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  • Where were we all those decades ago, my mother, big sister, younger brother, and I? It must have been in northern Wisconsin since my sister says that she and my Mom only wore pants while on vacation. But in my memory it might have been in Duluth when we drove up to visit one of my Dad’s buddies from his hobo days during the Great Depression.

    What a picture of an ethnic family from the south side of Chicago! We laugh today when we look at it. My Mom, now more than thirty years dead, still young wearing her husband’s shirt. My sister posing in a cocky attitude letting the world know she is ten or eleven. My brother and I in our matching outfits, suspenders and all, looking like two little hoboes or perhaps refugees. My Dad, also thirty-odd years dead now, must be taking the photograph.

    We didn’t know who we were then. The descriptors of sociologists and class distinctions meant nothing to us. We were on vacation, and, like the rest of our community back in Chicago, all we knew was that life offered modest joys, occasional sorrows, and the love of family and friends.

    I’ve studied the academic literature, and today I can put labels on my family and the neighborhood as it existed all those years ago. Those categories mean little or nothing to me. I still don’t know who I am.
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