★~♥~♥~★~ El Morno! ♥~★~★~♥ ~
December 11, 2012
Today is a nothing mucher (Noodle Ring is the food of the day, need I say more?) If you want check out what happened on this day in history and celebrity birthdays just click December 11, 2011–Noodle ring recipe included.
I do, however, want to give you something to muse over, while you drink your morno cuppa, so I’m sharing the monologue Cole wrote for his drama class. Ok. I was hard up for El Morno material and uninspired by noodle rings so I turned my 16 years old school work into a blog post. I hope you like it.
The assignment was to write a monologue telling someone eles story. Cole wrote his monologue using some of the stories his dad told him about growing up in a large family on the Northwest side of Chicago during the sixties. Thank you to our “Northwest Sider” friends for filling in some of the gaps for Cole.
Joe’s stories written and told by Cole:
I grew up on the Northwest side of Chicago in the 1960s, the sixth child of seven. My mom spent her days raising five sons, including one set of twins and two daughters, while my dad was either at the firehouse or working a side job. Later in life, whenever people gasped and asked mom how she did it, she made it sound easy. They didn’t come all at once,” she would say. “I had them one at a time.” And then she would laugh and add, “Except for the twins, of course.”
Our neighborhood was our social life. We were free to roam unencumbered from parental check-ins. My parents didn’t care where we were as long as we were home before the street lights came on or five o’clock supper, whichever came first.
By the time I was six or seven, I was constantly being sent to the neighborhood store for groceries, usually to buy milk. The half-mile walk to the store wasn’t bad, but walking home with two gallons of milk, one in each hand, was — I was certain my arms would fall off. When I was a little older, and trusted to buy more stuff, I was allowed to use the red wagon. The family was more excited about this rite of passage than I was. It wasn’t easy maneuvering an empty red wagon to the store, and even harder coming home with it full of groceries, especially in freezing Chicago temperatures. Uphill both ways. And it never failed — I would arrive home and be berated for forgetting to buy something or buying the wrong thing. Nobody cared that my hands were frostbitten through my gloves from clutching the metal handle on the wagon. I use to imagine dying of pneumonia and frost bite on the way home from the store and when my family noticed I was missing, probably when they needed to send someone to the store again, they would be so sorry for sending me out into the cold and for the rest of their lives they would ask themselves, “Did we really need that extra gallon of milk?”
My main goal during the summer, after school, and on winter weekends was to escape the house and head out into the neighborhood before someone found an errand to send me on. We didn’t have cell phones back in those days, but we did have well developed lungs from growing up in large, loud Italian/Irish families. I would head over to my a friends house and call him by standing outside at the base of his back porch and yelling YOOOO followed by his name in a very melodic (and loud) pitch! My friend would answer my call by exiting his house, and together we’d head out to gather other friends using the same call method at each house. Unlike kids today, it was unheard of for your parents to drive you anywhere.
Sometimes, we rode our bikes to Brookfield Zoo — eight miles of hugging 1st Avenue sans helmets. Hitchhiking was an occasional thrill that took us to Foster Avenue Beach. Cubs Park was easy to get to by walking to Addison Avenue or Irving Park Road and taking the bus. Addison dropped you off across the street from the park, while Irving required a stroll back to Addison. Irving was used if the Cardinals or the Pirates were in town and you wanted to sit for the ride.
In the summers we played baseball. We’d meet up at Steinmetz, the nearby public high school that had a large open space with a quarter-mile track and probably a couple of acres of flat grassland beyond the track. Older guys had already played baseball for years, and the grass was beaten away for the bases and the home plate and the pitcher. We’d create teams by first naming two captains, who would then choose guys alternately for their teams. Then we’d play till we had to go home for supper, after which we’d meet up again and play till it got too dark to see the ball.
During the school year I went to our parish school, St. Ferdinand. I had five siblings ahead of me in the same school, so the teachers knew me before they met me. “I had your brother or sister,” they would say that first day of class. I worried — which one?
The 1970s ushered in my teen years, a time of … well, never mind. That’s a story for another time.
I’m having dinner with Joe’s sister and my brother-in-law tonight, and I’m sure she’ll share, after reading Joe’s stories, that her younger brother was delusional and swear that he was babied and coddled throughout his childhood. She won’t remember a little red wagon, and if she does, she will be the one pulling it uphill both ways. It has always amazed and amused me (an only child) how siblings can grow up together with the same parents and have completely different childhoods. Of course, I also suspect that Joe never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Did you have to walk three miles in the snow to school and back? Carry potatoes in your pockets to keep your hands warm? I can tell you that I didn’t have it easy. Once, my dad forgot to plug in my heat rollers after he came in to wake me up, and sometimes, my mom made plain toast when I asked for cinnamon toast, and — this is the worst part — once in a while, the garage was a little chilly but my dad refused, in spite of my discomfort, to run the car with the garage door closed, so trust me, whatever your story is, I’m sure I can feel your pain!
Odd Loves Company!