Morgan Street: Memories of a Holy Family Altar Boy

     I was born in spring of 1945, WWII was winding down. I was able to escape becoming a baby boomer. I lived at 1124 South Morgan Street, on the corner of Morgan and Grenshaw.  It had a curving red brick front that stood out from the other gray stone tenements. I was told the architect was a Chairo relative. The building was owned by the Chairo’s.  All the men were like Uncles to me.Joey, Jimmy Black, Camie Smead, Alex Lakie, Angelo Ginsberg who got the nickname by learning to speak Hebrew and Yiddish when he worked on Maxwell street, Mike Miguch. Their mother, Sagin, was a neighborhood icon.

They all worked with my father Vincent Palucci in production at the Daily newspapers.  Jimmy Chairo was a Union Officer for a large Newspaper Union.  Joe Chairo was a Supervisor at one of the papers.

     We moved from the 3rd floor apartment to a bigger apartment when my brother Vincent was born 7 years after me. I have two sisters Carol and Bess both older than me. Our new address was 1121 South Morgan the same apartment my father lived in growing up. His aunt was the landlord.

My Maternal Grandmother also married to a Chairo lived directly across the street as did my aunt Helen and her family my two cousins Stella and Rosario butchie and Uncle Dominick who also worked at the Newspapers. My mothers step-Brother Angelo Chairo was a Pressman at one of the Newspapers. My Cousins Leontina and Vincent lived in a small house behind the apartment building with their mother Rose and father Anthony Vitullo.

     My Paternal Grandmother lived one short street east on Sangamon, so did my Aunt Elsie.  Another aunt Beatrice and Uncle Phil Serpico lived on Sangamon with my cousin Phil, Roseanne, Donald D.A.. I had aunts, uncles, grandparents everywhere within a couple of hundred feet. I hung out with my cousins and we all went to Holy Family School.
     I was an altar boy at Holy Family Church. I had to learn the Latin responses to the Mass , light the candles, help the priest with his vestments, take care of the water and wine in the sacristy and lots of other odd jobs, beside serving the Mass. The Church was 100 years old in 1957.  It had survived the Chicago Fire and had several little passages and rooms behind altars other interesting features.  It was celebrating its 100th anniversary and the parish was trying to recruit 100 boy scouts.

We were visited by Dick Donovan a star White Sox pitcher, and called the Donovan Centurions( I still have the green and Gold jersey we received when we joined.  He posed for some News photos in the school playground an empty lot on May Street. he pitched a ball that I hit and when I told him I got a hit off of him, he said “no way, Luis Aparicio would have scooped that up for an out. I wanted to disagree, instead I got his autograph.

I served 6 A.M. mass and my Dad would walk me to the Church , my mom was concerned about me walking down Roosevelt in the dark.  After Mass ( we fasted to receive Holy Communion ) Brother Butler would send me to De Leos Bakery on Taylor and May with a note ( no money) to get fresh baked goods.

I carried the warm bag against my puny chest, inhaling the aroma of Long Johns, Sugar Twists , Jelly Rolls, Bismark’s, Chocolate and Vanilla doughnuts both cake dough and the other kind full of air. I turned down the offer of a warm doughnut from Bingo the Baker and I was not going to snatch any of the baked goods in the bag, even though I had not eaten since supper the night before.  I enjoyed making the sacrifice and being a good Catholic boy.

The walk down May street in the light snow was Magical.

To be continued

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