Kildare Avenue

It always seemed fitting that we lived on a street with an Irish name, given that the majority of the neighborhood had Irish names – Lanigan, Joyce, Gavin, Garvey, McGuire (times two), Durkin, McElroy, Doyle, McInerney, Tyrell, Fitzgerald, Dennehy, McGowan, Morley, Fahey, Hannigan, Finneran, and O’Ryan – to name just a few.  Some foreigners did manage to slip through, however, with names like Graff, Milano, Dedo, Severino, Wargo.  (Whoever heard of a name ending in “o?”)  But I’m glad they were there, especially since my best friend for life, Carla Milano, moved in next door. Our other best friend for life, Marie Joyce, lived just a half block away.  We were inseparable – and still are.  I believe our 60th Anniversary is this year!

And what would I have done without Mrs. Graff?  She was always there for me, and she is to this day.  I still call her Mrs. Graff – I wouldn’t dream of calling her Dolores!  It would be like calling your mother or an aunt or a grandmother by her first name.  It just can’t – and shouldn’t – be done!

This is the house in which my sister, brother, and I grew up.  I lived in this house from 1956 until 1970.  A lot of “firsts” happened while we lived in this house – First Communion (I had to start by mentioning this most important event, otherwise Father Griffin would haunt me – and yes, of course, our parish priests had Irish names, too), first grade (and first encounter with a nun), first ballet lesson, first (and only) baby brother was born, first pajama party, first dog (Kelly!), first Nancy Drew book, first date, first kiss, first time [attempting] driving a car (stick shift on the column, tears of laughter running down my dad’s face), first marriage (sorry, Father G!).

It was a wonderful neighborhood, overflowing with baby-boomers, who spent all summer outside, playing games, riding bikes, roller skating (guarding our skate keys!), playing ball in the street.  Our particular block was not a through-street, so there were hardly any annoying interruptions in the ball-playing activities.  We all walked to school.  When we had an important event – like Communion, Confirmation, or graduation – it was not unusual for one of the parish priests to make an appearance at your party.  I think they were just looking for free beer.

I could go on and on (as if I haven’t been doing just that), but I’ll stop here.  Thank you for traveling down memory lane with me!

Here is 8033 South Kildare Avenue in Chicago.



My Third Place

The third place I lived, that is.  The Charles Building at 9101 S. Ashland Avenue – I was three years old.  My Aunt Genevieve and Uncle Bob lived in an apartment here.  They moved out, and we moved in.

This is the home where my first real memories begin…my parents’ Murphy bed, my crib in the dining area, the ceiling falling on me while I was sleeping in said crib, laundry hanging in the back courtyard, walking up Ashland Avenue with my dad on a Saturday morning.  It was one of my favorite things to do. We would pass the building with the “crazy clocks,” as we called them. They may have been barometers or thermometers, and they hung out over the sidewalk, each clock face with a single hand that seemed to move in no particular direction.

The best thing that happened when we lived there was the birth of my sister.  And after a short while, of course, we would move again…but that’s another story.

Yesterday, my husband drove us to 91st and Ashland.  I sat in the car and sketched the Charles Building, first with pencil, then with my mother’s Parker fountain pen, circa 1945. I marveled at how well preserved the building is, in spite of the somewhat questionable stores that now occupy the ground level.  It is a beautiful building, with lovely details – if I were an architect, I would be better able to do justice to one of the more forgotten buildings in Chicago.  I still love it!


Next stop, Evergreen Park…