The World of Grandpa Don

How I became 
Grandpa Don




Journey on this page to ...

Biographical Reminiscences Why was this story written?
Contents The chapters and time periods
The World of My Youth A glimpse at Chicago in the 1940's
What was happening in the world What Happened when I Was ...

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Biographical Reminiscences
Started December, 2000

These pages are set down so that our grandchildren, and beyond,  may know their roots and what brought us all to this point in our lives. Some of the stories will be new to our children and their spouses. 

It is also a testimony to the fact that the shared love of  family members is essential to a good life and that God is with us even during the times when we think we don't need Him.

In the belief that God wants us to share His gifts, and that my life and family are His Gifts, I want to share my story with all who visit these web pages. May you come away with a greater sense of Love, and an understanding that God works through us to build His Kingdom.

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Life of Grandpa Don

By Donald J Plefka (Grandpa Don) - Started December, 2000




Click on the link to go to the chapter ...
Introduction (This Page)


1 Back of the Yards 1931 - 1939
 2  Brighton Park  1939 - 1944 
3 Mount Greenwood 1944 - 1949
4 Floundering 1949 - 1951
5 The Navy - USS New Kent 1951 -1953
6 The Lady of My Life 1954 - 1955

Becoming Domesticated

1955 - 1956
8 Starting a Family  1956 - 1962
9 A Time of Surprises  1962 - 1963
10 Years of Growth and Change 1963 - 1969
11 Tumultuous Times 1970 - 1975
12 For Better or For Worse 1976 - 1977
13 Lift Up Your Heart 1978 -1982

A Perilous Voyage

1983 - 1985
15 Born Again  1986 - 1990
16 Pre-Retirement 1990 - 1996
17 The Golden Years  1996 - 1999
18 In Celebration of a Life 2000
19 Grandpa's Guardian Angel Garden  2001 - 2004
The following chapters have been password protected.
Family members may contact Grandpa Don to obtain the password.
20 A Time of Discovery and Renewal 2005 - 2008
21 Time & Technology March On 2009 - 1014

Also see ...

The World of My Youth Go Back in Time
USS New Kent, APA 217 USS Gyatt, DD712
***** A Human Life *****

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The World of My Youth

From the Chicago Tribune
Christmas, 1941 - A view looking down State Street

This was the world of my youth. To go somewhere, you stood on the painted "safety island" in the street next to the tracks and waited for the street car. This scene shows several bunched up since many routes converged on State Street. Also note the double 'decker' bus in the background. These were used on the Boulevard routes. Not visible in this photo are the trolley wires strung over the tracks which delivered electric power to the cars. The streetcar was a great mode of transportation when few people had automobiles. However, when the streets became crowded with autos and trucks, the "safety islands" were not very safe and if there was an accident, fire, or some other problem that blocked the track, there was no way around and the street car had to wait. Also, in the winter, wires froze and broke and track switches froze. 

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What was happening in the world during this time?

At the end of each chapter are links to the historical events of the world for each year covered in that chapter. The reader will be able to get a historical background of the times. Births and deaths of well known people, as well as developments in technology are listed. The visitor can see what was happening on the day he was born or any other date significant to him. 

I had started to list events that I thought were important at the end of each chapter but they have been replaced by these links. The task was too time consuming and, as they say, 'why reinvent the wheel?' Besides, I was apt to omit things which were significant to others.

The links are to a web site called "Timelines of History". Students of history can use this resource to find any event from the "Big Bang" to the present. I do have a problem, however, with their view of the "Big Bang". They quote a source which describes it as a totally 'accidental' happening. I chose to believe that it was an event in the creation of the universe which was carefully planned and caused by God. 

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What happened when I was ... ?

My good friend and fellow team member on the parish web ministry sent a link to a web site that searches out historical events which occurred during your life. I input my date of birth and this is what it reported: 

Grandpa Don was ...
70 years old at the time of the 9-11 attack on America

68 years old on the first day of Y2K
66 years old when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash
63 years old at the time of Oklahoma City bombing
63 years old when O. J. Simpson was charged with murder
61 years old at the time of the '93 bombing of the World Trade Center
59 years old when Operation Desert Storm began
58 years old during the fall of the Berlin Wall
54 years old when the space shuttle Challenger exploded
52 years old when Apple introduced the Macintosh
52 years old during Sally Ride's travel in space
49 years old when Pres. Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr.
48 years old at the time the Iran hostage crisis began
45 years old on the U.S.'s bicentennial Fourth of July
43 years old when President Nixon left office
41 years old when Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace was shot
38 years old at the time the first man stepped on the moon
36 years old when Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated
34 years old during the Watts riot
32 years old at the time President Kennedy was assassinated
28 years old when Hawaii was admitted as 50th of the United States
26 years old when the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 was launched
22 years old at the end of the Korean War
14 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima
10 years old at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
3 years old in the year radar was invented

Go to
Chapter One