Wednesday, August 24, 2016

8423 N. St. Louis, Skokie, Illinois

I don't think I've ever told this to anyone, pretty much because I just realized it, but I never had my own place to sleep growing up, ever! That's probably why I tended to sleep around for a long time until I got married. Ever since my earliest memories started, I always had to share a space with someone. First it was because we lived in a one bedroom apartment on Chicago's West side, where I was the middle child of 3 boys and my parents slept on a Murphy bed in the living room. By the way, I managed to light that one bedroom on fire, but that's a whole other story. We were poor by anyone's standards, but then, when I was 9, in 1955, my father accepted a gift from his mother, who lived in the lap of luxury, who vacationed in CA every winter, after my mother SCREAMING about it everyday, forever! We were Skokie bound, where I learned a new word from my mother in referring to houses. "Matchboxes". Everyone else's house looked like a matchbox except ours that truly was a matchbox! But, it had 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and a full basement with plumbing for a 3rd bathroom! For us it was heaven.

If you do the math, there were 3 bedrooms and my parents for some reason wanted one of them, the master bedroom, leaving 2 others for 3 boys. My kid brother got one, because he hadn't started school yet. My older brother got one out of respect for position, being the eldest and he needed his own, leaving me to sleep where I could. My younger brother's room had a sliding door closet, meaning a double, so I was allowed to keep my clothes there, while my older brother's room had only a single. My parents put a cot downstairs in the unfinished basement for me. Can you imagine the message that a young boys gets from this? Nobody has room for me! At some point when my grandfather passed away, my Bubbe came to live with us and my older brother was asked to move in with my younger brother and I was required to sleep with this 80 plus year old woman that didn't speak a word of English, just Yiddish. I listened to moans and groans and snoring of this woman, that really had no identity to me, other than occasionally she'd suck my entire cheek into her mouth while smiling, so I figured I was okay. To me the living situation was torture! Finally, when Bubbe couldn't stand my mother anymore and visa versa, Bubbe moved in with an aunt, but did I get the room? Nope, it was back to the damp basement, but at least privacy. My older brother got the room because truly it was always his! That's not even the reason that I moved out of that place at 18, but I got a job and never really looked back. 

Why did this thought come to mind after so many years? My son is in Chicago on business and asked me for the address of where I grew up and he's going to send me a picture. A picture would be nice, but it's already emblazened into my memory, not necessarily in a good way...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Mel. You're a hard man to find. Would love to talk and catch up. Please call me when you can at 949-394-9896. Mehdi (from CA). Hope you remember me.