Page 33 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneWaking The DeadAt the end of the street where I lived on Ingleside Avenue and across 67th Street was The Oak Woods Cemetery. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Chicago dating back to the 1860’s. Its boundaries were Cottage Grove Avenue on the West and the Illinois Central Railroad on the East. The southern boundary was 71st Street on the South and of course 67th Street on the North. It had a concrete wall about 6 feet tall running along some sections and a spiked iron fence about the same height on others.This cemetery was a sometime playground for us as well as the kids who lived on the other side of 71st Street. The cemetery was quite picturesque in that it had 2 large ponds in the middle. If the cemetery gate was open for special occasions, we could normally walk right in. However, if we were involved in clandestine activities, we found ways to penetrate this fortress. Since the concrete was was too high, some enterprising individual took a crowbar and snapped some of the more rusted parts at the bottom of the iron fence. That meant that the fence bar could be swung out and then swung back in place to cover our entry. The grounds were protected by the maintenance crew who doubled as security and they traveled in green trucks. The watch word was, “Look out, here come the Green Trucks.” Once inside we were free to roam and take delight in what became our private country club.The cemetery was and is the burial place of many notables, including the father of the Atomic Bomb, Enrico Fermi. While his tombstone is rather simple and obscure, most of the others are quite elaborate including the mausoleums that have glass windowed doors and iron grates. A person can look in and see the burial crypts. The cemetery is also the burial place of ten thousand Confederate soldiers who died while prisoners of War at Camp Douglas in Chicago. The monument is quite imposing with brass plates listing the dead’s names and is surrounded by cannons and cannon balls. These soldiers died of various diseases plus abuse. The South was quite upset at the time about the mistreatment of those prisoners.The main office included a crematorium and during the times when it was at work, bells would chime and black smoke would curl up to the sky. It was like watching another soul going to Heaven.It was a great place to go on Halloween night, especially with our girlfriends, as the mist33

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