I was born on May 6, 1931 but my earliest recollections were of a time when we lived in the "Back of the Yards" neighborhood near 50th St. and Winchester Ave. When the wind was from the Northeast you could smell the Stock Yards.
I was Baptized on June 7, 1931 at St Clare of Montefalco by the Rev. N. L. Egan, O.S.A. The church is located at 55th at Washtenaw and so we must have lived in that parish at the time. I also now know that my God Parents were Belmont J. and Irene Harrison. I remember my mother mentioning an old friend and neighbor, Irene Harrison, but I have never heard the name "Belmont" before. But wait, this had to be the "Bell" that rings a bell in my mind. Yes, "Bell & Irene". I wonder what ever happened to them. But then that was a question I heard my Mom and Dad pose many long years ago.
(Added Aug. 9, 2004)
Mom had kept a newspaper clipping from 1932 with a photo of her
pushing a buggy with me in it on Ashland Avenue. The reason it was newsworthy is
that it was so unbelievably cold. We were both bundled up with only our eyes
showing. The clipping has been lost but I was reminded of it because I recently
read that the winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze solid.
There was a play area near the garage, just dirt and a pile of bricks. The bricks were used to build a fort for all my lead soldiers. We often heard the "rags-o-lion" man with his horse and wagon in the ally shouting "Rags - Old Iron". (Recycling in the 1930's) Inside the house I built forts of Lincoln Logs and at Christmas time there was my Lionel train set. Most of these toys were gifts from Dad's fellow workers as the Gas company. They were very generous. I was too young to question why these people chipped in to buy toys for me.
We lived in a Bohemian section of the neighborhood and didn't stray into other areas where we were not welcome. Bohemian was spoken in the local store as well as English. There was an Ice Cream store on the next block and I can still remember the smell of vanilla ice cream. They also sold candy and I remember hording a nickel to buy Mom a box of Black Crows for Mother's Day. (I liked them, why wouldn't she?)
When I was 6 my stomach upsets were so bad that the doctor decided to take out my appendix. Then when I came out of the operating room, he told mom and Dad that the appendix seemed to be OK but he removed it anyway and took out my tonsils and adenoids too since they would all need to be removed sooner or later. Soon after, we had to move. Mom's half-brothers, step-brothers and sisters wanted their share of the house so it was sold.
What was happening in the world during this time?