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West Side Stories


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Vince and I graduated from Austin in June 1940, and then we went to register at Loyola University. I had this idea of this great university I was going to attend, and then we walked into this dumpy building. The downtown campus was on Franklin Street around the corner from Washington. It was a walk-up with real narrow stairways, one of those real old buildings. The floor by the bursar's office was slanted straight down--it was like being on a slide.

It was real dark.

Austin High School was a modern building. By comparison, Austin was beautiful.

So when I saw what a dumpy, rickety building it was, I said I wasn't going to go to school there. I told Vince that. He registered, and I didn't.

Vince called me that night, and he said, "I don't know what to make of you." I said, "Well, I'm not going to go to school in a place that looks like that."

He said, "Well, if you want to go to Loyola University, that's the downtown campus. But Loyola is bigger than that old building. The building doesn't matter." So he convinced me, and the next night I went back and registered. And of course he was right. The building didn't matter.

We used to meet for dinner before classes. There was this restaurant in the telephone building at Washington and Franklin. You could get two pork chops, two lamb chops, or halibut steak, with potatoes and vegetables and a roll and coffee, for 65 cents. We were there three nights a week, and whoever got there first ordered. We'd have the pork chops on Monday, the lamb chops on Wednesday, and the halibut on Friday.

Vince would want to pay for my dinner, and I'd say, "No, I'm paying for my own dinner. If I let you pay, later you'll be telling me that you paid my way through college."

After school we would walk to the el together, but then we would get on different sides of the platform. By this time Vince was living on the north side, and my family had moved back east, back to Flournoy Street. I'd say, "What are you living on that dumpy north side for? Why don't you come down to the great west side?"

I would get on the Garfield Park el and get off at Independence Boulevard, and he would get on the el for the north side. This was before they built the subway. He would be on one side of the platform, and I would be on the other. We'd wave to each other. He went north, and I went west.

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