Holiday Issue 2015 | Lit

Thanksgiving, Turkey, and Mogen David Wine

Excerpt from chapter three of Old School Adventures from Englewood: South Side of Chicago

Vanessa Valadez

For Thanksgiving, I vividly remember having celery sticks stuffed with dressing, cream cheese, and crushed walnuts, and Mogen David wine, in the middle of a feast fit for a queen. Now just how our family ended up with a wine that has a Jewish association is beyond me. As I researched the wine, I saw blogs and message boards where many people recalled it as being the “festive” wine served during their holidays, also.


Jones Commercial, My First Job, and a Whole New World Outside of Englewood

Courtesy of the Author

My first venture into the workforce in 1972 was as a secretary for the City of Chicago, Department of Water and Sewers. I was offered this job during my senior year at Jones, as all seniors had to work a half day. When I started working for the City, my father helped me in the only way he knew how. It was normally my mother to whom we went for advice, sometimes to just talk things out. But I remember before I started my job at City Hall he told me to say “yes ma’am” and “yes sir,” when I was addressing the white people downtown. When my father advised me to show deference to the white people with whom I would come into contact with at my first job, the first thing that he was referring to was that old Southern, colored idea of inferiority that he believed I should consider when dealing with white people. In that moment, it struck me that no matter how cute or smart I thought I was, wearing my nice little dresses and stockings and shoes, plopping on a nice hat and pulling on gloves, my father thought that I still had to make sure I kept my place and didn’t disrespect the white people downtown.

Englewood | Lit

1964 Red Buick

It’s 1965, and it’s time again for my father to purchase an almost-new car. My father walks less than a mile from our home to Crown Buick Co. at 63rd Street and Throop and buys a fire engine red Buick Riviera. He had previously marveled at this beauty in the showroom. As he negotiates a price, my sister Audrey and I take advantage of a warm October day to walk to Coney Island at 63rd Street and Ada, just west of Crown. Coney Island is the neighborhood fast food joint (I guess it was named after the famous New York attraction).

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