Friday, January 22, 2016

The Old Neighborhood

The above photo was taken during the mid ‘60s in the backyard of our house located at 7317 39th avenue. It was a two-story house located across the street from St. Mary’s Church. In the photo, my dear Ma is holding up baby brother Joey. Sister Teri is to her right and I am to her left. I’m not quite sure why I am flexing. Brother Mike is right behind Teri and is staring at me probably wondering what I am doing.

With this blog I am going to take you on a tour of my old neighborhood and see how many neighbors I can remember. I will go north on 39th avenue and start with the white house behind us in the photo. Here we go…

The Wayne and Betty Smith family. They had two sons – Steve and Doug. Wayne was a firefighter who later bought an Open Pantry convenience store in Racine.

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Collins. I’m not sure of her name. Maybe it was Mary. The first job I ever had was shoveling the Collins’ sidewalk and driveway. I believe that I earned 50¢ for my efforts. Good times.

Jim and Jackie Pulera family. Their kids were Joanie, Tina and Jimmy. They were great people and were my folks best friends back then. Jim sold cars. I am still a Facebook friend with Jim the son.

Mrs. Dimeo and her male “friend” lived on the northwest corner of our block. Al Dimeo was her son. He insisted on wearing his eyeglasses when we played football. Of course they got broke. What a dope. High drama ensued.

We are now heading east around the corner to the 38th avenue side, starting on the northeast corner.

Art and Elaine Jurgens and their son, Keith. They had several other older sons that didn’t live with them. I played a lot of sports with Keith. Although he threw lefty, he batted right-handed. We both loved the Cubs. I remember circling the block hollering the day Kenny Holtzman tossed a no-hitter against the Braves. The Jurgens were all good bowlers.

The York family. I’m kinda sketchy with the details here. Don’t remember any of their names. Except for Nancy. She was my age and I briefly had a thing for her. Briefly. Only briefly.

The Onserud family. Another household that I am kind of vague with. I think the kids were named Guy and Sarah. She was a tomboy and good in sports.

Jim and Shirley Iaquinta and their children – Alice, Jim, David, Peter and Tim. Two things stick out in my memories of the Iaquinta family. One was that I was scared to death of their big black dog, Midnight (which never stopped barking or growling). The other was the time Tim shaved off one of his eyebrows just for the heck of it.

The Gillespie family. Not sure about the names of the parents, but the kids were Frankie, Hope, Don and Greg. I will never forget the viscous wedgies Don would give his little brother Greg. Man, he had his underwear up over his head many times. Ouch. Poor kid.

The Follensbee family. Again, I don’t recall the names of the folks. They had a ton of kids. Here’s who comes to mind – Ken (aka Punky), Vickie, Stevie, Debbie (?) and a couple younger ones that I can’t name. Ken lived up to his nickname. I remember him sliding into second base on the asphalt at St. Mary’s playground. He was picking stuff out of his leg for weeks. Also, Punky was the only kid on the block that could put me on his back for horsie fights. I still have a scar below my lower lip from the time I landed on my face. Good times.

The Fredrickson family. There was Scotty and his mother. She was sort of a hippie and he was disabled. She would occasionally pull him around the block in a wagon. Other times he would awkwardly hop around the sidewalk on his knees. I felt bad for Scotty because he was crippled and couldn’t walk and run like we could.

The Isermann family. They lived in a big house on the southeast corner of the block. I believe that the daughter, Katie graduated with me. They were sort of removed from the rest of the neighborhood. She was very attractive. I do remember that. Vividly.

The rest of the southside of the block was flanked by Roosevelt Road. There were several businesses located here. Frank’s Bakery, the Public Library and Clay’s Tap immediately come to mind. Over the years, I can honestly say that I have been in all of these fine establishments. Some more than others. I will leave it to your imagination as to which I patronized more frequently.

We now go around the corner and back up 39th avenue.

The Zuehlsdorf Family. Not too sure about these neighbors. I think they had a son, but we didn’t do much with him. I do believe they owned Clay’s Tap at the time.

The Clark family. This was the house located to the south of ours. Jeff lived with his grandma and grandpa here. Jeff was an outstanding athlete, especially excelling at baseball. He developed into one of Kenosha’s best softball players, acquiring the nickname of “Herman.” He is a member of the Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame.

Directly across the street from our house on 39th avenue was St. Mary’s Catholic church. I went to school there, made my First Holy Communion there and played on the playground for countless hours. Also on that block was Bernacchi’s drugstore, a gas station, and later, a Yankee Doodle Dandy hamburger joint. Good times.

That will conclude my tour of the neighborhood I grew up in. It was fun looking back. I know that I probably screwed up some of the names, but who cares.

Until next time…from the booth.

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