Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Who am I?

Who am I?
The whole is the sum of its parts, and I am no exception.     My friend Harry Heckert was able to trace his family back to antiquity, however, going back as far as my grandparents is a challenge.   Interestingly I actually met my material grandmother’s father, however my memory is vague.    I remember him as a very big man, light skinned with light hair.   My maternal aunt Jennie confirmed that he was 6 feet four inches high, well over 200 pounds with yellow hair.     To her he was fierce.    I was way too young to have anything other than vague memories.      
As with most us, there were four distinct branches of the family tree at my level.      All were Eastern European origin and all we dirt poor.    All four branches arrived in America with virtually nothing as part of the migration from Russia and Poland.      The first to arrive was Ben Plavnik.    He was nine years old and all alone.     It is assumed that the Jewish agencies found this lone child to be surpluage and therefore expendable.       He was literally farmed out to a homestead in North Dakota.     There he started his American family as he slaved in the rock filled fields as he cleared enough land to grow the meager crop that could be ecked out.     No grass grew under his feet as by the time he was 12 he had his own homestead and the title to the one he had worked at.   
Teenage years brought wanderlust and Plavnik sold or traded his homesteads for a farm in Texas.     Texas was heaven and it was not long before grandfather was in the cattle business.     He transported cattle to the Stock yards in Chicago.     As his business  grew, Plavnik had a profit, and not trusting Banks he discovered that if an individual kept his eyes and ears alert there was  a way for idle money to work for you.     He invested his profits in farms that were adjacent to the rail tracks that he travelled with his cattle.     As an example, he found that distressed land mortgages were available for pennies on the dollar, and a distressed farmer was happy to have a partner who only wanted a share of the profits.    Favorable transactions abounded and it was not long before 8 Illinois farms and 1 Wisconsin dairy farm were part of his portfolio.      All were yielding him profits regardless of what the National economy was doing, however, young Ben wanted a family.
My material grandmother was another pioneer immigrant, and somehow she managed to hook up with Plavnik and they were married.    Marriage brought a live style change.    Rural life for a young woman was difficult if not impossible.    A man had his work but a woman was totally isolated.    Sometimes the nearest neighbor was more than a mile away, and the trips from Texas to the Chicago Stock Yards were long and overwhelming.      The servicing of the farms also was time consuming and not conducive to a healthy marriage.   Ergo, selectively the Texas Farm was liquidated to acquire capital and now the Plavnik clan commenced investing in Urban real estate.   
Again no grass grew under Ben Plavnik’s feet but he started slowly.     He purchased a home, fixed it up and sold it.    His capital was replenished by trading of farm properties and a liquidation of others.    Ultimately, the portfolio consisted of mortgages, and residential, commercial, and farm properties.     Graduately the family expanded, the homes purchased, fixed up, and resold became more numerous and Rosie Plavnik insisted that they help family members still in Europe find a life in America.    Family was “imported” and so as to provide family with a place to live,  some of the farms were utilized.     Family members were installed on the farms dotting Illinois and a simple arrangement was arrived at.    A family member could reside on the premises, plant his crops, and use the profits to support himself and his family for a finite number of years.    At the end of the period, the property were revert back to Plavnik and the family member was on his own.
The principle – “all good deeds are punished” was operative.     Many of the family members found work in the fields difficult and hard and either abandoned the project or sued.    (The Abstract of title for the Pingree Grove, Illinois farm outlines the grievances and the outcome of the litigation.    The result of the litigation was a great deal of bad feelings and family members who did not like each other.)     A few were grateful and remained as friends for years to come.     Nevertheless, Rosie and Ben continued to sponsor  family members, and did not make the mistakes of the past.   This time, they used apartments in buildings that Ben had gained control of to house relatives, and let Jewish agencies find work for the new immigrants.     This worked out better, but, fostered jealousy as America was still paved with streets of gold that could be accessed by a bit of hard work and diligence – results are easier to observe than obtain, and gratitude is not something to be expected from people who are of like kind.
Like almost all immigrant families of that generation, everyone made their own paths to prosperity and fortune and by the end of World War 2 close family ties were a distant memory not to be renewed for at least a generation, if at all.
In 1936 I made my entry into the world and on or about December 8, 1941 every one’s life was on hold for the next five years as America struggled to address the Nazi and Soviet threats.      
The Ditkowsky branch of the my heritage lacked the turmoil of the Plavnik group.     The Ditkowskys came to America in the first decade after the turn of the century.    They, like the Plavniks were dirt poor but rich in dreams and family.       Unfortunately, the family unity was broken not by jealousy but by the cultural bias that the European Jews were blessed.     One of the Ditkowsky brothers is reputed to have married out of the religion and was thusly deemed to be dead by his parents (my great grandparents).    The brothers choose sides and my grandfather (whose name is pronounced like the car.  Valvo)  was not sympatric to the bias of the Jewish scholars and rabbis.     He moved his family to the Midwest and in particular Chicago.     A branch of the family is reputed to reside in Allentown, Pa, and the main branch in New York.     All proudly bear the name Ditkowsky and retain much of the genetic heritage.    We look alike, found our way to the same professions, and appear to even think alike.   The Allentown group are Catholic, and even boast of having a Priest within their number.
Chicago was the perfect home for my grandfather Ditkowsky.     With his wife, Anna,  they settled in what is now known as Albany Park.     As a tailor,  grandfather, was able to find work and most importantly ‘think that he faded into the woodwork.’      His employer (Rubinstein) owned a large cleaning plant on Montrose Ave and was the source of employment for the family.      Pa (as he was known) induced Rubinstein to created and employee “contract drivers.”   These individuals were not employees, but independent contractors who solicited, picked up and delivered from their own customers in truck rented from Ruby Cleaners.     The contract driver was a huge success as it avoid much of the ‘new deal’ bureaucracy’ and the Unions.   The Unions were Mob controlled and extremely corrupt.      A contract driver, if he worked hard, could make a very nice living.   Of course Pa got a commission, obtained the tailoring work, and made himself a job in which he was indispensable.
All of the family worked at the Cleaning plant.     The oldest son, Hyman, was born to command and from early youth stepped up to deal with any problem that might occur.    He was slow to anger, but, if you did anger him there was hell to pay.     His legend borders on the unbelievable, even though it is verifiable and literally sung by all his contemporaries.      The most famous tale involves my grandfather’s propensity to every year during the slowest time of the slow season to walk into Rubinstein’s office and demand a raise.   Rubinstein would fly into a rage and fire the ‘old man!’     For a couple weeks during the dog days of summer (and while there was little, if any, business) grandfather would go to the beach (or where=ever grandfathers of that era went).    As the fall season commenced, Rubinstein would beg him to come back and he would.   Such became a tradition; however, during that short period the family coffers were not flush and grandma was more than a little upset.
As Hy was approaching manhood (or having just obtained it) he went to Rubinstein and informed him that when “Pa” came in to demand a raise, he (Rubinstein) was to give it to him.   The money was to come out of the children’s’ cumulative earnings.       Thus, when Pa, a couple of days after, appeared with his demand for a raise – he got it.    The old man was stunned!    However, he recognized he has met his master and he was stuck.     Ultimately,  when Rubinstein found himself confronted by the corrupt Union he was confronted by Hy.    For an equity piece of the business,  the Union problem would go away said my uncle.    Exactly what happened, is unknown but ultimately Hy was an owner.      Shortly thereafter he decided to start his own business and Society Cleaners was formed – and Rubinstein retired.    
The second defining tale was much more personal.    My father (Sam) had real athletic talent.    He was way ahead of the field in his baseball abilities.   So much so that as he finished High School the Chicago White Sox approached him with a major league contract.    Proudly, Dad paraded the contract around the family and announced his decision.    Everyone in the family was excited, thrilled, and beyond happiness, except Hy.      In his quietest voice, he said “ you are going to Medical School”    Translated his words were:  “you are going to not sign the contract and you are going to graduate from medical school or die!”    No one argued with Uncle Hy!    He was perfectly willing to enforce is decrees!.
My father was not the discriminated against – Hy decreed that Uncle Sol was also going to Medical School and Uncle Morrie was going to be a dentist.    Uncle Ben was also formidable and he had decided that he was going to participate in the business and Uncle Phil was just stubborn.      He learned to say “yes” so that it meant “no!”      He also was someone who you just did not push.
Into this family, my mother married.    Except for Pa, and of course my father,  she created hostility.    She voiced what the other wives darned not say.    Anna, was a lovely person, but she was just like the wives of each of the brothers and knew how to issue the irrevocable non-spoken command that you either obeyed or your license on life terminated.     Unfortunately, both Sam and Sol married women who knew exactly how to address such a situation and both women did so on day one in a very forceful manner.    A hostile truce existed between Mother and Anna and Ruth and Anna for the rest of their respective lives.    World War 2 ameliorated the word hostile as the women all lived in absolute terror of receiving a telegram from the War Department and Anna had many more irons in the fire.     The tension of having four sons, and three grandchildren in combat was too much for Pa.     His heart gave out and he died.    Anna never forgave him for leaving her to face the future; however, when her building caught fire one evening her heart gave out and she also expired.    The final tragedy of the family had been written and the unifying force was gone.     Henceforth,  each separate Ditkowsky family was literally on its own.    Hy until his death was a unifying force, but, the Ditkowsky wives were intent on being independent.    (This aftermath of WW 2) was common.[1]
The Plavnik clan also suffered terribly during World War 2.      Mother spend hundreds of hours with her parents,  Jenny and her husband Norman went to live and work on a farm as part of the war effort, and Edith was stranded feeling neither fish or fowl.    When WW 2 ended,  Dad was stranded in the South Pacific,  Norman on the Pingree Grove Farm, and Edith working a dietitian feeling as if she were in suspended animation.   
Ultimately, Dad, who had been promised a release from the service was assigned to a convalesant   Hospital in Banning, California and Mother literally abandoned life in Chicago and we all drove out to California.    I was not consulted.     During the interim both of mother’s sisters commenced their lives.
Dad’s brothers mustered out of the Service and went home.      Little by little they resumed their lives, watched their families grow = however, the pre-war closeness never returned.     A cousin’s club substituted for the weekly FRIDAY NIGHT dinners in which the entire clan met at Anna’s apartment and broke bread.    Mother, rebelled at first demanding to know why some of the Friday nights were not spend with her parents!     This led to other minor rebellions.     I remember  more than one horrible meal in which I sat uncomfortably with my cousins as the women griped and the brothers played cards for what seemed to be forever.    The ride home was usually stonily silent.   (My parents tried not to disagree or fight in front of me).     Friday night at the Plavniks was a little better, but no picnic.    Grandfather Plavnik ate as slowly as molasses in January.    Simple foods too what seem hours to be consumed and  meals lasted forever.     By the time dinner was over, it was bed-time.    The only saving grace was Grandma Plavnik was a fantastic cook who made her own bread and desserts.    You could die for them – and except for the extension of life, probably would.   
I’m not hungry gambit was never successful in a Jewish home.    Mentioning that fact was an invitation to 1) having your temperature taken, 2) a dose of Caster Oil, 3) being deprived of dessert, and/or all of the above.    Worse yet, you still got to sit there for what seemed like hours as Grandfather chewed and digested each morsel of food.    An hour for dinner was a blessing!     (Grandfather would have been just as happy to have us (my cousin Susan and I) allowed to leave the table, but, “we are a family and families eat together “  they do not rush off ******.    
Fish dinners were always unhappy affairs.   Whomever boned the fish served much have done so remotely as choking on bones was almost as common an event as wearing overshoes in the Winter.   While the meat of the fish was fantastic, the bones were a hazard – and gentleman do not eat with their hands!    However, I learned that sandwiches allowed you an opportunity to garner a look at the meat and best of all an opportunity to eradicate most of the bones.    Putting strawberry jelly on the sandwich was so reprehensible to the adults that no one looked at you.    I found that I liked the strawberry jam better than the fish and thus it became a staple.    My cousin Susan, being a girl, thought my fish and jelly sandwiches were disgusting.    Thus, only I actually from time to time enjoyed a bone free fish dinner.         Friday was all too often FISH day so that I did not suffer alone.     
The Ditkowsky grandparents had other grandchildren, but with the Plavniks I was the First and until my brother was born, the only male grandson.     I did not have to ask for anything.    All I had to do was think – I want***** and I had it.    Unfortunately, I had everything I wanted, except a sibling.    It was damn unfair – I had a house full of toys and no one to play with.    My grandfather seemed to love my company as he took me everywhere.     He set me in my little red wagon and he walked the sixty block to the Chicago loop with me riding behind him.      The Clark Street Street car also conveyed us downtown, and I spent many happy hours riding with him in his 1936 Dodge sedan.      Not only did we get to know every ice cream joint in town, but I was introduced to dozens of people who seemed overjoyed to see and meet me.    Little did I know that I was prop!     A young person hanging around makes a potential adversary uneasy and a bit off guard.     It is a bit humorous now – but, my grandfather and his friends actually tried very hard to make these trips interesting and fun for me.     They succeeded!      I was trained to clandestinely touch ever wood surface looking for soft spots, examine walls for signs of flooding, and sniff out various odors.     My job also was to try every facet, look in ever refrigerator ****.
If something strange = to me – appeared I was rewarded for the information.    The rewards varied but they were always spectacular to me.     Best of all I learned a great deal that helped me in later life.
School was a problem for me.    My father was in service and my mother in hysterics.     I reacted by refusing to go.     The doctor diagnosed me with measles and I even developed spot on my face.    I might have actually had measles over and over again; however,  my grandfather was again happy to have my company.     I attended first grade for a total of 21 days.    I could not read, but I had a partial photographic memory and thus if you mentioned a few words of a particular page I could recite the rest of the page.    I also remember particular words.     The problem grew worse as I advanced to 3rd grade and then almost without warning something clicked and I actually could read.    I could not spell however and once again I had to rely upon my power of recall.   Eventually this kicked in also and about 4th grade I was finally able to keep up with my class.   
Of course, the War ended and I was off to California.     
California had me 9 years old.     My parents put me the local school; however, as my father was in the Navy he was accommodated by the Navy furnishing him (and me) with transportation.    The sailors, like my grandfather and his friends, found me to be accommodating and enjoying their company.  Ergo, the three or four miles from the hospital to school were filled with side trips.     The Salt in Sea, a Ghost Town, an Orchard with the most delicious fruits, swimming in mountain streams etc were all on my agenda.    No one complained as my very large and very muscular escorts claimed to have been unavoidably delayed on the trips between the hospital and the school house.   
To my classmates I was a person to envy as a blue SUV pulled up with siren blasting and light flashing every other day.    Rides for my classmates were not authorized, but freely provided.    What the adults did not know never hurt them, nor did our parents ever learn that the sailors were teaching us the fine art of basketball, baseball, etc.     The base (hospital) have everything and thus we and the sailors found *****.     On one occasion I was delivered to school on the base ‘fire truck.’    The principal of the school was a bit upset when he observed the sailors giving us all rides on the truck, but a visit from one of the Shore Patrol sailors silenced his interest in the activity.     (This was the era of corporeal punishment in the California Schools)    I could do and say anything.    No one from the school administration dared to looks sideways at me.    Not only did I have formattable parents, but the sailors made it very clear that I was not to be tangled with.     
This all ended when my father received his discharge from the Navy and we packed up and started for home via Mexico City.     It seemed a shame to be all this way West and not see Mexico.    (You have to know my mother to understand that comment.      (Year later we went to Mammoth Cave with some friends – my mother was upset that we did not stop in and visit her in Florida – it was only a thousand miles to the South).      Thus,  Dad purchased a brand new 1947 Dodge coupe and we were off.     WW 2 for him was over.     The trip was not uneventful.    The first night we stopped at a motel in Arizona and discovered that a half an hour after dark all the electricity was shut off and it got COLD!     In Mexico City the car was stolen – and recovered.     As we entered Illinois on Route 66 we hit a snow storm.    All day we travelled until about 7:00 (or so) we arrived in Chicago.    We choose to eat a restaurant on Lawrence Ave and as we ended the proprietor locked the door.    Everything was as you would expect, except for the fact that he would not let anyone else in the premises and we were the only customers.     When we finished eating, Dad asked for a bill, receive it, paid it and we were allowed out the door.
Once back in Chicago, Dad tried to resume his life exactly where he left off.     Unfortunately, the thought of doing surgery revolted him, and he decided to become an allergist.      The major problem for him was the fact that at that time it was not certifiable as the subject was an open field.     This of course did not stop DAD.    He offered to teach the subject at the University of Illinois, and they accepted and he became a Professor of Medicine.    St. Francis Hospital offered him a clinic, staff, and laboratory privileges.    He rewarded them by starting a program of immunizations, training staff, and treating literally hundreds of people who heretofore just suffered with symptoms.     My grandfather Plavnik suffered terrible ‘hay fever’ and found almost immediate relief.   (He previously during the worse of the season disappeared to Northern Michigan where the pollen count was low).     
Dad had amazing results, some of which he actually wrote up.     He and his buddy solved a problem involving a 12 year old child who was diagnosed with M.S.        The Doctor in St. Charles, Illinois thought that the child was 1) too young to have MS and 2) did not seem to be a candidate.     However, the diagnosis was confirmed by specialists – and he did not believe it.     Dr. Murphy agreed, and together he and Dad started testing the child to find any allergy that could be found.    On day one they hit pay dirt.   A dose of egg produced a violent reaction.     
Almost immediately, the MS progression seemed to stop and after a year started to reverse.    By the end of year two the MS had been reversed and the child was pronounced cured.     The immunization also eliminated the allergy.     This victory was followed by the realization that just about anything could create and allergy including the imbedded proteins that was in tap water.     The idea of having to visit a doctor sometimes twice a week to receive shots was appalling.      Most people thought – I will live with it, and did; however, many could not.     As I rounded out my 13th year or 14th year, my world almost came to an abrupt halt.    My father had a massive heart attack.     He was not expected to live.      My knowledge of this was conveyed when I arrived home from  school and walked into the kitchen and found it in disarray.    On the table was a crumpled pack of cigarettes.     That was a tell tale sign that something was wrong.     My Uncle Sol’s mark was on the kitchen table.    Sol smoked one or two cigarettes and as a nervous habit destroyed the rest of the pack.    On the table was also the key to the car and a note – come to EDGEWATER HOSPITAL.    
I knew something was very wrong.    I grabbed my coat and ran out of the house.    For reasons that I could never explain the car was left in the garage and I trotted to Peterson Ave, and continued on the five miles to the Hospital.     I ignored the traffic, the bus, and offers of a ride.    I just ran.     When I arrived at the hospital I entered through a back entrance, found out from a nurse what room my father was in and walked in on a scene from Bedlam!     Dad was in an Oxygen tent with tubes coming out of every orifice.    The family looked like they were on a death watch and mother was literally screaming at some poor doctor who was not performing miracles for her fast enough.
Dad survived and Mother insisted on nurses round the clock as he was brought home.    As soon as he was strong enough he fired the nurses,  and chased every one out of the house.     He wanted privacy and most of all he had clinics to man and patients to see.    It was touch and go for a while as Mother, Sol, and the family laid down the law.    Six months before you go back to work for a limited time.    
Convalescence is difficult, especially when you are ‘superman’ and think that every one is getting pleasure making you’re an invalid.      Patience was not one of Dad’s virtues.     He decided that he wanted to try woodworking as hobby.    Paneling was rage, and he like working with his hands.   If it stood still for ½ a second it was paneled!       He could not get enough surfaces, so ******.
The 1952 Dodge Sedan became my vehicle.      My father was an invalid because of his heart attack but he knew me.     This car had fluid drive and was so slow that to get across Peterson Ave you had to make a reservation  - but I had a car.    I could go out on a ‘date’ without riding the transit bus and the weather was not a hindrance.         Unfortunately, I was distracted by my extra-circular activities and restrictions were placed on my use of the vehicle.    I could not drive it to school until my grades improved etc, etc.   One of the big distractions was the fact that I had retained as friends some of my grandfather’s cronies and they were on a mission.     They wanted me to be as much like my grandfather as possible and whether I liked it or not I was going to learn to be a MAN.     
Most important was teaching me to talk to people, especially strangers.     The connivance released me from some of my natural inhibitions.     My father used placebos like some of today’s doctors use opiates.   He arranged with his friend Eli Kirshenbaum to make capsules with a bunch of colors and filled with various sugars.     These tablets were “all experimental medicines” that were about to be released to treat various illnesses.    You name it, he had a pill.    When an antibiotic or proven medication was called for it was also prescribed, but, in those days Medicine was a recognized art and no one rationale considered it a science.    Ergo, with a bit of gamesmanship and guile illnesses were addressed = most of the time very successfully.
One day, a newly married patient of my father came to him with a critical problem.   He had recently married and he could not ‘get it up!’     He was distressed that he could not perform his marital function and he had run out of excuses.    Dad listened to the distress and prescribed a cure.   A brown pill!     He called Kirshenbaum and sent me to pick it up.    This pill had to be special.   And it was!     It was elongated and labeled “sustained release!”    I delivered the prescription.     A few days later the gentleman reported that the pill worked!   It was magic.   
As luck would have it,  when the telephone call came in I was expecting a telephone call and just happened to be by the phone, heard the contents of the call and saw the telephone director decorated with “Winged Mercury!”     Mercury had cables wrapped around his shoulder!    
I could not resist!     I waited until just before the beginning of my first period class, and I  told an altered variant of the story to a friend.     To protect the identity of the patient I changed the facts a bit.   My version was:
“There was this guy who had a problem.   His male genital was way too short to do anything with.    He went to his doctor, who examined him and found the malady to be true.    The doctor went to his desk and pulled out a bottle of pills.     He warned the patient – take no more than one a day.   If you take more than one a day you will be in serious trouble.”
“The guy tried the  one of day regiment and it did not work.    He went back to the doctor, who thought a moment and then said  “take two day.”    “if you take more than two a day you will be in trouble.     The guy took two a day and nothing happened.       He thus decided to take four.    He did and his male organ  grew    ----- and grew  ----- and grew until he finally had to go live on a desert island.    I have a picture of him taken before he left  - -- I’ll show you it after class.
After class, I took my friend down to the school office and showed him the telephone book.    Of course, he told others the story and they told others etc.     All day for the next month the school administration sat dumbfounded in the office watching seemingly normal teenagers looking at the telephone book and laughing hysterically.   
It was not long and the same situation started to occur at other schools in the area, and finally at businesses.     Illinois Bell Telephone and the Telephone Book Publisher were outraged hysterical.    The Next edition of the Directory was hurried out and Winged Mercury was no longer on the cover.    The school administration did not find the situation humorous.     They appropriately accused me of being the author of the outrage.     My father was no help!    Nor was my mother -  they accused the school administrators of wrongfully interfering with my freedom of expression.    My mother put on a show that would have won an academy award for outrageous.     She turned the school admonishment around into oppression of Free Speech.    It is good thing that Winged Mercury was not a Jewish sage!   
My senior year in High School was horrible.    As most of my companions were a year older then me, and I always played ball with them rather than my classmates – I was alone.   Every one graduated except me.    I still had a year to go!     I had no trouble making new friends, but, it was a culture shock to have all my friends in college and I was still in high school         Worse yet, to make the daily baseball/football/basket ball game, I had to cut the last period of the day.    This I did regularly.     The School administration looked the other way, and then I was suddenly assigned to an HONOR STUDY HALL.     There was no teacher in the class, no attendance was taken, and no one oversaw whether we were there or not.    We were on our honor to be there or in the library that entire period.
This was a checkmate.     I was now honor bound to attend this class even though no one would know whether or not I attended.    It was not only me, but a bunch of similarly situated students mostly from Sauganash or Edgebrook.     For the rest of the semester the honor study had almost perfect attendance.    We were on our honor  - and not one of us was up to violating the trust the school administration placed in us.     I know my parents were laughing -    
One of the assistant principals was teaching Trig, and he was conducting an experiment.     He believed that even the miscreants at our high school would learn better if they had some practical use for the material.    He therefore assigned us as an examination a problem.    Measure the high of the local Catholic Church at the corner of Niles Center Road and Oakton.    For extra credit measure the distance between the five churches in Skokie.        To accomplish the project he made available surveyors equipment.   
I hooked up with a couple of my friends and when we found that another group was measuring the height of the Catholic church,  I suggested that we measure the distance between the five churches.   For this we needed a baseline.    As it was 7:30AM on a Monday morning, I choose Oakton Street as our baseline.   We could see clearly all the churches, however, Oaktown was the main artery through Skokie and we created a fantastic traffic jam.    The local policemen saw our equipment and assumed that we were State employees doing something important.   He and his fellow rerouted all the traffic from Oaktown to mail (about ½ a mile to the North).     We quickly took our measurements and retired to the school to calculate our results.     In spite of very accurate results the School Administration was a bit testy.    Our teacher pointed out that we were expeditious and our enlisting the Police in our project was evidence of our being safety conscious and in “good faith!”   
I said nothing – my father was a bit upset when he saw us set up the equipment in front of a neighbor’s home and marking crosses on the sidewalk and in the alley just short of the actual lot line.    On the following Sunday morning when I am my friends went to measure the height of the Catholic Church was not a high point in our relationship.     His problem was he thought the antic funny and mother did not and suspected that the school would not either.      The fact that I had made a mark on at the bottom of the church door was not overlooked by my parents.    The school principal told the clergy that he knew me and I was one of the most respectful youths in the school.    (I hope that he did not go to Hell for that whooper)       Nothing came of this except from that time on all projects had to be conducted from the grounds of the school and no one was further interested in the height of the Catholic Church.

[1] The independence movement was not confined to the Ditkowsky brother’s wives.    Cousin Marvin returned home and discovered that his newly emancipated parents had determined a future for him.    He was polite and firm.    No he was not marrying some girl that they had found for him who lived in Michigan, and no he had no interested in the Cleaning business.    As to the girl he was very undiplomatic and very blunt.   He told his parents: “I do not want to wake up and find a nightmare in my bed!”    As to his vocation he was subtle  - He picked up and left Chicago for parts unknown.    His father found him later as he was walking out of the Everglades hunting trip.    He found a job with the Dade County Police Department and was enjoying a day off.    Uncle Ben remember that the Everglades had large snakes in it and decided that maybe Marvin ought to make his own choice of vocation.
Thus, Cousin Marvin became a Chicago Policeman, married the girl of his choice and literally lived his own life without family interference.      
Other cousins made declarations of independence, but, stayed closer to fold.    

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