Monday, August 24, 2009

But Do They Still Play Organ Music?

A few more photos at the bottom taken right on 69th Street. In my old neighborhood, 85th & Pulaski, there were quite a few business fronts with that wedge-shaped look. State Farm Insurance, some glass company, a travel agency. I like how, in that second to last photo, you descended some steps to get in.

Bob and Rich are correct in assessing this neighborhood, roughly three miles west of my home, and I'll get to the other photos in a second. Sadly, the younger generation pisses me off because they're all so effing angry at something. Doesn't matter if they're white, black, or Mexican, I'll get a hello or even a nod from someone my age or older. And this goes back ten years, I'm not just saying it to sound old. The northside is different, but the south side of Chicago, it's like we just co-exist. And part of that is because the south side was so racially divided, white/black and now, black/Spanish. For decades, the big yellow viaducts along Damen Avenue marked the dividing line, then Western. White people running off for no reason back then. Well, you know what I mean, No good reason. By 1995, there were black families living on my block, Western having turned to Kedzie (going in one mile jumps in our grid of a city) and finally Pulaski. Different times. Single moms, kids selling crack from the house where I bounced a ball with Jimmy Leonardi and a whole bunch of adults stood out in front of one summer night in the 70s to get an unobstructed view of a lunar eclipse. In 1995 I was chin nodding cops in an unmarked Ford Vicky on my way home from the bus stop. This girl on the corner, Kiyah, one of those kids you just know is going to be a heart-breaker one day, kept running away from home. Because all the girls at Bogan High wanted her to join a gang. Wm J. Bogan, my school, "The Great White Hope" prominently spray-painted on one white wall in 1977. In 1978, there were two blacks and, inexplicably, one Chinese kid there, but I had graduated. She finally went to another school at 55th and Kedzie and did quite well, even taking French classes. Yet my neighbors stared at me because we talked at the bus stop or ON the bus, and it wasn't because of the age difference. Even now, I hope that she is working at a French embassy in some other place than here, or teaching or training to be on the space shuttle. One by one the houses were put up for sale, blacks buying the corner homes, making the middle of the block implode. I learned that the difference between a brick home and one of wood and siding meant that one home could ricochet bullets. We moved in 1999, a year after some dude started beating on a guy's van with a bat and the owner came out of his house with an automatic in his hand. 3 PM on a Tuesday afternoon. Across the street from Kiyah's mother's house.

My neighbor JoJo told me about his old neighborhood, the one described here yesterday. The fact that so many old Lithuanians stayed on because they were refugees from WWII, and nothing would or could compare to that. That gives it a certain perspective.I suppose even here in Burbank I know the change in a neighborhood better because I take the bus instead of zooming around inside a car 100% of my time away from the block I live on. The wind does blow green, but only in certain areas. No whites are moving back into the places they fled, the south side will always be polarized in that way. Now black people are selling to Mexicans.

Which brings me to 63rd and California. Not even a mile north from the old Lithuanian taverns in a black neighborhood, and almost everyone here is Spanish. Well, Mexican. I'll just say it. One thing I will say about the south side compared to the north side, ast least here we keep the nutty buildings and awnings. That bakery is closed, but at least it isn't torn down. And I loved looking at the oddly named 66 Night Club, as the number corresponded to nothing at all.An Old Style sign, just like at Clowns Alley.Check out the notice on that awning. Organ Music Every Night. I doubt that's still the case. Unless the place is haunted.