Page 72 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneA Double LifeI was cast upon the stage in the early 1930’s. My sister was already there some 7 years before. We lived on Drexel Avenue just a few short blocks from where my father had first come to Chicago. Just a few steps down the street from there was one of the biggest and most famous gambling halls or casinos in Chicago. It was operated by a man who was known as the richest junk man in Chicago. In either instance, he was tied to the syndicate. It was there that my father plied his trade as a gambler and not a roofer. A roofer’s trade is mean and dirty with back breaking work. In the Summer it was sweaty and during the cold weather it required layers of clothing to stay warm. In a gambling hall, a gambler never faces other gamblers across a green felt table and shuffles and deals cards and gathers chips or sips from a shot glass without some degree of class. A person does not do this in work clothes or with dirty nails or grime encrusted hands without going through some degree of transformation.My mother once said that the only time she saw my father was when he came home to wash and put on a set of clothes and a clean white shirt. The manicurist that he frequented must have retired early just on tips. He liked shopping downtown at The Boston Store or Hub and then finally Lyttons. He always said that Arrow shirts were the best. He once told me that there was a time when he had no less than 5 autos, including a Marmon Sports Car, setting in our back yard. When I think back, I never questioned him on how a roofer could assemble such an array of cars. All of this took place when I was very young. Whenever I saw him all that I remember was the smell of tar encrusted clothes and work shoes stuck with tar and gravel. There was a time when he owned his own roofing company located at 60th and Cottage Grove, but one day, it burned completely to the ground with no insurance. One of my classmates said that his mother was mad at my father because her laundry which was hanging on a clothes line in the backyard was covered in black soot. His truck and all of his supplies and tools of the trade were lost. Still, he was never one to accept defeat as he returned once again to the company where he originally learned the trade.My father was a foreman or “Gaffer” and he drove his crew hard. One of the owners sons worked with him and my father said that he was a “stumble bum.” My father said, “that one day he is going to get someone killed or kill himself.” They transferred the son to another crew and a couple of weeks later he fell off a roof and was killed. My father’s instinct were, unfortunately, correct.72

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