Big City travels …

Hyde Park pic

Compliments of the free encyclopedia … Wikipedia

August 22, 2002

“Today Paula and I do a dry run, via the Chicago Transit Authority, to Hyde Park, situated on the shore of Lake Michigan and located seven miles south of the Chicago Loop. The trek requires two buses — the first one stops on our street corner, and the second at Midway Airport. From door-to-door, the trip takes one hour and forty-five minutes.

On our return trip we manage to catch an express bus back to Midway, hoping it will be quicker. The lady driver reminds everyone who boards that it is an express bus, which means it doesn’t stop at every side street. She also blows her horn frequently, reminding me of New York City. Paula and I are eventually the only passengers, and the driver shares her frustrations and struggles with us.

‘People just don’t listen when I remind them that stops are more infrequent… and I feel bad when they get mad at me.’

As we listen and converse with her, she reveals several of her difficulties. Her mood becomes much brighter. She says we are the best thing that happened to her today; we return that she is good for us, too, because this is our first ride on public transportation since we moved here a month ago. Her response, ‘You mean you aren’t from Chicago? NO WONDER YOU ARE SO NICE!’

We chalk that experience up to bus ministry. Our street ministry consists of meeting the neighbors on our daily walks. Needless to say, this close-knit Polish neighborhood knows much about us and asks questions, like, ‘Who has the small bedroom?’ Paula immediately responds, ‘That would be me!’ Most of the neighbors lived here forty-plus years and knew the lady who lived in our house until she died. One even asks how we like the Jacuzzi (another story coming down the road)!”

Let me step back in time to share some of my history.

My roots sprouted in the International land of Northern Ohio and thrived over the next sixteen years. Each set of my grandparents originated from European countries. Great Lake Erie was my playground, as was the Metropolitan Park system in that it preserved the land’s natural beauty. Euclid Beach Amusement Park provided fun for all ages, from amazing rides to homemade taffy, candy kisses, and their famous popcorn balls.

Accessing downtown Cleveland was an adventure: we traveled by bus or by the Rapid Transit that dipped underground in spots and ended underneath the Terminal Tower, a 52-story “skyscraper” built in 1930. Shopping experiences encountered huge buildings with revolving doors, elevators, escalators, and crowds of fast-walking people. As a child, I found the blustery winters difficult to maneuver. Mother taught me how to angle our backs against the wind and snow as we turned each corner,  then lay into the fury an inch at a time, and walk backward until we reached the next store.

More than fifty years later, Chicago becomes home. Its well-known nickname, “Windy City,” does not speak of the wind off Lake Michigan. In fact, it was coined in reference to Chicago’s braggart politicians who were deemed to be “full of hot air.” Since I was raised in a big city, my enthusiasm is high, and I feel secure knowing how to battle the forces. The truth be told, Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States while Cleveland ranks forty-fifth.

Regardless of the largeness of Chicago, I navigate the city without a problem, love riding the “El” above ground, and treasure my two-year stay. Navigating my old Toyota Corolla around town is a cinch; however, parking is not and the car incurred several indentations.

And, at no time do I ride another bus.

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