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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Weekly Roller-Coaster Routine

Actually this week emphasized the routine quality of the ongoing days. The weather was of course part of the equation but on a country-wide basis. Meaning that we had extreme ups and downs with respect to the weather e.g. snowstorms, tornadoes, warmer than usual spots, rainier than usual spots and just plain nice weather. Like a roller coaster . . .

Locally this week we had sunshine everyday, cool, but very refreshing with a hint of spring in the air. Today, not so much, it is raining, lightly, but raining.


So, when I think of roller-coasters, I think of "The Bobs" in Riverview Park in Chicago. It is no longer in existence, but growing up we made at least one (annual) trip to enjoy the park, usually with a young people's church function.

Much like the political events of today, "The Bobs" presented us with all the usual thrills and also a chance for me to just close my eyes and hang on. I'm of course feeling a bit nostalgic this week and that was emphasized when we watched an interview with our 43rd president. The words "misunderestimate" and "strategery" came wafting back in the interview. The interview really was part of the book tour promoting W's new book about the many portraits that he has painted of many of our country's everyday war heroes -- very nicely done.

Thinking about the family tree, my immediate family including three generations -- grandparents, parents and self -- the four states on the signpost are the primary ones where our folks resided.

Moving to the next generation requires another sign post. My grandparents were either born in Iowa or Wisconsin. Before them, Ohio (on the paternal side) was a key state. But all eventually lived in Illinois.

Since then, many other states are where we find tree members.

Last post, I pictured the house that my maternal grandparents owned in Chicago, Illinois.

It is located at 2521 N Bernard St (earlier named Smalley Court).

I have had one cousin remark to me that she felt that maybe the house was a "Sears" house, one that came in a kit and then assembled. I don't know about that. But that would be interesting to find out.

As I mentioned, the house in my memory was so much larger than the one pictured here.

Inside, the main floor consisted of an entry hallway and to the right was a "front room" a more or less formal living room. There was a second living room like a family room where my grandparents spent most of their leisure time. The two rooms could be separated with a pocket door that we kids always loved opening and closing.

Continuing straight down the entry hallway was a formal dining room, where we enjoyed many holiday dinners. I also remember Grandpa B working on his nightly crossword puzzle at the dining room table. It is also where he allowed himself a nightly drink and one cigarette only -- and he used a cigarette holder (like FDR).

Further past the dining room was the kitchen and all that was included -- like a walk in pantry and a door for milk to be delivered, as I remember . . . from the back porch.

What was missing?  A bathroom. There was one on the second floor and then one in the basement:

As a youngster, this often presented me with a dilemma. Do I walk up the large stairway in the front hall and walk down the -- what seemed like a long hall -- to the large bathroom located at the rear of the house OR do I open the doorway in the kitchen and walk down a fairly steep stairway into the basement . . .

Time of day also entered into the decision process. Evening or nighttime for sure was a time to consider due to darkness and all that goes with that.

The basement toilet was like the one pictured to the right, just not quite as nice looking.
The bathroom was pretty much like a closet that included a thin plywood door with finger holes instead of a knob as I recall.

But, once in the basement there were some interesting things to look at and do.

Right as you came down the steep stairway, there was the Victrola.

And there was a large collection of Victor Records. We would put one on the turntable and crank up the machine and play away.

And then if it was winter time, the laundry tubs would be filled with Koi from the pond outside where in the warmer weather they lived.

The multicolored fish were so much fun to watch as they swam around the tubs. In the summer they were fun to watch as they swam around the pond with the plants and other figurines.

But if it were a holiday, the basement became another whole world as well:

Grandpa B loved playing pool and he loved it when dinner was over and all the "menfolk" and kids would come downstairs for some pool.

He was patient with us kids, showing us how and when to shoot. The one side of the basement had cabinets along the wall and depending on the needed shot -- sometimes a cabinet door would have to be opened to accommodate the pool cue.

The other wall had some mounted fish and a stuffed pheasant or two on it along with some of the old ale house type framed art. In other words -- a mancave . . .

I watched when the games were over as Grandpa B would carefully brush the table and make sure that it was clean and ready for the tablecloth like cover to be put over it -- until the next event.

There was another room in the basement that I believe was used mostly by my mother's brother, Uncle Stew. It had a desk and books and photography equipment all around. Always interesting.

And so that is a part of our week. Today inspired the nostalgia of looking back at Grandpa B's basement.

See you all, "in a few"!

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