Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

By Larry Teren

Summer of 1957, I am four years old, my sister has just turned six. We are outside playing with other kids. (Yeah, back then you can play outside away from in front of the house without supervision) For whatever reason, sis says to me, “you’re stupid.” Taking it in, digesting it in my young mind, I quickly determine that it is not a compliment. I reply back to her, “no I’m not.”
She immediately comes back with, “yes you are.” In one of my earliest attempts at using the ‘best defense is an offense’ strategy, I turn the tables and start saying, “shut up, shut up, shut up.” Using the classic Jackson Boulevard greeting, she finally says, “go away, crybaby.”
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Austin City Limits

By Larry Teren

I’m no Charles Dickens, but I, too, have a Tale of Two Cities. My cities also have experienced the best of times as well as the worst of times. Now, if I can only get my stories serialized in a magazine like good old Charlie boy. Continue reading “Austin City Limits”

Baby Boomer Television Memories without a VCR

By Larry Teren

Recently a college age friend told me about a school project he was required to do and asked me to participate. Specifically, he wanted to interview me about what it was for a baby boomer to grow up on television while the medium itself was being created. I told him that television as we know it started in 1947 and that I was not old enough to appreciate being entertained by it until the late 1950’s, several years past the birth pangs. Nevertheless, I was willing to cooperate and be interviewed.               Continue reading “Baby Boomer Television Memories without a VCR”

Oh, Henry

By Larry Teren

Twenty six years after his passing, I still think about Uncle Henry. Which reminds me- before Al Gore invented email (or was it just the Internet?) my fellow human beings took great care in how we put thoughts on paper. We went to great lengths to make sure our handwriting was legible and worthy of reading. Continue reading “Oh, Henry”

Parking Is Not For Cheapskates

There was a time when parking was a simple chore. I can remember as far back as the late 1950’s living on Chicago’s West Side on Jackson Boulevard where there was not that much competition for curbside parking. Although we lived in a large apartment building complex there seemed to be more than adequate space on the street for my father to park his Plymouth. Very few, if any, of our neighbors had more than one car in the family.
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Diversity is a street between Belmont and Fullerton

Diversity is a street between Belmont and Fullerton. More precisely it is smack dab in the middle (2800 north in Chicago navigational parlance) of several streets between Belmont (3200 north) and Fullerton (2400 n.) . And, as long as we are being truthful, it is Diversey and not Diversity. Tell that to all the El train conductors who used to announce the next stop along the way after the Fullerton stop to give those of us in the 1960’s a chance to switch to a B train. Of course, nowadays the human conductor has been replaced by an authoritarian robotic command. Regardless, herein lies the irony.diversey
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An Autobiography is Not Henry Ford’s Account of His Life

It’s not coincidence that the words ‘library’ and ‘liberty’ are closely related by root. Despite what some people think, the more one knows, the better he or she is. Reading books gives one knowledge that frees the mind from stupidity. Of course, there are those who might say that I am confusing knowledge with smarts.

Ever since that game Trivial Pursuit was introduced in 1979 it seems as if our culture has put a premium on all types of knowledge, even insignificant data that won’t help pay for a cup of coffee or a bottle of water.

Regardless, I’ve always respected anyone who is weighed down with mounds of trivial facts on obscure subjects. After all, I’m the guy who will tell you to make three right turns instead of a simple left turn. I have a need to let you know that there is more than one way to skin a cat. On this latter subject, don’t ask me- check it out through using a web browser.

Growing up in the 1950’s on the West Side of Chicago, my first exposure to a storehouse of knowledge and information was the Legler Regional Library Branch near the northeast corner of Pulaski and Wilcox. Being quite young at the time, I only recall Ma holding me by the hand as we walked up a whole bunch of stairs to the library front entrance.

A few years later, I remember visiting the Austin Branch Library just north of Lake Street and west of Central on, I believe, Grace. During this period, I finally received a library card and was made to understand the importance of taking good care of it as well as returning books back on time in lieu of paying a fine.

Attending college at Northeastern Illinois University in the early 1970’s, I became quite impressed with the non-book materials available at the campus library such as micro fiche and microfilm rolls of old newspapers and magazines.

By the mid 1970’s, it became more important to spend the energy on finding a decent career or at least the stepping stones to building a career. When not working, I was playing sports during evening time.

Come the new century and my body had a talking with my mind and said I had to quit the extra curricular activities. I now had more time to devote to refueling my mind with insignificant but enjoyable and entertaining data. I started the path back slowly by going once every two weeks to a book store and leafing through the discounted material section. I also decided not to waste time reading fiction. After all, life itself was strange and more often ironically funny. I didn’t need to read someone else’s made up stories. I concentrated on books of fact and information as well as biographies.

I learned that the best stories about people’s lives were the ones that the subject matter wrote himself. After all, if one is going to tell a good lie, I’d rather here it from the person who fabricated it than from someone looking from the outside in.

After a while, it dawned on me that I was wasting precious money at the book store and was better off going to the library and reading books for free. A year ago, I started by visiting every other week to borrow two biographies to read. Now it seems as if I go twice a week. The one dread is that I run out of interesting non-fiction books that tickle my fancy and am forced – gulp- to start checking out the fiction section.

To reshape a phrase spoken by Lieutenant McGarrett on Hawaiian Five-O: “Book It!”

Ice Cream, Ice Cream, We Don’t All Scream For Ice Cream

Things ain’t what they used to be- especially for baby boomers. There used to be special places to visit in Chicago back in the 1900’s- that sounds so quaint- that are no longer around.
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Cheap Thrills

By Larry Teren


When we were baby boomer kids in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Dad would find the least expensive way to provide us entertainment and get us some fresh air at the same time. Usually this meant going to a handful of choices. Continue reading “Cheap Thrills”

Always in the Middle

I am not a middle child but the second of five. I don’t often take the middle ground unless it is to get someone else to compromise toward my way of thinking. I am middle aged, I guess, unless I live to 120, which is possible.

One thing I enjoyed being in the middle of was the streets I lived on as a kid. Between 1955 and ’59, home to me was Jackson Boulevard in the West Garfield Park Chicago neighborhood between Kostner on the right (or east) and Kilbourn, to the left or (west). Situated in the middle of the block gave me an opportunity to roam a little further every year with more confidence in each direction without adult supervision. The moment my feet touched the sidewalk of our block on a return trip from elsewhere I already felt as if I was on the stairs leading to our first floor apartment. The only time I crossed to the other side of the street- the north side- was with my parents when the car was parked there. I was too young to play with a ball on the sidewalk out front so there was not even a chance of me running out onto the roadway to grab an errant throw.
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