CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – KOZMYNSKI SCHOOL – HYDE PARK – RENOVATED SINCE MY DAY – FAIRLY CONTEMPORARY – THE DUMP I KNEW HAD AT LEAST A QUARTER OF THE WINDOWS BROKEN   2 comments

I HAVE THE MOST VIVID MEMORY OF BROKEN WINDOWS BECAUSE TWICE IN MY TIME AT KOZMYNSKI THEY HAPPENED IN MY CLASSROOM.

THE FIRST TIME WAS IN MS. FOGARTY’S CLASS. WE WERE KEPT BACK FROM THE AREA WITH THE GLASS – BITS OF WHICH WERE SCATTERED ON SOME DESKS (ANCIENT DESKS, COMPLETE WITH INKWELLS, MADE OF HEAVY WOOD AND DECORATIVE IRON, BOLTED DOWN) AND THE FLOOR. I CAREFULLY WATCHED THE MAN WHO FIXED THE WINDOW, NOTING THE WAY HE WORKED. 

HE DID NOT REMOVE THE BROKEN PANE. INSTEAD HE FITTED A NEW PIECE OVER IT ON THE INSIDE AND PUTTIED IT INTO PLACE. THEN HE SWEPT UP THE GLASS, AND WE WERE ALLOWED TO TAKE OUR PLACES.

WITH MANIACS LIKE THE BLACK KID NAMED RAYMOND WHO, WITH HIS CHUMS, RAN AROUND THE SCHOOL YARD HITTING KIDS OR PUSHING THEM DOWN, IT WAS NO WONDER THERE WERE SO MANY BROKEN WINDOWS.

I RECALL, SINCE IT WAS MY HABIT TO GO HOME FOR LUNCH – TYPICALLY A CAN OF SOUP I MADE FOR MYSELF – MAKING A POINT OF LEAVING HOME AS LATE AS POSSIBLE TO GET BACK TO SCHOOL WITHOUT SPENDING TIME IN THE SCHOOLYARD.

MY MEMORY OF THESE WINDOWS – BOTH THE METHOD OF REPAIR AND THE EXTENT OF THE BREAKAGE – WAS CONFIRMED SOME YEARS LATER WHEN I VISITED THAT NEIGHBORHOOD.

I HAVE A WONDERFUL KODACHROME SLIDE OF THE FLAG WAVING AT THE FRONT OF THE BUILDING AND ITS REFLECTING IN A MAZE OF BROKEN PANES CLEARLY REPAIRED IN THIS FASHION.

SOMEDAY – WHEN I HAVE ACCESS TO A GOOD SLIDE SCANNER THAT WORKS FOR KODACHROMES – I’LL BE ABLE TO POST THIS AND MANY OTHER INTERESTING PICTURES, INCLUDING MORE FROM SOUTH SHORE.

MEMORIES OF KOZMYNSKI INCLUDE MY SECOND AND LAST TEACHER THERE, MR. NEWMAN. HE WAS A MENTALLY UNBALANCED MAN COMPLETELY UNSUITABLE TO BE A TEACHER.

I CAN STILL SEE HIM WAITING BY THE CLOAKROOM ENTRANCE TO THE CLASS FIRST THING IN THE MORNING – YES, THE BUILDING WAS SO OLD, THERE WERE CLOAKROOMS – SCOWLING AND TELLING KIDS TO HURRY UP, MAN-HANDLING THE ONES WHO WERE NOT PROMPT ENOUGH AT FOLLOWING HIS BARKING.

I CAN SEE HIM ALSO GOING UP AND DOWN THE AISLES OF DESKS -SCOWLING, ANGRY, AND RED IN THE FACE – AGAIN MAN-HANDLING THOSE WHO WEREN’T RESPONDING AS HE WISHED.

AND THEN THERE WERE HIS LUNATIC-ASYLUM EFFORTS AT CLASSICAL MUSIC APPRECIATION. HE HAD THE CLASS SIT WITH HANDS FOLDED ON THEIR DESKS AND NO LOOKING AROUND OR TALKING WHILE HE PLAYED A RECORD OF BEETHOVEN. WE WERE NINE YEARS OLD, AND CAN YOU IMAGINE KIDS LIKE RAYMOND PARTICIPATING IN THIS?

NOW, I LOVE BEETHOVEN – I HAVE RECORDINGS OF ALL HIS SYMPHONIES AND PIANO SONATAS AND MANY OTHER PIECES – BUT MR. NEWMAN IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT LOVE. THE TENSION IN THAT CLASSROOM MADE ONE’S MIND FOCUS ON ANYTHING BUT THE MUSIC.

MR. NEWMAN HAD A SOFT SOUTHERN ACCENT,  CREW-CUT GREY HAIR, WAS OFTEN RED IN THE FACE WITH ANGER, AND WAS CLEARLY GAY, WHICH IS NOT A PROBLEM EXCEPT WHEN YOU HAVE HIM MAN-HANDLING AND PUSHING AROUND BOYS, AND BOYS WERE HIS EXCLUSIVE TARGETS.

APPARENTLY, HE WAS TOO MUCH THE SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN TO MAN-HANDLE NINE-YEAR OLD GIRLS.

MY POOR MOTHER TOOK TIME FROM HER WORK TO SEE THE PRINCIPAL OVER THIS SICK MAN. MS. HOTCHKISS DEFENDED HIM, TALKING ABOUT WHAT A BAD BUNCH OF KIDS WERE NOW IN THE SCHOOL. SHE POINTED OUT TO MY MOTHER THAT SHE KEPT A BASEBALL BAT IN HER OFFICE.

THAT WAS HOW BAD A PUBLIC SCHOOL IN CHICAGO COULD BE AT THAT TIME. MY MOTHER MUST HAVE FELT TREMENDOUS PRESSURE TO GET US MOVED FURTHER SOUTH – SOUTH SHORE APARTMENTS WERE MORE EXPENSIVE ON AVERAGE THAN THOSE IN HYDE PARK, ESPECIALLY WITH MY BABY BROTHER APPROACHING SCHOOL AGE.

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2 responses to “CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – KOZMYNSKI SCHOOL – HYDE PARK – RENOVATED SINCE MY DAY – FAIRLY CONTEMPORARY – THE DUMP I KNEW HAD AT LEAST A QUARTER OF THE WINDOWS BROKEN

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  1. I do remember Mr. Newman, just like concentration camp inmates remember the SS guards who tormented them. He has to be one of the most psychotic misfits in a position of authority that I ever encountered.

  2. I certainly remember Mr. Newman, a psychopathic ______, if there ever was one! How this misfit got to be a teacher is a mystery. He should have been a guard in the Gulag Archipelago.

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