Thursday, October 1, 2015

Re-Visiting the Crime Scene Fifty Years Later

We’ve driven past the Crime Scene many times on our way to places on the North Side of Chicago. A few nights ago, we were reminded of it. My husband screamed in his sleep and jumped out of bed. “What I’ve dreamed about for the past fifty years has just happened,” he said and he held the bridge in his hand that had been his three front upper teeth since long before I’d met him.

Fifty years ago, Howard and three of his friends were walking home from a high school football game at Winnemac Park. They attended Sullivan High School, one of many North Side Chicago High Schools that shared a football field with Amundsen High School. Unfortunately for them, their team had won. Students from the opposing school, who had come a long way to watch the game, were incensed that their school’s team had lost. They attacked my husband and his friends as they walked to the bus stop. The attackers had brass knuckles and knocked out three of his teeth. Headlines in the local paper screamed “Honor Student Attacked!”

While this is a haunting memory, the good news is that my husband has been alive all these years to remember and retell this story. Had this occurred today, most likely he would have been killed given the easy availability and unchecked use of guns especially here in Chicago. In the 1960’s, guns weren’t half as prevalent. In Chicago,this past weekend alone 47 people were shot four of whom were killed.

Destruction can be wrought with brass knuckles, knives, and forks as well. Usually, however, the person wielding them can be subdued before he kills many people. We allow but regulate the use of potentially dangerous substances and objects such as alcohol, tobacco, and cars. Why do we keep letting ourselves be held hostage to the NRA and refuse to pass sensible gun legislation? Those of us who are heartsick at hearing about children shooting each other on an almost daily basis want to know how many Americans need to die from gun violence before we do something as a society to stop this devastation.

We revisit Winnemac Park to remind ourselves –as if we needed a reminder – of the need for gun control legislation. A lot has changed there. Where the football stadium was, a new one was built in its place in 2004. Outside of Amundsen High School, the Chicago Park District has planted prairie gardens complete with walking paths. It looks so peaceful. Who would have thought?

new Winnemac Park football stadium

plaque in memory of the coach  whose sons had the stadium restored and renovated
new prairie development area
the bus stop they were heading for

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