My father came to Chicago from Vancouver while he was in the Navy in the Second World War and got a grant from the military to study in Berkeley, where he met one of Enrico Fermi's colleagues. I almost grew up in San Francisco, but Fermi was at the U of C kind of building up the physics department, looking for young blood. So that's how I ended up in Chicago. That [drawing] is a young Fermi; I call it “Fermi’s Hair” because he increasingly grew bald. My father died a couple of years ago in 2018 at age 95.
I was drilling, and making a pencil holder and trying to use up some of my blocks. So I noticed as I was drilling through, it forms a cube. So I said well if I can do one of them, I could keep going, you know. If you do it just right, the cube stays in place. I thought this was cool. Great things are just keeping your eyes open, right?
I’ve lived here since 2013. I grew up in Hyde Park and moved up here [to the north side] in 1980 to Lincoln Park. I got a job in a cabinet shop there. They moved to Evanston a few years later, so I worked there for 30 years doing custom [woodworking]. They kicked all us old guys to the curb basically during the [recession]. I lasted until 2011. I had lived in Albany Park in the 80s and used to drive up and down Kimball, and I was always kind of intrigued by this neighborhood. And then it turns out that it's 5600 North --- I grew up 5800 South in Hyde Park. I was doing a job up here at my address, only on the north side. I grew up with brothers (my mother died young) and dogs, and ended up . . . I have a daughter and cats. So things got flipped. Yeah, and then I've just been trying to scratch my living here [at my woodworking shop on Bryn Mawr]. And I really like the neighborhood.
Phil Wright was interviewed by a neighbor in October of 2021.