Harold Ickes News

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Ickes Rumor Mill

Rumors are common throughout the Harold Ickes Development.

With all the buildings that once were the giants of State Street gone so quickly and completely, it’s no wonder residents of Harold Ickes and Dearborn are feeling insecure, panicky and left out of the loop of knowledge as to when the wrecking balls and other monster razing equipment will roll up on Ickes and the Dearborn Homes.

This is how I suspect the tear-down monster rumor sounds when it rears its ugly head: “Yeah! They’re going to tear down 2222, 2240 and 2250 because the new school can’t be seen from State Street.”

Residents are talking about Section 8 and relocation with more certainty than ever before, despite the distress of potential demolition. Even I felt a certain amount of distress because my address is one of the buildings in the rumor. I went to see Mrs. Gloria Williams, our L.A.C. President, to find some answers.

    Residents’ Journal: A lot of the residents are talking about the tearing down of the three Northern buildings, 2222, 2240 and 2250. What is the answer?
    Gloria Williams: All I could tell you is the information is forthcoming.
    RJ: Is Ickes to be torn down completely?
    GW: No, I do know there are no plans to tear down Ickes completely, just some buildings.
    RJ: The residents are feeling pressured. Do you know when the demolition will start?
    GW: The work is due to begin by 2005.
    RJ: Well, 2005 is seven months away, and if this date line is true, that is pretty soon.
    GW: I want to have a town hall meeting soon at N.T.A. National Teachers Academy, to talk to the residents about what to expect about the demolition.
    Not long after this conversation, I talked to Derrick Hill a CHA spokesman, who said, “There’s no plan to tear down any buildings at this time in Ickes.”

After listening to the rumors and talking to many concerned people about this subject, I question the demolition rumors because Ickes is on the receiving end of relocation for public housing residents from all around the city. So residents of Ickes will – as usual – have to wait and see.

A Centenarian Among Us
Just picture this: in Louisiana, on August 15, in the 1900, a boy was born to the proud Norris family. If you believe it, 104 years later this person now known as Mr. Roosevelt L. Norris is still alive and kicking.

Mr. Roosevelt Norris, a resident of the Harold Ickes Homes, will celebrate his 104th birthday in August.

Mr. Roosevelt, as he is lovingly called, told me “I was the second tenant to move into this building, 2430 South State. And I have lived here for fifty years.”

Mr. Roosevelt said “I worked for housing for 37 years. First at Cabrini, then at Prairie Courts and then at Archer Courts and then back here, until I retired.”

    Residents’ Journal: I heard that the LAC celebrated your 103rd birthday with a party last year. Did you have a good time?
    Roosevelt Norris: Yes I did. The Tribune wrote an article about me. Some people gave me gifts, some people gave me money. The food was good. And we had fun. I don’t get out too much now. I can’t go unless somebody comes to get me. I went out Easter with the Little Brothers organization to a party. I liked that. It was nice.
    RJ: How is your health at this great age?
    RN: It’s just fine. I have a little arthritis though. When it pains me, I take a little medicine, it helps. I have a homemaker who comes five hours, three or four days out of the week.
    RJ: Do you get to interact with your neighbors some?
    RN: Well, not a lot. I miss my next door neighbor, Mrs. Roberta. She died. Her husband died too. Her sister was nice, then she died. They used to look out for me. If anybody came to my door, they’d look out and see that everything was just fine. They would do nice things for me. All my friends are gone. They used to live in Prairie Courts. We would go fishing together. I had a friend, Claud. He used to live in 2420 South State. He used to take me around. He’s gone. I thought for sure I’d leave him here.
    RJ: Can you still cook for yourself?
    RN: Sure can. I cooked me something yesterday. I went to the store and got a can of peaches and a can of biscuits and made me a peach clobber, I did, then I cooked me a catfish too.
    RJ: When you were a young man, were you ever in the service?
    RN: No, I wasn’t. I was too good of a worker on the farm.
    RJ: Where was that?
    RN: The farm was in Yazo City, Mississippi. They sent all of the lazy boys to the service and kept the hard workers on the farm. I didn’t come to Chicago until 1946.
    RJ: I see you have a nice cat for company.
    RN: Yes. I’ve had four dogs since I’ve been here. Now I’ve got my cat. She takes care of me and lets me know when someone is at my door and when it is time for me to get up and feed her. She’s good company too.

Mr. Roosevelt is in a wheelchair, but he sits up straight and his voice is clear and strong. He wears a very good hearing aid, and for a 103 year old, he hears pretty well. He is very attentive to the conversation. He also talked about the differences in children’s behavior now and how it was when he was coming up.

I enjoyed talking to our centenarian. He is worth a visit anytime. He is truly somebody you should know.

An Interview with an Eagle
Ickes is a great place for human treasures. I was fortunate enough to be granted a rare interview with Emmanuel Lawrence, a scout from Harold Ickes Troop 599 who became an Eagle Scout at an impressive court of honor ceremony in 2001.

Emmanuel Lawrence, an Eagle Scout, works for the Boy Scouts in Chicago.

    Residents’ Journal: Hello Emmanuel! What are you doing with your Eagle Scout status?
    Emmanuel Lawrence: Presently, I’m a paraprofessional with the Chicago Area Boy Scout Council.
    RJ: What do you do?
    EL: I help create and lead programs in the Western Trails District which is located on the west side of Chicago. I give leadership to the programs that service 171 scouts.
    RJ: Is that both Cub and Boy scouts?
    EL: Yes, and it adds up to 14 units and five scoutmasters.
    RJ: How do you feel about what you are doing?
    EL: I know that what I’m doing is impacting the lives of these scouts in a way that is taking them off of the streets of the West Side and out of the gangs. It gives them hope and promise for a better future.
    RJ: What are some of the things that you do to create the units that support the Boy Scout programs?
    EL: I support the district executive by locating prospective organizations that can and will support a quality scouting program. Once an organization takes on the responsibility of the troop or pack, I assist the trainers in giving the leaders a fast start and youth protection training.
    RJ: How do you assist the host locations in their part of the equation?
    EL: A team of executives and commissioners work together to guide the host company in the proper steps to give the units the best leadership and support.
    RJ: Are you satisfied that you were a scout and reached your full potential as a scout?
    EL: I was glad that I was a scout. Even though the CHA Scouting Program was an excellently engineered program, in public housing communities the parental and community support was almost nonexistent.
    RJ: What are some of the changes you have made in your work?
    EL: Hands-on patrol leaders now run the troops. I also make sure expert assistance from Council is available when and where it is needed.
    RJ: It is truly gratifying for me to see you as a full grown man contributing to the whole community through your work in the scouting program. You have become the Eagle you worked so hard to become. Congratulations!
    EL: Thank you!

A Cause for Remembering
Just in case, dear readers, you have not read or heard about it, justice has been served in the untimely death of our little Miss Rita Haskins, a 10-year-old girl who was accidentally shot and killed in May of 2002.

An adult male named Demetrius Williams was tried in criminal court and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He was sentence to ten years in prison.

Before he was sentenced, he apologized to the family of little Rita for being the cause of such a tragedy. The ten-year sentence could be shortened by time already spent behind bars plus credit for good behavior. In the end, Williams may only do seven years of incarceration.

The case was closed. Hopefully, the family can rest easier and move on with caring for and raising those siblings of Rita’s who have survived.

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