Archive for September 2009

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – CHICAGO BUS TRANSFER – TYPICAL OF THE 1960s – ALTHOUGH THIS ONE FROM 1973   Leave a comment

CHICAGO BUS TRANSFER - TYPICAL OF THE 1960s - ALTHOUGH THIS ONE FROM 1973

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – ILLINOIS CENTRAL (IC) TICKET – CHELTENHAM STATION 79TH STREET – IMAGE FROM MITCH MARKOVITZ   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – ILLINOIS CENTRAL ELECTRIC – CASH FARE RECEIPT FOR FARE PAID ON TRAIN – 1965   Leave a comment

ILLINOIS CENTRAL ELECTRIC - CASH FARE RECEIPT FOR FARE PAID ON TRAIN - 1965

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – FROSTIE – OUR FAVORITE ROOT BEER – 1950s   Leave a comment

FROSTIE - OUR FAVORITE ROOT BEER - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – HARDING’S TREASURE CHEST KIDS MENU – 1950s – WHEN MY MOM BROUGHT US DOWNTOWN FOR DINNER THIS WAS WHERE WE WANTED TO GO   1 comment

HARDING'S TREASURE CHEST KIDS MENU - WHEN MY MOM BROUGHT US DOWNTOWN FOR DINNER THIS WAS WHERE WE WANTED TO GO

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – WHITE CASTLE INTERIOR – MUCH LIKE THE ONE AT 79TH AND ESSEX   2 comments

WHITE CASTLE INTERIOR - MUCH LIKE THE ONE AT 79TH AND ESSEX

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – WHITE CASTLE PAINTING JOHN BAEDER – RESEMBLES RESTAURANT AT 79TH AND ESSEX   Leave a comment

WHITE CASTLE PAINTING JOHN BAEDER - RESEMBLES RESTAURANT AT 79TH AND ESSEX

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – WHITE CASTLE HAMBURGER BOX – 1950s   Leave a comment

WHITE CASTLE HAMBURGER BOX - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MENU – CHICAGO – WHITE CASTLE HAMBURGER MENU – 1952   Leave a comment

WHITE CASTLE HAMBURGER MENU - 1952

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PETER PAN SNACK SHOPS – COFFEE CUP – c1960   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PETER PAN HAMBURGER MENU – 71ST AND JEFFERY   Leave a comment

PETER PAN HAMBURGER MENU - 71ST AND JEFFERY

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PETER PAN RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST MENU MONTAGE   Leave a comment

PETER PAN RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST MENU MONTAGE

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PETER PAN HAMBURGER RESTAURANT – 71ST AND JEFFERY – BUTTON – 1950s   Leave a comment

PETER PAN HAMBURGER RESTAURANT - 71ST AND JEFFREY - BUTTON - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – A POPULAR PLACE IN ITS DAY: CARL’S RED HOTS – FROM THE 79TH STREET OVERFLOW SITE   2 comments

A POPULAR PLACE IN ITS DAY: CARL'S RED HOTS

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MCDONALD’S DESPLAINES MUSEUM – PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS MCDONALDS THAT OPENED AT 79TH AND PHILLIPS – c 1960   1 comment

MCDONALD'S DESPLAINES MUSEUM - SAME AS MCDONALDS THAT OPENED AT  79TH AND PHILIPS - c 1960

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MINOR-DUNN HAMBURGER SHOP – 1732 E 79TH STREET – INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR – 1950s – FROM GALLAGHER.COM   Leave a comment

CHICAGO - PHOTO - MINOR-DUNN HAMBURGER SHOP - 1732 E 79TH STREET - EXTERIOR - 1950s - FROM GALLAGHER.COM

CHICAGO - PHOTO - MINOR-DUNN HAMBURGER SHOP - 1732 E 79TH STREET - INTERIOR - 1950s - FROM GALLAGHER.COM

THIS APPARENTLY WAS RATHER A CULT PLACE FOR HAMBURGERS, BUT I WAS NOT AWARE OF IT AT ALL.

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – OUR LADY OF PEACE CATHOLIC CHURCH – 79TH ANDS JEFFERY – 1950s – FROM GALLAGHER.COM   1 comment

OUR LADY OF PEACE CATHOLIC CHURCH - 79TH ANDS JEFFERY - 1950s - FROM GALLAGHER.COM

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – THE HIGH-LOW FLYER WAGON – AVAILABLE FROM LOCAL HIGH-LOW FOOD STORE FOR 4.95 – 1950s   Leave a comment

THE HIGH-LOW FLYER WAGON - AVAILABLE FROM LOCAL HIGH-LOW FOOD STORE FOR 4.95 - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MARVIN ON SHOCK THEATRE – A POPULAR LOCAL SHOW IN THE LATE 1950s   Leave a comment

MARVIN ON SHOCK THEATRE - A POPULAR LOCAL SHOW IN THE LATE 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – KUKLA FRAN AND OLLIE WITH BURR TILLSTROM – PART OF A CHICAGO CHILDHOOD   Leave a comment

KUKLA FRAN AND OLLIE WITH BURR TILLSTROM - PART OF A CHICAGO CHILDHOOD

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE U-505 COMES TO CHICAGO – 1954   1 comment

MONTAGE U-505 COMES TO CHICAGO - 1954

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE PRESCRIPTION LABEL FROM ROSENBLUM DRUGS ON 79TH STREET FOR BILL CHUCKMAN   Leave a comment

SOUTH SHORE PRESCRIPTION LABEL FROM ROSENBLUM DRUGS FOR BILL CHUCKMAN

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – STRAIGHT ARROW CARD FROM NABISCO SHREDDED WHEAT – EARLY 1950s   Leave a comment

STRAIGHT ARROW CARD FROM NABISCO SHREDDED WHEAT - EARLY 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF WOOLWORTH’S MENU – 1963   Leave a comment

 MONTAGE OF WOOLWORTH'S MENU - 1963

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF STREET SKATES – 1950s INCLUDING CHICAGO BRAND   1 comment

MONTAGE OF STREET SKATES - 1950s INCLUDING CHICAGO BRAND

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF MOVIE POSTERS FOR CHEAP 1950s FUN FILMS   1 comment

MONTAGE OF MOVIE POSTERS FOR CHEAP 1950s FILMS

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF BUBBLE GUM CARDS – 1950s   Leave a comment

MONTAGE OF BUBBLE GUM CARDS - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF ISETTA CAR – WE HAD ONE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD   Leave a comment

MONTAGE OF ISETTA CAR - WE HAD ONE IN THE NEIGHBORHHOD

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF GERMAN AMPHICAR – I SAW ONE OF THESE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD – 1960s   Leave a comment

MONTAGE OF GERMAN AMPHICAR - I SAW ONE OF THESE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD - 1960s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF EVENING IN PARIS FROM WALGREEN’S – A FAVORITE GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS OR BIRTHDAYS   Leave a comment

MONTAGE OF EVENING IN PARIS FROM WALGREEN'S - A FAVORITE GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS OR BIRTHDAYS

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – AWARD CLOCK FOR SOUTH SHORE LIQUORS – FOUND ON INTERNET AUCTION SITE   Leave a comment

AWARD CLOCK FOR SOUTH SHORE LIQUORS - FOUND ON INTERNET

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF GURLEY HOLIDAY CANDLES – THESE CHARMING SEASONAL CURIOS WERE TYPICALLY SOLD IN PLACES LIKE WOOLWORTHS -1950s   Leave a comment

MONTAGE OF GURLEY HOLIDAY CANDLES - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF YOYOS AND TOPS – IN THE LATE 1950s YOYO CONTESTS WERE HELD ON STREETCORNERS BY DEMONSTRATORS FROM DUNCAN EVERY WEEK – 1950s   Leave a comment

MONTAGE OF YOYOS AND TOPS - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – ANOTHER SOUTH SHORE BSA PATCH   Leave a comment

ANOTHER SOUTH SHORE BSA PATCH

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE BOY SCOUT CAMPOREE – WE WERE TROOP 594 – 1959   Leave a comment

SOUTH SHORE BOY SCOUT CAMPOREE - 1959

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE CAMPOREE PATCH – B S A -1961   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE BOY SCOUT CAMPOREE – WE WERE TROOP 594 -1958   Leave a comment

SOUTH SHORE CAMPOREE BSA - WE WERE TROOP 594 -1958

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE CAMPOREE PATCH – B S A – 1957   Leave a comment

PATCH - CHICAGO - BOY SCOUTS - SOUTH SHORE DISTRICT - CAMPOREE - 1957

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MONTAGE OF SOME SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL SSL (STUDENT SERVICE LEAGUE) PINS   Leave a comment

MONTAGE OF SOME SOUTH SHORE SSL PINS

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL – TIDE YEAR BOOK COVER – 1949   Leave a comment

SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL - TIDE COVER - 1949

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL ROTC SHOULDER PATCH – 1962   Leave a comment

SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL ROTC SHOULDER PATCH - 1962

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL LETTERS   Leave a comment

SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL LETTERS

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PENNY AND FIVE-CENT CANDY – AVAILABLE IN EVERY “SCHOOL STORE” – 1950s   Leave a comment

PENNY AND FIVE-CENT CANDY - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – CHICAGO AREA POP CANS – 1950s   Leave a comment

CHICAGO AREA POP CANS - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PAYSLIPS FROM SOUTH WORKS OF U.S. STEEL (SUMMER WORK) & MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY (WEEKEND GUIDE) – 1960s   Leave a comment

PAYSLIPS FROM SOUTH WORKS OF U.S. STEEL & MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY - 1960s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – NAVY PIER UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS – I D CARD – 1960s   Leave a comment

NAVY PIER UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS - I D CARD - 1960s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MARSHALL FIELD – MY EMPLOYEE CARD-DISCOUNT BOOK – 1965   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – ILLINOIS CENTRAL ELECTRIC – TIMETABLE OUTSIDE – FOR 75TH AND 79TH – 1965   1 comment

ILLINOIS CENTRAL ELECTRIC - TIMETABLE OUTSIDE - FOR 75TH AND 79TH - 1965

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – ILLINOIS CENTRAL ELECTRIC – TIMETABLE INSIDE – FOR 75TH AND 79TH – 1965   Leave a comment

ILLINOIS CENTRAL ELECTRIC - TIMETABLE INSIDE - FOR 75TH AND 79TH - 1965

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY – GRADUATION PROGRAM INSIDE – JOHN CHUCKMAN – 1959   Leave a comment

MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY - GRADUATION PROGRAM INSIDE - JOHN CHUCKMAN - 1959

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY – GRADUATION PROGRAM FOR JOHN CHUCKMAN – 1959   Leave a comment

MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY - GRADUATION PROGRAM FOR JOHN CHUCKMAN

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY – GRADUATION PROGRAM FOR BILL CHUCKMAN – MR KAZMIER AS VICE PRINCIPAL – 1963   Leave a comment

MYRA BRADWELL ELENTARY - GRADUATION CEREMONY PROGRAM - MR KAZMIER AS VICE PRINCIPAL - 1963 - BILL CHUCKMAN'S GRADUATION

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY – GRADUATE LIST – 1963 – BILL CHUCKMAN’S GRADUATION   Leave a comment

MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY - GRADUATE LIST - 1963 - BILL CHUCKMAN'S GRADUATION

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – A 1959 ISSUE OF BRADWELL LIFE – MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL   Leave a comment

A 1959 ISSUE OF BRADWELL LIFE - MYRA BRADWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – FLUTED TYPE – COMMON IN 1950s   Leave a comment

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS - FLUTED TYPE - COMMOM IN 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – CHRISTMAS BUBBLE LIGHTS – NOMA – 1950s   1 comment

CHRISTMAS BUBBLE LIGHTS - NOMA - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SANFORD PEN-IT COLLECTION – SHOWING THE VARIETY OF COLORS – FROM 1001 INK BOTTLES SITE   Leave a comment

SANFORD PEN-IT COLLECTION - SHOWING THE VARIETY OF COLORS - FROM 1001 INK BOTTLES SITE

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – MORE SANFORD’S PEN-IT INKS – THE ONES WE USED IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL   Leave a comment

MORE SANFORD'S PEN-IT INKS - THE ONES WE USED IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SHOE-FITTING MACHINE – ONE WAS AT BARON’S SHOES – 79TH AND ESSEX – SOMETIMES WE POPPED IN JUST TO SEE OUR GLOWING GREEN FEET   1 comment

SHOE-FITTING MACHINE - ONE WAS AT BARRON'S SHOES - 79TH AND ESSEX

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – JAYS POTATO CHIP CAN – c1960 – ORIGINALLY CALLED JAPPS – WWII SAW THE NAME CHANGE – THE FAVORITE – MADE ON THE SOUTH SIDE   Leave a comment

JAYS POTATO CHIP CAN - c1960

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – NEW ERA POTATO CHIP CAN – c 1960   Leave a comment

NEW ERA POTATO CHIP CAN - c 1960

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – COLLEGE INN CAN – CHICKEN A LA KING – USED TO BUY THIS AT THE HIGH-LOW ON 75TH   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – COLLEGE INN BRAND CAN – TOMATO SOUP – 1950s   Leave a comment

COLLEGE INN BRAND CAN - TOMATO SOUP - 1950s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – GOOD HUMOR ICE CREAM TRUCK – 1960s   Leave a comment

GOOD HUMOR ICE CREAM TRUCK - 1960s

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – VENDING MACHINE – MULTI GUM – 1950s   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – VENDING MACHINE – HERSHEY PENNY BARS – THREE FLAVORS -THERE WAS ONE ON WINDSOR PARK I.C. PLATFORM – 1950s   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – VENDING MACHINE – TOPPER – BUBBLE GUM – THESE WERE IN MANY PLACES OFTEN AT FRONT DOOR – OFTEN HAD SMALL PRIZES WITH GUM – 1950s   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – BAZOOKA BUBBLE GUM – ONE-CENT TWO-CHEW DISPLAY BOX – AS FOUND IN THE VERA SHOP   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – BAZOOKA JOE COMICS – CAME WRAPPED IN EVERY PIECE OF BUBBLE GUM   Leave a comment

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PINK HOLLOW RUBBER BALL WE’D BUY AT THE SCHOOL STORE FOR 25 CENTS TO PLAY THE GAME OF “PENNER” – THIS WAS PLAYED BY THROWING THE BALL AGAINST A CURVED PIECE OF TERRRA COTTA TRIM (THE “PENNER”) WHICH RAN AROUND THE SCHOOL, MAKING THE BALL BOUNCE HIGH   Leave a comment

PINK HOLLOW RUBBER BALL WE'D BUY AT THE SCHOOL STORE TO PLAY THE GAME OF "PENNER"

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – CONNECTOR FOR LONG HANDLE TO WIND UP STORE AWNINGS – A FEATURE OF ALMOST ALL COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS IN THE 1950s – STORE OWNERS USED A LONG-HANDLED CRANK TO TURN AWNINGS UP OR DOWN WITH THE SUN   Leave a comment

CONNECTOR FOR LONG HANDLE TO WIND UP STORE AWNINGS

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – HOMESICKNESS: A PROSE-POEM BY JOHN CHUCKMAN – A MEMORY OF SOUTH SHORE NEIGHBORHOOD   Leave a comment

It was such a beautiful day. Perfect. The sky was blue, the kind of blue, infinite and crystaline, you only see on the prairie. You sensed its vast expanse even though you only saw patches of it through the leaves overhead.

The sun penetrated the leaves in beams, mellow golden beams. Beams thick and textured with the microscopic fluff of a hundred nameless wildflowers. Wildflowers whose pungent scents perfumed the air, drifting in from empty lots and schoolyards, railroad tracks and even cracks in sidewalks.

And the trees were filled with the buzz and hum and drone of insects. The sidewalks and front yards shimmered with a mottled pattern of fuzzy, leafy shapes and splotches of golden brightness. Everything had the rich, textured warmth of antique photographs.

Jack was walking on a street he had walked a hundred times before. He was in no hurry. He wasn’t going anywhere. Just walking, almost drifting really, feeling the warmth and easy comfort of a place he knew intimately, a place detailed and rich in his memory, a place he belonged and that belonged to him. The old neighborhood in Chicago.

It was all still there, everything he loved. He was deliriously happy to see it again. He’d been homesick for it so many times.

The old apartments, block after block of them, solid and dignified. Bay windows and courtyards, set back on grass. Streets canopied with trees. Rows of elms like natural cathedrals over grassy parkways. The buildings all of brick, mostly red or brown, but a dozen shades and textures. A hundred variations in design. Sills and pediments, creamy terra-cotta, lustrous in the sun. Courtyards embracing gardens. Front doors, heavy and beautiful, made to welcome people home from work.

The shopping streets like cozy, urban villages. Busy with people coming home from work. Walking from the train. Stores with names that seemed important, unchanging points in a child’s happy landscape. Faces and voices as much the fabric of neighborhood as window fronts and signs and awnings.

Every block was lush and heavy with memories, the way empty lots are overgrown with wildflowers in the buzzy, summer heat. Running through alleys. Climbing porches and roofs. Catching his heels in the hot tar of sun-baked streets. Wiping the stinging sweat from his eyes. The shimmery path down sun-baked sidewalks. Pushing a creaky paper cart, hoping to make every third-floor on the first throw. Walking seriously to school.

Hot summer nights, velvety twilight dotted with the tiny, yellowy blinks of lightning bugs. The soft murmur of old people in lawn chairs in the front yards outside their apartments, cooling off before bed, gossiping, making a neighborhood.

A little further on Jack heard waves lapping and poplar trees rattling. He was in the park along the shore.

He saw the beach, golden yellow sand with white waves ruffling in from glossy swells on the lake’s blue, translucent surface. Covered with people on blistering summer days. Water like a warm bath, lapping gently. The pier, huge rocks where children climbed, laughed and screamed in the splash and chill of deeper water, or sometimes watched people fishing in the soft quietness of evening. More lawn chairs in the park with old people whispering and nodding as darkness fell.

In winter they climbed icebergs along the beach. Explorers and mountain climbers building a fire. A hole in the sand to protect it from wind. The smell of roasting potatoes or apples.

Ice-skating in the park under the lights with music playing and big flakes falling. Crack-the-whip and tag. Hoping for the touch of a girl’s hand or a frosty-breathed smile before crunching your way back, past cheery, steamy store windows, to a cozy, overheated apartment.

And he remembered seeing her the first time. Arms full of books. A warm face laughing girlishly. Her dark blue coat flapping carelessly against the tops of her knees. Long dark socks hugging underneath. The braid of her hair dancing from side to side, chestnut rich, long down her back. Wispy bangs over eyes, blue and heavy-lidded. Cheeks and ears, neck and knees, blushed, as warm- and soft-looking as the coat of a young horse.

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – THE COLD CHILL OF DARKNESS: A SHORT STORY BY JOHN CHUCKMAN – SET IN SOUTH SHORE NEIGHBORHOOD   5 comments

A short story that captures some of my experience as a paperboy in Chicago. It demonstrates the quiet creepiness sometimes experienced in ordinary events, a la Hitchcock. It was not conscious, but I’m sure Jack London’s To Build a Fire influenced the intense description of cold.

It was really cold. Not just cold enough to see your breath. But cold enough to make your face numb if you didn’t stop to warm up in the front hall of an apartment building once in while.

Jack could hear the snow squeaking under the tires of his cart and the bottoms of his floppy rubber boots. The set of tags with all his customers addresses fluttered and banged around on a big metal ring hooked to the cart handle.

It was the coldest Jack could remember. But it was the harsh wind that really made you shiver. And the little bits of snow it picked up that made your skin sting.

He could feel the wind slap against the side of his cart. But it was a sturdy thing, built like a buckboard. A big, shiny yellow crate, reinforced with metal ribs, with a wheel on each side like the ones on a wheel-chair and a little swively solid thing at the front.

He tried to keep his mind off the cold. He just wanted to deliver his papers and get home as fast as he could.

But it wasn’t easy. The cold went right through his gloves after just a few minutes out. He tried blowing into the wrists, but that only helped for a couple of seconds.

And things just looked cold. Clouds of steam rushed out of all the manhole covers up the street and swirled up into the frosty streetlights. Then fierce gusts of wind drove them almost sideways and filled them with silvery bits of ice.

Some kid back at the agency said you didn’t want to go near them when they were like that. The covers could blow off and kill you. Jack didn’t know if it was true, but he crossed every street with a steamy manhole cover like he believed it was.

Normally there was nothing Jack liked better than the snow-laced trees overhead. But they were scary, too, now. The gusts of wind tossed the long, graceful branches into huge, sweeping movements. And there were creaking sounds. You couldn’t help thinking about one breaking off. He’d seen branches down after storms.

Even a nice neighborhood seemed a little creepy at five-thirty in the morning, especially on a day like this.

Almost all the windows were dark. And even where someone left the Christmas lights on all night, they looked lonely in the windy darkness.

There was always a cozy yellow glow from the front halls of apartment buildings. But this street was almost all houses. Anyway, you didn’t deliver in the halls. You only went in there to warm up. All the apartments got their papers on the back porches. From the alley.

That was the part Jack hated. The alleys. In the dark. Especially on a morning like this. The cold made everything slower and harder. If you had to walk one up, there was snow and ice on the back stairs. And the wind meant you couldn’t throw so good. And maybe you couldn’t hear someone creeping around.

It was funny, alone in the dark like that, especially with the wind howling, the scary thoughts you got. Jack put it down to being a skinny thirteen-year old. Nervous and not really tough enough. Raised by his mother. The manager’s words kept going through his head. The guy knew just what to say. This was a man’s route.

As much as he could, Jack had delivery down to a system. When it was warm, he rolled papers as he pushed his cart. That was the fastest way once you learned how to do it.

On bad days he rolled them all at once back at the agency. It took longer, but he couldn’t roll papers with gloves on. And that way they didn’t blow away. He could remember chasing fluttering sheets all over the street once and then trying to make them look like newspapers again.

Streets with houses went the fastest. He thought of it as kind of a performance really the way he lunged forward over the cart and grabbed a paper, then, letting the handle bar go, turned and threw it. He caught up with the cart in a couple of steps and started again. It felt good when it all went smoothly for several blocks.

But it didn’t always go smoothly. And this morning he found himself stopping the cart several times and loping across the fresh snow in a front yard to fish a paper out of some bushes. It wasn’t so bad, but the snow on the bushes at one place got pushed up his coat sleeve and left his wrist stinging.

Still, Jack got through the main part of his houses in decent time. He rolled his cart up to the side of an apartment building that went over some stores on 79th Street. The lobby was back near the corner of the alley behind the stores.

He’d warm up a few minutes before heading down the alley. The lobby was warm. There was a radiator under the mailboxes and beads of sweat on the door glass. But it was a couple of minutes before the heat penetrated Jack’s stiff clothes. Everything he had on seemed brittle.

He slapped his cheeks a couple of times. The stinging from the wind had faded, and he wanted to make sure he could feel something. He read somewhere that you should start worrying when you couldn’t feel things anymore. But it wasn’t so easy to tell in this kind of cold just when that was.

He jumped up and down a little. Those rubber boots over your shoes kept you dry, but they didn’t do all that much for the cold. Then he stood right against the radiator. He could feel a wave of cold leaving his body almost like cramps going away. Jack sat down on the stairs. The carpet was warm and thick.

From inside, the snowy night looked beautiful. The door’s heavy cut glass caught glints of Christmas lights and signs from stores down at the corner. Everything outside was shades of twilight. And the wind swept it with glittery bits.

The door’s heavy wooden frame and piston on top made Jack feel secure from the wind and the cold, but you could hear it move just a little with the big gusts. A slight rattle and a whooshing sound.

Jack thought nothing was prettier than the city coated with snow. But he didn’t like this kind of cold. He wished he didn’t have to go back out. He didn’t even want to think about how much more he had to do. Four blocks of houses didn’t make the stack of papers go down that much. Most of his route was apartments. He’d stop in several lobbies before he was done.

At least there weren’t any starts this morning. He didn’t have to search around in the dim light for the numbers on any new porches. He could just go by memory.

His old afternoon route sure was easy compared to this. In the daytime alleys weren’t scary places at all. He played in them since he was a little kid. They honeycombed the old neighborhoods with shortcuts and secret passages, with roofs and porches to climb and hide on.
And it used to be fun on a sunny afternoon, rolling his cart down the alleys, seeing if he could make all the third floors on his first try. But that was about sixty papers. Now he had more than two hundred.

He used to get invited in sometimes. One lady baked gingerbread. But no one baked gingerbread at this time in the morning.

He got up after just a few minutes. The first blast of cold air made him stop thinking about anything like gingerbread. He turned his cart around and headed into the alley that ran behind the stores. He quickly left the umbrella of street light behind.

The alleys weren’t completely dark. There were lights on some of the telephone poles. Not bright, modern ones, but they made these little pools of yellowy light down the pavement. And a lot of porches had dim lights on the stairs. So you could see your way around. But they were still places with all kinds of dark shapes. And there were all those dark gangways between the garages that led to dark backyards and dark basement doors.

Jack turned again, halfway down, to the alley that ran behind the side street he’d just come up. It was all apartments on the other side of the block.

He noticed the wind wasn’t as bad as it was on the street. The buildings were blocking it a little. Throwing wouldn’t be as bad as he thought. Except for the third floors. With the snow blowing around on the roofs, lighted dimly from the street, it was like you could actually see the wind whipping over the buildings.

If you had a decent arm, you could throw most of your papers from the middle of the alley. But stairs and porches came in a lot of different shapes. And with things like telephone poles and wires you couldn’t always get a good angle. You had to go through the gangway and lob them from the back yard. Or, in some cases, walk them up.

Most porches were pretty small targets. You had to get it over the banister. Without hitting the back windows. And hopefully not the garbage cans. The garbage cans didn’t matter when you delivered afternoon papers, but they sure did on mornings.

If you roofed it, you’d be short. That meant bringing another paper back from the agency when you were done. Usually, on big morning routes, the guy down at the agency would run one out for you in his car. But not always. And you didn’t like asking.

Jack missed his first third floor. The paper bounced off the banister and spun down. At first, he thought it was in the yard. He pulled his cart over in front of the garages in case a car came by and went looking around the gangway and the backyard.

He couldn’t find it. So he was pretty sure it was on the garage. He thought about climbing it and looked for a place to get a boost. Some garages were easy to climb. But there was nothing that looked easy with the snow and ice. And it was just too cold to be heroic. So he’d be short.

Jack had done a couple of blocks of alleys when he saw some car lights turn in about a block ahead. They were moving slowly. That made them look more sinister. He never liked meeting up with cars while it was still dark back there. It was scary the way they put you in a spotlight. With your eyes all adjusted to alley light, they just about blinded you. And you just never knew.

Jack pulled his cart over before it got very close. He’d lob the next couple of papers from the backyard. Hopefully the car would be gone then. He could always wait there a minute if it wasn’t.

Jack had no trouble lobbing the papers. A second and a third floor. But the car lights were still there. He could see the glare from them over the top of the garages. He decided to wait. The lights weren’t moving.

Jack walked slowly back through the gangway. He peeked nervously around the corner of the garage. It was hard at first to see anything in the glare but blowing bits of snow and some steamy exhaust.

Then he could see it was a station wagon. It looked like Larry’s car, the manager from down at the agency.

Suddenly Jack felt silly about being so suspicious. He walked over to the car. Larry rolled down the window and yelled through the wind.

“How ya doin’, Jack?”

“Oh, I’m a little behind with the cold. But I’m fine.”

“Well, I was just takin’ a check aroun’, bein’ so cold an’ ev’rything. Jus’ wanna make sure nobody’s in trouble.”

“Oh, no, I’m jus’ fine. Thanks.”

Larry held out a white paper bag full of something.

“Ya wanna doughnut?”

“Oh sure, thanks.”

“Okay, Jack, we’ll see ya back down at the agency.”

He rolled up the window. Jack remembered the paper he roofed and started waving. The window rolled down again.

“Say, I forgot. Ya got an extra? I’m gonna be short.”

Larry reached over on the seat and handed Jack a paper.

“Thanks, Larry, see ya later.”

Jack watched the car roll away for a second, silhouetted against its headlights. The doughnut tasted really good. And he noticed it was starting to get light out.

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – PUPPY LOVE: A SHORT STORY BY JOHN CHUCKMAN – SET IN SOUTH SHORE NEIGHBORHOOD   Leave a comment

They pressed their faces tight against the window with their hands shading the sides of their eyes. It was a big window with the reflections of all the stores across 75th Street and the sun shimmering off the glass.

Jack and Willy had seen her going into Ray’s Pizzeria from about a block away. There was no mistaking her even from that distance.

They couldn’t see much without smooching up the glass. It probably made them look a little goofy inside. But that didn’t matter. She was in there. And they wanted a good look.

“Gee, there she is.”

“Yeah, but she’s sittin’ with some guy.”

The object of their efforts was a girl named Marie.

Neither one of them ever said a word to her. They probably never would. Jack and Willy were twelve, almost thirteen, and she was fourteen. That alone made her practically unapproachable.

Besides she was kind of hoody. The kind of girl that went out with guys that smoked, guys with initials carved into heavy black belts. That made her a little scary. And indescribably exciting.

She was a sultry goddess. They got glimpses of her at school last semester. They’d both crane their necks if she passed in the hall and then turn away, nervously laughing and snorting, afraid those dark eyes might just look right into theirs.

They’d talk about seeing her at recess. About her black hair done in a French twist. The bangs over her big, velvety eyes. Round cheeks with powder and pink stuff on them. Big red lips. And the straight skirts she wore.

Now they wouldn’t see her anymore. She was in high school.

“Man, oh, man, is she beautiful,” Willy said, pulling his face from the window.

“Yeah, there ain’t another girl that comes close.”

“Yeah, an’ you should see her legs.”

Willy was referring to the claim he’d seen her once in her gymsuit playing dodgeball. The sight was unforgettable, because he described it in detail every time her name was mentioned.

“Ya wanna hang aroun’ an’ see when she leaves?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Just then this tough-looking guy rushed out the door. He was looking straight at them. It took a second for them to realize what was happening, but it was the guy who was sitting with her. And he didn’t look happy.

“Hey, ya little jerks, whatcha think you’re doin’ there?”

He charged right up to Jack. It was the way hoody guys do things, without giving you a chance to think about what was going on. He was still talking when he shoved Jack so hard, he almost fell backwards on the sidewalk. He only caught his balance with a lot of panicky arm-waving.

Jack and Willy didn’t need to say a word to each other. They both knew instinctively what to do. They turned and ran as fast as they could.

That surprised him a little. So they got a head start. But as they rounded the corner to Coles Avenue, Jack could see the guy take off after them. He was yelling something at them.

They turned off Coles into the alley behind the stores. Then into a gangway behind some apartments. They hit one set of back-porch stairs flying, racing up the wooden stairs, two or three at a time, until they got to the third floor. Then they collapsed on the porch, breathing hard, hearts pounding.

At first, all Jack could think about was how stupid he looked, getting shoved around like that and running away like a rabbit. In front of her. But the thought of how much stupider he’d look on the sidewalk with a bloody nose made him feel better.

They raised their heads just enough to look down between the edge of the porch and the bottom of the banister. They had a clear view down into the alley from up there. But almost right away they ducked back down against the rough, gray boards. He was there, looking around for them.

“We better jus’ stay here a while. Maybe he won’t go lookin’ up here,” Jack breathed the words, trying to whisper and pant at the same time.

“Yeah, even if he thinks of the porches, he don’t know what one we’re on. For all he knows, we live aroun’ here, an’ we’re already home.

“But what if he comes up?”

“We’ll jus’ both kick at him comin’ up the stairs. He won’t be able to get up here with both of us kickin’ at his face.”

That thought was reassuring. They were really scared, but they weren’t helpless. There was something they could do. They were actually pretty safe up there. They used to hide like this, playing cowboys and Indians, on back porches all over the neighborhood. All that practice was coming in handy now.

“What if he’s got a switchblade?”

Jack hadn’t thought of that. He sure looked like he could have one. Greased-back hair and a sneery look on his face. Just wearing a tight undershirt. And the thick black belt and engineering boots every hoody guy strutted around in.

“I don’t know.” Jack looked around a little, scraping his cheek on the wood. Just like on all the back porches of all the old apartment buildings, there was a big garbage can standing in one corner, the kind made out of gray, ribbed steel with handles on the sides.

“We’ll throw the garbage can on him. An’ there’s a couple of pop bottles over by the door. We could throw those, too.”

“Yeah, good idea.” Willy whispered. “If we hear him on the steps, we better get the garbage can ready to throw ‘fore he gets up.”

“Yeah, he sees us up here with that, there’s no way he’s comin’ up.”

They stayed there, still, except for their breathing, listening for any sounds on the stairs. After fifteen minutes or so and several nervous peeks under the banister, they figured it was safe.

They crept down slowly, crouching as they went, hoping to see a little farther ahead to the next landing, grabbing both banisters tightly with each step. Just like in cowboys and Indians, he could be there, waiting for you to come down the stairs.

Their sneakers didn’t make a sound. But here and there an old board creaked.

“If ya see him, jus’ run back up an’ get ready to kick him. Aim for his face,” Jack whispered.

But he was gone. By the time they got back out into the alley, they were feeling pretty good.

“Which way ya wanna go?”

“Let’s go the same way we were.”

They left the alley and turned back up toward 75th Street. When they got near the corner, just as a precaution, they flattened themselves against the wall of the building. Willy peeked around the corner.

“Not a sign. Let’s go.”

They raced away from the pizzeria. But pretty soon they slowed down and stopped looking over their shoulders. They got back to the way they usually walked. Arms and legs swinging carefree. Pants cuffs and laces flapping around. Sneakers scraping the sidewalk when they pushed each other or stopped to look in some of the stores. Laughing at just about anything.

As they came up to Exchange Avenue, several girls came out of the Coronet Restaurant on the corner ahead. They started across the street toward them.

You could tell from out in the street they were older. Some of them had makeup and straight skirts. High-school girls. Probably fourteen or fifteen. They were laughing and talking, turning their heads back and forth with their hair swinging around, as they walked all bunched together almost like a group picture for a yearbook.

Jack and Willy elbowed each other and laughed when they first saw them. As they got closer, the boys straightened up and the laughs changed to little whispered comments through lips that hardly moved. When the girls got really close, Jack and Willy were quiet. Just plain stiff and nervous actually.

As they passed, one girl’s voice and then another said “Hello, boys.” Kind of slow and silly. Then there was a chorus of giggles and laughs.

Jack and Willy didn’t say a thing. They just looked straight ahead and walked like they were afraid of tripping on their shoelaces. But when the girls were a safe distance away, they suddenly stopped and turned around.

“Man, did ya hear that? Did ya hear that?” Jack bent over like the wind was knocked out of him. “They were talkin’ to us!”

Willy shouted, “Ya, man, an’ that blond with the ponytail, what a dream! I couldn’t believe she was real.”

“Aw, did ya see the one with red hair? Man, was she sharp-lookin’!”

“Sharper than Marie?”

“Ya know, when ya think about it, Marie really ain’t all that great. I mean, she’s pretty nice, but she don’t compare to what we jus’ saw.”

Jack and Willy watched the girls till the last of their bouncing hair and swaying skirts disappeared around the corner where 75th Street turned a little. Then they started walking again, weaving back and forth along the sidewalk, laughing and snorting, pushing and elbowing. Willy was telling Jack about what kind of legs the blond girl probably had.

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – A SENSE OF VALUES: A SHORT STORY BY JOHN CHUCKMAN – SET IN SOUTH SHORE NEIGHBORHOOD   Leave a comment

“There’s nothin’ wrong with it. It’s a perfec’ly good shirt.”

It was a long-sleeved, white cotton shirt his mother was talking about. She’d ironed it so Jack could wear it to church that morning. But nothing could make him put that shirt on. And he didn’t have to say it. Just the pained look on his face was enough.

“Weren’t ya jus’ tellin’ me how ya di’n’t have a white shirt for your class pi’ture at school?”

It was true. He did tell her that, although he rarely complained about stuff like that to his mother. But he did feel embarrassed when he was the only kid in the class picture without a white shirt. He never felt that way where they used to live. But this was a better neighborhood, and all the kids wore white shirts for class pictures.

“It’s all ironed up nice for ya.”

It was very hard saying no to his mother about anything. It had to be something he had awfully strong feelings about. Because there was this almost overwhelming sense of duty and obligation he felt to her. It was something kids in regular families wouldn’t even know about.

All those times seeing his mother come home in tears. What could a ten-year-old boy say to comfort her? If he was bigger, he’d beat up some of those creeps at work.

He knew how she struggled to hold on to a job and raise two kids alone. How she worried about them in some of those neighborhoods every morning she went off to work. How she was always trying to find a better place they could afford to live.

But she was asking the impossible. She taught Jack to be proud and stubborn, and that’s just what he was.

It was one night last week that two people from the new church showed up with a big cardboard box full of clothes. He was embarrassed when his mother let them in. But really, what else could she do? Once you answered the buzzer and the pastor’s voice came over the speaker, you were stuck.

They’d just moved into the little apartment over a grocery and liquor store at 75th and Colfax. There wasn’t any bedroom. His mother shared the Murphy bed with his grandmother. His brother slept on the couch, and he slept on a cot in the dinette. They did just fine. You might even say things were kind of cozy.

At least they seemed that way to Jack after what he’d been through. In the old neighborhood, their apartment was just as small, but he’d spent the last couple of years just being afraid. Afraid of getting beat up going to school. Afraid of getting beat up at school. Afraid of getting beat up on the way home. This neighborhood wasn’t like that at all. He liked going to school now. In Jack’s mind things were pretty good.

But that didn’t mean you wanted guys from church around poking their noses into everything. Wherever they lived, they always went to church. His mother was just like that, Sunday school and church every week, but nothing like this ever happened before. Jack sat there mortified when they came in with their box of clothes. Did he look that bad on Sunday?

God, his mother even offered them coffee. He thought they’d never leave with their eyes, between sips of coffee and friendly smiles, carefully taking in every detail of the place. Probably trying to figure out how they all slept in there.

Jack swore he’d never be seen wearing a thing from that box. Nobody was going to be looking over at him in church, feeling satisfied about how they’d sent old clothes to that poor woman and her kids instead of throwing them out.

“Well, it’s up ta you. I’m not gonna make ya wear it if you’re dead set against it.”

Jack was dead set against it. Actually, if it had been up to him, he wouldn’t ever go back to that church. But that was expecting way too much from his mother. She’d never agree with anything like that. At least he’d show them he didn’t need their junk.

“Ya better hurry up an’ get somethin’ else on, or you’re gonna be late for Sunday school.”

Later that morning, after Sunday school, Jack sat, as he always did, next to his mother and brother in church. Again, as he always did, he sat as still as possible so he didn’t make noise in the rows of creaky auditorium chairs that served as pews. But he sat up really straight.

His face felt a little warm and flushed. And he was sweating a little, feeling nervous about anybody that happened to look their way. But he only saw them out of the corner of his eye because of the way he kept his head up, his eyes straight ahead. He was feeling fiercely proud of that stupid old plaid shirt.

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – ON THE DEATH OF AN OLD GOOD FRIEND FROM SOUTH SHORE   1 comment

WRITTEN FOR A NEWSLETTER ADDRESSING THE OLD SOUTH SHORE NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENTS

My old good friend, Preston E. Uney (Bradwell 1959/ South Shore 1963), died on July 7, 2008. He was an aeronautical engineer living with his wife and children in Colorado.

Preston’s dad ran a small toy store on Stony Island in the 1960s until the changing neighborhood destroyed his business. The family lived for many years in a small house on Kingston Ave. just south of 79th.

His older sister, Marie, taught us both to dance, however awkward the results. His father, an immigrant from Russia, used to tell electrifying stories of the Russian Front in WWII.

Preston was an interesting independent-minded kid who must have been the only student carrying a Socialist Labor Party sign around South Shore High in the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential campaign. He will be missed.

CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES – VITAL SPEECHES COVER – IN SOME RATHER ESTEEMED COMPANY   Leave a comment

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES – TEXACO NEWS COVER   Leave a comment

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME OTHER PLACES – AMERICAN RATIONALIST COVER   Leave a comment

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES: JOHN CHUCKMAN’S FIRST BOOK – MAGPIE BOOKS LONDON   Leave a comment

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES: RESTAURANT REVIEWER FOR THE MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM – PORTLAND MAINE   Leave a comment

WHAT A GIG!

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES: JOHN AND MARJIE – ON LAKE ERIE – PORT DOVER   Leave a comment

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES: JOHN CHUCKMAN – OFFICIAL CORPORATE PORTRAIT – CHIEF ECONOMIST FOR TEXACO CANADA – TORONTO   Leave a comment

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES: JOHN CHUCKMAN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO   Leave a comment

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CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – SOME LATER PLACES: JOHN CHUCKMAN IN NEW YORK – WHO IS THAT WITH CHUCKMAN? – 1987   Leave a comment

WHO IS THAT GUY WITH ME?

HE SMOKED CHESTERFIELD CIGARETTES, KEPT TALKING ABOUT SHINING CITIES ON HILLS, AND RAN UP BIG TABS IN EVERY JOINT WE VISITED.

HE WAS CHARMING BUT CLEARLY A BIT DAFT.

Posted September 19, 2009 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

SOME OTHER PLACES – JOHN CHUCKMAN MONTREAL 1973   Leave a comment

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