#4 (Surf Street)

More necklaces . . .

Naomi: Beautiful blue dyed abalone shell spikes with faceted blue-green spacer beads.
Naomi: Beautiful blue dyed abalone shell spikes with faceted blue-green spacer beads.
Imani: Purple dyed agate slices with glass crystal beads; center brooch with purple accents
Imani: Purple dyed agate slices with glass crystal beads; center brooch with purple accents

More continuing saga . . .

Back in Chicago — back to our same apartment. This building was a great place to grow up. Five stories of apartments filled with interesting people and lots of kids to play with. There was always something going on. This a picture of me standing in front of the front entrance. My father had gone to Dallas on a trip and brought me back a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. All I needed was a double holster. I stayed committed to this desire until one Christmas soon after I got a single holster cap gun and a doll carriage. Mother was determined I should be a “girly” girl.

Cowboy boots and hat from far-away Dallas TX
Cowboy boots and hat from far-away Dallas TX

Then I got my brown high topped sneakers. I thought they were the BEST and I loved them dearly. Much to the dismay of my mother.

Loved my brown hi-top sneakers!
Loved my brown hi-top sneakers!

There were always lots of kids “hanging around” the front of the building. (I think that’s what it would be called nowadays but for us it was just a great place to gather.)

That’s me in the middle, twin girls from the fourth floor, Sally from the third floor and Johnny Stranberg from the second floor. This picture was taken August 1947.

Here I am in my Easter outfit in front of the building courtyard. There used to be a fountain in the space behind me. More about that in a minute.

When the fountain was running people would toss coins in,  sort of like the movie “Three Coins in a Fountain.” Johnny Stranburg was always reaching and trying to get the coins that were sitting in the bottom of the fountain — that was until the day he fell into the fountain and had to be rescued. Another episode was when he put his head through the fence around the courtyard and his head got stuck and the fire department had to come to get him out.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Belmont Ave., Chicago
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Belmont Ave., Chicago

When Johnny was ready for school, he went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel School where I was going. So it was my job to walk him back and forth to school — 10 cents per trip. Johnny didn’t particularly like to go to school so the trip in the morning was particularly perilous. It was thirteen blocks each way and in the morning we would get about halfway there when he would double over and say he had a terrible stomach ache and needed to go back home. It worked a couple of times and I took him back home and had to run to get back to school in hopes of being on-time. After those couple of times, I just dragged him the rest of the way to school. Never seemed to do him any harm.

I used the dollar a week I got from taking him back and forth to school plus 50 cents allowance to go horseback riding every week. I was just crazy about horses. The stable was in Lincoln Park and the bus fare was 25 cents each way and a dollar per hour to ride. Most of the time, the ride was around a ring but sometimes we got to ride out in Lincoln Park. What a thrill!

My poor mother just couldn’t understand my love of horses. One time we were coming home from downtown and she told me I had a surprise waiting for me at home. I was convinced it was a horse. I already knew where I could keep in the alcove on the fifth floor next to our apartment. I just knew it was a horse! Well, it wasn’t. It was an ancient brown bicycle that a friend of my father had given him. Well, it wasn’t a horse but it was my ticket to freedom. I wasn’t allowed to ride in the street but thank goodness the sidewalks were really wide and I could just go out on my own. That old brown bicycle became my most treasured possession.

One of my favorite places was the library on Belmont Avenue. A friend, Connie Bradley, and I used to go there and get ten books apiece (that was the limit), carry them back home (13 blocks) and then read like crazy until it was time to return them and start again. One of the best thrills was when you “graduated” to the second floor where the “grownup” books were kept.

Be sure to check out our other website for bold and beautiful handmade jewelry: https://gibsongrafe.com

 

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