I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I fled the city years ago, first to the suburbs and then to more remote areas around the country, but now that I am older, I find myself strangely drawn to Chicago. Perhaps that’s because all my immediate family members still live in the Chicagoland area. Or perhaps the old saying is true: “You can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the girl” (insert your city in place of Chicago and I’ll bet i t holds true, if you’re over 45 years old). The only thing I’m really sure about is that my roots are still deeply planted in the fertile soil of the Midwest.
The other day I learned that my cousins recently visited Chicago and stopped by the house that belonged to my Nanny and Grandpa Weibel. It was also located on the south side, on the corner of 68th & Mashfield. My cousins shot a video of it and uploaded it to YouTube so that everyone in the family could see the old homestead. We had such good times in that house. I remember lying on my belly on the living room floor next to my Grandpa as he laid out a deck of cards for a giant game of Concentration. When we tired of indoor games, we’d join the neighborhood kids for a game of ‘Kick The Can’ or ‘Ally, Ally Oxen Free.’ For some reason, I have a vivid memory of the sign at the gas station down the block, which advertised gas for 29 cents per gallon.
The place looks a lot different today. Down through the years it has been vinyl sided and faced with decorative rock, but after seeing the video, I am convinced that I would have recognized it even if I had not been told it was my grandparents’ house. Ah, memories. That’s probably what draws me back to Chicago. Memories of our family crowed around the table in my grandparents’ narrow dining room on Thanksgiving, waiting impatiently while Grandpa carved the turkey. Memories of Uncle Bee, falling asleep in his chair after dinner with a beer can still grasped in his fist. Memories of smoke-filled rooms, too much food, lots of laughter, and occasional family bickering. Wonderful memories of Chicago. If it wasn’t so darn cold there in the winter I’d move back!
It you’re not bored to death by now, reading about my childhood reminiscences, you can watch the video for yourself, below. Many thanks to my cousins and my Aunt Laura for keeping me in the loop. I love you all very much.