June 1997

...And That's My Opinion

by Sandy Goldman

It was my birthday. I was 65. It was 10:30 in the morning and I was shaving (I'm retired you know). What do you think when it's your birthday and you look in the mirror when you're shaving (or to be 90's correct, combing your hair)? At first I thought I saw my father (but that's for another story).

The stereo was on and the music wafted through the house and the words ricocheted off the walls. It was Sinatra. "When I was 17, it was a very good year", he sang, "for small town girls and we hid in the village green." When I was 17, we hid at Waveland Park. We called it Greenberg Gardens (would not be politically correct in the 90s). They weren't small town girls, those Lakeview High School students. Margie, Arden, Nancy, Gerry; I wonder where they are on their 65th birthdays. Grandmothers all, I suppose.

" It was a very good year".

It was 1949. Five years from the end of Word War II and one year to the beginning of the Korean War. I was a high school student, athlete, sports Editor of the school paper and agitator in training. Northwestern beat California in the Rose Bowl 20-14. RCA introduced the 45-RPM record (non-existent in the 90s) and we could afford inexpensive records. The Berlin airlift, 8 months old, recorded a plane a minute every day until it ended on May 12. Joe Louis retired. Jake La Motta knocked out Marcel Cedan for the middleweight title and Ezzard Charles beat Jersey Joe Wolcott for the heavyweight title. Rita Hayworth married Aly Khan and broke every boy's heart. Over 480,000 United Mine Workers went out on a strike, which lasted 42 days. Broderick Crawford won the Academy Award for his role as a Charismatic, dictatorial Southern politician in "All the Kings Men". The number of drive-in theaters doubled to 2,200. We no longer needed the village green or Waveland Park. Konrad Adenauer became the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. In Chicago, the population reached 3,621,000 while the metro area reached 5,600,000. The Greyhound Bus Terminal on Randolph Street (long since gone) had its grand opening. Terminal restaurants and shops covered the whole city block. The Midwest Stock Exchange was opened.

What do you think of when it's your birthday and you're 65 years old and you look in the mirror and the stereo plays and the music wafts through the room and the words ricochet off the walls.

"When I was 21, it was a very good year".

It was 1953. I was a junior at Lake Forest College: a leftist, liberal, Marxist, existentialist. I was becoming a better agitator. In two years, I would get my first permanent job and my first real paycheck with deductions and withholding. Scratch Marxist! Soon the others ideologies would fall or at least draw to the middle.

It was a time, Sinatra sings, for "city girls with perfumed hair". I never had a chance at that! Soon I would meet the girl I would eventually marry and we would stay married (not a constant in the 90s).

Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated as the 34th President and for the first time, we saw it on TV. Walt Disney premiered " Peter Pan". On March 5th Joseph Stalin died and Nikita Kruschev became Secretary of the Community Party. A vaccine against polio was announced by Dr. Jonas Salk and eventually this crippling disease would be virtually eliminated. In baseball the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. And in the decade to come more teams would relocate. Rocky Marciano floored Jersey Joe Wolcott in 2 minutes 25 seconds. Hollywood introduced 3D movies and we all watched through funny looking cardboard glasses. The French continued to fall in Indo-China; a portent of things to come. On June 2nd Queen Elizabeth was officially crowned in a centuries old coronation. And thus she began a love affair with the world. Egypt proclaimed a Republic, ending the 148-year-old dynasty of Mohammed Ali. Gone was King Farouk and on the scene was Gamal Abdul Nassar. A limited Korean Armistice was signed. The shooting stopped; the tension did not. General Mark Clark advocated using A-bombs if the Koreans broke the truce. Miss Jacqueline Lee Bouvier married Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy. And thus began Camelot. Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe and thus began an everlasting love affair. Rick, Ozzie, David and Harriet Nelson were America's favorite TV family. A few homes in N.Y. received a color TV version of Bizet's opera, Carmen.

As chairman of the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) and his followers were beginning one of the darkest moments in U.S. history. After refusing to comply with a subpoena, former President Harry Truman warned Americans " to protect themselves against the onslaught of fear and hysteria, being manipulated in the country for political purposes." (Something here about repeating history) Some months later, we would watch Edward R. Murrow dissect the Senator, accusing him of dealing in half-truths, innuendo and confusion. And then we watched in rapt attention the famous Army-McCarthy hearings. On the campuses of America, it replaced Crusader Rabbit. Eventually, the Senate voted 67-22 to condemn rather than censure the Senator. On Dec. 3rd, Iowa scientists announced they had achieve the first human pregnancy, using frozen sperm.

The City of Chicago published a new planning manual called Chicago Tomorrow. It included a number of plans for Chicago's future development. Richard Daley was elected Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, the most powerful political organization in the Chicago area. In two years Chicago would have the world's first McDonalds.

What do you think of when it's your birthday and you're 65 years old and you look in the mirror and the stereo plays and the music wafts through the room and the words ricochet off the walls.

"When I was 35, it was a very good year."

It was 1967. It was four years after the assassination of J.F.K.; five years after the Cuban missile crisis; six years after the introduction of the Twist and Chubby Checkers. Elvis Presley married his long-time girlfriend, Priscilla Beaulieu. In the first Super Bowl, Green Bay beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. UCLA beat Dayton 79-64 for the NCAA title. Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA crown. Boston Red Sox beat St. Louis for the World Series. In New York, 10,000 hippies gathered in Central Park; most were under 30 years old. The over 30 crowd went to the Fifth Avenue Easter Day Parade.

The Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt resulted on conditions still unsettled in 1997. A little known prelate was named Archbishop of Krakow: Karol Wotjyla. President Johnson named a commission, headed by Illinois Governor, Otto Kerner to study the cause of race riots sweeping the country. On Aug. 1st, Stokely Carmichael, former chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, and H. Rapp Brown, current Chairman, called for a "Black Revolution" in America. On August 24th, George Lincoln Rockwell, avowed racist and leader of the American Nazi Party, was killed by one of his own followers who sought control. On August 30, Thurgood Marshall was appointed the first African American member of the Supreme Court. What a month!

Anti draft rallies were held all over America. Draft card were turned in or set on fire. In New York 546 people, including Dr. Benjamin Spock, were arrested trying to close down an Army Induction Center. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King was a year away. So was the Democratic Convention in Chicago.

The first microwave oven was introduced. It revolutionized cooking. The hit movie was "The Graduate", about an ernest young man (Dustin Hoffman) bumbling his way into an affair with a seductive older woman (Anne Bancroft) and her daughter. Who will ever forget those legs? The Queen Mary made her last voyage; the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) was launched and the Concorde flew, the worlds' first supersonic airplane.

Chicago had a record 23" snowfall and the city was paralyzed for days. Over 27,000,000 passengers arrived and departed at O'Hare International Airport in 1967 Chicago was named one of 63 cities to take part in the Model Cities Program of HUD. The Hyde Park Urban Renewal Project was completed. A huge fire destroyed McCormick Place on the eve of the opening of the Housewares Show. Richard J. Daley was elected to his fourth term as mayor. Four years later he wold be elected to an unprecedented fifth term. The City Council extended its open housing ordinance to ban discrimination by anyone engaged in the sale or rental of housing.

In two years (1969) we would have the first RPCC Hi Neighbor Day Carnival. Three hundred fifty people came out of their winter caves and volunteered for 10 days and they did it for more than 10 years. It was great: camaraderie, commonality, and civility. (We could use some of that in the 90s). The opposition of some residents and Aldermanic pressure ended it. It is still missed! Too Bad!

What do you think of when it's your birthday and you're 65 years old and you look in the mirror and the stereo plays and the music wafts through the room and the words ricochet off the walls.

It was 1982 and I was 50. It was a very good year - or was it?

AIDS was first identified. Claus Von Bulow was found guilty of killing his wife. Downsizing, mergers, conglomerate takeovers resulted in the termination of my employment. In two years, I would become an entrepreneur with a wonderful partner. We would open a business -- Video Advantage. It would thrive for many years. The N.Y. Mets gave George Foster a $10 million contract for 5 years, the second biggest in sports history. The DeLorean Automobile Manufacturing plan went into receivership.

John Belushi died of an overdose. Satchel Paige, the first African-American pitcher in the American League, and an outstanding performer in the Negro League, died. NFL players started the first strike in 63 years. It lasted 57 days. John Hinckley, who tried to assassinate Ronald Regan, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He remains in prison to this date. Lloyd Weber's "Cats" opened on Broadway. China reported a population of 1.008 Billion the largest in the world. The U.S. banned travel to Cuba and cigar smokers cried! The first successful permanent artificial heart transplant was accomplished.

What do you think of when it's your birthday and you're 65 years old and you look in the mirror and the stereo plays and the music wafts through the room and the words ricochet off the walls?

It was 1992 and it was a very good year.

Jay Leno took over the Tonight Show. Women's fashion became eclectic: skirts of every length, width, fabric and design. The movie hit of the year was Basic Instinct with Sharon Stone. Do you suppose there was a connection?

Bill Clinton denied the accusations of Genifer Flowers. He and Al Gore were nominated by the Democrats; Ross Perot dropped out. The GOP nominated Bush and Quayle. Clinton won 42%; Bush 38%; Perot 19%. US reported its first decline in the economy since 1982. U.S. troops took over the airport in Sarajevo. The Pentagon began an investigation into the Tailhook Convention and reports of sexual harassment. A record 46 women ran for Congress, four were elected. One of them was Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Brown.

Macy's and TWA filed for bankruptcy and unemployment was at 7.1%, the highest in 15 years. A copy of the first Superman comic book sold for $82,500. Chicago's Loop was flooded when a rupture in an underground freight tunnel filled building sub basements and basements with more than 134 million gallons of water from the Chicago River.

It was three years since Ron Grais and the Howard Paulina Development Corp (HPDC) predecessor of DevCorp, announced the exciting new plans for the $43 million mixed-use Howard Street Retail Transit Center at Howard and Clark. Groundbreaking was planned for spring of 1989. Other players were the CTA, Rubloff Inc. and the Project for Public Spaces. It was expected to spark the revival of Rogers Park.

And the song goes on. "It was a very good year." There is something about "the autumn of the years" and "my life as vintage wine, from fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs".

I look back down the path of 30 years of community involvement: a driven young man now a less driven Senior Citizen. I look back to Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts; PTA and YMCA; Pop Warner Football, Leone Beach Parents Assoc. and boys and girls swimming teams; several political campaigns and local school councils; Teen Club, neighborhood parades and fundraising for a number of organizations and institutions. Major networks developed -- of fast friends, legionary acquaintances, interesting contacts -- colleagues all.

Fine wine, from the kegs to the dregs.

I have been Chairman of 10 Hi-Neighbor Day Carnivals as well as Las Vegas Nights, Fashion Shows and Halloween Dances. I was Third, Second, First Vice President and then President of the RPCC. " Fine wine". And now I'm the Editor of Rogers Park 2000. "Vintage wine!"

When necessary, I've been opinionated, cynical, controversial, combative and certainly egomaniacal. I've been outspoken and critical; unbridled, unfettered, untethered; uninhibited, straight talking, look you in the eye, tell it as it is, never ducking controversy. There have been bouquets and there have been brickbats. But I'm reminded that one should not forget how to smile, laugh and enjoy life. I know I can not please everyone!

What do you think of when it's your birthday and you're 65 years old and you look in the mirror and the stereo plays and the music wafts through the room and the words ricochet off the walls?

It was Sinatra. But the words had changed --"My way", he sang, "I did it my way "... and that is where my thoughts were....

To be continued...someday, sometime.

...And that's my opinion.

And I'm Sandy Goldman

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