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I grew up in an apartment building in Chicago - 552 E. 51st Street across from Washington Park on the second floor. this was a six-flat apartment building. Our apartment was 10 and 1/2 rooms with five bedrooms, a full bath, a powder room between two bedrooms and a toilet off of one bedroom.

I lived there with my extended family (a cousin and her husband and my family) and one couple that roomed with us. This apartment wads huge and I had to clean it on Saturdays and scrub the bathroom and kitchen on Wednesday. Since I was the only girl I had to stretch starched lace curtains on a hugh stretcher, polish and wax the floors and furniture and occasionally wash the windows by sitting on the window ledge outside the window.
All of this cleaning left me a little lazy about cleaning as an adult.

I always enjoyed a room of my own. First I had a large room at the front of the flat facing the street, but had to relenquish it when my aunt left her husband and moved in with her two children. I then got the room off of the kitchen which had its own toilet. This room was probably originally designed for a servant's quarters, but it sufficed for me and I enjoyed the privacy.

There was a large back porch where a clothes line on a pulley was attached to another building's porch. The laundry was hung out with wooden clothes pins on this line to dry. My baby brother once fell from the second story to the ground from this back porch. His fall was broken by the first floor clothes line.

This building and all the others in the block formed the perimeter of a gigantic back yard where the children sometimes played games. However, because it was dirt and gravel, it was not used that often. Actually, the children played in the park across the street. We played hide and seek among the shrubs. In those days a bridle path ran thru the park. In seventh grade we collected and identified leaf specimens for a school assignment.
My father was a regular attendant at Bug House Square, a forum for politicos, etc., in the park.

The historic Provident Hospital was just a block away. Nurses would be walking about in their long blue capes and white nurses caps. On Saturday and Sunday mornings it was not unusual to see a trail of blood on the sidewalks where someone had been shot or stabbed and was trying to get to the hospital.

Stable families lived in this building. Our next door neighbor was "Babe Dodds", a famous drummer of the 1920s and 1930s. He was old and many people, including whites would come to visit him. On the third floor, a woman's son was a famous musician in New York by the name of Gibson. One neighbor was always in kneakers. He was a golfer. the neighbor below us was an avid tennis player.

My family lived here until my first year in college when they moved. I was blessed to live here because when I was a young girl may people in Chicago lived in apatments that had been cut up into kitchenet apartments. Our building was in a neighborhood that was left in tact. The building still stands and is seemingly in good condition. It is across the street from the Walter Dyett Middle School.

Wonderful memories are with the walls of this building and our apartment.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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