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The Fifties brought good times to Auburn-Gresham on Chicago?s South Side. The thriving business district around 79th & Halsted pulsed with activity. Enter the Murphy family, eight strong and growing. Off go four kids to St. Leo Catholic grammar school, where the Sisters of Providence fervidly teach Religion from the Baltimore Catechism.

This warm and funny memoir follows the author from age eight through high school and just beyond. Humorous stories describe life in a family headed by a devoted blue-collar dad and a protective homebody mom. Outnumbered by brothers, two sisters stand up for themselves with admirable pluck. They take piano lessons and win music medals. The boys make forts and push carts ? and enough trouble to merit occasional ?lickings? from dad?s belt. There are sibling rivalries, issues at school and fistfights with kids on the way home.

Long bike rides and flights downtown on the ?El? train provide escape for the growing brothers. Most things have a funny side, even algebra and ?jug.? Touch football games, chats in the gangway and crushes on unsuspecting girls fill the author?s passing days. Much that seemed crucial in 1958 looks comical a half century later.

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