Riding the Red Rocket Through the Cottage Grove Ghetto


Three times a week after school, I hobbled out to Cottage Grove from Mendel on crutches.  I always got a seat on the streetcar  at 111th Street. The Red Rocket went without a transfer all the way to 29th Street.  The ride was long, but I had to continue with physical therapy at Michael Reese.  All the way up to 63rd Street things were familiar because Mom had taken us shopping to the Sears and Hillman’s at 63rd & Halsted.  North of 63rd Street, however, Cottage Grove Avenue became interesting.  The neighborhoods progressed from poor  to more poor. The store fronts told the story.  In the better sections there were a variety of businesses; TV shops, cleaners, butchers, bakeries, flower shops, you name it and you could find it on Cottage Grove in each neighborhood along the way.  By 43rd Street the buildings were older, dirtier, the businesses were fewer and those that were there were different.  Night clubs, taverns, storefront churches, groceries and drugstores.  What impressed me most was the up-keep on the buildings – there was none.  Some of the old frame buildings had boards missing or they were loose and hanging.  The paint wore away  years ago, and the wood was grey from weather.  Many windows had boards nailed on, others had metal guards.  There were people everywhere, just hanging around.  The further north I traveled, the people on the car changed from white to black.  By the time I got off at 29th  I was the only white left.

I never felt unsafe at any point of those trips.  The neck brace and crutches gave me a pathetic look and kept me safe.  That section of Cottage Grove was truly what I call a ghetto.  So many poor people all living in very crowded spaces with landlords that didn’t care to spend money on upkeep of the buildings.

The three block walk to the hospital after the long ride was a welcome relief.  I arrived at the Physical Therapy Department at 3:45 p.m. for my 4:00 appointment.  Once in the PT area, I stuffed my duffel bag, crutches, and brace into a locker and donned an Indian style loin cloth for the session.

Each treatment was the same.  Walk the parallel bars without crutches, do leg exercises, then follow-up with neck stretches and neck exercise. The therapist always took over my neck. At times, it felt like she twisted my head backwards..  The drill lasted 30-45 minutes and then it was time to go.

On the trip home, I pulled on the handhold and pushed against my crutches to hike up the high steps into a crowded rush-hour Rocket.  I learned quickly to take any seat that was available.  Many times I stood all the way to 79th Street before a seat became free.

One day I stepped into a very crowded car and squeezed my self away from the entrance to give room for more people to get on.  A little white-haired black lady looked up at me and offered me her seat. She looked exhausted and tired. I thanked her but refused.  At age fifteen I wasn’t about to take a seat from a senior citizen.  That incident repeated itself many times over the course of eight months that I commuted on the Rocket.

The therapy continued throughout the spring and the summer.  By the time of my release from Michael Reese  Physical Therapy, I was very glad.  During that summer I began to lift weights at home to build up my arms and legs.  My gym was the back yard. I dressed in swim trunks and looked like the guy who got sand kicked in his face in the Charles Atlas adds. I lifted weights.

By the time school started in the fall, I talked my way into using just one crutch.  The therapist didn’t think my hip was strong enough to get off the crutch completely. After only a few steps my hip swung out to the side and I fell into a limp. Eventually, I got rid of the collar, wearing it only when I felt tired.

My physical condition was 1000% better by the time school started at the end of August.  The summer of PT and weight lifting did wonders for my muscles. At the same time I was still growing in height.

A feeble smile returned to my face.

Moved to Tears

     Maybe it is because of global warming, but Peggy and I are suffering from cabin fever. The outside temperature when we wake up is usually under ten degrees. The last few mornings it has been under five degrees. We got comfortable with the last fifteen winters which were so warm. I even considered abandoning my vision of moving  South to a more  temperate climate. Old bones and joints do not accomodate very well to low temperatures. Daytime temps rise to the twenties, but the bottom line is that we spend a lot of our time indoors. Even though, our home is large enough for us to retreat to our favorite place to avoid each other, we still grate each other’s nerves at times. Cabin fever, that is what it is.

     This week, we ventured out into the cold to see a movie. We had heard several reviews on a film called “Blind Side” with Sandra Bullock, and a bunch of lesser known actors. The story didn’t have to be very good for me to trek through a raging blizzard to see a “hottie” actress in a movie. She is beautiful. I digress.

     The story behind this film is almost hard to believe. Yet, the film is based on a true story. I won’t try to review the film for you here, I’ll leave that to those who review movies. What I want to tell you, is that this movie evoked an emotion within that brought me to tears several times.  For the life of me, I cannot decide what did it, but it did. The characters were compelling, real people. The simple plot could not have been imagined by any author. The story is based on real facts.  

     I believe in angels, and this story is about angels that descend on a life that is the innocent result of the Nanny State.  The main character the angels descend upon is a black boy whose mother is a slave of the system. She wants the best for her kid, but doesn’t know how to make it happen. She is totally unable to make anything good happen for herself much less her many children. She asks a friend to help her oldest boy “Big Mike,” get into a church school.  The friend uses his talent to sell the coach of a highly respected private christian school to take the kid on. The coach does, and the story begins.  

     The angels are many. First, the mom’s friend,  the coach, then a teacher who recognizes the boy’s talents, and finally, a family with a strong mother who comes to his rescue. Sandra Bullock plays the mother. She is a hard charging designer with two kids of her own, and a husband that goes along with almost anything she wants.  The family becomes the angel-team that rescues “Big Mike” from the Nanny State, and nurtures him out of  ghetto slavery.

     This film is an honest to gosh real story based on real characters. Blind Side is Academy Award material. Sandra Bullock deserves Best Actress award. Actor Quinton Aaron, who plays Big Mike, should get Best Actor. Why? Because they made the characters believable, and real.

Blind Side deserves five stars. . . * * * * *

Pay the money, and go see it. You’ll be moved to tears just as I was. I also recommend  your kids see the  film too.

Bhutadarma

Nothing is impossible (at least that does not violate the laws of physics). When you can..violate the laws of physics!

I Know I Made You Smile

cartoons/humor/fiction/nonfiction

Attila Ovari

Loving Life and Inspiring Others

galesmind

Come take a journey through my mind

Nutsrok

The humor and humanity of storytelling.

Henry Game

The Next Testament

Gamintraveler

Travel Couple and Digital Nomads on a World Travel

summershaffer

A topnotch WordPress.com site

blogsense-by-barb

at the Re-Birth of America!

The Honking Goose

something to honk about

THE WAKING GIANT

United States Second Amendment Pitbull

Caustic Synergy

United and alone in the world

Aspiring Conservative

Conservative blog with articles about today's politics!

Conservative Kentucky

Reality From my Perspective

Hearing Aid News

HEAR it HERE first! The latest on developments in hearing aids and the hearing industry.

Socialism is not the Answer

Limited Government Is

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

Just Cruisin 2

Where Intellectuals and Rednecks foregather.

allaboutlemon-All Around, In, And Out Of My Own Universe

Greed is an ugly default... Sharing is Caring

Nhan Fiction

"Hope is my catalyst."

prophetbrahmarishi

Just another WordPress.com site

NuVote Reach

Political Co-Dependency Intervention

The Baggage Handler

I made the impossible easy in both worlds!

David Emeron: Sonnets

If I swore not to describe my heart, would it stop beating forever?

silkroadcollector.me

An International company that offers private antique art sales to clients around the globe.