Page 84 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneThe ShackThe Shack was located was located 60 miles south of Chicago on the Kankakee River. “Shack” was my father’s way of defining what was in reality another example of his creativity and craftsmanship. He had a way of talking down his own accomplishments. To myself, my cousins and my friends it was a wonderful place to go in order to escape the swelter and sometimes stench and entrapment of the big city. It was as close to nature as one could get. The shack was built before I was born. My father and my mother and our family friends occupied an encampment across the river where they stayed in tents. My father was able to rent a piece of property from a farmer that was not productive to his farm. It stretched along the river bank for almost a city block and ran from the river back to a corn field for a fourth of a city block. At the south end was a swamp that contained all the elements that made it into a creepy place such as quick sand and snakes and birds of every variety. A barbed wire fence prevented entry for safety’s sake. At the north end was a country home where the farmer’s mother lived. My father paid the farmer seven dollars a year rent for use of this land.Once he acquired the lease, my father set about constructing the cabin. The frame of the cabin was made from cedar 2 by 4’s. A lot of the materials came from a friend of the family, Sam Gordon, who once ran a side show at the original White City that was located a 63rd and South Park Avenue in Chicago and now known as Martin Luther King Drive. The windows of the front porch where we would eat looked out on the river. The windows were constructed of small squared clear panes of glass that were held in by lead seams. Around these panes was another border of colored glass that was also seamed in by lead that reflected all of the colors of the rainbow. It reminded me of a Frank Lloyd Wright house with similar type windows. The frames of the windows were about 4 feet wide by about 6 feet tall. All and all, it made for a very picturesque scene while we were eating or staying indoors in order to seek shelter from a storm. The outside walls were made of asphalt shingles on one side and with slate shingles on another. It had a side entrance towards the front that faced north and another on the side facing south that was not often used. When using the door, we often heard the admonition from my father, “Don’t slam that screen door!” The interior walls were made of varnished canvas taken from the backgrounds for the side shows . This was more than evident in the bedrooms where we slept. We went to sleep at night in the company of the bearded lady, the crocodile man, a snake charmer and Twiddly Dee and Twiddly Dumb. There were very few modern day conveniences . Because there was no electricity, light at84


































































































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