West Side Stories | Essay | Chicago Reader

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Our living room on Flournoy Street had a great big window out front. Today you'd call it a picture window. On the day before Halloween 1921 my father

got out there and washed this big window. When he woke up the next morning the neighborhood kids had written on it, "So you like to wash windows? Wash it again." Oh, he was mad! He'd forgotten all about Halloween.

The building is still there. Every other building on the block is gone now. We lived on the first floor. You could look out our back door and see the entrance to the Sacramento elevated station. This was the old Garfield Park line.

It's all gone now. They built the expressway, tore down the el, and put the trains in the middle of the highway.

I remember one time my father got us up in the middle of the night to watch a garage burn. It was an old barn. You could see the flames from our back porch. So my father got Marge and I up and took us to see the fire. My mother was ready to kill him. But my father, who was born just two years after the Chicago Fire, said, I think these kids should know what fire can do.

It was quite a scene, and I thought it was great for my father to wake us up in the middle of the night to let us see something.

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