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Little feet


Over the years, I’ve documented several times that my father in his prime kept in near perpetual motion doing part-time jobs to go along with his full-time job of deliveryman for Marshall Fields.
He distributed newspapers in the early morning, pumped gas on his lunch hour, drove taxi in the evening, painted houses, fixed cars on weekends and delivered Easter lilies while taking a week’s vacation from the iconic Chicago department store.
On a recent trip home, I learned of a couple more.
For a short time around 1960, he and a neighbor were the evening shift at a new chain of fast food restaurants springing up in the Chicago area called McDonald’s. The pay was a dollar an hour and one of the perks was employees could take home food prepared but not sold at closing time. Dad always made sure there were some hamburgers, French fries and milk shakes on the shelf just before that happened. As a result, the Fleck family got to enjoy the American staples.
The other job, errand boy for Western Union, was actually his first outside of working for his parents and the butcher shop they ran on Chicago’s North Side. I knew Western Union employed boys to deliver telegrams, but I didn’t know about their errand boy service.
Basically, anyone needing help with anything could call the business and have a boy sent over to do whatever needed to be done, like rake leaves, run to the grocery store, clean gutters, etc. One of the more memorable jobs came through a businessman visiting the Windy City with his 18-year-old daughter. The man had a meeting and didn’t want to leave the daughter alone at the hotel, so he called Western Union to send a boy over and take her to a movie.
Can you imagine? Where did our innocence go?
Little feet.
I’ve been looking at old columns trying to compile them into a book. In the early days, I used a graphic device, a line of little footprints, to mark a change in topic. The feet were fairly easy to include with a couple of keystrokes on the early versions of Apple computers. If I wanted to change topics without even trying to make some kind of logical segue, I’d simply put a line of the little feet and then move on to the next subject. Alas, somewhere along the way of making the computers even better, the ability to make the tracks disappeared. So lately, astute readers will notice, I use the line “but I digress” a lot. In fact, I’ve thought about changing the title of the column to just that. But for the purpose of this week’s submission, I’m just going to include a single line reading: Little feet.
Little feet.
Last week’s column was about dining out at a couple local restaurants and not being totally satisfied with either the price or the food. I also wanted to mention my favorite restaurant of late, Eastwood’s on Main, but ran out of space so I just want to say if you want a hearty lunch or dinner, give it a try.
In full disclosure, owner Leo Eastwood and I go way back to when I first moved to Solon in 1980. Even then he was somewhat crotchety and he hasn’t mellowed with age. If you’re somewhat sensitive don’t ask Leo about something because he doesn’t have a diplomatic bone in his body. He does serve up a great plate of food, however, at some of the best prices around.
My favorite is the healthy plate, which consists of a small salad, cottage cheese, a hamburger or chicken patty, and a nice big cookie for dessert. All of that with tax comes in under $8. Or, for a buck more, check out the daily specials.
And if you want some entertainment, ask Leo– he’s the old codger usually holding court at the high top tables– about some local current event. Be ready for an ear- and belly-full.