My mother will turn 90 years old next fall. I'll be returning home to visit over the summer, to see a Cubs' game at Wrigley, and to take in some blues at Kingston Mines. Hard to believe that my first date with Myrna was almost 30 years ago at the blues club. The Cubs are in the unfamiliar position this year of starting their season as the favorites to win the World Series!
After I played at Kingston Mines, lo! 28 years ago, I decided to take Myrna on a tour of Wrigley. It was, of course, quite late, and half a foot of snow had fallen while we were at the club. We walked the mile and a half, with Myrna in her stiletto heels. When we reached Wrigley, she refused to slog any farther in the snow in her heels and insisted that I carry her on my shoulders. She only weighed 90 pounds, so I hoisted her up and we circled the empty stadium. After the tour we took a cab back to the hotel.
The Cubs are a very different franchise now, although they still are awaiting that elusive championship. The new owners, the Ricketts' family, made their fortune as owners of Ameritrade, which owns TD Bank, among other assets. Money is no object, as evidenced by the megabucks signings of Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jason Heyward. Last season, the outfield bleachers were demolished and completely rebuilt, and huge video screens were installed in right and left field. I attended a great Cubs/Cards game along with a full house and it was a tremendous experience.
Over the past winter, all the old concrete in the main grandstand at Wrigley has been replaced and, according to stories I have read, the bathrooms have been dramatically upgraded. I'll see whether the old trough style urinals remain.
My family is aging and dying out. My older sister is retiring. One of my cousins just suffered a stroke and appears on the way out. Obviously, my time on this earth is coming to an end.
My counsin's family was the brawling, hillbilly, alcoholic end of my mother's family. Wife, husband and siblings took turns beating the hell out of one another. They were a nightmare. And, yet, back in the bad old days nobody thought of calling the police, informing the authorities and breaking up the family. They were left alone. Today, the family would be torn apart by police and social service workers. The kids would be shunted off to foster homes. Some things were done better back in the bad old days. The kids, despite all the fighting and drinking, were better off for having remained with their family.
So, it's another sentimental journey home this summer. I'm thinking of taking in a Cubs/Mets game this time. These two teams seem likely to meet again this fall in the National League Championship Series.
I don't know who I'll see at Kingston Mines. It's a Chicago club that features West and South Side bands. Guys from touring bands stop in to jam, but the club is still a local scene. I'll probably just catch a set at random after the Cubs' game.
And, I gotta hope that the band plays Sweet Home Chicago. Baby, don't you wanna go?