Sunday, October 10, 2004

Revisit the Street Where You Lived

I stopped by the old Chicago neighborhood hot dog stand near Higgins & Harlem, Parse's Red Hots -- one of the places where my elder sisters, and later, my Taft High School friends and I would hang out after attending class or on weekends. This stand, along with the now defunct Canele's Pizza across the street and Bill's Snack Shop a half-mile away, were inspiration for Jim Jacobs' dramatic snack shop in the musical "Grease."

I spoke with Parse's original owner who was still working there, and in the midst of dressing hot dogs with mustard and relish. He was happy to talk about "Grease" and of the decades his place had stood the test of time. He told me how he had rented the flat tar roof of the one-story building next door for a short while. It served as extra seating for Parse's by means of picnic tables reached by a side stair.

This immediately brought back a flood of memories from my early childhood. Yes, I remembered standing with my sisters and seeing teens dining high up on the roof. How I had longed to be in high school, more sophisticated and having such a great time as they had seemed to. I had completely forgotten about the roof garden until the words streamed out of the owner's mouth.

Revisit the streets of your childhood and speak with storeowners, the old timers and other passersby to give your memory an exciting jolt for journal entries and creative writing subject matter. ◦

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