Those of you who have read my prior blog posts are aware that I mentor a young man from the North of Howard area, now aged 20, named Thomas.

Last Sunday, seeing it might be one of the last nice weekend days before winter set in, I called Thomas and I asked him if he would like to go for a day trip to the Indiana Dunes. I heard that there were some excellent hiking trails located only 50 miles from Chicago, so it seemed like a worthwhile way to enjoy a guy's day.

I was glad when he agreed to join me.

In the past few months, Thomas has shared with me some of the challenges he has had with his younger brother, aged 14, who, despite being a good student, had gotten in some trouble. Having never met him, I didn't recognize the teen when we drove a couple of blocks east on Jonquil, standing on a street corner, talking on a phone.

“That's my younger brother," Thomas said.

To my delight, Thomas nodded his head affirmatively when I offered to have his younger brother join us on our road trip, and a few minutes later, after Thomas asked him, the younger brother climbed into our back seat.

Driving south bound down Lake Shore Drive, I tried to engage the younger brother in some conversation, pointing out important buildings in the Chicago skyline, explaining why the Chicago River was so important to the growth of Chicago, and describing how, despite the devastation if caused, the Chicago Fire provided an opportunity for planners to rebuild the City, incorporating a new practice called urban planning.

Not surprisingly, neither of my observations about Chicago and its history elicited any reaction from the younger brother besides a gazed stare. In fact, he might have actually winced, in a manner similar to what we do when a teacher scrapes chalk or his or her fingernails against a chalkboard..

Proceeding south on Lake Shore Drive, we prepared to exit at the Hyde Park exit, where the Museum of Science of Industry is located, with our intention being to follow Stoney Island south to the Skyway entrance around 73rd Street.

While exiting, I realized that the younger brother could care less that the Museum was the last standing building from the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Before abandoning my hopes of actually illuminating this young man's life, I decided to go for broke.

At first, I thought I would take them past the University of Chicago and show them the famed Midway Plaisance. Yet, a couple of blocks east on 57th, I realized that this neighborhood had an attraction that the boys might find more interesting than the University.

“Do you guys know who lives in Hyde Park?"

“Barack Obama" said Thomas.

I could have kissed him. At least older brother was paying attention.

“Do you want to see his home?

In my rear view mirror, I could see the younger brother looking up. Perhaps I finally had his attention.

Within a few minutes, and with heavy reliance on my car's GPS, I found the street where sits our President's house. I parked a block away, and we walked past the signs that noted that the sidewalk was reserved for residential use only. “What harm in a white man and a couple of African American youth walking towards the house owned by America's first black President?" I thought.

After walking northbound for half a block, we approached the area where the President's house is located. As we approached, we could tell that two (white) large and important looking security officers (Federal Agents or City Police?) spotted us. We walked a couple of steps closer, as one of the guards walked directly towards us.

“Are you going to the synagogue," he asked, pointing to the building across the street?

“No," I said. “I just wanted for the boys to see the President's house."

The security guard was abrupt.

“Sir. This is a restricted area. You must leave immediately." His voice was elevated and sounded very official.

“Yes sir," I said, and the three of us made an immediate turn and proceeded quickly down the street.

Back in the car, the three of us debriefed.

“Why did he have to be so uncool," I asked. “I know that security measures concerning the President are a big deal, but couldn't he at least have pointed out to us which house was the President's?"

The boys seemed let down, yet at that time a break through, as the younger brother expressed a clear understandable thought, and the first full thought I heard him express. “Yeah. There is probably no one even in the house."

I wish that these agents could have seen what was going on with me and these boys and opted to react in a more appropriate fashion, respecting the fact that this was potentially a memorable and positive experience for these young men. To Thomas and his brother, seeing Barack Obama's house was a big deal, and the agents could have at least pointed out to us which one was his.

Clearly, as disappointments go, this let down was extraordinarily minor for them, far outweighed by the fun and serenity they experienced a couple of hours later, walking and throwing stones along an empty shoreline along Lake Michigan, especially because by this time I had given up on offering history lessons.

Who knows? Perhaps one day a generation from now, the boys will be driving their kids (or kids that they mentor), explaining how the nation's first black President lived in the area, and how they once attempted to view the house.

I hope that the kids in the car offer me justice, and respond with one loud yawn!

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