On our way to the Sox game, we left Pullman and took 87th Street all the way west to the Dan Ryan. When we got close to the Red Line, the collective sentiment was, "It gets poppin over here; this is where it goes down." Because I live in Chatham, I felt the need to speak up and told the students that there was a lot of good going on in the community, as well. It was important that they knew they can be a part of the good, and not talk about the bad like it was some permanent construct. The city reflects who we are, and we have a responsibility to what it is.
In the midst of this discussion, I missed our turn toward US Cellular Field on 35th Street, which led to us taking Cermak and riding through China Town. This sparked more discussion. For those who don't go on vacations, China Town is like really going to China. I heard things like, "I love orange chicken," which led me to ask if anyone knew of any other Chinese food. One explorer yelled, "Shrimp fried rice!" Another said they'd seen a video of Chinese restaurants serving live monkeys. There was no basis to this joke, but it goes to show how myths can be passed down, and if they aren't debunked, can turn into stereotypes and discrimination. Because no one knew of any other Chinese dishes, I realized that I need to bring the explorers here for lunch soon.
Our first stop was Grandstand Sox LTD, where we stopped to get all the explorers White Sox hats, It just wouldn't be right going to a game without them. They literally had more than 100 White Sox hats to choose from and each of us grabbed our favorite. This was more than just a convenient stop, though. I wanted the owners to talk with the teens about starting a business. Grandstand is a family-owned business and has been a staple in the Armour Square community for over 25 years.
Our second stop was Morrie O'Mally's hot dog stand. If you're going to a Sox game, you've gotta stop by this Irish delicatessen. The hot dogs and polishes are made with real Vienna beef, and the floats are amazing. More than just a pre-game destination, this spot was a local gem, as the explores had conversations with community members and grandparents. BTW, this is the best priced lunch in Chicago. Where else can you get a polish, fries, and a drink for under $5? Everybody got seconds.
When we got to the game, we all took pictures in front of the statues. We got to our seats in Section 528, and a lot of the explorers had never been so high up, so they were a bit nervous. Once we were seated, though, everything was good. They were overjoyed to watch and be at the game. Most important, I really wanted them to experience the atmosphere of a Sox game. It's a lot different t than a Cubs game. For one thing, the stadium is grossly under utilized, and there are many empty seats. At Cubs games, there are hardly any empty seats.
On that day, I didn't see many people drinking at the Sox game. Sure, people were probably drinking, but the vibe in Armour Square is much different than in Wrigleyville. To me, it seemed like more of a family environment. It occurred to me, too, that the city doesn't really support the White Sox unless they are on a winning streak. Sadly, it kind of felt like people don't care about what's going on the South Side. We could all relate to being the forgotten.
The Sox did pull off a triple play,which was quite a feat to witness. I think the explorers brought them some luck.
We traversed about 6 different community areas on this exploration, and like always, we played a "What community are we in" game. I'm happy to challenge the explorers' preconceived notions about the city and its communities.