For the record I didn't hear the gunfire, only reports its existence. While walking to the train station on my way home from work on that particular day, talking to Dad on the phone, three ladies in scrubs standing outside of the Respiratory Health Center smoking warned me against advancing further toward the park by shouting in unison, "there was gunfire over there, don't go over there!!" The last bit I didn't need for my number one rule of thumb: Gunfire, heard or reported equals stay away, as far away as possible.
Thus I detoured to the parking lot of the Respiratory Health Center, away from the smoking scrub wearers but still allowing me an unobstructed view of the action in the park across the way. The action; bystanders scurrying, sirens blaring, dome lights flashing, announcing police presence and the expectation of order being returned, led to the conversation with Dad took on a "my, how the city has changed" tone.
For the record this area is one of the least likely to experience gunfire, these days, hence the quick police response.The area near my work has been upwardly mobile for a few years now. There are expensive loft spaces, townhouses, trendy restaurants and even trendier boutiques, east of the park. And while west of the park is on the move upward as well, with the demolished projects and new condos in their place, it is still in transition and due to the influence of the neighborhood just east of the park, relatively gun violence free.
I spent several years of my childhood in a housing project just west of the park, circa 1970--1973. Dad and Mom were already divorced by then, but was still in the city and quite familiar with the neighborhood. Back then gunfire, stabbings, beatings, and various other crimes against people and nature were the rule rather than the exception. Police action was slow, if ever.
Dad moved away from Chicago a very long time ago limiting his visits to one every 10 or 15 years, I think. I know I've only seen him once here in the city since he moved away in the late 70s. He may have returned other than that time for I don't think he sought me out whenever he was in (or near) town. And so we talked about changes. My remarks of the various changes to various neighborhoods specifically the one I was standing in at the moment were met with his remark of how he's sure he wouldn't recognize much, if anything.
Since that conversation some realizations began to crystallize; my dad hasn't seen me or a photo of me for many, many years. My younger brother may have provided Dad with a photo (of a photo) of me, but it would be a very old one. I never refer to my dad as "Dad" when I'm speaking with him, He hasn't been that for so long, the verbal expression of the term is foreign to my tongue. I notice, even when relaying conversations I've had with him to M or D, I hesitate or stumble when I'm about to say, "my dad." He isn't even listed as "DAD" in my phone listings.
For the record I didn't hear the gunfire. I do however, feel as though I've been shot.
*pirate pumpkin seen around my little town.