Day 1 (30 Days, 30 Pages, 30 Pictures)

Sep 24, 2012 by

It Begins!

A few thoughts on living in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

Lincoln Park’s boundaries are precisely defined in the city’s list of official community areas. It is bordered on the north by Diversey Parkway, on the west by the Chicago River, on the south by North Avenue, and on the east by Lake Michigan. The last reported demographic data states:

Population (2010) • Total 64,116 • Density 20,000/sq mi (7,800/km2) Demographics 2000 • White 84.5% • Black 5.17% • Hispanic 5.06% • Asian 3.61% • Other 1.67%  Median Income $83,328.

I moved into the area on February 22, 2011 and was surprised by the number of angry white people. I really shouldn’t have been I’ve worked and played in the area for over 30 years but when you deal with the area 24/7 you gain a different perspective.

One of my best friends from high school lived in a house four blocks from where I live now. In the mid 80’s, while working at the Chalet, selling wine and cheese to put myself through college, I would often make deliveries to all of the new money owners in the neighborhood. These were the people that worked in finance, mid-level business execs, up and coming professionals, etc.. I’m not exactly sure what a mid-level business exec does but evidently it commands a high enough salary to stock a brand new temperature and humidity controlled wine cellar in a recently renovated brownstone.

What shocked me the most about these people is the all encompassing narcissism sprinkled with a touch of entitlement folded into a cowardly passive aggressive attitude. The Chalet did not have a delivery service. We had no van or car to make deliveries yet we would make exceptions.

     My manager, Pat Ferguson, was a great salesman and knew more about wine than our customers could ever dream. Pat would wheel and deal and if the customer spent over a certain amount would offer to have the wine delivered to their home but he always stressed this was a one time deal, the Chalet didn’t deliver. The job then fell to me or one of the other guys to make the delivery, by hand cart.

We would haul five or six cases of wine on a two wheeled hand cart up to a mile away. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Let me set the stage. I don’t know if you’ve ever lifted a case of wine or if you have, how far you’ve walked with one, it’s heavy (about 35 pounds).  Five of these cases came to about 175 pounds all balanced on two, hard plastic, six inch wheels with me maintaining equilibrium.

Chicago sidewalks are not known for their smooth, even construction especially in the older neighborhoods, Lincoln Park being one of the oldest had particularly bad sidewalks in addition, at that time, Chicago curbs were not wheelchair accessible. This meant most of the journey would be made walking in the street also not known for being even or smooth but better than having to muscle a 175 pound cart up and down four to eight inch curbs ever 100 yards.


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