December 22, 2010

Cricket Field Becomes Cricket Hill, Uptown Chicago

From reader Bill Matteson:


Some time in the late forties there was a big field we called Cricket Field. How it got that name was always a mystery. There were no crickets and no one played cricket, but Cricket was just as good a name as any name, so it was Cricket Field. In the middle of that field was a jungle of sumac and trees of heaven and a lot of bushes. Also along the streets on each side of the viaducts the "jungles" went for a half block or a full block. They were the "summer homes" for all the bums and perverts in the ares. We never went into the jungle alone. Their nests were all around. A bed of newspaper and empty wine bottles were the tell tale signs.

The perverts would hang outside the jungle near the street and try to entice a kid in. But we were streetwise little punks and when this happened we could always find a cop, tell him what happened. He was there in an instant, arrested the perv, or sometimes just beat him with his nightstick. We never had to make a report or go to the station, all we had to do was point.

Then a few days later the perv or pervs were right back doing the same thing.

One day, me, Jimmy Thomas, and Norman Sobiesk were coming home from the lake and decided to play War. We found empty wine bottles [alongside the jungles], which became hand grenades and we were throwing them around when Jimmy threw one way up and it came down on my head. Knocked me out. When I woke up, they were carrying me down Lawrence Ave with my shirt covering my head and I was real bloody. They got me home and Mom shaved the back of my head and butterflyed it up. I still have a four-inch scar across the back of my head. Mom felt real sorry for me and Dad made me stay in for a few days for being stupid.

The Park District decided to do away with all the jungles and the big jungle in Cricket Field was cut down. They dug a big, deep hole where the jungle was. I think they needed land fill somewhere and a place to put some garbage, so they filled in the hole over the next few years and kept piling on the dirt. Cricket Field was gone forever.

Hello Cricket Hill.

Cricket Hill is between Montrose and Wilson Ave [east of Lake Shore Drive].


sanam arzoo said...

I really agree with you that people do not visit blogs for design but for the content. Content plays a great role in attracting visitors to any website or blog and starting a blog with some interesting topic cricket history

Hey Dick said...

Hi Bill,

My God, the memories. I too always wondered why Cricket Field was called that. Until some of us were going to the beach and when we got to Cricket Field, we saws a bunch of black guys playing a game that they told us was called "Cricket."

They were very friendly and talked to us. It was the first time I had ever heard this West Indian accent. It sounded very pleasant to my ear. Still does.

I lived at 844 W. Agatite from 1940 to 1949, when I went away to the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. In the early days, it was a nice neighborhood and the park wasn't full of drunks and perverts. As the years went by, I would notice it going downhill when I came home from school on holidays.

I graduated in 1952, went into the army, got
married, came back to Chiicago (Logan Square), went to De Vry for a year and a half, then moved west. Never went back to Chicago, but I think about it a lot.

OK. Here's my question. What in the heck happened to the old neighborhood and where is it now? Is it making a comeback?


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