Big City travels …

Hyde Park pic

Compliments of the free encyclopedia … Wikipedia

August 22, 2002

“Today Paula and I did 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 required two buses — the first one stopping on our street corner, and the second at Midway Airport. From door-to-door, the trip took one hour and forty-five minutes.

On our return trip we managed to catch an express bus back to Midway, hoping it would be quicker. The lady driver reminded everyone who boarded that it was an express bus, which means it doesn’t stop at every side street. She also blew her horn frequently, reminding me of New York City. Paula and I were eventually the only passengers, and the driver shared 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 listened and conversed with her, she revealed several of her difficulties. Her mood became much brighter. She said we were the best thing that happened to her today; we returned that she was 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 chalked that experience up to bus ministry. Our street ministry consisted of meeting the neighbors on our daily walks. Needless to say, this close-knit Polish neighborhood knew much about us and asked questions, like, ‘Who has the small bedroom?’ Paula immediately responded , ‘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 asked 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 became 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 was high, and I felt 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 navigated the city without a problem, loved riding the “El” above ground, and treasured my two-year stay. Navigating my old Toyota Corolla around town was a cinch; however, parking was not and the car incurred several indentations.

And, at no time did I ride another bus.