Page 26 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneMy Cousins, Products Of WoodlawnI begin this story by telling you that my aunt and uncle had 15 children. 7 were boys and 8 were girls. My grandmother who was born in 1867 attended John Hopkins school of Nursing before the turn of the 20th Century and helped to deliver 7 of those babies at home as a midwife. I grew up with some of those cousins who were my own age and I witnessed their poverty through my eyes.My uncle, their father, developed lung cancer and had a lung removed at an early age and could no longer work. This happened when most of his children were still at a formative age. Subsequently my aunt received Government assistance at the rate of $86.00 per month. This amount was supposed to cover housing, food, clothing and in some cases heat if they lived in a house. The only way that my cousins were able to survive was by their wit and slight of hand. Although they never committed a felonious crime such as sticking someone up or holding up a store, a pie truck or bread truck was at their mercy whenever they came into our neighborhood. They never took drugs as beer was their only outlet or enjoyment.My aunt was born in New York State and it was said that she was part Cherokee Indian. Whenever my cousins fought, my father would often say, in a lighthearted way, “Whenever they drink, they go on the warpath” and that they did. My cousin Ray who was one of the oldest, was a tall handsome guy with straight black hair and was a natural street fighter. There were very few, if any, fights that he ever lost. He could pulverize anyone with his fists. As I look back, I considered it a shame that he never became a professional fighter as he would have been a Champ.Whenever my cousins needed socks or underwear, they simply went to the dime store and put them in their pockets. Likewise, whenever they wanted to go to the movie show, they simply pushed the usher aside and walked in and sat down. This triggered many a riot when the police were called. Since I was their cousin, I always had safe passage in a rival gang neighborhood.As the years went on, my cousin Tommy joined the Navy and Jackie became an Army paratrooper. After their service, Jackie did oil exploration in the Middle East and Tommy helped install the caissons for the Sears Tower foundation. Harold worked on the Chicago deep Tunnel Project. My cousin Junior eventually built up a moving business26

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