Back in the early ’70s, perhaps three kids at Oak Park High had cars. The rest of us walked or rode bikes or had indulgent parents who picked us up. During freshman year, Terry Danuser and I brought the ritual to a whole new level by making no less than five stops on the way home. Once my mother clamped down and said, “Four o’clock! I need you home at four o’clock!” but she didn’t enforce that for long. Yay.
We’d head west on Lake Street after messing around at the lockers for at least half an hour. The first stop was usually the Medical Arts Building, that fine artsy-looking, comparatively sky scraper-ish structure, probably built in the ’30s. Terry and I got in the elevator and went as high as possible. That was, I believe, the eighth floor. We’d poke our heads out and if the coast was clear, we’d race to the stairs leading to the roof level.
That’s when things got interesting. We’d open the window and shove each other out on to the roof. There was no apparent reason why we needed to go out on the roof. Sometimes it would be snowing, icy and miserable, but we went out on the roof. We’d stare at the people and the cars below us and think of what would be cool to throw down. We didn’t actually throw things from the roof of the Medical Arts Building.
That was a couple of stops later.
But first, we’d go to Scoville Park. Usually, there’d be some hippies there, but we’d go right past them to the top of the hill. We’d make up scenarios and cause a ruckus that truly disturbed passing dogs.
We’d sometimes creep into First Presbyterian Church…or at least pose for pictures with dandelions hanging out of our mouths by the sign out front.
Then there was Woolworths, and a bookstore across the street, and Walgreens. Sometimes we hit Wards, but it wasn’t that interesting except for the candy. Fields?yuck. Mom stuff.
And, of course, Lake Theater. Once, Terry leaned into the little opening where they take your money and asked the guy what he thought of Spiro Agnew.
Finally, we’d turn left at Harlem and enter our secret garden. Well, not really a garden. It was the stairs to the rooftops of the whole line of stores on the south side of Lake Street. We’d climb from rooftop to rooftop, over low brick walls. Then, we’d open the pickle jar. (I think it’s time for full disclosure.) We threw bread and butter slices out into Lake Street. Yes, we were arrested once. (“Mom! The cops are out front with Barbara!”)
It was a ridiculous thing to do, although we thought we were quite original at the time. And no, please kids, don’t ever be that obnoxious. Please.
Maybe another time we can talk about what happened up on the railroad tracks with Terry, me and an algebra book….or not.