Dear Family and Friends:
Sounds crazy but when I was a kid I used to hope for rain on Saturdays. We lived on the Northside of Chicago, on Greenview Avenue, a couple of blocks from the lake. There was always plenty to do when the sun shone. I could ride my bike up to Gale school on Ashland and find a ball game to play, or ride down Sheridan Rd with a few buddies all the way to Northwestern U. or the Bahai Temple. But rainy Saturdays were special.
My dad, Arnold, loved to play golf. He played every Saturday morning until the snows came. I can’t remember waking up on a warm Saturday morning to find my Dad home. He’d be out on the course. I think he used to get up around five so he could make his foursome way out south on a course somewhere around 95th and Cicero. He’d come home around one. Dad’s usual routine was to eat lunch, put on the Cubs game and fall asleep on the couch. If I changed the channel he’d bark…”Hey. I was watching that.” So of course, I’d go out and play…something. But when it rained on Saturday afternoons the routine changed. We’d grab our raincoats and hike down Howard Street to the Howard Theater to see a movie. In my imperfect memory I remember doing this every time that rain came down.
As I think back, I don’t remember doing many things with my father, just the two of us. Maybe that’s why those afternoons were so special. There are two other summer father/son outings I remember. Once each summer my dad would take me horseback riding and once a summer we’d go to Riverview Park to ride the roller coasters.
At Riverview we’d ride the Silver Streak and the Blue Flash, and never miss the Shoot the Shoots. Shoot the Shoots was a boat ride through dark passageways and then on to an elevator and then down a steep incline. At the bottom it plunged into a small lake, water splashed up everywhere. Everyone got wet. We loved it. On the roller coasters we’d usually sit in the last two seats if we could. That’s where you get whipped around the most (at least that’s what we thought). Except when we rode the Bobs. The Bobs was the fastest coaster at Riverview. On the Bobs we’d wait in line until we could sit in the first two seats. With nothing in front of you, that first drop and first turn would scare the you-know-what out of you. Both my dad and I always laughed from start to finish on the roller coasters.
Riverview trips were great, but I seem to have more of an emotional memory of going to the movies on rainy Saturday afternoons. So today it’s late in May, university students gone for the summer, Hillel closed, the perfect time to get out on my boat and sail, but for the rain. I’m sitting here looking out the window at a rainy day and thinking of my dad. It’s good. I’d love to sail, but thinking of those days long gone is OK too.
Karen Carpenter sang, “Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down.” She didn’t have those rainy Saturday afternoons with my dad, Arnie. I’m glad I did.