Thursday, January 13, 2011


Today I rented a storage locker, my first ever. In and of itself, that's not terribly exciting, but what it triggered were thoughts from long ago. The storage locker was $100 per month and I'm required to have insurance for $7.50, creating a total of $107.50. That was the cost of my very first apartment that I rented when I was just a boy, moving out for the first time.

The year was 1965 and I had just returned from New York from a training program for the job I had just secured. I was the local rep for Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin for Gaslight Slacks. I lied and told them I was 26, when in truth I was only 19, but in those days they didn't check into things like age and took you for your word (which was not too accurate). Really a different time. I was 19 and thought I knew everything. It was a Friday around 5 PM when the phone rang and my Mom answered it. I heard her say, Mel and then hung up on the caller. I asked what that was about and she explained it was one of my tramps calling here. Innocently, I asked how she knew it was a tramp, if she never even asked who it was? She said, "If she's calling you, she's a tramp"! I knew then, that if I ever wanted to get laid, I'd better get my own place! That was what you called a defining moment.

I called my buddy Dave Levee and asked him if he wanted to get an apartment with me and he said, sure. It was on. I grabbed the newspaper and found an apartment, now get this, that was on the entrance to Edgewater Cemetery. There was the cemetery entrance gate, then a block of buildings and at the end of that street was my apartment building and a big cemetery. Now that I think about it, I was with Dave, my buddy and we both agreed it was pretty cool. I signed the lease and paid them the deposit and Dave was reluctant to join me, but I was hell bent on moving out of Mom and Dad's. Dave never did join me, except for the times he wanted to use my place for romantic dates. Some friend, huh? Another thing I think back about, is the fact that neither of my parents were interested in looking at the place before I rented it. I was 19 and literally on my own and about to move to a cemetery! I had that place for a long time, met my neighbors and hung around this ghetto neighborhood and drank beer with the locals. I had a great job that was earning me gobs of money and things were good. I remember trading in my 65 Catalina convertible and buying a brand new 1967 Chevy, Malibu 396 convertible, with a 4-speed and low geared rear end, all black. I had several girlfriends and kept pretty busy. I worked, traveled my territory and partied. I decorated too. I decided that every bachelor pad should have a Japanese Rock Garden, so I searched high and low for the necessary components. I built it out of bricks and put it in the corner of my living room. I had little Japanese statues and big white paper lamps, all filled with red bulbs. It was quite a sensation. I would pick up girls and invite them back to my pad, to see my Rock Garden. It worked!

My friends and I hung out on Chicago's Rush Street and partied at the world famous Whiskey A Go-Go, where girls wore go go boots and danced in cages. We were actually "regulars"! One day I met a girl and we got married and became responsible and started having babies, but I'll still get a chill when I hear one of the old songs!

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