I was born in 1962 on the Southeast Side of Chicago. It was a melting pot of a neighborhood. Serbian, German, Italian, Polish, Hispanic, (help me out here Peggy), every nationality you can imagine. My father and mother moved to that area from the South for my dad to work at the steel mills. It was an incredibly industrial area. Two blocks from Lake Michigan, surrounded by steel mills and ship yards. I have fond memories of growing up on Ewing Ave. Running with a pack of kids. Outside from dawn to dusk, only home to eat and sometimes pee. I usually peed in the alley. There it is. Another soul cleansing fact. Mrs. Buttersworth, and now this.
I lived in the same apartment building, the basement flat my entire childhood. My parents bought the building when I was 12 years old. My mom moved me upstairs when I was 18 and started developing film in the kitchen sink. When Glen and I married, we lived in that little apartment for five years. Then, then I saw Witness.
Behold the reason I moved to the country. The name is Book, John Book. In 1985 I saw the movie Witness. I still swoon when I think of Harrison Ford drinking that lemonade. Holy moly. I fell in love with the Amish lifestyle. I started taking trips to Shipshewana Indiana. I bought anything that had a buggy wheel on it. It was an obsession. I started quilting, canning, baking, and frying chickens. I wanted to wear a bonnet, but even I realized that was pushing the envelope. When you are living on the Southeast Side of Chicago, you won't get too far dressed like an Amish gal.
I was working as a secretary in Chicago, commuting on the train daily. I started sewing Amish dolls and Glen made little wooden benches for them (oh, I know how silly this sounds now, but trust me....they sold like hotcakes!) I actually started a little line of crafts. I walked into the Chicago Merchandise Mart with my Amish dolls and benches and a representative took them, and sold them all over the country. We were in business! Ended up quitting my job as a secretary, and Glen quit his job a year later, and we worked doing 'crafts' for six years. By that time, we'd been renting out the middle apartment from my parents as well, to run the business.
In 1988 my mom told me that they were putting the apartment building up for sale. It needed to be done. The area had declined. My mom was mugged. We all needed to get out of there. Where to go? I kid you not, I got a Home Magazine from the corner store, opened it up, and there it was, the first house I layed my eyes on...this one. The ad read '100 year old farmhouse on 8 acres, needs everything you can think of to fix it up, once in a lifetime opportunity'. I called the number...next thing I know, we are driving out to see it. All I can remember from that drive is thinking 'This could be the way to my house". It was so pretty! So country! I was so used to city life.
We pulled into the driveway. There was a sign in the yard that said 'Pitbull's for Sale'. The place was a hellhole. As soon as I put my foot on the ground, I knew it was mine. I wish I had a picture of Glen's face!
I thought out of courtesy, I would tap on the door and let whoever living here know that I was going to to have a look around. When he opened the door.....flies flew OUT.
To be continued.....