It was July 24th and for Willie Novotny age 7, school was out for the summer. On that cool and damp Saturday morning, Willie woke up well before dawn, much too excited to sleep. His nine year old sister Mamie, (sometimes called Minnie) woke up soon after. Willie quickly dressed in his Sunday-best clothes and came to the breakfast table. Their mother Agnes, age 35, likely prepared a traditional Czech breakfast of dumplings and eggs, dark rye bread, maybe a rohlík yeast roll with butter and jelly or maybe on a good day, a slice of salami or cheese. Their father, James (Vaclav), born Ponedraz Bohemia, also age 35 was the last to the table for his morning hot cup of coffee. He looked forward to spending a rare and wonderful day with his family.
About 6:00 am, the family of four would likely have left their house at 5527 West 24th Place in a blue-collar working class neighborhood of Czech’s and Polish. About 10 minutes later, and less than a half mile walk, they would have entered the Metropolitan West Side Elevated, 56th Avenue Station at about 2126 S. 56th Avenue (now Central Avenue).
They never returned home. Continue reading “When Chicago Cried”