My dad and my two brothers, ages nineteen and thirteen, started shoveling out our car that had been mired for two days in snow after the city's greatest twenty-four hour snowfall had brought Chicago to a standstill. They were down near thirty-third and Wentworth, close to IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) where my older brother, Paul attended, but commuted from our home on Keeler near Montrose. As they dug in their shovels around each of the tires, tossing snow over their shoulders, a group of twelve African American men moved toward them with determined strides.
Monday, January 15th, our country will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this year the actual date of his birthday. It takes me back to the day of his "Dream" speech, when Jim Crow was fighting to keep blacks separate and unequal.
On Christmas Eve, Dad pulled out the sleigh bells from the closet. “When Santa finishes putting out all the gifts, he’ll shake these sleigh bells as a signal that he’s done. Then, we have to give him a few minutes to leave. It we see Santa, we destroy the magic, and he won’t come back.”
Pearl Harbor was bombed seventy-six years ago today. My mom, Lillian Koroschetz, started a brand new diary on New Year's Eve, 1941 reflecting back on the previous year and the effects the barely three-week-old war was already having on the every-day lives of Americans.
Two Chicago shootings within 16 hours of each other: a man was shot dead in East Garfield Park this past Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, another man was seriously injured: shot in the knee and stomach. The 2nd man isn't dead, but his injuries will surely compromise his quality of life as long as he lives.
In honor of Veterans Day, I’m posting “Words, War, Worry,” an essay I wrote honoring our servicemen and women and the mothers who love them and fret over their safety.
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...