I drive Uber in the morning. The other day a ride took me to South Division High School. Across the street, still standing, is the Polish flat I lived in when I was 4 to 6 years old.
I have fond and vivid memories of that flat and the neighborhood.
My bedroom is in the basement on the right, facing the alley.
There was no bathtub, bathing done in a galvanized tub in the kitchen with water heated on the stove. No refrigerator either, the ice man made his way to the door twice a week with a big block that went into a wooden ice box. The kids on the block would follow the ice truck down the alley and grab sawdust covered slivers of ice to suck on during the hot summer. The ice was packed in sawdust for insulation.
The era's version of recycling was accomplished by a man in a horse drawn wagon loaded down with rags and newspaper and whatever scrap he could collect along the way. It was always a big deal to pet the horse when the man stopped for a pick up.
There was a man that walked through the neighborhood pushing a cart that had a bell driven by one of the cart wheels. It made a rhythmic ding da ding da ding as he moved down the block. The bell advertised his service, which was sharpening knives and scissors. My mother would hear the bell grab her utensils and run out to the street to catch him. Half the neighborhood was out there too and an exchange of news and gossip was enthusiastically engaged.
One other sound remains in my mind. This was the time before the vaccine and there were periodic and terrifying Polio epidemics. Kids were closely guarded and not allowed out of the house in an effort to quarantine them. In the summer this was torture. I remember hearing kids up and down the block practicing accordion through the screen doors.
I hear an accordion and I think of that house and that time.