Maxwell Street


I'll have the Polish sausage with mustard, onions, and extra cholesterol!

Last night, I watched The Blues Brothers movie again, mainly to show my sons a classic movie about Chicago. I first saw it 1980 when I was in the Marines. I saw the 25th anniversary edition DVD at my local library and I borrowed it since I always talk about classic movies with my sons. This is an age of reproductions and sometimes my sons will quote something from a song, a TV show, or a movie they have seen without knowing the source of the imitation, parody, or spoof. So whenever possible, I try to educate my sons by pointing out the original source. Perhaps the most famous scene from The Blues Brothers movie is the one that I’ve seen in many contexts and that is the scene where Jake and Elwood Blues go to the Triple Rock Baptist Church and find God. You know the scene where Jake back flips up and down the aisle. I once saw this scene with my sons at a movie theater during the previews. My sons had seen the scene before, too, but they had never seen the whole movie.

I liked the scene at Maxwell Street because I still remember going to Maxwell Street as a boy with my father and uncles when we lived in Pilsen. When we went to St. Francis of Assisi Church on Roosevelt and Halsted, we were right around the corner from Maxwell Street. Sometimes we went to Maxwell Street after mass. My father always went to Preskill’s hardware store where my father could look at tools for hours. I always remember the little shacks that were built in the middle of the street to sell food such as red hots (hot dogs), Polish sausages, and other appetizing greasy foods, but we never ate there.

When I was old enough to drive, I often returned to Maxwell Street, against my mother’s wishes. This was a great place to buy nice clothing cheap. And tailors would alter it for a perfect fit. It was then that I was finally attracted to fine cuisine that Maxwell Street had to offer. Yes, I’m talking about those Polish sausages and pork chop sandwiches, way before they started serving them with French fries. Jim’s Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage was right on the corner of Maxwell and Halsted. That was my favorite eating establishment. Sometimes I would stop there on the way home from the comedy clubs because they never closed. I mean never! Not even Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Where else could I buy a Polish sausage and pork chop sandwich at any hour of the day, any day of the year? Sometimes I would drive by just to smell the all the Polish sausages, pork chops, and onions piled high on the ever-grilling grill that was the equivalent of Maxwell Street’s eternal flame. I would always meet interesting people there, too. I once saw a limo pull up and the passenger got out to buy a Polish sausage and then got back into the backseat of the limo and then it drove off. I’ve often wondered about the true story of that purchase. How cool would it be to go to Maxwell Street in limo?

When I became a Chicago police officer, if I drove past Maxwell Street, I just had to stop for a Polish sausage and a pork chop sandwich. No matter what district I worked, I somehow found myself going by Maxwell Street on the way back from the Cook County Jail, the Cook County Hospital, or the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. Of course, I would stop at Jim’s Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage and partake of their fine cuisine.

Follow your nose to Jim's Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage!

Published by

David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.