Sometimes when people hear me speak they say I have a hint of an accent.
Usually depends where I am at and who I am with, but every now and then someone will say something.
“Chicago, you grew up in Chicago right?”
I smile and make some crack about how you can’t find decent pizza or a good steak there.
Sometimes they realize I am messing around and sometimes they push back so I talk about awful weather and make fun of the Cubs or something like that.
If the conversation has any depth or legs to it we usually reach a point where I tell them about how I am technically not from there but in many ways the city made me.
Can I Root For The Cubs?
My paternal grandfather took me to my first baseball game.
It was in the early 70s at Dodger stadium and I couldn’t have been more excited because I am an LA native, born and bred there.
I bleed Dodger blue.
Grandpa was a Dodger fan too, but if you asked him to name his favorite baseball player he always said Hack Wilson.
Hack was a short fireplug of a man who played for a bunch of teams, including the Cubs.
He signed on with them in 1926 when grandpa was 12.
Grandpa used to tell stories about how he and his friends would sneak into games to watch Hack and the boys play.
Grandpa also used to tell me stories about how his father, my great-grandfather helped start unions in Chicago and about how sometimes he would fight with cops.
“My father was blonde, had blue eyes and was 6 feet tall.
In those days he was big and no one saw Jewish guys that looked like him. People used to think he was a cop.”
I loved hearing those stories and since my great-grandfather died when I was about 7.5 I do remember him.
I remember his eyes because they were like grandpa and my dads, but mostly I remember him smiling when I saw him.
The tales of his temper were legendary as were tales of my grandfather and so many of those tales were about things that happened in Chicago.
My father was born in LA and lived there until grandpa moved the family back to Chicago.
Dad went to kindergarten on the south side and lived in Chicago for about 8 or 9 years, long enough that he learned to love the city.
Mom was born and raised in Chicago and didn’t leave until she went to college.
Both of her parents considered themselves Chicagoans, in spite of technicalities.
The technicality being my maternal grandpa was born in Canada and didn’t move to Chicago until he was five.
But if you asked him where he was from it was always Chicago.
And if you talked to me as a kid and asked me to tell you stories about my family it was always Chicago…mostly.
That is because we were in LA and though we had some relatives who lived elsewhere, everyone I heard about seemed to be in Chicago.
That city became mythical to me, a place I heard about always but never saw.
A place that my parents and grandparents would go for family affairs but not one I got to see, not because they didn’t want to take us but because of financial reasons.
Chicago belonged to my family and we belonged to it or so I was taught.
A dozen or so years ago I flew to Chicago for a business trip.
It wasn’t my first visit but it sticks out for a variety of reasons.
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker and walked all over the city.
One of my most vivid memories is calling both sets of grandparents to talk to them while I walked down Michigan Avenue and to get directions to places I should visit.
Memories of family dinners floated back in which I could hear my grandfathers argue about the where the best place to eat was in 1938 and the stories they shared about their neighborhoods.
I was old enough to understand I wasn’t going to find most if any of those things but I felt like if I walked the streets and listened I might grab some hint of whatever they experienced.
Mom and dad didn’t know each other when they were living in Chicago and as far as I know chances are their paths didn’t cross, but there were moments where I wondered.
Moments where I wondered if maybe they stood close together and watched the U-Boat sail up the Chicago river or if maybe they were at the lake at the same time.
Stranger things have happened.
I Wanted The Dodgers To Win
I didn’t want the Cubs to win.
I wanted my boys to get back to the series so that I could share that moment with my kids. I didn’t want another year of telling my son I remember what it was like to lose in 74, 77 and 78 and how sweet it was when we won.
’81 and ’88 live large in memory and I wanted a new one.
But I suppose given my deep Chicago roots I’ll have no problem cheering for the Cubbies.
A hundred some odd years is a long time to wait for another World Series championship.