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Community Forums › General › General Discussion Groups › Chicago 1960 - 1993 (that's a long time)

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Chicago 1960 - 1993 (that's a long time)
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Joined: Nov 14, 2008
Posts: 354
Location: Chicago Area

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:16 am    Post subject: Chicago 1960 - 1993 (that's a long time) Reply with quote

I do this as a hobby. This is a short story capsulizing my 33 years at AT&T. This looked like as good a forum as any....sorry.

The Train

The mercury hovers at 7 degrees above zero. High winds swirl blowing snow across the tracks, hiding the approaching commuter train until it is almost upon us. The 7:10 screeches to a stop, smelling of diesel oil and hot metal. The doors slide open revealing a crowd of humanity stuffed into the vestibule like olives in a jar. No seats today, sorry, your 4 bucks gets you an hour of standing in this unheated cube. Take the bus if you don’t like it. My shoes are wet. “Board!”

The land of the walking dead

The doors slide shut, catching a briefcase or two before they are yanked quickly back into this compartment of pain. Might the destination be a Gulag in Siberia, the Auschwitz labor camp? No, I’m going to work in downtown Chicago. I leave the Chicago Ridge station at 7:10AM and arrive at 509 N. Dearborn, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes later. Some would say, “Not bad, Bucko”, I say, “This sucks, Bucko.” Next is the single file line waiting for the number 62 CTA Bus. This will take me to the intersection of Illinois and LaSalle streets. Then the two block walk to the 509 building. There is no eye contact. Everyone stares at his or her feet. To look up and acknowledge your fellow citizens would constitute a violation of Commuter Rule No.1—All eye contact is forbidden. This is a Catch 22 since Commuter Rule No. 2 states—Bumping into one another is forbidden. My shoes are still wet.

The office

The office is like an oasis in the desert. It is heated and has a few comforts of home, namely a place to sit, hot coffee, and a clock. There I spend my day conferring, reporting, appraising, and generally speaking, waiting for that clock to hit 5:00 PM.

The resurrection

The magic hour arrives and the journey home begins. Everyone appears now to be more convivial. Rules are broken on this trip. People look at one another. The CTA Bus is alive with conversation. Some appear to be tipsy? The bar at the Union Station looks like a New Years Eve party. People are skittering to and fro with cans of beer and Styrofoam cups with little straws and evening newspapers—and popcorn. Empty trains with screeching brakes are backing into the station. Full trains belching clouds of smoke are leaving with jabbering, drinking, carloads of smiling commuters. The land of the walking dead has come back to life—for now.

JWB retired

Researching DeMaso, Del Favero, Nebbiu, Valle di Cadore and Pieve di Cadore, Belluno, Veneto, Italy.
Also researching James Blackwell, Royal Regiment of Artillery in Ashton-Under-Lyne, County of Lancashire, England. b:1827 Macclesfield, County of Cheshire, England. d: About 1889 at Garden Island, Ontario, Canada.
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Joined: Jul 10, 2007
Posts: 4364
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:34 am    Post subject: Re: Chicago 1960 - 1993 (that's a long time) Reply with quote

Wow! Sorry, but I only work a 5 minute car ride away, or 2 bus stops, or 15 minute walk from work. Since I start work at 4 am I hardly see any and I'm usually home no later than (but often earlier than)1:15 pm.

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Joined: Nov 21, 2007
Posts: 754
Location: Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:13 am    Post subject: Re: Chicago 1960 - 1993 (that's a long time) Reply with quote

Good story Joe and one I can relate to.

In the 70s and 80s, the long walk from the Chicago and Northwestern train station in downtown Chicago to the, what was then, one of the State of Illinois buildings housing the State Attorney General's offices was a nighmare in the winter. Bunldled in a long heavy wool coat and knee high boots, crossing the Chicago River and to the crossing at Wacker Drive. The wind blew so hard you had to hold onto people or poles or even trash containers just to make your way and yes, walking past the Phone Company building and arriving at the State building like a frozen popsicle. Even riding the packed express elevators was a pleasure in comparison to the "walk". Those are days are never to be forgotten.


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