October 19, 2011

Summerdale and Uptown

Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History Correspondent

Uptown was always an exciting place to live; something was always happening.

We had two police stations that we had to worry about, Town Hall and Summerdale. As I remember, Town Hall stopped at Lawrence Ave on the north and Summerdale took over. The Town Hall cops were for the most part easy to get along with as long as we didn't smart off to them. "Big 10" was their unmarked detective squad car; it was a plain blue Ford and always carried three detectives whose names I've long forgotten. The black and white patrol car was Ace Double Duece #122, I would walk around the block to avoid these guys. I don't know if they were mean or not, I just never wanted to get that close to find out. Also at Town Hall was a juvenile officer named Cribbens. He went out of his way to help us kids and keep us out of trouble.

My freshman year at Senn (1950) was interesting; as part of the physical fitness programs, I signed up for "spparatus," which was in reality gymnastics. I wasn't good enough be on the team, but good enough to be in the class. I loved the side horse, which is a short pommel device.

The instructor, Mr. Bergman, also taught fencing, and because I was light and quick, I had to sign up for that also. So I was a 14 year old, 120 pound, 5'6" fencer with tumbling, gymnastic and boxing skills.
I eventually had to drop fencing because as soon as my opponent learned I flinched when the foil raked across my mask, I was done for.

Now the Karras twins, Al and Sol, were on the Gymnastic team. These guys looked like greek Adonises, and were really good with helping us younger guys through some difficult maneuvers. They could have posed for all the marble statues in the old temples, and when they walked the school hallways all the girls would stop and stare. They were seniors when I was a freshman; they graduated, moved on, and I forgot about them.

Now also in Senn was another kid I made friends with; his name was Richard Morrison, later to be known as the Babbling Burglar.

Around 1960, when I was married with four kids, I read in the paper about the Summerdale Scandal.

The Summerdale Scandal was basically this: Richie Morrison got caught burglarizing a store and in a plea type of deal he implicated a lot of cops from the Summerdale Station.

Al and Sol Karras had become policemen and got caught up in the scandal, along with Richard Morrison; most of the Summerdale cops played cards at Nick's Pool Hall at Foster and Clark, most were good guys, but a couple of them were not.

The cops supposedly would stake out a store and Richie would burglarize it (according to Richie). Now Al and Sol were good guys and Richie, well, he was just being Richie. I remember Richie's philosophy was steal something every day, He always wore a big St. Christopher medal with a handcuff key taped to the backside, he used this more than once.

In the years after the trial, Richie, faded away into oblivion, or Florida, whichever is worse

Al and Sol, you were great guys, I hope you are alive and well and thanks.

PS: After all was said and done I don't believe any Cop was convicted of anything

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