All About Me

Billy PaolucciBill Paolucci My name is William Paolucci. I was born in 1953 in South Bend, Indiana and currently live a half hour away in Bremen. I have lived here since 1971 and now consider it my hometown.

I have worked at the same company in Bremen for 38 years, RBC Precision Products, and since 1995 have had my own web design business, PageDezigner.

In-between I have gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of hair.

I have resided in Lakeville and Lapaz, Indiana. I have lived in Detroit and Warren, Michigan. I also dwelled in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Lafayette, Louisiana for a short period of time, but “My Wonder Years” were between 1954 and 1964 when I was living in Hammond, East Chicago and Calumet City.

First Grade

Young Billy Paolucci

In Hammond, I lived on Clinton Street (St. Margaret’s Emergency entrance was right across the street), Indiana Street (next to Aunt Amy, my dad's twin, and Uncle John and cousins, Russell, Freddy, Mary Ann, Sharon, Jackie, the Rocks), Truman Street, Oak Avenue, Elm Avenue and Willow Court (across from the railroad track). I lived on State Street in Calumet City and on Chicago Avenue in East Chicago.

There was my Aunt Clara (Paolucci, Peters, Gapinski, Sisk) and Uncle Walt Gapinski with their kids, Alton-Donnie-Peters, Charlene Peters and Johnny Peters.

Also around were my Uncle Henry and Aunt Marie Paolucci (famous for her chicken dumplings), with daughters Patty and Linda.

There was Henry's twin, Uncle Eugene, and Aunt Mabel and their kids, Theresa, Gino and Alvin.

And the youngest of the first–generation Paoluccis, Uncle Deno and Anna Louise, with their kids Penny, Pam and Dan.

Also, Uncle Bob (Italo) Paolucci, who moved to Detroit soon after we did, married Betty and had twins: my cousins, Shane and Sharon.

And my grandfather, Rosie Dominic Paolucci (the Shoemaker) who, in 1906, emigrated from Rapino Chita, Italy and proudly served in the U.S. Army during The Great War. When I was young, he made my shoes.

I don't remember the youngest of the cousins or if they were born when I left Hammond in 1964.

And, of course, mommy and daddy, Arnold Lee (who recently passed) and Hazel Lucille Paolucci, and my sister and BEST FRIEND IN THE WORLD, Leslie Gail (Paolucci-Winkelman) Ameling. Sissy lives less than a mile away and has been near me my entire life.

Where you or a friend or a relative in my 1st grade class in 1960? Click button below. Check out the photo. Then drop me a line and let me know.

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Movie Madness & more

I’ve always been a huge movie fan. I have many found memories of going to the Paramount and Parthenon Theatres in Hammond and the Vogue in East Chicago, then playing the action and adventure films of the times on the silver screen. My favorite stars were John Wayne, Jerry Lewis, Elvis and, you guessed it, Godzilla!

The first film I remember seeing in a theater is “Ulysses,” based on James Joyce's novel, with Kirk Douglas, which I saw in 1958 with my father.

The Paramount would have a series of family films during the summer. My mother bought a punch card for the entire series and each time I went I would get it punched.

I remember the Karmel Korn Shop near the Paramount.

I went to Riverside (on the Little Calumet) and Washington Irving Elementary Schools in Hammond, McKinley Elementary School in East Chicago, and Wentworth Elementary in Calumet City.

I used to play at Harrison Park in Hammond, next to Harrison Library. I remember the Penny Fairs and the crayfish in the waterways. In East Chicago, I remember the pools at Tod Park and the goldfish in the waterway, and Kosciuszko Park and the carnival nearby in the summer and, of course, I remember Calumet Memorial Park in Cal City.

I remember the closed-down burlesque houses in Calumet City and Newberry's Five-and-Dime store in East Chicago where I would get fabulous lime drinks and got to keep the green glasses they came in. I remember getting sherbet cones at Grants Department Store and Sloppy Joe’s at Woolworth's in Hammond.

But, most of all, I remember Goldblatts Department Store at Christmas time.

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"You'll shoot your eye out, kid."

As many of you may know, Hammond was Jean Shepherd's hometown and his book, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash was the 142nd best-selling novel on Amazon.com the week after Shepherd died. It was the first book Shepherd wrote and contained his most popular radio stories. He insisted that the stories were fictional stories about his childhood.

Four of the short stories, "Duel in the Snow," "The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message," "My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art," and "Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil," were used as the basis for the 1983 classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story.”

The fictionalized Hohman, Indiana – Hohman being a main thoroughfare in Hammond #150 sits in for Hammond, Indiana.

My time in the area was a few years after the time of the story, but I remember going to Goldblatts Department Store (Higbees in the film). The four-story retail store was the largest department store in Indiana and had everything that the public could possibly want, including a deli and meat market in the basement. .

I remember lining up with the rest of the kids to look into the corner Christmas windows on Hohman and Sibley filled with newest toys for the Holiday Season: animated elves, angels, Santa's helpers and, of course, electric trains. Then, after selecting your favorite toys for your "Wish List," you paid a visit to Santa to let him know that you have been "good" and thus deserve to receive your favorite toys.

Richard Barnes, of HHS.com, and a 1959 graduate of Hammond High School, said, "There probably is no way to appropriately pay tribute to the presence and history of the Goldblatts Department Store in downtown Hammond, Indiana."

Another great memory is of Chicago's WGN-TV Channel 9. The list of shows included “Bozo's Circus,” “Ding Dong School,” “Family Classics,” “Garfield Goose and Friends” “Gigglesnort Hotel,” “Tree Top House,” “Kukla, Fran and Ollie,” “Ray Rayner and Friends” and “Clutch Cargo.”

The stars were Fran Allison, Bob Bell, Marshall Brodien, Roy Brown, Joey D'Auria, Mary Hartline, Frances Horwich, Bill Jackson, Ned Locke, Elaine Mulqueen, Ray Rayner, Don Sandburg, Frazier Thomas, Burr Tillstrom, Mary Jane Dlouhy and Bob Trendler.


     
   



Also three animated shorts, all of which have aired on WGN-TV for many years: “Hardrock, Coco and Joe: The Three Little Dwarfs,” “Suzy Snowflake,” and the 1954 United Pictures of America version of “Frosty the Snowman.” With today's computer animated graphics, these toons seem pretty primitive, but at the time I thought they were great. If you didn't live in the Chicagoland area, you may not be familiar with them. Watch below.




 




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