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Mike Royko, Korea, 1953
One of only a couple photos I have (the other is included in the Royko In Love book) of Dad from 1953, when he was in Korea with the United States Air Force. It’s also a rare picture of Dad in uniform. He was 20 or 21 years old.
The Duckmans on Mike’s worst day
Mom’s (first) wedding day, on her eighteenth birthday, November 21, 1952. The marriage wouldn’t last long, but Carol looks happy in this photo with her parents and brother, oblivious to her close friend Mickey Royko’s broken heart. From left to right: Fred Duckman, Mildred Duckman, Carol, Bob Duckman.
5408 N. Central Avenue, Chicago, in the early 1950s
Following her separation from Larry Wozny in January 1954, after barely a year of marriage, Mom moved into her parents’ home at 5408 N. Central Avenue in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago, where Dad addressed his letters to Carol Wozny, then Carol Duckman, and finally Carol Royko. When he was transferred from Blaine, Washington to the Air Force base at O’Hare in January 1955, Mom and Dad lived in an apartment, but eventually they moved into the third floor of the Central Avenue house, which had been the Fred R. Duckman Funeral Home, a short-lived (around 1950 to the mid-’50s) family business run by Carol’s mortician brother Bob (his middle name) and their parents. By the time I was born in 1959, the funeral home was out of business, and we lived on the second and third floors, while my grandparents, Fred and Mildred Duckman, lived on the first floor. By 1969, my grandfather (an electrician) had retired and they moved to 9510 Nerbonne in Franklin Park, and we moved to 6657 N. Sioux Avenue, Chicago. Before selling it, Gramps and Uncle Bob gave the house—built in the 1880s—a fresh coat of white paint from top to bottom. It was for naught—a developer bought it to tear down and replaced it with a couple of three-flats. These are the only photos I have of the house. (The one on the right is water-damaged, not taken after a blizzard.)
Putting up the sign: Carol’s father Fred (left) and her brother Bob (right)—who seems to be dressed in his mortician’s garb—erect a sign for the Fred R. Duckman Funeral Home. I don’t know who is helping them. It’s striking how rural the Jefferson Park neighborhood still looked in 1950.
Mike Royko & Joe Kahwaty, Mt. Baker, Easter, 1954
A photo taken by Don (“Chris”) Karaiskos. Joe (on the right), one of the airmen who stood up for their wedding, was described in a letter by Dad as “a Syrian boxer from Brooklyn, 3 years of college, dark, handsome, and a very good friend.” Dad wrote to Carol, “The only thing that made the trip worthwhile was the effect we had on the skiers at the lodge. Everyone up there was dressed in ski togs so when we entered the lodge dressed in suits & white shirts we stood out like sore thumbs. After dinner we returned to the car, took out our golf clubs, strolled casually to the edge of a cliff, teed up the balls in the snow, hit them, and walked back to the car. Everyone stood around looking bewildered so before they could summon the men in the white suits, we departed.”
Mike Royko the young golfer, Blaine, Washington, ca 1954
The base from the air
Mike and “Chris”—Blaine, April 1954
A rare Royko/Duckman gathering, ca 1954
As my Uncle Bobby (Dad’s younger brother) said recently when he saw this photo for the first time, “This is a great shot and one of the most unlikely groups you would ever expect.” I myself have no recollection of ever being together at the same time with my mother’s and father’s sides of the family, which is interesting considering that my father’s niece, Barbara, married my mother’s brother, Bob! The gathering in this photo, based on the ages of the kids, very possibly took place when Dad was in town on leave from the Air Force base in Blaine, when he formally proposed to Mom. Dad probably took the picture. Uncle Bobby helped me in identifying everyone.
Mike Royko & Carol, his mother Helen & nephew Michael, ca 1954
New sisters-in-law Carol Duckman-Royko & Eleanor Royko-Ozag
Carol and Mike engaged, September 1954
On her way—Carol’s flight to Seattle
The wedding cake topper from November 6, 1954