Snow dibs


The view of my car from my front porch.

I woke up early this morning to shovel my sidewalks and dig out my car so I could get to UIC on time. This was the third time I had shoveled in twenty-four hours and I actually enjoyed shoveling! Since I don’t like to run in the snow because I’m afraid to twist my weak ankles yet again, shoveling snow is my alternate form of exercise on snowy days. I like to brag that I’m cross-training. I love shoveling snow about as much as I hate mowing the lawn. But those are responsibilities of a homeowner. So, I enjoyed shoveling  out my car and then returning home after school and parking in the very same place.

In many Chicago neighborhoods, people shovel out their parking spots and then place old chairs or other unwanted furniture that is worthless (just in case it gets stolen or thrown away by the City of Chicago) to reserve their parking spots. This is a time-honored Chicago tradition that I remember from the 1960s. This causes more arguments than perhaps even the White Sox vs. Cubs debate that is so quintessential Chicago. In fact, people have been shot for freshly-shoveled parking spaces.

Chicago Sun-Times, February 20, 2010

I have always shoveled out my parking space, but I have never placed junk on the street to reserve my space. I usually shovel my car out and when I come back I park in the same space that I shoveled if I’m fortunate enough that it’s still available. If it’s not, I shovel out a new spot and park there. One year, I ended up shoveling my whole block one parking space at a time and everyone on the block seemed very happy with the arrangement. In fact, my neighbors showed their appreciation by not shooting me.

When I came home today, I parked right in front of my house in the very same parking spot that I had shoveled out. I was surprised by my good luck to be able to park in the same place, so I just had to take a picture. Behold! I took this picture from the comfort of my front porch!

The Chicago Way


Picasso Sculpture, Daley Center, Chicago, Illinois

Today, I read the The Chicago Way by Tom McNamee in the Chicago Sun-Times in which he talks about jokes that work only Chicago. Well, I would like to share some of those jokes with you, my fellow Chicagoans. He starts out with “Noel, Noel … So I took the bus.” I remember hearing a different version of this joke at Holy Cross School told by a nun: “Some Christmas carolers are under the El tracks downtown singing, “Noel, Noel …” Along comes a drunk and tells them, “Then take a bus!”

My friend Vito Vitkauskas wrote this Chicago joke that I used to use in my comedy routine: I once broke my arm in three places. Haltsed, Lincoln, and Fullerton.

Ken Green, in today’s Sun-Times, wrote two funny haikus, or as he calls them, Chi-kus:

The CTA bus
a very rare animal
moves in packs of three

In my house we vote
Even my uncle votes
May he rest in peace

Here are some of the other jokes printed in the column:

  1. How many Chicagoans does it take to park a car? Seven. One behind the wheel and six to rearrange the kitchen chairs.
  2. Why is Chicago known as the city that works? Because whatever the problem–a parking ticket or a murder indictment–it can be fixed.
  3. We all know why the chicken crossed the road, but why did the lady duck cross Walton Place? To get to the Drake.
  4. I heard Mayor Daley has a plan to get crime off the streets. Yeah, he’s going to widen the sidewalks.

Wing Yip


Wing Yip in Bridgeport

For the finest Chinese Food, you must go to Bridgeport on Chicago’s south side. Wing Yip Chop Suey, 537 W. 26th Street, 312.326.2822, is a cozy, family-owned Chinese carry-out restaurant. If you dine in, don’t expect a fancy ambiance. In fact, don’t even ask to use their public restroom. They don’t have one!

I have eaten at this Bridgeport establishment since the early 1980s, but I’m not sure what it was called back then because I don’t remember the restaurant ever having a sign outside with its name on it. This place doesn’t look like much from the outside–or the inside, now that I think of it–but the food is delicious and they serve generous portions for a more than reasonable price.

As you wait for your food, you may read the Chicago Tribune or Sun-Times that someone left behind after reading it. The carry-out customers are Bridgeport residents and people who work in the neighborhood. Everyone in Wing Yip is very friendly. People often meet other acquaintances, friends, or family members by surprise when they go there. But strangers greet each other, too. The loyal customers love this place so much that anyone who patronizes Wing Yip has something in common with all other customers who walk in. So it’s not that unusual for total strangers to greet each other and start up a conversation.

As a police officer, I used to like to eat lunch there because everyone respected the police there and I would meet other police officers whom I hadn’t seen in years. This is also a great police restaurant because the service is fast and cheap. I sometimes go out of my way just to eat there now that I’m a retired police officer. I like the fact that they know me by name because I’ve spent so much time in there over the years. If you go there, you just may see me sitting in the corner doing the crossword puzzle.