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Magnavite: Chicago’s Southeast Side a special place

The Southeast Side has special place Dean Magnavite’s heart. | File photo

The Southeast Side has a special place in Dean Magnavite’s heart. | File photo

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Someone’s
Turning 50

SouthtownStar night production editor Dean Magnavite will turn 50 on June 10.

Help an old guy

You can reach Dean or post messages — and click “like” — at tinyurl.com/HalfCenturyMan or pass along words of advice for this future 50-year-old at blogs@southtownstar.com/fifty/

Blog: The Half-Century Man

Updated: November 24, 2011 3:34AM



“I’ll get off on Main Street, step into the crowd.

“Sidewalk under my feet, traffic’s good and loud.

“When I see my inner-city child, I’ll be walkin’ on a cloud.”

“Fool For The City” — Foghat

A couple of decades ago, the Daily Southtown launched an advertising campaign that was highlighted by the slogan, “People up North just don’t get it.” It was a not-so-subtle jab at those North Siders who turn up their noses at everything that isn’t North Side.

I’m a lifelong Chicagoan, a lifelong South Sider. Never lived in a suburb. Forty-eight of my nearly 50 years on this planet have been spent on the South Side (the other two were in Arizona during my college years). I know we South Siders have the proverbial chip on our shoulders when it comes to our neighbors to the north. No argument there.

If the South Side is the overlooked side of Chicago, the area in which I was born and raised arguably is the overlooked side of the overlooked side.

It’s the Southeast Side.

The 10th Ward. The 7th Ward. South Chicago. Slag Valley. Vet’s Park. South Deering. The East Side. Hegewisch. The Bush. Pick one of those neighborhoods/communities and those chips on those shoulders get a little bigger.

If Chicago were a family, the Southeast Side would be the redheaded stepchild. Everybody knows it’s there, but no one wants to acknowledge it.

Growing up on the Southeast Side made me who I am today. It instilled in me values of hard work and looking out for one another.

The Southeast Side of my youth was gritty. I can close my eyes and see smoke billowing into the sky from the steel mills, hear the slag hitting the water, hear the horns as the ships dock to unload grain and steel at the ports.

While I may have a desk job these days, that hasn’t always been the case.

I have tasted the smoke of the mills, having worked shoveling out decades-old ash in chimneys at Republic Steel. I have frozen my behind off working cold winter nights on the Calumet River checking in steel as it was unloaded off ships. Working those jobs made me appreciate what those before me went through. (And yes, in all honesty, it made me want to get a desk job.)

The Southeast Side of my youth was about family. My mother —
who still lives in the neighborhood — is from a family of 19 kids, and
for the longest time, every one of
her sibling’s families lived within blocks of one another. You couldn’t sneeze without a family member hearing it.

The Southeast Side of my youth was as vibrant as it was gritty. There always was a pickup baseball game to be had, a crowd at Cal Park beach and church festivals and carnivals that had whole neighborhoods involved.

It’s true I no longer live on the Southeast Side, having moved to the Southwest Side in the 1980s to be closer to work. But while I may have left the old neighborhood, it never has left me.

If you forget from where you came, you’ll never get to where you’re going.

SMILY wants you

SMILY — Start Meeting Individuals Like You — is an informal group for men and women who are around 50 (a few years on either side is
OK) who have been through or are going through a divorce and are looking to make new friends. The group will have its first gathering in a few days.

We’d love to have some more members. To join, just email
dmagnavite@southtownstar.com (put SMILY in the subject line) or call (708) 633-5937.



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