We moved to a flat in the Brighton Park neighborhood near Archer and California Ave. It was a Polish neighborhood with a mix of Lithuanians and others. Polish was spoken at the nearest grocery store. The nearest school was a public school and they would not accept a 6 year old into 2nd grade so I repeated 1st. I had been accustomed to a lot of work in school and this was like play time for me. (But the stomach problems eased up considerably).
We took our "window shopping" walks on Archer Ave. There were no "malls" at this time and stores were all along major streets. There weren't even parking lots because most people either walked to the stores or rode the street cars. The movie house was the much bigger Brighton Theater and after a few years I was there every Saturday afternoon. Sometimes the family would go shopping (or just walking) downtown and go to the Chicago Theater. There you would see a double feature and a live stage show between features. Each feature was preceded by a cartoon and sometimes a "news reel". I was 10 when we were on such an excursion on December 7, 1941 and news boys flooded the streets shouting that "Japan bombed Pearl Harbor". We didn't know where that was. Dad left his job selling appliances for the gas company and got a job a Kellog Switchboard Company. During the war, there were no appliances to sell and Kellog was war related.
Once in a while, we would go to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a week's visit with Uncle Joe, Mom's step-brother, Aunt Blanch and cousins Bob and Dave. They lived in a home in town and it was always a good time. One of the high points of these trips for Dad was when we would get a section of open road and he could get up to 45 MPH. Most roads were two lane and if you got behind a truck you could be stuck going 30 or 35 for miles with no opportunity to pass. "Rest stops" were made by finding a place to pull off the road were there were some bushes.
It was also during this time that dad's mother lived with us for one of every three months. I didn't like these times because Grandma didn't speak to me and when she spoke to Mom or Dad, it was in Bohemian. She was 16 when she came to the US and never learned English! She wanted to live with us all the time, but Dad had two older brothers and it took a court order to rotate her to each household for a month at a time. We would pick her up at Uncle John's and Aunt Mary's and I could visit with cousins Jim, Ed, Frances, Marie, and Rosalie. When we brought Grandma to Uncle Frank's house Dad brought her to the door, rang the bell, turned and left. Grandma died of bone cancer. She must have been in a great deal of pain for a long time, but I didn't know. I just knew that she used an awful lot of rubbing alcohol and I suspected that it wasn't all used for rubbing.
I also started caddying at Beverly Country Club. I was finally able to earn some money and learned how to play blackjack between rounds. I learned a little about how the "other half" lives and that even though I could select a club for the golfer, I could not use a golf club myself. On caddy day, each week, I went to the pool.
Mom and Dad saved enough money for the down payment on a house. Homes were being built on the far south side of Chicago where bus and streetcars would be available along with "Chicago" water and sewers. My parents would not consider going outside of the city and put up with well water and septic systems. As a result, I left my school and my friends.
A historical note:
Our Lady of Fatima Church
- 2751 W. 38th Place
This is a house of worship, devotion and healing. The edifice itself was the early home of French Catholics in Brighton Park. First named St. Joseph’s, it was designed by architects LaPointe and Hickok in a French Provincial Gothic style. Dedicated in 1892, its stained glass windows were crafted by the same firm that did Holy Name Cathedral’s original windows—Lascelles & Shroeder. The church became St. Joseph and St. Anne in 1900 when a shrine in her honor was established here. Novenas drawing thousands still take place prior to her feast day, July 26. Crutches hang on the wall, a tribute to her powerful intercession through the years. In 1991 the parish merged with neighboring St. Agnes, whose church, dedicated in 1906 originally served Irish immigrants—the two are now blended as Our Lady of Fatima. A new Johannes organ has just been installed.
an article in the Catholic New World.2001
What was happening in the world during this time?