I was reared just a few miles from the University of Chicago on the city’s South Side. As a kid riding past, I was certain that its buildings were haunted. After all, there were gargoyles clinging to the edge of every Gothic building, and where there are gargoyles, there must be vampires. It would be many years before I entered those haunted classrooms to study.
I lived in Morgan Park, one of those “old-fashioned” neighborhoods common throughout America during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. I was born into an extended family network in that village. My grandparents were Mississippi migrants who found their way to the broad-shouldered city of Chicago after the Depression. They lived for years in the inner city until my grandmother Martha and her sister purchased a pair of two-story wood frame houses next door to each other at 118th and Watkins, one block west of Vincennes Avenue, the dividing line between white and black blue-collar Chicago.