Page 116 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneRusty’s StoryWhenever my mother sent me to the store, I would pull my wagon and lead Rusty along on a leash. One of the stops was on 65th Street off of Maryland Avenue and it was called O’Brien’s Meat Market. It had sawdust on the floor and the butchers wore heavy leather aprons. They were quite skilled at sharpening their knives because every so often, they would stop carving and sharpen them over and over again until that particular piece of meat was finished. It was a real sight to see them carry a half a cow from the cooler and throw it down on the chopping block and reduce it to slices and chunks. The market was always crowded and for those not standing, they took their places on a long bench to await their turn. It was into this world that Rusty and I both entered and took our seats on the bench and watched and waited. Some of the customers sitting next to us would sometimes pat Rusty on the head. When our order was completed, the butcher would often throw in a bone and we would be on our way.During some of Rusty’s forays into the neighborhood, he was picked up at least twice by Animal Control. We learned this by neighbors who saw them take Rusty and told us, or he simply went missing. Each time that we went to the City Pound, we would find Rusty sitting in with a bunch of other dogs behind bars and he would look up at us from what appeared to be a bunch of fellow convicts. He would run towards the bars and wag his tail until the keeper released him to us. I have to admit that we were lucky because the condition of the Big City today is such that a dog does not last long on the streets; either by Animal Control or humans who have no regard for life.Rusty’s life in the Big City was broken by those times when he went to the Kankakee River with us. He ranged through the woods and picked up ticks which I often had to remove. He delighted in chasing other animals. My father taught him how to swim in a fast moving current and head for the river bank so as to not be swept down stream. Like my father, he became a powerful swimmer.After we returned home, I often times would ride my bicycle to my father’s filling station. This meant that I would cross the boulevard at 66th Street and then travel down to 63rd Street which was a busy shopping area with streetcars and motor vehicles and an elevated track running overhead. It was difficult for even a human to navigate. The side street that I used to cross these streets was Drexel Avenue which ran north to 61st Street and there again that street had one streetcar track running both East and West in116

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