Reading my Mom's 1941 diary entries of dating my dad is like listening in on a BFF conversation. In my upcoming book, Redlined, I had to streamline my parents' romance–so I could get to the meat of the story of my Chicago neighborhood. But Mom's vivid recollection of her evening with "Fred Gartz" is worth lingering over.
I hope you've been watching Burns' and Novick's Vietnam War series, because if you haven't, whether you lived through the era or not, it's eye-opening. The division in America was fierce and unrelenting. Division even more visceral than political divisions today. I have vivid memories of this terrifying era...
We were a city family but with the animals one would expect in a rural home. From rats to rabbits, cats to crows, lambs to Lucifer the boa constrictor, we never were without a pet that set my friends' eyes a-goggle. Here's an "outtake" that didn't make it into my book.
At age 17, my mother became the sole support of her parents The Depression had destroyed 50% of all manufacturing jobs in Chicago. Her father was a tool and die maker, a machinist–and sixty-years-old to boot, so...tough luck for him. He got the boot. When the banker came around to demand their mortgage payments, he said, "Why don't you take your daughter out of school and send her to work to pay the mortgage?"
Oh it was heavenly! He knows all the little innuendoes of kissing and I ain’t so bad m’self, if I do say so We kissed for about an hour and a half. Tonight was like a page from a storybook, and he definitely is the man I want to marry. Dear God, please let it come true!!
Two of the nation’s deadliest riots exploded 50 years ago–in July 1967, within two weeks of each other. July 11th 1967, The Newark Riots blew up on an early Sunday morning, after a cab driver was brutally beaten by Newark police. After four days of rioting, looting, and destruction, 26 were dead and hundreds injured. On July 23rd, 1967, Detroit erupted in a riot triggered by a police raid of an unlicensed after-hours bar, where 82 African Americans were celebrating the return of two local GIs from the Vietnam War.
Louise Koroschetz, Mom's mother: Grandma K, probably Easter 1951 Grandma K was delusional, depressed, and vicious just months before my parents were to be married. Was it mere coincidence? Or did the thought of losing her only child to marriage [...]
In July 1962, a few months after I graduated from grade school and one year before the first black family moved onto our block, The Saturday Evening Post, a venerable magazine of the time, ran an article entitled, "Confessions of a Blockbuster." I highly recommend it to understand how insidious racist lending policies, exploited by real estate predators, undermined the housing dreams of both black and white families.