Page 67 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneMy Father’s AdventuresMy father was one for always pushing the limits and testing another person’ s mettle. One day he met his match. As my father and my uncle were walking down the street, they came across a Black Man with a push cart and he was selling apples. My father picked up an apple and polished it on his sleeve and bit into it. With that, The Black Man said, “You owe me a nickel.” My father’s reply was, “I don’t owe you a thing” The Black Man said again, “You owe me a nickel.” With that, my father said, “Make me.” By the time the fight ended, my father was picking himself up off of the ground and he had two black eyes. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a nickel and handed it to the Black Man and said, “You are a better man than I am.” All the time that this went on, my uncle stood by and laughed. When my father returned home, he sat in a chair in the kitchen and while she was talking to him, my mother said, he would not look up and kept turning his head from side to side as she tried to see what was wrong. By the time she caught a look, his eyes were swollen shut and she said, “My, my, what happened to you?”During the Race Riots of 1919 in Chicago, my father was standing on the corner of 63rd and Cottage Grove and a White crowd descended on an older Black Man who was meticulously dressed in a suit and tie. As they proceeded to punch and push him around, my father stepped in and said, “Why don’t you leave him alone.” With that the crowd turned on my father and said, “Shut up, or you will get the same.” As they held my father back, they swung the poor man by his hands and his feet through a drugstore window and the broken glass cut the man to pieces. My father never forgot that as he said that it was an unnecessary thing to do to someone who was minding his own business.Another time when the riot was at it peak, my father and uncle were traveling down State Street in an old truck that had a spark advance in the steering wheel. In those days, you could advance or retard the spark to adjust the timing. The Blacks had lined the street with house bricks in order to throw at any passing cars with Whites. In the midst of this came two crazy White men. While my uncle was adjusting the spark back and forth to make it go, “Bang, bang, bang.” The Blacks were so taken by this that all they could do was to hoot and howl and laugh at them. My father said not a brick was thrown. Their fearlessness and humor during this standoff was recognized and appreciated by those Blacks.67

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