Friday, December 18, 2009

And so this is Christmas

This is a picture of "Homeless Mary", a well known,"person of little means" in Chicago.
When I lived in Chicago(from age zero to thirty) I knew many "colorful characters". In my neighborhood there was "Chee Chee Anny" She mostly said "chee chee". There was the old "Prostitutes in the park" lady. She would lash about with her umbrella, railing about the "prostitutes in the park". Harry Gomala lived in an abandoned semi trailer by the tracks a block from my house. What i remember most vividly about Harry was the first time we went to roust him to buy wine for us. He was not well, he was never well, but his partner was nervous about all us kids there, so he encouraged Harry to come out. "C'mon Harry, a hammuger anna cuppa caffee would do ya good". Harry came to the edge of the trailer, swept his arm over the garbage dump that was where his traier was abandoned and said, " Behold, my vista, boys." I have never forgotten that moment.
Harry got down from the semi-trailer and we headed toward 39th street. At the curb, he stumbled and fell. I grabbed his arm and said to my friend, 'Norb, grab his arm" and my best friend, Norbie Ruczinski, said "I ain't touchin' that nasty old fucker". I helped Harry up and he got us our wine. We gave him half a buck because that's what a pint of port or muscatel cost then. For half a buck you could get a hamburger, french fries and a cup of coffee and still have a dime left over. I suspect Harry bought wine.
I suppose we went back to roust winos to make runs for us other times, but I don't remember. I only remember Harry that first time. As clear as Christmas.

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