The inner city is not what you think...

by Paula Neal Mooney

Whenever someone asks me what suburb of Chicago I grew up in, I can almost see the look of consternation break thru on their face when I answer, "I'm from the south side of Chicago."

Thanks to the nightly news and too many rappers preaching the same litany of woes that they may not have even experienced themselves, visions of trips to the "inner city" of large places like Chicago or daring adventures of New Orleans Tours become synonymous with a trip into a danger zone.

Okay, so yeah, there was the time my mom got her purse snatched. And I do caution people hot-footing it over to my "sweet home Chicago" to not flash their jewelry and be aware of their handbags, but more than that, Chicago holds so many more precious memories to me than of bad stuff.

  • Like the guy above from the vantage point of my childhood home, whom we snapped a photo of as he peddled his old-time ice-delivering, milk-delivering or knife-sharpening services -- whatever it was, it was so foreign to us in the 1970s or 80s, we grabbed a camera.

  • Or me as a 5-year-old Kindergarten graduate (or was that nursery school?) standing in my backyard. I can still remember standing back there as my mom snapped away, and I wondered what the big deal was...

  • Or the time I got to act like a tourist, and took a friend on a boat tour of Chicago, but ours wasn't one of the pricier dinner cruises and such that I still want to take some day. We went from the gorgeous Lake Michigan lakefront thru a channel that closed one door and opened another as the water rose or fell as we went back to the Chicago River. (Think Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding as they floated underneath that bridge as she said she'd have to check her PowerBook.)
I love my hometown.

Nothing can replace what Chicago means to me in my heart.


Siddhaswarup said…
Your post reminded me of my Aunt who also lived in Southern Chicago until her death in 1996. As a young boy and teenager I would often visit her and stay with her for weeks on end. We had some run ins with theives and the like trying to loot our stuff on our way home from the grocery, but otherwise my memories of that place are all good too.
tAnYeTTa said…
awww....look at you all cute in your graduation gear.

p.s. i'm from new jersey. newark, new jersey. the funniest response i've heard was----have you ever gotten carjacked. *crickets*
Car Audio said…
No matter where one lives, what one calls home town will always be a special place in one's heart. I live far from what I call my home town. My friends and relatives are still there and I go every now and then and I always come back, recharged as it were. The neighborhood that I grew up in is unrecognizable now, but so what? I still go to the places that have not changed.
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