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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Taking Back the Hood, One Sidewalk Square at a Time

It's been probably nearly two weeks now, but after years of begging the 4800 block of South Marshfield finally got some replacement sidewalk. No, the whole block's sidewalks weren't replaced, just the worst patches, but still, it's something. My neighbor from the CAPS meeting got two squares redone in front of his house. He and his wife and one of his sons sat out on their porch and watched the new cement dry, beaming.

They weren't just rejoicing in their hard-won victory. If you don't keep an eye on the cement, someone's likely to scratch their name, graffiti or who knows what in the pavement. That's what was going on a few houses north when I walked by. A little boy had a stick and was scratching his name or something into the wet cement.

"Hey, could you not do that?" I said quietly.

A neighbor across the street heard me and said the same thing more forcefully. "What are you doing that for! Stop that now!" he said and walked over.

The kid stopped, though he pointed out, "Someone else already wrote more in that one." Sure enough, there were things written all over another adjacent square. The three of us got to work undoing the damage. I helped the kid smooth over where he had written, while the neighbor from across the street got a stick and tried to scratch out the other writing, which was closer to dry and harder to erase completely.

When I left, the neighbor and the young boy were still fixing up the worst of it. Now when you walk by, the one square looks close to pristine. At least the other one is illegible.

Thanks to 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran for taking a small step toward fixing up the sidewalk on that block. Let's hope street repaving comes in the spring.

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