Pilsen, Chicago, Illinois

The first place I ever lived in Chicago was Pilsen. I hate to admit it, but I’m not a native Chicagoan. I have always regretted not being born in Chicago because I love Chicago so much. Yes, I’m not happy to admit that I’m a foreigner. I was born in Perth Amboy New Jersey. We moved to Chicago when I was about one and a half. We moved into my grandparents’ house at 977 W. 19th Street. We lived in the second floor rear apartment that didn’t have its own bathroom. There was no back door either. There were wooden stairs leading downstairs to the backyard from our rear window. I’m sure this didn’t meet the Chicago building codes, but it was very practical. My brother Danny and I always went down the back stairs to play in the yard. We lived there until we moved to Back of the Yards shortly before I started the kindergarten at Holy Cross.

I still drive through Pilsen when I go to UIC because it’s an interesting neighborhood. I’ve been taking pictures of the neighborhood for years now. Every time I take a different route I find something I have never seen before, like the mural in the picture above. I’ve driven on 16th many times, but I only recently noticed this mural of the Aztec calendar. I know this mural has been there for at least twenty years. Parts of it are slowly fading away into obscurity. I plan on walking through Pilsen and taking more pictures.

Mi casa


Mi Casa: Aztec calendar, la Virgen de Guadalupe, Mexican flag, and a picture of mi abuelito.

Mi casa es su casa. Come into my home, por favor. So you tell me. Am I Mexican or not? I have books written in Spanish on my bookshelves. I have movies in Spanish without English subtitles! I have a wooden Aztec calendar that my friend bought for me when he went to Mexico. However, I have a regular calendar to find the current date. I have a votive candle with the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe. My mother always lit up one these when she prayed for someone or wanted something. I haven’t lit my candle yet, but I have it just in case of an emergency. Just in case there’s a blackout and I run out of tortillas at the same time. And I also have a Mexican flag hanging on the wall. Well, it’s actually a bandana that says “Made in China” in the corner. If you go to any Mexican home, you will find at least an Aztec Calendar, La Virgen de Guadalupe, and a Mexican flag.

Be careful not to step on the chihuahua!