Page 27 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. Craneand sold it for a huge profit. Two of the girls married heroes during the 2nd World War.Ritchie was a Marine and stormed many of the beaches in the South Pacific. In one engagement, a Japanese shell burst over his head and knocked him to the ground and filled his back with shrapnel. Les was captured during the Battle of The Bulge and not that he surrendered, but because he would not leave his wounded buddy. Les spent 11 months in a German POW camp. He suffered because he wrote a postcard to a Jewish friend telling him that he was OK. The SS asked him if he was a Jew and when he said that he was Irish but where he came from it did not matter. With that they broke his nose with a rifle butt and broke it over again 3 times more. The SS officer told him, “You're lucky that you are not out there with them”; meaning the 8,000 Jews Les saw machined gunned and burnt with gasoline. The Russians freed the camp by driving 50 miles ahead of their front lines and the POWs took to the woods to join the Partisans. Les came back and life went on. Most are dead now and as I look back, I now know what the definition of survivors means.By the time of my third Christmas, my parents had divorced. Still, we always had a Christmas tree as my mother always allowed my father into our home to provide one. She even allowed Santa Claus to slip in and lay presents for myself and my sister under the tree. This pattern followed until I eventuality learned who the real Santa Claus was.One Christmas when we went to the market to buy a tree, I asked my father what kind of tree he had when he was a boy. He responded by saying that he never had a tree. Having come from the coal fields of Illinois and his father having followed another tradition and that was spending time in the saloon, there was little money left for a tree as my father had a brother and two sisters. Having left the coal fields of Illinois, my father came to Chicago as a young boy to seek work and eventually found it as a roofer handling hot tar and pitch. In other words he was strictly “Blue Collar.” Even so, he had it established it in his mind that, according to him, “Christmas was for Kids.”One time when we visited my cousins’ house it was bare and destitute as there were so many kids and during The Great Depression they were poor. When he asked where the tree and presents were, he received the reply, “There aren’t any, Uncle Pat.” That is when he turned and said, “Come on, Tom.” He then took me to the 5 and 10 cent store and told the clerk to take two bushel baskets and fill them with toys. The next stop was to buy a tree. When we went back to my cousins’ house, my father set up the tree and spilled all of the toys on the floor. That was when pandemonium took place and with that, he turned and led me out of the door.During the Second World War when there was a possibility of a shortage of trees, He said, “Don’t worry, we will have one even if we have to chop down a bush.” Later on in life when I was married and had children of my own, my father asked me if Christmas27

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