January 21, 2012

Uptown to Maxwell Street and Back

Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History Correspondent

As young guys we all had the thirst for adventure and a desire to learn
On one of the adventure trips we discovered Maxwell St. and we could get there by public transportation.
During the war and immediately thereafter Maxwell St, was the street of bargains.
We started shopping on Maxwell from the time we were 11 years old until we were 17 years old
Maxwell St. was a line of tables, carts and stores than ran for about three blocks,
My Dad always warned me not to go into any store. because we might not come out, always do your shopping outside.
A lot of Gypsies lived there in vacant store fronts, they kept their tables out side, I bought a pair of pants from one gypsy vender, when I tried them on at home I realized there were no pocket liners, My Mom laughed and Dad hollered at me for being stupid.
The big treat of the day for me was the Polish Sausage with onions and peppers on a hard roll, I would buy one a for about 30 cents.
Then I would find a certain black blues guitar player and listen to him sing about the "Signifying Monkey". Every time I would go to Maxwell St. I would find him and hear the same thing over and over , I committed it to memory, Today I can still recite it, but its not for mixed company and certainly not for children,

Back in my freelance days I had many names, in the Graphic arts, Unicorn Graphics, Orion Litho, or Gash Litho (1985-1995) I made the Offset film and set it up for the printer and I had a good clientele of underground Private recording labels.
One of which was Earwig records, Mike Franks was the owner and under contract to him was a Blues guitar player "Honeyboy Edwards"
Some time during this past summer I was watching a Bio on Honeyboy and he told of coming to Chicago and playing on Maxwell Street. during the late 1940's
Honeyboy died last August at age 96. The last of an Era of Delta bluesmen.
Could Honeyboy have been the same Blues Player?, I 'd like to think so. but if it wasn't. I 'd like him to be Willie Dixon

"Signifying Monkey" is an African American Street folk tale as why the monkey lives in trees.
"Said the signifying monkey to the lion one day, there's this big burly motherXXXXXX" well You get the idea!

I had the ability in those days to almost memorize any thing, and if I did then I still know it now,
today I can't remember what I had for Breakfast

Back in the drinking days
I drank for free in a lot of bars because I knew all the Irish Songs and I could recite a Lot of Poetry like, The Shooting of Dan McGrew , The Cremation of Sam McGee, The Midnight Ride, Casey at the Bat, The face on the Barroom floor or Gunga Din. Etc
Ah yes the good old days I am glad I was able to survive them

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin