In 1964, my family moved to Chicago, Illinois in an effort to make a better living. Our first home was in a third floor apartment on the South Side of Chicago at 68th and Harper. We lived in the midst of the Black Stone Rangers’ neighborhood.
The Black Stone Rangers originated on the south side of Chicago, around 65th and Black Stone Avenue, four blocks away from where we lived. The Black Stone Rangers were estimated to have more than 23,000 members. Years later I asked my mother about the Black Stone Rangers, and she said they had a bad reputation with the police and the FBI, but they actually tried to help people.
Eventually, my parents purchased their first home, still on the south side of Chicago, near 93rd and Jeffery. When Eva and I attended James Bowen High School, we convinced our dad to let us have a house party. Eva and I were very excited. My mother helped plan the party. She made sure we had enough food and drinks. I remember my mother frying chicken and making potato salad. We decorated the basement of our new home. The basement was a finished, full length basement with a full length bar, a kitchen with all the works, and a half bath. The bar lights could be dimmed gradually. Everything was going very well. Eva knew a lot of people, so people came from everywhere.
Around 9:30 pm, my dad told my mother he saw someone smoking in the house. My dad said he was not going to have anyone smoking in His house. Then, my dad said someone spiked the punch with alcohol. Next thing we knew, our father threw everyone out of the house and the party was over in a matter of about 30 minutes. It was our first and last house party we had at our home.
Years later, Eva and I would remember this house party. It was held during a time when house parties were the going thing in Chicago.
Thomas Coleman was born 2 Jan 1901 in Mobile, AL. He met Isabel in Chicago, and she became the love of his life. I’m not sure where they married, but he took the train to Mobile to introduce his new wife to the family. Isabel was so light-skinned, she passed for white and they made her ride in the front of the train. Thomas went to the back of the train.
Thomas Coleman worked as a Pullman Porter on the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (GM&O) Railroad. He directed guests to their rooms in the Pullman car, served drinks, cleaned, and helped people with their luggage.
Library of Congress Pullman porters, known for their white jackets, played an important role in luxury train travel for a century.
Eva was born on 19 Sep 1958 in Mobile, AL. I will always remember Eva’s birthday because we were born a week apart. Eva and I attended Fermi Elementary School in Chicago, IL. On those days that Eva made it home before I did, Alice, asked, “Eva, where is your sister?”
Eva hung her head and responded, “The children down the street are fighting Debra, but I had to use the restroom!” 🙂
Our parents had to find other options besides the Chicago Public School system. They joined the Catholic Church so that we could attend their schools, and St. Laurence Catholic Elementary School was our first.
In 1968, while attending St. Laurence, they selected Eva and I to attend St. Nicholas Middle School in Evanston, IL. This was a difficult transition for us because the kids on our bus were the only African-American children that attended that school. The travel time was one hour if traffic was good, but most days it would take up to two hours. Once we arrived, the students and teachers didn’t really want us there! Continue reading →