice.

Quinn never ripped his trousers or dirtied his shirts.  Aunt Oly told him of those dangers though she dressed like an auto -mechanic at lunch.  Oly told and Quinn bought it.

This confidence shared between aunt and nephew proved daunting, when young Quinn attended Hubbard High School in 1991.  It seems that some of his school mates found the pretence and self-attention challenging themselves.  That was in a time when bullying was not a one way street,  not  like Hamlin, or today.


Quinn's parents were old country DPs with barely enough English to cash a check at the currency exchange across the street from the Giant Indian at 63rd & Pulaski.

Quinn learned fashion from Aunt Olympia, who was divorced from Uncle Bogdan three days after their wedding and lived with Frieda above the pet store at 63rd Kolin. Aunt Margie was a hoot - she could open non-twist off beer caps and had been a softball All Star for ten years running.   Uncle Bogdan beat it to Tinley Park, or Oak Forest somewhere.  He dressed like a machinist and refused "to wear nice powder blue leisure suit to wedding."

Quinn was named Quinn after his father's foreman at Tootsie Roll by Cicero Ave. and thought the given name might counter pollack jokes from the ever diminishing Irish around 63rd Street. Not so much.  Better Arabs, Mexes and Blacks than crook Micks - kiepska banda drani.  Quinn's parents respected American born little sister Oly's judgments, "She first went by Zembski's; is nice."

Quinn Swallowski dressed nice and he was nice boy like Osmond Brother.


Such things mattered not to the Insane Popes around Hubbard High.  Quinn found things unsettling as the only snappy dresser among a herd of RPN ( Royal Popes Nation) bedecked in White Sox gear only.

Name calling directed at Quinn was identity specific and colorful.  Quinn ignored taunts and managed his time according to curriculum schedule, detention and shift changes at 8th Police District over by St. Louis Street.

Aunt Oly even picked Quinn up from school when her shift at Tootsie Roll allowed -some weeks day; some weeks nights.  Afternoons?  Run, Quinn!

Run Quinn did, like a hobbled Llama.  His running gait only added to the reactive scorn from his contemporaries.  His friends all went to Maria High School, or St. Rita.  Hubbard was tough . . .is tough.

Quinn became a model for Zembski's catalog and eventually landed a great gig with Sears.  He was making money hand over fist over hand.  Quinn's gang banger antagonist had matriculated to  getting tequila and 40 oz. empties collaged around their graves over by St. Mary's Cemetery on Pulaski.

Three years after graduation, Quinn was asked to model for Chicago Public Schools literature and made even more money.

Quinn still deferred to Aunt Oly's fashion judgment.  Soon, Quinn's services were no longer desired at CPS.

Quinn Swallowski was the wrong face in the wrong duds.

Aunt Oly moved to Florida with Frieda, when the damn Mexicans bought the building and kicked out pet store and cancelled the rent of two old bags. Quinn is unemployed, but still looks great within the fashion context set by Aunt Olympia.

Quinn remains a victim.

Hey, I'm just sayin'!

.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Wistful Few Moments With Marge - The First Girl in My Parish to Read The Female Eunuch



Men are the enemy in much the same way that some crazed boy in uniform was the enemy of another like him in most respects except the uniform. One possible tactic is to try to get the uniforms off.
― Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch

In October of 1970, I was a freshman at Loyola University ( Lewis Towers) in Chicago.  I had had a great summer due to a great paying job as a second year janitor ( $ 2.75 per + T and 1/2 for OT)  and the brief but spicy company of Marge. That month a book came out that rocked our world - Germain Greer's The Female Eunuch/  Feminism.  You can't beat it.  You can nod to it, grant that it is there, see it for what it should be and what it is most certainly not and live your life.

Though not a woman, I can deeply appreciate the feelings of being objectified, patronized and fitted into clothing and undergarments that might be alluring, not never comfortable. I was forced to wear a turtle-neck sweater once, because the girl who purchased it for me thought I'd look like one of The Monkees - just a pathetic male adolescent wearing something he hated.

The girl's name was Marge.  She lived at 77th & Wolcott in Little Flower Parish. Her Dad was a lockesmith with shop between Hermitage and Wood streets.

Marge was a girl who blossomed early and adopted the dress and attitude of the greaser chicks who latched onto the 69th Street Loafers north of the tracks from us.  The Loafers were mostly Italian kids and we were largely Micks.  We got along, unless we were complete assholes.  The Loafer guys wore cabrettas, rat-stabbers ( Stacy Adams shoes) and greased their back like Elvis.  The greaser girls wore tight black slacks jeans, or skirts, tighter sweaters and their hair all cotton-candied up and large and supported by Alberto Culver hairspray.

We Micks tended to sport more of a Joe College Karol's Red Hanger look and buzz-cuts.  The girls wore attire straight out of Trouble With Angels Haley Mills/Mary Tyler Moore modest allure. The Greasers called us Doopers, or Wood Street.

We Doopers imagined Greaser girls to be a little bit slutty - they'd put out a little bit anyway. Not so.Some of our Meghan Mickleberry Haley Mills babes were positively Russ Meyers in attitude and deportment, while Shirley and Flo, though bedecked in Faster Pussy Cat, Kill,Kill,  fashion and accessories were as virginal as St. Agnes.  Never assume.

I flirted with my afore mentioned Marge, the locksmith's daughter, because I assumed that I might have my wicked way . . .within reason . . .with her.  She looked the part and by the 6th Commandment filled the part.
I was stunned!  You asked for it Bub and you got it.  Marge accompanied yours truly on several trips to Rainbow Beach and we smooched - à la manière de la sale français - up a storm.

Marge was positively black Irish gorgeous and built like a muscle car at Santa Fe Speedway.  Every impulse to explore the horizon of human copulation was aroused, only to be quieted by ethics and Catholic moral instruction.  As  St. Thomas Aquinas once said, " You knock-her up and you marry her."

I was bullied by better angels, while Errol Flynn whispered in my ear . . .not forgetting Marge was the whole package. She was nice.  I was and remain . . . complicated.

I determined that discretion was the better part of satisfaction and that bookish me was destined for Loyola University in few months time and the burdens of parenting were complimentary to four years of the Jesuits. I did what any male 17 year old goof equipped with a robust and operational set of nuts could do - I avoided Marge.  You know.  Disappear in plain sight.  Never call.  Never acknowledge.  Guy stuff. Birth control on the cheap.

I dreamed of Marge and went on my way.  So did Marge.

Years later, I ran into Marge at a party near DePaul University. Marge had moved up to the north side and was taking classes while working at  Earl Pionke's Earl of Old Town.  Marge still looked great, but had adopted the more exotic looks of a flamenco dancer and not a Hot Rod Mama.  This suited the radical cool guys and faux Hippies who lived in the hipper quarters of Chicago, or frequented its environs.  I still dressed and groomed like Dooper -close-cropped hair, crew neck sweaters and penny loafers. Dweeb chic.  Marge remarked that I had not changed and that was not a compliment.

The verbal punch out was taken it in cowardly good humor, because I had acted the cad.  No, Marge said it was not my Catholic school boy creepiness about love and passion but my insular and puritanical cowardice.  I was not liberated.  Marge said that she was liberated.  She had been given The Female Eunuch, by one of her older sisters and that book became her bible.

 Marge explained that men hated women and treated them horribly and women went along with it pretending that love and family really meant something.  Woman was better. Kids raise themselves. Mother is Man Word.  Sex is liberating only if one is liberated.

Okay.

I still wanted to see if maybe Marge . . . not a chance.  Marge was dating a guy from Canada named Guy - Geeeeeee -no kidding.  I mean she was shacking up with Guy, while she further evolved.

We parted ways. Decades of life vanished like ice cubes in a dog's mouth.

At one of the Little Flower summer reunions out at a south Cook County Forrest Preserve, I asked one of my balding compeers if he had any word about Marge. " Yeah!!!!!!!!  You tried to crack her britches; didn't you?"

Actually no . . .up to and including that possibility to be sure, but no.

The former football star and Mayor of Palos Hills said, " Marge.  She was all over the place. Married a bunch.  Screwed everyone and anyone.  Nutty.  Billy Fleming called her Million Man Marge."

Well, what happened to her?

" She's a feminist. Writes a blog or something."

Imagine that.



Friday, October 11, 2013

Tales of the South Side: Breakfast at Tiffany's Reviewed by Kondike " Moose" Cholak








Man, I took a beating in April of 1965. That was not my best year by far.  The Nun I had for the tail-end of Sixth Grade at Little Flower told my folks that I was 'retarded, obstinate, disorganized and destined for bad end.' To say that I was a miscreant little jerk is not a stretch and I remain less than anal retentive in my assault upon tasks. However, bad end?  I think not.  I have been saved by great folks.

Immediately following one of my numerous extra curricular Pre-May Crowning beat-downs by Sister Beautificus, RSM, I accompanied two pals Tom Scanlon and Bernie Weber eastward in  the alley between 80th & &79th Street.. In their company,  I took my first cigarette, actually my second, my first I got from Uncle Mike.  This was my first outside of the tribal circle.  My companions were considered a bad lot in the common-room of the school's convent,  whose families lived in the apartments along Ashland Avenue on the Little Flower side.  One guy, Tom, is now a retired school psychologist and the other, Bernie, became a much decorated Chicago fireman, also retired.  We all three had written satirical essays on the upcoming May Crowning, which offended Sister Beautificus, who asked me, 'What would your Father say if he saw this?'  I waited a second, timing is everything, " Who you think wrote most of its, S'ter?"  Flesh and bone was now open for business. Messy desks, slipshod arithmetic no SRA work done in weeks built the hooded Black and White into a Torrent of Spring Fury!  I took it on the cheeks, the ears, the snot-locker and even the gums, as did my boon chums.  We celebrated this blood-bond with a pack of Chesterfields snitched from Tom's Mom's purse. 

Upon the celebratory light-up, Bernie's Dad's car came bouncing through the then unpaved alley at a great clip.  Old Man Weber had seen us in the act,

 " Bernie, get your rump home now!  Immediately, if not sooner.  Hickey - I'll see your old man, when he gets off work and stops at Billy Ellis's.  Hi Tom!  How's your Mom?"
Mrs. Scanlon was a widow who worked for the Phone Company over on Stewart and was considered by every pater familias to be easy on the eyes. .

"Fine, Mr. Weber, "  Scanlon, obviously off the hook, spirited the rumpled pack of Chesterfield's in my jacket pocket and tore ass south at the intersection of Marshfield and the alley.  Mr. Weber glared at me, " You're as big a smart-ass as your Uncle Bart.  I told Bernie to stay the Hell away form you. Make yourself scarce."

Swell. A brace of great communications concerning the fruit of his loins to candy Dad's ears, prior to his twenty minutes at home before he had to go his other job at the Beverly Theatre.  Nun Battery followed by the manly art of snitching a nail.  "I am well and truly screwed," I determined with no prodding from the audience, whatsoever. Smart Lad!  I fired up another smoke and walked across Ashland Ave. to the Highland Theater - home of the Hercules versus Viet Cong and other B Movies.. There was always sexy and salacious movie posters to heighten a lad's trip to the Saturday Confessional.  Always, a grand idea to tempt oneself.

 I stood in the ticket bay of Highland Theatre on Ashland and smoked another Chesterfield with the existential fatalism of Sartre, jilted by some swell French Dame in tight sweater and tyighter slit skirt..  I looked at ads of upcoming movies that I would never see.  A gruff but familiar voice assaulted my pornographic musings, " Spit out that butt, Kid." Jesus!!!!!!!

Cop? Uncle?  No. Ignatius the school janitor?  Nope. I turned to see furrowed brows and dashing side burns, bushy eye brows and Goliath-like terror of none other than Klondike Moose Cholak - The Wrestling Foe of Man and Beast!.

The man eclipsed the waning western sun beaming on the tar roof of Billy Ellis' Wooden House, where the Old Man stopped for a Hamms and a Vinegar and Oil ( Seagrams VO Canadian).  The Star of Saturday afternoon pre-Confession Wrestling brought to me by Ben's Auto Sales on South Western Ave. snapped,  " Weed's for sissies, book-worms and sob-sisters, kid."

Uh,uh stammered I ,  " I just tried 'cuz the guys and me . . ."

Moose Cholak glared at me, " Hey, save it for Aunt Gertie!  You wanna end up being be some pencil neck, no good for anybody, salad eater, Boy?"

Given my proclivities of the tongue, I was more than familiar with the rhetorical question at this tender age and checked my natural tendency go all Noel Coward with Klondike Moose Cholak.

Rather, I penitently answered properl, "No sir."

With folded arms and a broad smile of avuncular approval, Klodike Moose Cholak ordered me to pick up the cast away cylinder of sin and put it in the cement ashtray near the curb like a good boy and then waxed poetic, " Breakfast at Tiffany's,  kid. That's what smoking'll do for you and our whole county. You know, that they made it a movie a couple years back with that skinny broad from My Fair Lady.? Now, pay attention! The guy who wrote the story about that  skirt that liked to shop and hang around fairies and rich creeps, started smoking at your age.  I saw him on Suskind's TV show, when I couldn't go back to sleep, last week and it stuck with me.  This tiny little bald  guy with a pixie voice said his mom was some hillbilly hooker and that he started smoking as a little guy and it stunted his growth, made his hair fall out and talk like a girl. That's no way, Kid. Now,  where's that saloon what's called The Wooden House?"

I pointed to the northwest corner of 79th & Ashland and corrected the wrestler, " We call it Billy Ellis's around here."

With a smile, Moose offered this valediction, " You got some lip on you kid. A  lip on you that' would trip a pig."

How could one come to bad end in this urban Arcadia?

I have not had a cigarette, since breakfast.















Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tales of the South Side - Two Nuns Plus Two Jews Equal???? Come on -

In 1964, Sister Mary Sherry, RSM ( the former Grace Magdalen Conroy - Mercy High Class of1958 & B.A. from Mundelein College '62) accompanied Sister Mary Aoileach do Aghaidh, RSM  ( the former Peg Mahone of Galway -on community business, away from the forty children per classroom at Little Flower Grammar School located on Chicago's south side at 81st & Honore, to the bright lights Manhattan, NYC. 
                              Hoods universal -('Gasp) Do see the cheek of her!')

Young Sister Mary Sherry looked like Tuesday Weld and her Irish born superior resembled Charles Laughton in drag.  Sister Mary Sherry taught 1st Grade and Sister Mary Aches Do Ache taught me and my contemporaries in 7th grade.  Sister Mary Sherry had long alabaster fingers like a Dresden China figurine of a Teutonic Princess and Sister Mary Aches had a set of meat hooks on her that resembled a couple of unboned Mickleberrys.  Sister Mary Sherry held a Bachelor of Arts in English and was studying for certification at Parker Teachers College on 62nd & Stewart and Sister Mary Aoileach do Aghaidh could beat the living poop out of the coaching staff at Leo High School and her kindest murmur translated to " I'll Have Your Guts fer Garters!"

Having concluded their business for the community at some old Dutch law firm that held mortgages on some Mercy Nun properties in Mount Greenwood out in the sticks of the city, the pair of woman religious strolled Manhattan.

They passed two tall, dignified men with very long beards, sporting very nice black suits and matching Stetsons.

Sister Mary Sherry remarked, "Sister, those gentlemen are Hasidim  - devout Jewish diamond merchants."

Her porcine superior snorted in Galway-ese,  'Shtuff en Nonshensh. Thems Trappishts, er Carthooshians.  They's prieshtsss.'
(translation:  Stuff and Nonsense. They are Trappists, or Carthusian. They happen to be priests.)

After a dozen or so steps, Sister Mary Sherry summoned up the courage to suggest, ' Sister Mary - the two gentlemen were speaking in Yiddish.'

Her boss stopped and glared before pronouncing -' T'wash Ladin.'
(translation: It was Latin.)

The astonished but cowed little nunette awaited the full judgment and clarity of the homelier Bride of Christ, " Ladin! Da tung of da Chorch! One fella shez, ' Mincus . . .Pincus Fuctus!'  Dare Y'ar."

(translation: Hey, give it a try yourself!)




Monday, July 29, 2013

Tales of the South Side - Q (uirke) Erat Demonstradum


A Cajun, Tommy Quirke ( D' 68) and a Nova Scotian walked into a bar in Cardiff. . .over by Wales.


Tommy Quirke  never really experienced anything first hand in his life, as far as his converational skills could reveal. The amiable De La Salle Institute grad  T. Q. always referenced something heard on  the Q.T.
e.g.

Person -" Hey, Tommy did you notice that your fly is open?"

T. Q. - " No, but Butchie told me all about when I was coming out of the John."


Tommy Quirke  had, what one might call,  a Rich and Vicarious Life.

Recently, Tommy Quirke went on holiday in the United Kingdom where he charmed three vacationing gents like himself with Chicago Twice Told Tales ( at least)  .

In the beautiful Welsh costal town of Cardiff, T.Q. shared the vista taken in by millions from the Arthur of legend along with a Scot from Canada and a Cajun from Louisiana. They repaired to a pub and sampled the craft brews. The view was fantastic, the beer excellent, the food exceptional.

"Y'ken," said the Nova Scotian, "I still prefer the pubs back home. Why in Sayn Edmund's there's a wee bar called McTavish's. Now,the landlord there goes out of his way for the locals so much that when you buy 4 drinks he will buy the 5th drink for you."

'Aiyee! Mo chagren !" cried  the Cajun, " Getting down to my salle bière in  the Bayaou Teche,  Le Pecker Rouge, the barman there will buy you your 3rd drink after you buy the first 2."

"Ahhh, that's nothin," said Tommy Quike. "Back on the south side a' Chicago , there's Ryan's Bar, over by the Midas shop. Now,  the moment you set foot in the place they'll buy you a drink, then another, all the drinks you like. Then when you've had enough drinks they'll take you upstairs and see that you get laid. All on the house!"

The Scotian and the Cajun  immediately poured  scorn on the South Side Irishman's claims. But, the bold Tommy Quike swears every word is true!

"Well," said the Canadian Caledonian, "Did this actually happen to you?"

"Not me myself, personally, no," said the reliable Quirke, "But it did happen to me sister."

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

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.



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tales of South Side:Doc Brosnan and La Femme Rousse Artificielle




 Doc Brosnan has had a practice in Morgan Park for thirty years and he has seen everything from infantile croup to gerbils in the wrongest of bodily cavities.  He is a sharp-eyed diagnostician as well as keen general practitioner and surgeon.

Doc Brosnan serves on the staff of Little Company of Mary and consulted elsewhere. Let's drop back for this one.


One bright May morning at his office on Western Avenue across from County Far foods, he was stunned to find an absolutely stunning red-headed young woman of generous proportions waiting for him fully clothed and perched on the parchment paper covered examining bench.  She was new to his practice and Doc Brosnan carefully examined the chart containing her medical history, before engaging this Titian haired beauty.


" Ms. Soames, I am Doctor Teddy Brosnan.  Your medical history indicates that you are quite healthy; however, your statement here says that you experience excruciatingly shape pains in every part of your body," read and observed the canny sawbones.


" Doctor, I am in pain in every part of my body.  Please help, me."


In this litigious and sordid society, even a dutiful son of Asclepius is endangered.


The veteran practitioner and Catholic gentleman-to-the-backbone Doc Brosnan asked the young ginger goddess to demonstrate for him the points of pain.


The Sanguine Siren extended her long alabaster forefinger and poked her left breast emitting an anguished cry.  She then touched her elbow follwoed by sharp yelp.  The Foxy tressed babe's digit stabbed her cheekbone only to broadcast more physical pain - genuine and plaintiff, "See? Please, help me, Doctor!"


Dr. Teddy Brosnan nodded an informed estimation of the suffering beauty and remarked, " You are not a genuine redhead my dear woman."


The astonished Vamp asked, " How did you know?"


The kindly practitioner smiled and offered, " I am a man of medicine and a man of the world, my dear woman. Not only are you not a redhead, but you are a blond."


Again the bogus Scarlet Lorelei quizzed, " How did you know?"


Dr. Teddy Brosnan replied, You have broken index finger,"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tales of the South Side Música Por La Mañana en Back of the Yards

Dios bendiga a todos ustedes, hijos de puta!

My first stop in my Leo van route is now 46th and Laflin where I wait for BK, a tough little Irish/Polish kid from a few miles west of St. Gabe's in Canaryville.  I had drained my morning's Dunkin Donuts coffee twenty  minutes earlier at Leo, before I hiked the # 7 grey Ford van west on 79th Street and north on Loomis to 47th Street.  Loomis is the cat's nuts for driving and should be on every south side drivers short list for alternate route, when the Ryan is glutted.  I wanted  to coffee up and reluctantly chose the Mickey D's.  McDonald's is to Dunkin Donut coffee as Span is to  jamón de bellota of Barcelona.

At the McDonald's located at 47th Laflin the crowd is treated to music by man in his thirties who stands almost as tall as his guitar.

He is a Mexican gent who the City workers, cops, Leo Van drivers and the lay-abouts all with campesino tunes - the Irish would call these Culchie tunes and Americans hillybilly music.  This morning the hardest working man in Mexican folk music broke into a tune done by the Gipsy Kings:  Campesino:
No te vayas tu de miNo te vayas por favorNo te vayas tu de miEl mundo seria en florUn mundo mejor
CampesinoCampesinoCampesino sono yo
CampesinoCampesinoCampesino sono yo
Que campesino que campesinoQue campesino que sono yoQue campesino que campesinoQue campesino que sono yo
No te vayas por favorNo te vayas tu de miNo te vayas por favorUn mundo sera mejorUn mundo en flor


translates to -

Do not go 'bout me
Do not go, please
Do not go 'bout me
The world would be in bloom
A Better World

peasant
peasant
Farmer sono I

peasant
peasant
Farmer sono I

That peasant farmer
That peasant sono I
That peasant farmer
That peasant sono I

Do not go, please
Do not go 'bout me
Do not go, please
A better world will
A world in bloom

Tell me about it.  Now this is way to wake-up the human juices and get the old nose out of one's belly button.

This little guy is fully No Se, Ingles and carries a battered guitar with cut-gut strings which he thumbs out the bass notes with a thick plastic thumb plectrum and works blistered and gnarled fingers with the delicacy of a Segovia and gives full-throated appreciation of tune an lyrics.

After I got my coffee, I listened to the song and offered my Spanglished appreciation, "Maravilloso! Que dulce el canto, Senor!" I duked him three bucks and my manly grip in Adios, Bub!

What was marvelous, in all of this was the man's pride and dignity.  He stood all of four feet and change and locked smiling eyes on all of us.

¡Qué hombre!