Born in Blue Island
I was born in Blue Island, Illinois at St. Francis Hospital and grew up in Riverdale. Riverdale borders Chicago on its Southern edge. So, yes I am a Southsider. I was born in 1972 at that hospital. St. Francis became Metro South Hospital in recent years. Now I think the hospital is closed. How does a hospital close? Aren’t there always patients? Who knows.
Looking back to my child hood days living in Riverdale. I had an awesome childhood. Yes, did get bullied and picked on, but I was never a bully. I come from an interesting family. Blue-collar, German. My father was a Union bricklayer. One of the best and most skilled in his Union. Also he is one charismatic guy. His street smarts and charisma and bricklaying skills, allowed him to rise up among others in his Union in Chicago. This is one reason why I support Unions, and think there should be more of them. Unions give people good careers and good wages and insurance etc…As a result of me being from a blue collar family, I know what it’s like to struggle and toil at various jobs.
A life long Chicagoan
Anyway, I am a life-long Chicagoan, I have been all over the city. From Evanston, the North edge of Chicago, to down South, where I was born. I know the better areas, I know the areas that I should stay out of. I guess I know this city pretty well. At times I wish to move away from Chicago, but my family keep me grounded here. We are a close-knit, German family. When I got out of line as a kid, (either I was doing something mean or stupid) I did get hit by my father. But I always knew why I was getting hit. Many psychologists may say that hitting a child is not good for them. Or that the child may hold a grudge against the parent that hits him/her. In my case, I have great relationship with my father and mother. My dad thought that the hitting would first off, make me stop the behavior I was exhibiting. Also since I am male, he thought it would toughen me up. Now I only get nagged at and I get lots of complaints. I wish my old man would start hitting me again!
From Riverdale, I remember a lot of things. Everyone had the (312) area code. As a matter of fact, the area code was not displayed on taxi cabs downtown. No one ever thought about what area code their phone number was in. I still remember my old, childhood phone number. In the Summer we had block parties. The police chief and the fire chief both lived on our block in Riverdale.
Bittersweet feelings about Chicagoland
Even though this is my home area, I have bitter sweet feelings about Chicagoland and its region. There was a time, I highly disliked Chicago and wanted to leave. However I stayed to be with my family, who I can’t live without. Actually, quite honestly, I am afraid to live away from my mom and dad. So I stay near them.
My first trips downtown
As I went through Highschool, I learned how to drive. Yes, they taught us maniacs how to drive in Highschool. Drivers Ed it was called. I remember being maybe 16-17 and receiving my “blue slip”. My learners permit. My dad was paranoid about my maturity behind the wheel, and did not take me to get my drivers license for a year or two. I do remember my first drive into downtown Chicago (The Loop). It was a little scary, being in the middle lane with a tall bus or truck besides you. Never had an accident downtown (knock on wood). Anyway, I know most areas of downtown and the various neighborhoods.
The start of my photography
I started taking random photos of downtown when I went to community college, back in 1990. I would take the SouthShore Train downtown or from Riverdale (way back) the “IC” Illinois Central from 144th Street in Riverdale. That station always smelled of old urine. Anyway. I would go downtown with my moms 35mm Minolta camera and shoot mainly black and white film. Then I would process it at my community college in their dark room. I have been into photography that long!