I grew up on the Southwest side of Chicago. A little neighborhood just east of the big Western Electric Hawthorne Works plant which straddled the border between Chicago and Cicero.
It was a pleasant little neighborhood, full of ex-GIs from WWII, and sons away in Korea. It was an area of bungalows and porches and open windows with screens in them during the summer and radios you could hear while you were out on the sidewalk and nobody ever cared what time it was. Except when it was dinnertime.
And there were Kids.
We were born in '45, '46, '47, 48. We were the kids that the GIs had after they came home and caught up on all that pent up lust that had built up during the war. We had no TV. We had no air conditioning. And mostly we didn't have much money.
What we did have was imagination - and all the other kids in the neighborhood. We used to stand outside a kid's house and yell "Yo-o [insert name here]". Yeah. Our cell phone was standing in front of someone's house and calling them outside. If they weren't home? Tough. You found somebody else to play with. And we didn't have to yell too loud either. Nobody's house was all closed up. In the summer, every window in the house had a screen in it, or a window fan. I remember sitting in front of the window fan going ah-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h listening to the sound reflect back at me off the spinning blades of the fan.
Anyway, the Chicago I remember from 55 years or so ago is a lot different than the Chicago that exists today.
When I was a kid, WE roamed the streets of our neighborhood. Day and night. And we all came home every night.
Today, kids who roam the streets of Chicago might just kill you. Or each other.
Soon, those same streets might just become the roaming grounds of the Illinois National Guard.
Somehow, the thought of the streets of the city where I was raised being patrolled by TROOPS has an ominous feel to me.
We are Rome, and the barbarians who will see to our demise, are us.