Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

1964: A Runaway’s Renaissance…by Robert M. Katzman

1964: A Runaway’s Renaissance

by Robert M. Katzman © September 9, 2018

Fifty-four years ago on June 8th, 1964 I ran away from a dangerous violently abusive home. I was fourteen and two weeks away from graduating Caldwell grammar school on the South Side, about a dozen miles south of State and Madison, Chicago’s Downtown.

My story is filled with Ghosts, but it is worth writing down, if only to soothe the Ghosts’ anxiety.

After all, aren’t I part of a world-wide Tribe so often called: The People of The Book?

Who am I to resist that Celestial Design?

It is now long past “What will become of this wild child?”

Now near seventy, I must write, “This is what really happened.”

(Read on …)

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers (complete story in order for the first time)…by Robert M. Katzman

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers

By Robert M. Katzman ©

First published by Bob Katzman at 10:47 pm on Sunday, July 11, 2010 

Not your usual love story.  

A fifty-year saga about a Chicago West Side tribal immigrant’s tale, encompassing:  Friendship, Jewelry, Gangsters and the real meaning of lifetime friendship, no matter what.

A puzzle with so many pieces, all steadily adding up to Joy’s diamond ring.   

 

On December 31, 1977, New Year’s Eve, I invited my long-time love, Joyce Esther Bishop, then 27, to dinner at a famous old Chicago steakhouse.  Specifically, The Kinzie Steakhouse, but which is now far better known today as Harry Caray’s Steakhouse, after the now deceased and legendary Chicago radio announcer for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, famously remembered for yelling: “HOLY COW!!” after every home run hit by the home team.  

Aside from Joy’s full-time day job working in the city, she also worked at my original Hyde Park store, Bob’s Newsstand, every weekend.  She was either selling newspapers, stuffing the Sunday newspaper’s weekend components inside each paper or keeping an eye on all the numerous part-time employees and/or the endless stream of customers.  

This was back in the days when Chicago still had four separate daily newspapers and was the last remaining American city to be so blessed.  Now there are only two Chicago newspapers left, both post-bankruptcy, and in their present (2010) shrunken and sensationalized formats, they would have seemed other worldly to either of us in 1977.  

The then fiercely competitive conservative Chicago Daily Tribune and the more liberal Democratic Chicago Sun-Times, were rich and mighty Midwestern icons of journalism, seemingly able to last forever, just thirty-two years ago.  What happened?  

Joy was certain that I loved her, since I told her so every single day (and still do).  I was also convinced that she loved me too, in the unmistakable ways women get that idea across to the objects of their affection.  

(Read on …)

My War with the Squirrel Gang Continues…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © July 22, 2018

So in my ongoing War with the Squirrels up here in the hinterland, or North Woods–or, oh…I don’t know where the hell I am anymore–I decided to take decisive action against the birdseed stealing bastards with grey furry tails.  Problem is, they’re organized.

They have this practiced pose where they sit on their haunches and hold their little grasping clawed paws together, so people will assume they’re eating something they’ve stolen. But really, they have advanced communicative implants in their paws so all squirrels know where either food or danger is at all times. The Twitchy Nose Mafia, everywhere and hidden at the same time.

This is hard for a bird-lover (without a shotgun) to overcome. I know, we have bigger brains, but no claws so we can’t scramble up trees after them, and no wings so we can swoop down on ’em, and so on. But…

(Read on …)

I Planted A Lithuanian Tree Today…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © July 20, 2018

I planted a tree today.

The grayish-bluesy sky was gloomy, threatening to rain, and I was standing in my garden thinking:

 “Good”.

 Some days drag themselves like there are elephants hanging onto each hour. I had no plans, no list of anything to do, no calls to make. I thought,

“Bob, plant a tree”.

(Read on …)

“I’m Fourteen. I Need a Job”…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Friendship & Compassion,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,My Own Personal Hell,Old Fart Wisdom — Bob at 6:28 pm on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

By Robert M. Katzman © July 18, 2018

 Summertime. Got a kid sorta looking for a job? Maybe they’ll actually look for one or maybe they’ll not bother.  But what if it were not a choice? Maybe this story will inspire them. Or you:

“I’m Fourteen. I Need a Job”

On June 8th, 1964, I escaped an insane home on the South Side of Chicago where beatings with thick leather belts, belt buckles, rubber hoses and clenched fists were an everyday event. I left running with only the clothes on my back, in freezing rain, two weeks before graduating eighth grade at Caldwell School. Met up at some point with my father who took me to live with him in a one-room studio with a small kitchen and bathroom in Hyde Park, across the street from the Museum of Science and Industry. I was going to need the industry part. He wasn’t working.

(Read on …)

A “Chocolate Phosphate”, or what my Mother told me in the Fifties…by Robert M. Katzman

When I was very young on the South Side of Chicago, my Mother, a daughter of immigrants from the Jewish Pale area of Eastern Europe where Jews were forced to live by the Czar, was addicted to this drink called a “chocolate phosphate”.

She ordered this delicacy in Jewish restaurants which was essentially ice cubes, chocolate syrup and carbonated seltzer water. The basic point, she explained to me, was to make her “greptz” or belch after a heavy meal.

Decades later when I began going to New York City in 1980 for book conventions, I naturally assumed this common Chicago beverage would be available anywhere in a city with the largest Jewish population in America. But no one heard of it, didn’t know what I was asking for and quickly conveyed the impatience and rudeness that NYC was also famous for.  (Read on …)

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