A Very Late Night at Wrigley Field: Part IIPreviously at Wrigley Field....
Our parents expected us home late that night, so we weren't too concerned that it was pushing 11:00 p.m. None of us had to work the next day, and we were finished with school. Bryan popped the Buick's hood and began his investigation. Some time had passed and it became clear to me that he wasn't going to get this car started. Bryan approached us and said he didn't know what happened. Now, I was concerned. We needed to get home.
We put our heads together and started to brainstorm. Some of the options that emerged were getting a cab home. Not possible. It would have been so expensive, even if we split the cost amongst the five of us. We could flag down a Chicago cop and see if he could recommend anything. Seemed like a great idea since the game ended not too long ago. With all the bars in the neighborhood, the cops would be on patrol.
After a few minutes, I spotted a police car and flagged the officer down. He pulled over and rolled down his window. I told him our dilemma. He said that since we weren't blocking traffic, he couldn't do anything for us. We would have to call a tow truck. I told Tony what the cop said, and I recommended that he call his parents since the car was in their name.
Tony was terrified and said, "I can't call them. I'll be in so much trouble."
I told him that, unfortunately, we would be in bigger trouble if we didn't make it home. It became evident to me that I would have to call my Dad. My Dad grew up in Chicago, but I wasn't sure how well he knew the north side. After all, he grew up in the shadow of Comiskey Park on Rockwell Street (near 40th and Archer Avenue), but that was the south side of the city. Still, it seemed like the best idea.
For some reason we headed west on Addison away from the ballpark. Eventually, we found a Taco Bell. The restaurant was closed, but the drive-thru was open. I asked the woman at the window if we could use their pay phone. She said no, the store was closed but we could order some food. Thanks, but no. Just imagine if I had my iPhone back then. At that point, I wasn't even sure we had enough change to call home. We managed to pool several quarters and found a pay phone a couple blocks away. The time was pushing midnight.
I picked up the phone, dropped in some quarters and dialed my parents' number. My Dad picked up the phone and I told him that Tony's car had stalled and wouldn't start up. He asked where we were. I sensed he was expecting me say somewhere on I-55 at a truck stop maybe near Joliet. Nope, I told him we were a few blocks from the ballpark. He asked for an exact location and I said the corner of Bell and Addison. For the record, that isn't a couple blocks from Wrigley Field. It's about a mile and a half. My Dad paused to think for a moment. If you haven't been to Wrigley Field, there is a fire station located directly across the street on Waveland. If you follow the third base line outside the park, the fire station would be in foul territory. He said to walk back to the fire station and wait there. He would call the station to let them know he was coming to pick us up.
I told the guys about the plan and they seemed to agree it was the best idea. So we turned around and headed back to Wrigley Field. It felt like we were walking for 45 minutes, but we made it to station. I recall feeling strange seeing Wrigley Field at night in absolute darkness. For most of my life, the Cubs were the only team not to have lights in their ballpark. Finally, we reached the fire station.
As we approached the fire station, I noticed two firefighters standing outside. We moved closer and closer. One of firefighters spoke up.
"Are you the guys from high school we're expecting?" he asked. I nodded and shook the gentleman's hand.
"Are you Bill Pearch?" I nodded again. "Why don't you boys come inside. It's going to be a long night before your Dad can pick you up."
To be continued....