Friday, August 17, 2012

Leo Driver Diaries - Canaryville to Leo High School

August 16, 2012  "Canaryville is a predominantly Irish American neighborhood, with borders from 40th to 49th streets between Union Pacific railroad ..."

Canaryville (St. Gabriel's Parish)  gave Leo High School hundreds of great men - Bro Farrell, Fr. Bill McFarlan, Dean Fuller, A Score of Brackin Boys,  Hugs Hughes, Square Lanham, John Caponera, Gabe Caponera, Lt. John Lehner, CFD and now Canaryville is back.

I get to Leo High School before 5AM, after picking up a box of 50 glazed Munchkins and a 20 oz. coffee.  The donut holes are for the gents that I will pick up and the coffee is mine.  At Leo High School, at 79th & Sangamon Street in the heart of Gresham,  I answer e-mails and do prospect research  beyond the Leo Alumni who give lavishly to their Alma Mater.  President Dan McGrath and I are widening the shores of the giving pond and reaching out to private and corporate sponsors.  These generous individuals, foundations and corporations provide much needed revenue to off-set tuition costs and also sponsor projects for capital improvement.

The biggest need in the last several years has been tuition assistance which, due to the lousy economy, cancerous unemployment and rising water, lighting, gas, insurance and up-keep expenses, eats into operating expenses.  You can set tuition, but families can only pay what they are able to pay. The balance is made up in fund-raising.  Increasing enrollment has helped some.

Last year, Leo welcome the first white student in decades to this Catholic college prep school for young men.  The previous year, the first Hispanic graduate in decades was our Gates Millenium Scholar, Eder Cruz; his success changed this school's demographic from 100% African American to Leo Diverse!

Five more Hispanic gents enrolled as did one young man from St. Gabe's parish in Canaryville.   Ten more white ethnc ( Catholics) enrolled, entered the summer school program and the 2013 Freshman Class.  More Carnaryvillians are expected in the next few weeks. Two others, who intended to begin high school here opted to attend De LaSalle Insitute in their own backyard.

These ten gents are tough.  Their parents work hard.  Canaryville is reputed to be one of the toughest neighborhoods in America - always has been.  It is to Chicago as Hell's Kitchen is to NYC.   My Mom's family were Canaryville tribesmen.  Her Dad had been a Ragen Colt, as well as a Lather.  Her uncle was a Ragen Colt as well as a Viatorian priest.  They were called Earl and Headsy - the Donahue boys. How one became Earl, when baptized a Francis is one of those Canaryville mysteries.  Tough is determined not so much by how much one can dish out, but by how much one can take.

Canaryville folks can take plenty. The myth goes something like this -

I drive one of the school vans to pick up Leo Students from Bronzeville and then Canaryville.  The van is Ford 15 passenger that also serves the athletic teams in the afternoons. To say the least, this conveyances gets a daily work-out that would exhaust Gale Sayers.

Here was yesterday's route:

6:40 - Depart Leo heading east on 79th Street to the Dan Ryan - construction crews are laying out barrier cones and barricades; gang trucks and back-hoes signal crowded and slow return trip. N.B. Classes begin at 7:45 AM.  Think, Hickey.
6:45 - Northbound on the Dan Ryan at State - remain in Local lanes - so good, so far.

6: 50 Exit at 35th Street and head east to Dr. Martin Luther King Drive; take a left into the lot of BP Gas station. Wait. Big Daylon . . .freshman 14 years old and sports a XXXXXL  Leo Polo shirt -6'3" and all of 350+ lbs.  and the kid can move. Daylon smiles gets to work on the Munchkin box.

7:00 - 7:14 AM Now, head out to Canaryville - 35th Street East to Wentworth frontage over by Sox Park  Head south to 43rd Street; go left to 
558 West 43rd Street - Pizza Nova - Pick up Two

7:15 Head East to 35th & Emerald take a left south to Graham Elementary parking lot - there they are!

A Collection of Youthful Hope and Determination.

" How come no Chocalate Milk, Mr. Hickey?"

When you guys all make Honor Roll on October, then we'll negotiate the breakfast menu.  Eat what's there.

" Thanks! No Powder! Awesome! AJ give over!  BK you got five! So? Can we stop at Subway?  The air's too cold. You listen to Old Man music. . . .," Remembering the street work, I exit at 75th grooveup to 76th head east and pass the big dark brown apartment building at 76th Union where I was born and continue to Morgan

7:35 AM - Leo Parking Lot and the tribe alights!

Is this a great life, or what?

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