...And That's My Opinion©

By Sandy Goldman

The Rogers Park Community Curmudgeon


Two Rogers Parkers You Should Know About


Frederick Douglass (Fritz) Pollard

A friend of mine called the other day to tell me about an article written by Don Pierson in his column titled  “On The NFL”, (Chicago Tribune Sports Jan 29, 2005).  It was about Fritz Pollard, the first African-American football coach of a professional team.  Read it at http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-0501280319jan28,1,494092.story

In 1916, he became the first black to play in the Rose Bowl.  Later he played professional football for the Akron Pros, the Milwaukee Badgers and the Hammond Pros. Pierson’s story centers mostly on the diversity issues in the NFL with Pollard vs. Halas and a few other moguls as central characters.  It’s an interesting read if you can access it.  Pollard is considered a pioneer of racial advancement in sports.  You can learn more about Fritz Pollard and his various business accomplishments on the Internet.

The reason for my friend’s call, was the fact that Fritz Pollard was born in 1894 and raised in Rogers Park, one of eight children he attended Lane Tech High School where he was a three-time All Cook County halfback as well as a track and baseball player.  The Pollard house is on the 1900 block of Lunt Ave.  His father John, son of slaves, was a civil war veteran, and had a barbershop on the 7000 block of Ravenswood.  Fritz’s mother was a Native American.  In later years, Fritz’s older brother Luther took over the business.  At one of the early “Hi Neighbor” Festivals produced by the Rogers Park Community Council (RPCC) in the 1960s, Luther Pollard was singled out and given an award as the resident of Rogers Park who had lived here the longest.  Luther died in 1977 in Rogers Park, Fritz in 1986.  Their home, next to Paschen Park, stood vacant for many years, until probate/estate matters were resolved.


Craig Gernhardt


My friend also had a comment about Craig Gernhardt’s blog – “The Broken Heart of Rogers Park” which can be read at  http://morsehellhole.blogspot.com/

 “ Gernhardt seems to be getting the job done,” he said.  “Since you told me about the blog, I have been following the actions and reactions.  There was the garbage spillover which was cleaned up the same day it was featured it on his website - and the hanging light fixture which was removed the next day, but only after the situation appeared on the Broken Heart blog.  Add the speedy removal of a box of junk, which was moved to various corners of Lunt and Glenwood.  There are many more examples of problems being solved because of Craig’s persistence - problems which ‘the leadership’ should have noticed before Craig ever had to bring them up.” 

“Yes, but you live in the suburbs,” I said. 

“True,” he responded, “but it really makes the heart pump faster when someone has success in motivating complacent leadership to deal with unaddressed problems no matter where they occur.”

Gernhardt’s greatest coup, although the various community leaders probably will deny it, is causing the recent Operation:  Morse Avenue Clean-Up, which was trumpeted at the request of Alderman Moore, by every legitimate community group in Rogers Park on their various websites.  It was however, in fact, the direct result of the constant exposure of Morse Ave. on “The Broken Heart of Rogers Park”. Over a two-day period last week, City inspectors (40) from ten city departments visited businesses and residential buildings on Morse Ave. from 1300 to 1600 West. They found many violations of various ordinances and issued tickets.   Craig has already noted that at least two businesses have ignored the closure orders and reopened for business.   It would be helpful if they would go up and down Glenwood from Pratt to Greenleaf too (both sides of the el embankment please). 

“Did your Alderman really say ‘I do not foresee residents fleeing to places like Evanston to save a few bucks,’ as Craig quotes, referring to the proposed sales tax increase?  Other than Dominicks where prices are much higher than at the local food markets there is little opportunity for national brand shopping even without the tax increases.  Of course, they have access to any number of dollar store items with more on the horizon or to rip-off counterfeits from the Mega-Mall.  I see former neighbors from Rogers Park everyday in Evanston in my store and at the gas stations, at the bookstores, at the restaurants, at the drug stores, at the movies, at the clothing stores, at Costco, at Sam’s Club and Home Depot.  Oh, the list goes on and on.”

Keep it up Craig.  While some may call you foolish – I call you fearless.

...And that's my opinion.

And I'm Sandy Goldman

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