Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks Passes Away at 92 - Another Signpost of the Zeitgeist

Today, CNN reported the passing of Rosa Parks. 50 years ago, Ms. Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. To put things in perspective, I was born just seven years later in 1962. My parents owned a three-story brownstone at 7427 Wentworth in Chicago, which they purchased for $27,000. They owned two luxury cars -- and this was all before the passage of the civil rights amendment in 1964, but it certainly led to it. See, they were part of what was an emerging black middle class, and it's important to remember this in the face of too many "poor, black, ghetto" stereotypes presented on TV. I didn't grow up in a ghetto.

Where I'm going with this is that my parents -- Zennie Abraham Sr., and Pat Abraham -- were very much a part of what shaped African American history. They lived the simple American Dream of a car and a house and enough money to have some freedom. They believed in what was possble for them, and so passed that on to me. I sometimes -- well, all of the time -- wished they had not divorced when I was seven, because they were doing so well. But it kept me alive, as I could not stand the emotional strain.

This year, on the Friday after we went to Mike Ditka's, Amanda and I went over to 7427 Wentworth -- I forgot just how big that place was. It was a majestic building -- still is.

My Letter To Mike Ditka

I wrote this letter to Mike Ditka. If you're ever in Chicago, stop by his restaurant! - Zennie

Here's the letter:

Mike Ditka
Mike Ditka’s Restaurant
100 Chestnut Street
Chicago, Ill

October 21, 2005

Dear Coach Ditka:

Last week on the evening of this Friday, I took my half-sister to your Restaurant as a way of really honoring our father, who’s funeral was that Thursday. I’m writing to thank you for having such a great place to be around great people. Amanda, my sister, said that the Salmon was the best she’s ever had. I really enjoyed the pot roast, and will have it again when I return.

On top of the food, what really makes the place is the people. I grew up in Chicago. Your restaurant, as one of the regulars Nadine (I think that’s the right name –long blond hair, glasses, you know her) said that “Mike Ditka’s is Chicago.”

I came in the night of my Dad’s funeral to have a Romeo and Juliet cigar in his honor. Michelle, who was the downstairs bartender and works upstairs on Fridays, was just wonderful and even remembered me when I returned the next evening. The bartender that Thursday night – I think his name was Tre – bought me a shot and we drank in honor of my father and his grandfather.

What’s so funny about my experience was that when I first walked in, I was worried about not knowing anyone and being in mourning. But then all of these USC fans walked in, and since I went to UC Berkeley (even sat on the Cal Alumni Board), I was right at home. Then, on Friday night, I was upstairs and as Nadine shared the story of the passing of her Mom with Amanda and I, you were kind enough to come over and chat after visitng with Paul Hornung and the Notre Dame alumns – Amanda never got over that. You made us both feel very welcome.

In closing, thanks again, and God bless you. I’ll be back!


Zenophon “Zennie” Abraham, Jr.
Chairman and CEO Sports Business Simulations, Inc.