From Elm Street to Lincoln Park

Bill, Mary and Julia Bowe with Chesley and Peter de la Chapelle, 451 W. Belden Ave., Chicago 1973

When my post-Army travels finished, I briefly bunked in my old bedroom overlooking Elm Street in Chicago. I had grown up in apartment 4B in the 18- story apartment building at 1120 Lake Shore Drive (now DuSable Lake Shore Drive). Arrangements had changed in my years away. My mother had graciously given up the master bedroom to her also widowed sister-in-law and former Trinity College roommate, Julia Bowe. My mother now had the smallest of the apartment’s three bedrooms. After Julia’s husband Gus died in 1966, Julia had carried on for a while in their apartment 4D in the same building. Then she and my mother came to a better solution. The two widows would reunite, just as they had as 18-year-olds starting Trinity together in 1919. They would carry on in life together in my mother’s apartment. Both their finances and social live enjoyed immediate improvement.

My stay with my mother and Julia was brief. Anxious to return to my life with no roommates, family or not, I soon found a suitable one- bedroom apartment on Belden Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Both my mother and Julia had lost none of their mothering instincts and pitched in to make sure it was furnished in a warmer and more inviting manner than my bachelor instincts would have ever produced.

s a carryover from my Army service, for several years after my discharge I was eligible for group airfares available to military reservists and dependents. When I realized I could fly this way round trip from the Washington, D.C. to Bangkok, Thailand for $180, off I went on vacation to see the Far East.  I went beyond Thailand on commercial flights to Bali, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Macau. I remember flying home from Hong Kong westbound our flight crossed Vietnam at 30,000 feet. With the war still on in 1972, you could see what looked like dozens of tiny, perfectly round lakes reflecting the blue sky above. These weren’t lakes, however, they were bomb craters filled with rainwater. On some of the greenery below was clear evidence of previous carpet bombing. My next long vacation trip took me to Africa, with a stop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on the way back.