Monday, February 20, 2017

Wash Day



That is the washing machine my mom used when I was a young boy. An Easy Spindrier, from the Easy Washing Machine Corporation of Syracuse. I loved that washing machine. It was the best toy I had down in the basement, besides the pilot light on the furnace. You could put your other toys in the tub on the spin side, and pretend they were going on a trip through space. Most of all I liked those big levers on the front of the machine. Those engaged the clutch and sort of made it like the controls of a space ship. I didn't get to play with it all the time because of the mountains of laundry my mom used to have. Even as a kid, when most of my brothers and sisters were yet to be born, my mom had a load of shit to do around that house. But on those rare days my mom didn't have those piles of clothes to wash, that Easy Spindrier was mine. Now, like sixty two years later, I have my own washing machine along with a dryer. I love them almost as much because they are even more like a space ship. Buttons and knobs and LED's flashing, along with music. My washer and dryer both play music when they want to tell me something. I often find myself humming those tunes as I'm roaming through the house. Unlike my mom's washer, my washer and dryer are not in the basement. Mine are in the kitchen. Yes, I know. An odd place for the laundry, but as long as I don't get in Mark's way while he's cooking, it works out fine. Unless he gets drunk one day and I find a chicken in the dryer flopping around on the fluff dry setting.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Shoebox Baby

The Shoebox Baby holding one of his great grandchildren. 1886-1988


One of my sisters recently asked if I knew when our grandfather, our mom's dad, came to the United States. She also wanted to know if there was some story about him as a baby in a shoe box. So yesterday I drove out to Tinley Park and asked Mom. Here's the story. Grandpa was born in Birmingham, England in 1886. He was a pre-mature birth and so small that he could be put in a shoebox. Mom says that his mother, our great grandmother, used to put him in that box, on the open door of the oven to keep him warm. I assume she turned him once in awhile for an even roast and maybe basted him too. Anyway, when Grandpa was two years old his parents moved to the United States. It was their second move to the states from what I understand. They had moved back to England earlier to help a relative who was having trouble with his business.

Little stories like this, that seem so insignificant at the time, may mean a lot to your descendants. I have written down a lot of my life here in the pages of my blog, yet there is a whole lot I've left out. For that you should be thankful. Lucky for me and my siblings, and the children of my siblings, my dad wrote down some of his story. Most interesting and sad, is the story of the murder in 1942, of my dad's father on the street in front of his home. Drive by shootings are not a new thing here in Chicago. Dad also wrote a nice story detailing his time in the Army Air Force during World War II.

So as I was sitting there chatting with my ninety five year old Mom about family history, I suggested that she spend one hour per day at the typewriter telling the story, as she remembers it, of our family. I don't know if she will do that, but next week when I visit I'm going to check out the old typewriter in her office, and see if it's still serviceable. Maybe if I put it out on the dining room table... or better yet, on the table in front of the television, she'll write some.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I'm Walkin' Here



Mark is amazed by pedestrians in Chicago. I am not. I used to drive a taxi in Chicago, and I am not surprised or shocked at the utter disregard pedestrians in Chicago have for their safety.

I'm relaxed and grooving to the radio in the car when Mark lets loose with one of his worried intrusions.
"Ahhhhhhh, Alan! Look out!"
I flinch at the sudden outburst. My heart misses a couple of beats, then races.
"WHAT, WHAT THE HELL!" I scream.
"Didn't you see that woman?"
"What woman? The woman with the baby in the stroller who pushed the baby out into traffic to test and see if it was safe for her to follow? That woman?"
"Yes, you almost hit her."
"I did not. I only let her know I was there. Trust me, I saw her all along and was not going to hit her."
Meanwhile, Mark is in a sweat all worried about the next dumbass who might throw themselves in front of the car. Mark is right though. Pedestrians in Chicago have no cares at all when it comes to traffic. They just wander out in front of cars as if they aren't there, as if the car careening towards them is a big, soft pillow. I noticed that back when I drove a cab and adjusted my driving as needed. It's kind of like playing Frogger, except the object is to not hit them. Depending on what neighborhood you are driving through, the game is either tough or simple. Black neighborhoods are the worst. People seem to be challenging you. They look right at you, as if they can stare a car to a stop. Turns out, they can. It's the hipster areas that cause the most distress. Those people are oblivious. They're blabbing on the phone, or more likely, texting while crossing the street. I almost want to actually hit them. Over in the more suburbanized areas, like Lincoln Park, you find parents pushing the strollers out into traffic. They scare me the most. They feel entitled, they feel as if their parenthood protects them and the baby from all harm. It does not.
"CHICAGO (CBS) — An 11-month-old girl in a stroller was hit by a car Saturday morning in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the North Side. A 60-year-old man was driving a 2015 Toyota Corolla south on Southport at 10:30 a.m. when he turned left onto Clybourn and the car hit the girl, according to Chicago Police."


Monday, February 13, 2017

Fingertips Part III



I'm havign a little trougle typing today. My fingers are fycjhed uyp. There are bandafes on sonme ofy thenm, (Okay, I'll start using spell check) both hands are sore, and I might even have some broken bones. I fell again.
I was walking little Scout when she stopped to poop in the middle of somebody's lawn. Like a good citizen I stepped in there and snatched up that turd with one of my doggy poo bags. As I was walking off the lawn, while tying up the end of the poo bag, I stepped on the brick border twisting my ankle. I slammed down on the concrete sidewalk like two hundred pounds of potatoes dropped from the Sears Tower (Yes, I know it's not called that anymore and the Sox don't play in Comisky Park). Pain shot through my body, and I immediately broke out in a chorus of fucks. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck, fuck..... " and on and on for about three minutes. Blood was immediately apparent. I had ripped part of the tip of one finger off, and blood was gushing from a couple of my other fingers. As Scout licked my face and the blood off the sidewalk, people were riding by on bicycles, walking by on the way to work, and driving by. Not one of those assholes stopped to see if I was okay. Oh sure, maybe the madman screaming obscenities caused them to shy away, but there was blood. It should have been obvious that something was wrong. Anyway, after about three or four minutes I was able to roll over and pull myself up. I was a mess. Oh, and that bag of dog shit that I was tying up as I fell? I found it as I rolled over, smashed on the sidewalk under me.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Old Wrinkled Sack



Nothing drives me crazier that seeing a bagger at the supermarket bagging groceries wrong. I can't help myself. When standing there at the checkout counter of the Jewel Store, I can't help but to want to jump in there and do it myself. Invariably I will end up bragging to the cashier about how I was a Jewel bagger back in 1966 and how they actually had a bagging class to train us. That invariably brings everything to a stop for a second as the cashier, the bagger, and Mark all look at me while thinking, "Shut up geezer." Sometimes the cashier will smirk and say, "That's nice", as she throws a can of tomato sauce in the sack, on top of a bag of potato chips. Back in 1966, all we had were paper bags. Then sometime in the 1970's they all started asking, "Paper or Plastic?". Now, besides the paper or plastic option, there is a new wrinkle. They ask you if you want any bag at all. Yes, you now have the choice to either have your groceries put in a bag provided by the store, have them put into a bag that you have brought with you, or have them just toss your purchases into the shopping cart. Yesterday I had them just throw the stuff, loose, into the shopping cart. Why? Because we aren't going to pay the goddamn seven cents that the City of Chicago has levied on each bag that you use. That's fourteen cents for double bagging. No, not gonna do it. They are already getting ten and a half percent sales tax on the shit that goes into the bag, now they want more money or you can just juggle all that stuff in your arms. I know it makes me sound cheap, but they are also about to enforce a new tax on soda. Cook County is about to start taxing you a penny per ounce. That's an extra dollar, forty four, for a twelve pack of Coca Cola. Not gonna do it. I think Chicago and Cook County are killing themselves with this crazy taxing of the little guy. I have not bought one tank of gasoline in Chicago since we have moved here. Instead I wait until we go visit Mom every week. Out there in the distant suburbs, in the land of strip malls and chain restaurants, in one corner of my home town, is Will County. Somehow Tinley Park is partially in Will County, where gasoline is forty cents cheaper, soda is not taxed, and they'll put your goddamned groceries in a bag for free. Besides, there is also a Home Goods Store in that little corner of Tinley, and nothing makes Mark happier than spending an hour roaming the aisles of Home Goods.