Everyone refers to Stony Island Park as a neighborhood today but for me it was a park in the 1960’s now referred to as Jesse Owens, must larger today than I remember located at…My memories include being a cheerleader for Warren Junior High football team, making our own green sweatshirts with Warren amateurishly spelled across the top, that took place at Stoney Island Park coached by my famous gym teacher, Chuck Ulrich. According to Wikipedia, he was a professional American football defensive tackle in the National Football League. He played five seasons for the Chicago Cardinals (1954–1958). Ulrich was a member of the Illinois football team that defeated Stanford 40-7 in the 1952 Rose Bowl to stake a claim for the national championship. He was a member of Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
When at the Park whether it be involved in a game or just to play, I always wondered about who went to Chicago Vocational School that was located on 87th Street and still open today commonly known as CVS, It was a vocational school then and now. Opened in 1941, it was an all male school of about 800 and it was not a diploma granting school. The school was known as the best trade school and turned over to the Navy during World War 11. In 1946, the school returned to normal with allowing women to enroll. Classes were offered all day long and the evening to accommodate new war veterans. It has been through many changes but currently a career academy run by Chicago Public Schools. Notable alumni was Dick Butkus and Chris Zorich, linebackers for the Bears as well as Dean Richards, film critic for WGN-TV.
Stoney Island Park was renamed in the 1980’s for Jesse Owens, all American athlete who won several gold medals at the Olympics in 1935 for running and jumping. The Associated Press acclaimed him the “Athlete of the Half Century” in 1950, and President Ford awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976. He also briefly served as a director for the Chicago Boys Club.