Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Little Post Office That Could

Here's a happy holiday story from Back of the Yards. We have a small post office location in the shopping mall at 46th and Bishop. It's official title is Finance Station L, and it's official address is 4642 S. Bishop St.

As you may know, the US Postal Service has lost a lot of business in the last few years. Stations are being closed. Our little station here was notified earlier this fall it was being considered for closure. I have a P.O. box at the station and it's an easy walk from my house. Even though there's a larger station on Halsted only a mile or so from the shopping center, it's not a pretty mile between here and there. You would either go through the Stockyards Industrial Park or take 47th from Ashland to Halsted and go north a little. I've biked it but didn't enjoy it much--there's a lot of trucks and it's pretty deserted. The road isn't in the greatest shape either (though it's much better than at 51st). And it makes a huge difference to me to be able to walk to the post office from my house rather than driving or riding my bike. (Someday I hope to ride my bike again!)

Anyway, it's not just the location, it's the service. The two clerks at Finance Station L are friendly and helpful and patient with all kinds of customers. I was just there this afternoon mailing belated Christmas cards and packages to faraway family. Rick helped me find a box for one batch and get my other box taped up and ready to go. Service beyond the call of duty. Two other women were in the station at the same time and said that our station is much nicer and friendlier than other nearby locations (I'll leave those to your imagination).

Then I noticed a sign on the window that said something like "due to the large response from customers, Finance Station L is no longer being considered for closure." I asked about it and Rick told me that people not only filled out the questionnaire the Post Office sent asking about service, not only signed the petition, but even took it upon themselves to call and say how much they would miss the station if it were closed. "They're still trying to respond to all the calls and questionnaires," Rick told me.

I'm delighted. Power to the people! Let's hear it for the little post office that could, and did. And thanks to all my fellow customers who, like me, put in a good word to the U.S. Postal Service. Our station is a treasure and I'm glad it's not going away.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pros Arts @ Hedges

UPDATED: Here's the flyer inviting people to the Hedges performances earlier this month. The visual art exhibit continues through January 28, so stop by after winter break.

Pros Arts Studios and my friend Irasema Gonzalez spent "an eight week playdate" at Hedges Elementary here in Back of the Yards, teaching writing, art and theater to 8th-graders. Irasema, a poet, and her teaching artist colleagues Lungelo Kuzwayo (theatre), Krystin Grenon (visual art) and Maria Gaspar (performance art) wrapped up on Friday, December 11 with two performances and an exhibition of student artwork. The art exhibition runs through January 28, 2010, so if you're in the neighborhood, stop by Hedges and take a look.

The students wrote a play called Trouble @ Bubbly Creek. Just in time for Christmas, Irasema graciously shared some quotes from her students' writing:

"People don’t need to move to another neighborhood to live in a better one. People that live in our neighborhood can have a good future.” --J.L.

“…its important to follow our dreams and stop at nothing until we’ve completed…we can change our community if we don’t like it.” –D.A.

“The memories or items we gather along the journey can shape our future.” –P.O.

"We should keep luchando for our dreams" --D.

"the stuff that happens to us now can help us in the future…” X.O.

“maybe you can change your neighborhood without changing to a new house.” R.C.

“You can make a change in our city, country or community. You can shape your future and help others shape theirs as well.” --J.L.

Someone reading these quotes initially thought they were from students in Pilsen. When told they were young people from Back of the Yards, she said: "Viva back of the yards! Often the forgotten ones but great talent emerges from there all forms. Heck, maybe the next President will come from B.O.Y."

Maybe so. With these hopeful thoughts in mind, I wish all the Tattler readers happy holidays and peace on earth, especially here on Marshfield Avenue!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

I need to come up with a system to make sure my babysitter gets lunch. Dawn's mom just knocked on the door with a can of Coke and a box of Church's Fried Chicken for her. (They are friends.)

I invited her in, but she said she was on her way to Casa Catalina, the food pantry run by Holy Cross/IHM. I have a bag of cans of food here I meant to donate during the pre-Thanksgiving food drive at church and never brought up there. I gave the bag to her and asked if she could take it with her to the pantry, adding, "And if there's anything you want, take it first."

After she left, the baby woke up and was hungry. I took a break from writing to nurse the baby while Sitter ate lunch. We were joking about how neither of us had eaten lunch yet. She brought me a hard boiled egg from the fridge, with salt. The baby nursed, I ate an egg and Sitter ate her chicken. She invited me to have some, but I'm avoiding meat exposed to antibiotics (long story) so fast food is out. I offered her a hard-boiled egg, but for whatever her reasons were, she said no.

In addition to accepting donations of non-perishable food, Casa Catalina is looking for cash donations to purchase ham and turkey dinners for families. I am guessing they purchase the food for the dinners from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Each meal's cost is very reasonable--about ten bucks for a turkey dinner, eight-fifty for a ham dinner. Click on the link above for details.

In case I don't get to post again for a while--Happy holidays, all!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

HIgh School Hunting

Well, it's that time of year again, when I play high school admissions counselor for whichever kids are in 8th grade within a two or three-block radius. This year its Ines, Jay-Z and Tone-Loc. Ines will get into Rauner on sibling preference--her older bro is a freshman--but I should check with her and see if she wants someone to help with her application essay. Jay-Z and Tone are tougher nuts to crack. Both are special ed kids with lousy test scores, grades, and behavior records.

THis morning I am hoping both are going to the former Creiger Multiplex, which became home to the Noble Network's Chicago Bulls College Prep Campus back in August. I've lost track of things a bit in the high school openings world--I thought Bulls College Prep wasn't open yet, but it's still young enough they should have a better shot in the lottery than at some of Noble's more established campuses. And as I pointed out to Jay-Z's aunt yesterday, Noble has been working hard to find seats for applicants who don't win a spot in their first-choice campus, so they may get a spot somewhere else. Noble is planning to open a campus in Englewood next fall--depending on where it is it might be easier for Marshfielders to get to.

A couple of days ago when it was really cold I managed to drag myself out of the house and knock at Tone-Loc's door. HIs aunt was home and told me he has applied to Dunbar. I was glad to hear they had made some efforts themselves. I gave her the Options for Knowledge book with the standard application in it. I need to get them copies of the College and Career Academy application--it's online at The Office of Academic Enhancement web site, but my printer's ink cartridge is toast so I can't print.

If folks are interested in the hot topic of the new proposed admissions policy, the link is on the site's home page.

Tone-Loc's aunt was hoping I'd go with them to Cregier today, but between a three-month old, the weather, and a recent stomach bug, I'm not going anywhere today.I talked to Jay-Z's aunt yesterday and suggested maybe she could take Tone and one of his adult relatives--I think she's friends with one of his much older sisters. She was open to that idea.

Joey is in 8th grade, too, but his dad says he and Dawn are moving to Cicero and they want him to come with. I was hoping they would move farther west in Little Village so he could go to MAS, but I think that's not going to happen.

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