Page 36 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneThe Monster Of 63rd StreetOne day Jim came into the neighborhood with a rubberized mask that fitted entirely over the head. It had to be the most grotesque mask that I had ever seen and furthermore it was disgusting. It was a sickening yellowish green color with eye sockets that he could look through. It had a bulbous nose that was loaded with warts and carbuncles covered it from head to chin. Pardon me if I say that it would almost want to make a person vomit. After he tried it on and then took it off, he rolled it up and stuck it in his pocket. With that, we headed to 63rd Street, the shopping center for not only Woodlawn, but for Hyde Park which was the site of The University of Chicago. It rivaled State Street in Chicago.63rd Street had a street level trolley that shuttled back and forth and an electrified elevated train that rumbled overhead. It contained no less than 4 movie houses and a like number of 5 and 10 cent stores. At one time someone counted 76 taverns along its stretch. In between, there were numerous grocery stores and restaurants. It even had a gym that was world famous for the number of boxing greats who trained there. It was called, “Johnny Coulans” and no less than Robert Conrad trained and boxed from there. I am talking about the movie actor who starred in, “BaBa Black Sheep” and “The Wild, Wild West”. I grew up with him, but he was known to us as Connie then. On any given Saturday night 63rd Street was all hustle and bustle. What emerged from the crowd was the Monster of 63rd Street.As we approached our target which was an up scale cafeteria with a large window and tables and chairs aligned in parallel rows in order that the diners could eat while watching the passing scene. As the monster approached the window, he pulled his jacket over his head so as to form a hood. We stood to one side in order to observe the effect. The diners stared in disbelief. Those who were chewing suddenly stopped while others sat with mouths hanging open and all the mechanics of eating had ceased. Jim just stood there and stared and stared. Finally as he was about to break into laughter, he turned and disappeared into the night. I can only imagine that he left behind many cases of indigestion and the sales of Pep-tol Bismol and Alka Seltzer must have increased that night.36

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