West Side Stories | Essay | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » Essay

West Side Stories


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


I went down to Orlando in March of '44, and in July we came home on furlough. We took the bus to Titusville, Florida, to get the train. I was wearing a white suit, white gloves, white purse. We put our bags in a locker at the train station and went into a drugstore. The whole ceiling was black with mosquitoes--the whole place was swarming with them. Well, we went out of there and tried to find a place where we could get away from the mosquitoes, but we couldn't find anyplace.

So we walked back toward the train station, and we passed a bar. The door was wide open, and there was nobody there but the bartender, who was sitting behind the bar. He had a big fan blowing toward the bar, and it was blowing all the mosquitoes away.

We went in and sat down and ordered two drinks, and then when we heard the train coming we ran like crazy to get our bags and get on the train. But when we got on the train there were no seats. The sailors and everybody were sitting in the aisles. Somebody got up and gave me a seat. Vince sat on the floor.

The windows were open, and all these cinders were blowing in. It was the most miserable thing. And when I looked at myself, I had blood all over from swatting the mosquitoes.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment