Classroom Activity

A month has lapsed since the Class of 2026 joined the ranks of other elementary school students. Within that time, each of these kindergartners has probably squirmed in his classroom seat while memorizing a bewilderingly long list of faculty member names. Each has contemplated which lunchroom mother is least tolerant, and has chosen which classmates make the best friends. Additionally, every one has been introduced to an encyclopedia of fictional characters brought to life through the reading of their teacher, debuted an art piece, and may even have a first classroom crush.  In short, the ground that all will cultivate for the next twelve years has been broken, and each will continue to squirm in some fashion until he sits in a steel folding chair at a local college arena. There, every member of the class that is in now in kindergarten will collectively tolerate a final speech by their principal and anticipate the second that they may move the golden tassel from the mortarboard’s right side of to the left. Mission accomplished.

Like the Class of 2026, we all have run a seeming rotary of education. Those of us who bore the hardship of schooling began with friendly introductions to simple manuscript before we were mature enough to grasp the mindboggling concept of geometric proofs. At home, we graduated from the simple task of taking the garbage out to the more complicated job of washing the laundry. Last, our initial commencement in the Workplace grew as we managed to comprehend the importance of teamwork, responsibility, and duty.

“I worked for Walgreen’s as an ‘Extra Person’,” began Candy Denizman, who has been at Half Shell on Diversey Avenue since the restaurant opened in 1968.” I would go from store to store, cooking, bussing, and waiting on tables. I worked for them for ten years, and they [sent] me all over the city of Chicago. The store that I went to the most was the one on Rush Street, and I went to 777 North Michigan a lot. I came here in 1968 after ten years with Walgreen’s.”

Half Shell, situated in a garden space on the corner of Diversey and Orchard, was her father’s vision. An Istanbul native who received a certificate in structural engineering from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, he was primarily employed to build bridges along the Chicago expressway.

“But there wasn’t a lot of money in structural engineering,” Candy commented.” He moonlighted as a bartender at the Gaslight Club. After working there for ten years, he didn’t want to work for anyone else and decided to open his own place, which is how we got here. This was an apartment. But when he bought the building, he built the restaurant and called in ‘Half Shell’. The business took off, and the rest is history.”

It is the seafood mainstay’s history as well as Candy’s. From the moment she moved her tassel from right to left, she graduated from the simpler tasks of banana dissection and jerking sodas, to oyster opening and pouring draft beers. And as long as the inconspicuously hidden Half Shell door continues to swing open and its bar to fill with seafood-loving patrons, she will continue to utilize her well-sharpened skills.

Mission accomplished.


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