So sorry to just come upon this.

Bill and I were best friends around the ages of ten to thirteen or fourteen. We went many places together. I had an interest in building little rockets at the time and often went over to Bill’s so we could “blast one off” in Rainbow Park. Of course, we also loved the beach.

We joined Boy Scouts together – Troop 594 in the South Shore neighborhood, Chicago – and had many goofy adventures on overnight trips, like the time we had to put up our pup tent in the rain at the Indiana Dunes. Later, talking under flashlight inside the tent under the tapping of the rain with one of those big cans of Jay’s Potato Chips between us and some Frosty’s root beer or other favorite. Swinging on a rope swing attached to a tree and leaping off down the sand dune.

Scout meetings were on Friday evenings, and fairly often Bill and I had a pizza – cheese – at Ray’s Pizzeria on 75th Street, a legendary place in South Shore, before the meeting. Such simple, memorable things. The Troop met in the basement of South Shore Presbyterian Church on 76th near South Shore Drive.

An event still vivid in memory was the time during the first winter of high school, we were walking home from South Shore along 78th Street. The old apartment buildings were beautifully trimmed with snow frosting, and we started throwing snowballs at kids passing from behind some bushes.

That was when I met Pat Golden with her beautiful long dark braid swinging as she walked, her nappy dark blue coat, her knee socks, pink-tinged full cheeks, and carrying her books in front of her, as was the custom for girls then. I was stricken, and I had a crush on her right through high school, but I was quite a shy boy.

Bill later became close to Evelyn “Mike” Duffell, and they could be seen between classes walking together, Bill’s arm behind her, guiding, a very defining gesture of Bill’s.

Bill lived at that time with his mom and dad in clapboard apartment building, which resembled a grand old private home, on South Shore Drive near 77th. The third floor. The back porch looked out into Rainbow Park. There are photos of the building on my site, Chuckman’s Places at

See also our 6B class picture.

Bill had a really decent side to him. In 1955, I was new to South Shore, and to Bradwell Elementary School, and I had a very unhappy experience with an insensitive home room teacher who had me stand up before the class and answer some questions about myself.

You see, my mom and dad were divorced, quite a rare thing in 1955, and just a reference to my father could send me into tears.

When she asked me about my father, I broke down and cried in front of the class. What a way to be introduced to your new school classmates.

Later, at recess, Bill and Preston Uney approached me in the schoolyard to make friends and make me feel better about what had happened. It would be hard to overstate how much I appreciated that gesture.

Once we were in high school, Bill and I drifted apart. I guess in part because he spent a lot of time with “Mike,” who often came over at lunchtime in the cafeteria to the table where Preston and I sat and joked around. She loved telling offbeat jokes. Through high school, I remained a good friend of Preston Uney’s, who lived just south of 79th and Kingston with his mom and dad and two older sisters.

I see Bill lived in Western Michigan. I assume he taught there because I know he became a teacher. That coast was one of my favorite places on earth when I was in my forties. Giant sand dunes, peach orchards, lovely farms, and the dramatic beauty of Lake Michigan. I vacationed south of where he and his family lived many times. I hope he loved it as much as I did.

Posted July 31, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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