July 31, 2015

Tempo run today. I was thinking about the band of brothers today.

Logging mile after mile takes a lot of fuel. One great thing about marathon training is that you can pretty much eat what you want and still shed a few pounds. The running buddies were a bit more serious about their food choices. Not only were they forging the trends of recreational running but they were starting the health food trend that stays with us today. TV dinners and pre-processed Salisbury Steaks were a staple back then. Pop it in the oven, heat to volcanic pyroclastic flow heat level and it was ready to eat. The running buddies had to fuel long runs. Preparing for these runs required careful choices and TV dinners would not sustain a serious effort. Put into your body what you expect to get out of it. My siblings and I began to see unrecognizable foods in the house. There was less sugar-coated Choco-Puffs and more cereals that were the consistency of silt-covered grit. We thought that my dad was putting building materials in the cereal cupboard on accident; silly man. Dried fruit and fiber-filled energy mixes were appearing in the food stocks. We heard the same tales of woe from other kids in the neighborhood too. It was about this time in my boyhood I began to hear anecdotes from neighbors. Some would tell stories of trains passing on the roadway in the early morning. Others would talk of marching bands headed west on Lincoln Street at four o’clock in the morning. Still others would talk of jets testing their engines on I-Oka Avenue in the early dawn. It was a mystery to one and all. Tales of spirit trains and ghost bands were common in my childhood. These mysteries were solved many years later when I first joined these men for a run. I was about fifteen but still developing my delicate sensibilities. We were about 300 yards into the run when I heard the train, marching band and jet plane in all the glory. It was the fuel! These high-fiber runners were turbo-charging the runs. I learned very quickly never to lag behind the gang. Always stay ahead of the pack, a great lesson taught in a not so subtle way by the running buddies. Some say they could hear The Waltz of Blue Danube being played by the phantom orchestra that morning.

Thanks to JD for his great ideas.

The Redondo Beach Marina. Favorite song today: My Toot-Toot performed by Rockin’ Sidney.

In LA today. Marina is a good turnaround point

In LA today. Marina is a good turnaround point

July 29, 2015

Track workout today. I was thinking about the buddies today.

The Chicago Marathon had many different names but the running buddies always showed up no matter what is was called. The Chicago Marathon was still 26.2 miles and the running year revolved around this race. Preparations varied from year to year but the team, coached by McGough, was always ready to run. McGough had been trying to coax Jerry K. to a better pace. If you have ever run one of these races, this is something you want to hear or that you completely ignore. Jerry’s legs were burning, someone was telling him he could do it, but this was not the kind of fun that he wanted to be having.

The marathon in Chi-town is known for its large crowds that gather in every neighborhood the race intersects. Tom was encouraging but Jerry began to see an opportunity to kick it into gear. At one turnaround point in Lincoln Park the large crowd had settled in as the constant stream of runners passed their neighborhood. Jerry decided to get the enthusiasm rolling as he turned around and began to run backwards in front of Tom. With both index fingers at the ends of his extended arms pointed directly at Tom, he announced loudly to the crowd, “Hey everybody, give it up for the senior citizen. He has escaped from the old folks home and I need to get him back there by noon.” The crowd spontaneously erupted. They began to chant for Tom to go faster thinking he was “on the lamb” and that a faster pace would save him from “the home”. Tom was all the way back to North Avenue before the noise began to fade. Jerry looked at Tom and giggled for 18 more miles.

1977 or so at the inaugural St. Raymond’s Run. Favorite song today: Just The Way You Are performed by Barry White.

JPD at the Raymond's Run

JPD at the Raymond’s Run

July 28, 2015

Progression workout today. I was thinking about the South Side today.

The year 1959 started as Bautista fled Cuba and Fidel Castro took over. The Soviet Union was launching rockets and probing the planets. The Soviets were taking pictures of the moon and everyone in America knew they were taking pictures of them too. The cold war was in full swing and the White Sox were about to join the hit parade.

Moving from the North Side to the South Side was traumatic for the Dolans, especially for the youngest Cub fans. The family officially lived one block south of Madison Street on Monroe Street and everyone began to recognize the White Sox. 1957 and 1958 had been good years for the south side. 1959 would be a great year too, if we could keep those damn Soviet nuclear weapons from ruining the party. People were tense, but still hopeful.

About the same time the baseball season started, the morning sickness started again. Three babies with birthdays 11 months apart kept the second floor at the Monroe Street address hopping. There was no time for slowing down. Peter the younger remembers coming home for lunch every day and the young mother of three fixing him a sandwich while he sat and watched the Uncle Johnny Coons Show on the TV. Uncle Johnny was bigger than Santa Claus back then. Mom would make Pete a fresh sliced roast beef on a bakery poppy seed bun with a little mayo and butter and remind everyone that there was some German heritage in the young mother. Mom began to show the baby belly and the White Sox began to win. Pete just hoped the sandwiches would keep coming.

Summer came and the Soviets kept launching rockets. The year 1959 had a beautiful warm summer in Chicago and the cold war became a persistent threat as Castro was saber-rattling in Central America. Surprisingly, all was well on the south side. Summer began to fade and September came with cool and clear weather that was made for baseball. Nellie Fox was hitting laser-guided gappers and Luis Aparicio was orbiting the base paths, stealing bases and scoring runs. They called this team the Go-Go White Sox. This was too much for the young couple and Jimmy decided to take Barbara on a date. In early September, Jimmy Dolan would take his young bride to 35th and Shields to witness the magic in person.Tootsie would babysit the three little ones but one small baby was along for the ride to the ballgame.  Obviously, this was a hot-ticket to see the Go-Go White Sox but he called in a few favors and got a couple of nosebleed seats. After climbing 273 stairs to reach the upper-upper deck, Jimmy declared, “Look, I can see our house from here!” Peanuts and Cracker Jack, nothing was too good for this date. The excitement of the action made the baby kick, boy or girl, that baby was having a grand time. The 1959 White Sox were the most exciting thing to happen in Chicago since the Columbian Exposition (sorry Cub fans).

It was not long after the descent from the mountainous perch in the upper-upper deck back to Monroe Street that the pangs started to present themselves. Mom didn’t know for sure, but the baby knew something big was about to happen on the south side, he kicked and jostled. It was time for the party to start! Dad was listening to the game that night as the Go-Gos were inching closer to the pennant. “Jim, it is time to go-go to St Anne’s hospital”, my mother announced loudly. It was September 16, 1959 and my dad, who was listening to the game on the radio, responded “No-no, Early Wynn (great baseball pitcher name) has got the Yanks on the ropes.” No-no Jim we have to go-go”, my mother yelled. He reluctantly clicked off the radio and joined the motorcade at the door. The route to St Anne’s Hospital was well-worn. They arrived at the hospital and friendly hellos were exchanged to their regular customers. Mom went directly to labor and delivery and everyone at the hospital knew that Barbara was back. Dad went to admitting and then directly to the waiting room. The expectant fathers had no idea that a future waiting room hall of famer had just entered. He took a seat near the radio and listened to his beloved White Sox lose to the Yankees. Just as the last out was recorded a nurse poked her head in the waiting room door and said, “Mr. Dolan? Mr. James Dolan?”

Jimmy clicked off the radio and replied, “Yes”.

Mr. Dolan you are now the new father of a bouncing baby boy. He smiled and thought that maybe he might have been blessed with the next Luis Aparicio. This baby would turn the White Sox’ luck around.

He joined an exhausted mother and baby and they both decided to call him Thomas Gerard. Mom was convinced he was destined for something great. Dad thought he would steal a few bases before it was all over.

Mom settled in for another ten day stay at the hospital and they brought the little boy to her room on day six. That evening as the child was dozing in his mother’s arms, the wail of air raid sirens could be heard getting louder and louder outside the hospital window. Barbara immediately thought that the Soviets had launched their deadly strike. It was OK, there was no need to duck and cover, it would all be over soon. Surprisingly, the baby cracked a smile and figured correctly that the White Sox had just clinched the 1959 American League pennant. You see, Tommy Dolan and His Honor Mayor Richard J. Daley were both south siders and big White Sox fans.

Morning run. Favorite song today: Beyond the Sea performed by Bobby Darin.

Long shadow in the morning.

Long shadow in the morning.

July 26, 2015

Long run today. I was thinking about the band today.

It has been said that the name “Jimmy Dolan and the Pastels” was given to JPD by default. It was the latter years of high school that encouragement came from an adviser/mentor name Rocco Eagle. These guys had great names. I am starting to think that they were born with one name and were completely inspired by another name. Who wouldn’t listen closely to the advise given by a guy named Rocco Eagle. As it turns out, Rocco was the the head of the local chapter of the American Federation of Musicians. In the 1940s, as today, unions and workers rights extended to the big bands. There were multiple work stoppages and recording bans that were addressing concerns of the musicians rights as workers during the 1940s. Music at this time was transitioning from live shows on the radio and in various halls, including union halls, to vinyl recordings that, for no compensation to the royalty holder, could be played on the radio. Musicians were being thrown out of work and the royalties were not being paid to the musicians and songwriters. Does this sound familiar? The digital music revolution in the late nineties and early part of the 21st century was another tough time to be a musician.

The band was entering the big band scene as musical tastes were changing too. Still, the big sound was very popular. Research has revealed more members of the Pastels. We know about Vito Buffalo, the trumpet playing butcher. There was also Johnny Dimetropolis, otherwise known as Johnny Valentine. Don’t forget about Frankie Paulletti who rivaled Vito on the trumpet.There was also Sammy Ingergio among many others that came and went. Under the tutelage of Rocco Eagle, they would get gigs at weddings and probably a few union halls. I imagine that Rocco was calling the shots and “Jimmy Dolan” was the only name that would fit on the music stand. The music stand was a big part of the show and was valuable real estate to brand the name of the band. So, by default, Jimmy Dolan and the Pastels live on in our memories and our hearts.

A picture of the running path. Favorite song today The Summer Wind performed by Frank Sinatra.

The path in the early morning.

The path in the early morning.

July 25, 2015

Recovery run today. I was thinking about Saturday chores today.

Jimmy Dolan was a busy guy. Up before the dawn, run with the buddies, off to work on the 6:03 Chicago Northwestern, church at St Peter’s, coffee with Richard Dagdigian, work, home on the train thirteen hours later, only to repeat the same series again the next day. Weekends were special. This was a time to bond with the brood. Saturdays were wide open from 0500-0900 to run with the buddies. By 9 am every Saturday, time was reserved for lawn or housecleaning. Summer was all about lawn chores, winter was reserved for cleaning the house, the whole house! As a progeny of this man, I was required to learn the intricacies of making the bed or sweeping the driveway. For the first five years or so, I was the apprentice. Apprenticeship meant learning how to properly make the bed, for example. The bed sheet, if folded onto the bed properly could defy the laws of thermodynamics. If a quarter was dropped onto the sheet at a height two feet, it would bounce to a height of three feet. The sheets had to be wrapped tighter and neater than a stick of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit. Jimmy Dolan was taught the proper way to make the bed by a drill sergeant during his time in the army. It was now his special task to pass this knowledge down to his boys. None of his sons joined the army because we already knew how to make a bed.

In the summertime, I was apprentice for five years to learn how to sweep a driveway. Our driveway in Mt. Prospect is long enough to suit the Biltmore Estate. Start sweeping from the top left and continue until you have swept the driveway and the streets in a four block radius. One sweep followed by a double tap of the broom to remove the debris from the bristles of the broom. Not one pebble or blade of grass was ever left on the driveway (or on the street) but there were always plenty the following Saturday. When you were an apprentice, you never did the work, you only watched. This was the way every nine year old dreams of spending a sunny Saturday afternoon. The funny thing is, this is how I sweep my own driveway. I did it today and thought about JPD the whole time.

The trail. Favorite song today: Jumbalaya performed by Professor Longhair.

The trail.

The trail.

July 17, 2015

Hill workout today. I was thinking about the butcher today.

Researching the “Pastels” over the past few days. Jimmy Dolan and the Pastels were not only a big band jazz combo but they were a big deal too. There have been some discussions about some of the band members. Vito Buffalo recently passed away and was written up by many news sources as lover of family, his chosen profession, and jazz. None of the articles mentioned his first gigs were in Chicago with Jimmy Dolan’s big band, the Pastels. All of the articles mentioned how dedicated he was as a family man and a musician and he worked at the meat market in Algonquin, Il. As a butcher, he probably hummed a million tunes that were near and dear to his heart. I envision that his patrons at the meat market were the beneficiaries of many spontaneous solos. Vito played the trumpet and he played that instrument his whole life. He was my Dad’s age and he loved to cover Louis Armstrong songs. I would imagine that back in the day, with Vito playing trumpet and Jimmy playing the saxophone that the girls in the crowd were picking their favorites (tunes, of course!). It really must have been something to hear them belt out “Ain’t Misbehaving” or “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. I would like to give a big shout out to Vito Buffalo and, I promise, I will find out more about the “Pastels”.

Here is the hill workout and a long shadow in the early morning. Favorite song today: What a Wonderful World performed by Louis Armstrong.

Hill workout

Hill workout

July 15, 2015

Progression run today. I was thinking about pop bottles today.

I have been writing about the North Long Avenue Apartment. Mom and Dad showed up at home with the new baby, Mary Eileen. A reason to rejoice, right? As it turns out, things were getting tense with the landlord. They had been in the apartment for a short time, and the occupancy had doubled. Two had become four and the landlord was doing the math. The landlord had two kids himself but that was the nuclear family. No plans on expansion.

Things got tense when Mom bought a clothes dryer from a door to door dryer salesman. Who buys a dryer from a door to door salesman? She set it up in the basement to ease the burden of drying dozens of diapers every day. The salesman never told the couple that the dryer would have to be vented, so the happy couple skipped that step. The landlord did not have a clothes dryer and this increased the tension. It was early in 1958 and the morning sickness was in full swing again. It was becoming obvious to the landlord that there was another bun in the oven still dozens of diapers in the dryer. The landlord now realized that this woman would not be pursuing a nice quiet professional career. Instead, he had concocted in his own head that she was trying to take over the world with little babies. He had had enough and evicted the couple and their children in May of 1958. With few options, they moved to 5305 West Monroe Street to the upstairs apartment. This had to be done and the family realized it. Pa (Peter Dolan) lived downstairs with young Peter Dolan and Kathleen Dolan whom everyone knows as Tootsie. Dad’s sister Margie married Kevin O’Connor and lived close by. The clan was crystallizing.

Spring turned to summer and summer turned hot! Mom was due to give birth in August and the weather was not cooperating. On August 14th the temperature was well into the 90s. August 15th was the Feast of the Assumption and a holy day of obligation. This meant you had to go to church on a weekday. Mom’s sister Mary Ellen came for a visit on the 14th, Mom and Aunt Mary would go shopping that evening once the weather cooled. They all had a summer dinner and dad began to ready his own babies and Aunt Mary’s two babies for a bath. There was no air conditioning in the house and you had two choices to cool off; go to the movies or take a bath. Baths were cheaper and you could fit all the babies into one tub. Besides, with 120 degree temperatures in the upstairs apartment, what baby doesn’t love bath time?

Part of food shopping back then was collecting all the returnable pop bottles from the house and lugging the cache back to the grocery store for the deposit. If anyone from that generation gives you a funny look when you show off your recycling prowess, don’t be surprised. Back then, everything was re-used. The “greatest generation” were the greatest recyclers. The returnable pop bottles were like having money in the bank. After six trips by two pregnant woman carrying hundreds of heavy glass pop bottles down the back stairs, they were on the way to the grocery store. The temperature outside had not cooled off and when they returned from the store, my mother boldly pronounced to my dad, ” The hell with it, I ain’t going to church tomorrow, I am exhausted”.

It was at that point that the skies opened up with the most violent thunder storm that the City of Chicago had ever seen. Lightning, thunder, rain, flash floods, it must have been a sign from heaven. About an hour into the storm, my mother realized that it was time for a trip back to St. Anne’s Hospital. The streets may have been flooded but she was officially in labor again. They were close to the hospital but it still required advanced scuba gear to get them to the destination. Mom was rushed straight back up to labor and delivery while my father checked them into admitting.

The waiting room was now a familiar place to my dad. For those not familiar, the hospital waiting room of the 1950s was the place where the expectant fathers waited for the doctors, nurses and expectant mothers to evolve our species. Fathers back then might have thought a stork would be coming down the chimney to bring babies and gifts. My dad arrived into the waiting room soaking wet. The other dads were dry having been there for many hours, well before my mother had angered God and the Archangels. All the prospective dads looked pityingly at my father until the nurse opened the door. All the future dads looked pleadingly at the nurse. They were expecting the news that they would soon be released from this smoke-filled purgatory.

The nurse said. ” Mr. Dolan, Mr. James Dolan?”

My father raised his head. His wet hair was still dripping water onto his shoe and he asked “Me?”

The nurse said, “Congratulations, Mr. Dolan. You are now the father of a beautiful new baby girl”

The other men sat back down dejectedly. My father blessed himself, having narrowly escaped his wife actually giving birth in a police speed boat.

My mother ordered the nurses to bring her baby and breakfast directly to her private room. The nurses now recognized this woman was more experienced than themselves in the art and science of childbirth. There was an unspoken respect that they gave to my mother now. My father and mother admired the little girl. They had protected the baby from the storm and called her Maureen Ann. A priest came by and gave my mother a special dispensation for this holy day of obligation, August 15, 1958. You could here people rowing boats outside the hospital on their way to work or the grocery store that day.

Here is a picture of the house. Favorite song today: What a Wonderful World performed by Joey Ramone.

5305 West Monroe Street as it appears on Google Maps

5305 West Monroe Street as it appears on Google Maps