The other day, I saw that there was a fire at a townhouse in Chicago’s Jeffery Manor neighborhood. My ears perked up and wonderful memories flowed back like the ebb and tide of a sea. I took some time away from the rush of information coming in from both the media and social media and I allowed myself to simply remember.
It was 1970. My three sisters had all married, so it was just me, Momma and Daddy in the nest. He found this beautiful townhouse with three floors which included a full basement. We moved from a spacious apartment on 70th and Vernon on Chicago’s southside. It was the place where all three sisters had flown the proverbial coop and joined into matrimony with their respective significant others.
Thus, the three of us moved further south on 100th and Luella into the gorgeous Jeffery Manor. It was a haven back then. After crossing 95th Street while traveling south on Jeffery Street, there was an inviting calm with overhanging trees and singing birds. It was comparable to entering into a quiet zone of beauty after leaving the noise and chaos of everyday Chicago.
I was still in college and I always felt a certain warmth as I drove home after leaving campus, which was back on 68th and Stewart at that time. I felt peace as I re-entered Jeffery Manor. My parents were in a good place then as he worked for the city and she taught elementary school. They often took weekend trips and rented a cabin in Michigan and I was left home alone, loving every minute of my freedom.
Thinking back, there were two fashionable boutiques both owned by black women and I regularly frequented both of them. Jackie’s was off of 100th Street and in walking distance from home. And Now Posey was owned by the illustrious Mrs. Posey and located on Jeffery south of 95th Street. Both women kept me dressed in high fashion, and quite true of most boutiques, they only purchased one size per style. In that way, there were fewer chances of seeing someone else wearing the same outfit during those outings. Oh, those were the days!
I graduated college while we lived in Jeffery Manor and happened upon my first teaching job at nearby Fenger High School on 112th and Wallace. I went in to inquire about a job and someone had already quit that day. Voila! So the dance began and I must admit that I received quite a few speeding tickets trying to get to work on time until I had to do extra Saturday driving workshops. That helped me to slow my roll.
During my first year of teaching, my parents did not ask me for a dime. So, I spent my checks on clothes and jewelry at places like the Sears Store on 79th Street off of Stony Island. The store was humongous back then. They even had a full service car center attached in the back. It was a place that fulfilled all needs from clothes, to appliances to tires and repairs for the cars.
So many precious memories surface as I recall our days in Jeffery Manor. My beau at the time, Gene, had a really loud car and we all knew when he was pulling up in the driveway. He and Daddy got along like two peas in a pod and he was like the son that Daddy didn’t have. When I got angry, I told Daddy that he liked Gene more than me. He just laughed.
It was the last place that I lived with my parents because in 1972, I finally flew the coop and got my first place on Cheltenham Place in South Shore. It was a nice, safe place and the couple that ran the place lived on the premises. Their presence made a huge difference and that was once a regular thing where the janitor and his family lived on the grounds.
But right before we parted ways, there was a newspaper article that shocked us. We were living a few doors down from the townhouse where Richard Speck had killed those nurses. I used to walk past the VFW Hall all the time not knowing that it is where he supposedly hung out. And true to the story, our townhouse also had a ledge, which is where the surviving nurse had hidden. She was like Ishmael in Moby Dick and left to tell the story.
After I left home, my parents moved not too far away to 98th and Yates also in 1972. They were still in Jeffery Manor and they had another townhouse. It was also very nice and owned by a firefighter whom my father liked and respected. By then, my mother was teaching at Goldsmith Elementary School which was a few blocks away. And Daddy’s work base as a City of Chicago Department of Sanitation driver was off of 103rd and Doty Road.
So, they were fine, had levels of peace and it was the last stop of their 34-year journey before his passing in 1979. When I think of Jeffery Manor, I exhale and say, “Ah!”
March 25, 2023