While thoughts of Chicago bring to mind its moniker “the Windy City’, on hot summer nights in the early fifties found my sister and I sleeping at the end of our beds close to the window to catch the slightest breeze that rustled the leaves of the Poplar trees outside our second floor apartment window. It seemed it was never windy where we lived on the south side of Chicago.
The summer days were spent playing marbles with our pals in the prairie next door (any empty lot was called a prairie in those days) and going to the Marquette Theater to see 25 cartoons for 25 cents or covering my eyes as I squirmed in my seat watching scary movies like The Maze or It Came From Outer Space. After the show, the curved windows of Cupid’s Candies next to the theater beckoned me. I would reward my bravery of sitting through a movie I barely saw through my fingers with a thick, cold chocolate malt. I never listened to my Mother’s warning and drank the malt far too fast. My forehead would be enveloped in a debilitating cold pain and my stomach would be churning but oh that malt was good. Summer evenings would find my playmates and I sitting on the stoop talking, giggling and sharing as we waited for the sun to set and the street lights to come on. That was the signal it was time to go home.
Our neighborhood in those days was about a two block radius. It consisted of sturdy brick dwellings, stoops, close friends, the National Food Store, Dagge’s Drug Store, the Chinese laundry, the corner bar, the penny candy store, Trost Hobby store, which still exists, and the barber shop where my brother got his first haircut. El Bianco Restaurant was always the place for my parents’ special occasions. Frank Sinatra, Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman thought it was a pretty special place, too as they regularly dined there when in Chicago.