Odd how the simple turning of a calendar page can set one's mind to thinking about the past and what part it may or may not have played in getting you to where you are today. On this past New Year's Eve, I had such a recollection and yet, I am still at a loss as to why I had this particular recollection. Maybe it is due to my turning 45 this year. Who knows?
To answer why I shoot stick as a lefty, let me share with you, this story.
My paternal grandparents first came to Chicago in the early part of the 20th century, before the great depression. My grandfather was a construction laborer and grandmother was a hotel chamber maid. Here, in Chicago, they had two children, my father Ernest, and my aunt Mary. With the onset of the great depression, my grandmother returned to her native Austria with her two children and her husband remained in Chicago. A few years later when my father was seven years old, my grandmother would return to Chicago, leaving her two children behind. The next time my father would see his mother was when he was 18 years old, relocating to Chicago with his younger sister to reunite with their parents.
Their clientele were neighborhood locals and Hawthorn Plant employees alike. Rumor also has it that one of the storefronts located on the side of the building was at one time leased to members of the Capone Outfit for the repair of pin ball machines. Truth be told, my father found a slot machine under a burlap sack in that storefront when the building was finally sold. That is another story, however.
Both of them were originally a part of the 101st Airborn but dad's background of German as a first language played in his favor. Instead of being deployed to the active theater of war in Korea, he was instead stationed in Germany with the Signal Corps laying out power lines in the Black Forest and playing his part in the Cold War.
There wasn't much I could do in the bar so I would hang out and drink Pepsi in glass bottles and play with my grandmother's German Shepard, Sheba. Occasionally I would talk to the permanent residents who still lived in the hotel rooms over the bar when they came in for their first drinks of the day. I only remember two of them. Janie was a character. Just think of any bar-fly and you have her in your mind. Her perfume was abundant and her smile forced, but she was always pleasant to me.
The other was a guy nick-named Poochie. He taught me how to play pool. I was barely old enough to see over the top of the table but he took the time to teach me a thing or two, including how to hold a cue. He always had quarters for the table and liked showing me how he could complete bank shots.
One more thing about Poochie, unlike me, he was left handed.