We had another thought-provoking question posed to us by our editorial manager via AskChicago Now Question Of The Day:
What's the best street in Chicago?
Several streets immediately come to mind for me. Like many others, I’ll always consider the street where I grew up to be one of the best. It’s the things that are closest to us that we covet. And, for me, that’s 100th Street on the far southwest side of Chicago in the Beverly Hills neighborhood.
Our home was in a perfect location, kitty-corner from Sutherland Elementary School, where we could watch out the window to perfectly time our departure for class. As soon as the patrol boys started their slow walk toward the doors, my sister, brother and I dashed out the back door and raced across the street before the second bell rang.
Never mind being on the playground a few minutes beforehand to line up in an orderly fashion. Why waste time there, when we could be in our house watching morning cartoons or the Ray Rayner Show? Academically inclined we were not.
Friends and Neighbors
And, like many others, one of my best pals lived right across the street. My friend Mimi would come calling out from the driveway: “Yo, Heeeiiiddiiiii!” That’s how we called each other, since our parents wouldn’t let us waste hard-earned money on a phone call. We spent afternoons riding bikes, jumping rope, attempting to shoot hoops, and foolishly giggling at the next-door neighbors who had a family of eight boys. Seriously, the two of us had no clues on how to flirt.
And it was in our home on 100th street where I truly believed utilities must have been much more expensive compared to the neighbors. That’s when our folks consistently warned us about the high cost of heating a home, turning off lights and how to rush through a long-distance phone call in order to save charges. Putting a sweater on really does go a long way in conserving energy.
100th Street proved to be a direct route to other places as well, including Shamrock Park located just east of us on 100th Street and at the bottom of the hill, stopping at Longwood Drive. It was there we played on teeter-totters, swing-sets and fast-spinning contraptions – the likes of which you’d never see at a playground today.
Going west from our home, we traveled past one of the highest points in the City of Chicago, where 100th Street intersects with Oakley. It’s true 'cause I Googled it.
Naturally, we had to walk by the home of a neighborhood bully, but once we got past that scary point, it was all downhill to Western Avenue. That’s where we spent many evenings enjoying delicious pizza at Fox’s Beverly Pizza – the original family-owned restaurant. We three kids squeezed into one side of the tiny, darkly stained booths and begged for quarters to play the jukebox.
With money in hand, I selected an Eric Clapton song. Thinking I was a really cool kid at about 11 years old, I returned to our table, listening to I Shot The Sheriff, only to hear my mother’s remark:
Well, I don’t think that’s a very nice song.
“But Mom!” we insisted, “He did it out of self-defense."
She was not convinced.
At Fox’s, the TV would be playing over the already-noisy bar, and the waitresses wore Kelly green dresses as they served the diners. Customers would wait in the crowded, cold anteroom for a table at this beloved eatery. We’d eat pizza to our hearts’ content and brag to each other about how many slices we could consume.
And after dinner we’d march back up the hill (no use in driving that short distance, plus gas cost too much) and return to our lovely home in a quiet neighborhood.
On 100th Street. In Chicago, Illinois.