Chicago winters are no walk in the park, that’s why city resident Albin Hoffman took it upon himself to make things easier for his neighbors.
For nearly 35 years Hoffman has been clearing snow from the sidewalks of his entire block in the 6600 block of South Karlov Avenue.
“He doesn’t really speak to a lot of folks, he doesn’t ask anybody, he just does it,” said neighbor Antonio Lopez. “He literally, every time it snows, is so consistent. He does the whole block and has been doing it for years and years.”
But on March 5, Hoffman’s snow blower broke beyond repairs and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to continue clearing the snow. So he decided to write a letter to his neighbors, encouraging them to enjoy clearing the snow as much as he did.
“I don’t know whether I will invest in a new machine, keeping in mind my age,” he wrote. “In the future, if I am no longer able to clear the snow, and you are shoveling, do it with a smile on your face, the way I did. After every snow cleaning I loved to look at the work done, with a smile and thought that our sidewalk and block was the cleanest in the whole city of Chicago.”
Area residents said Hoffman has made this seemingly unbearable winter that much more tolerable.
“It was just awesome. It like made me believe in people again,” Lopez said of the letter. “You just know that there’s people out there that really have that sense of community and it was a really bright spot since this winter’s been really tough on people.”
Lopez said that another resident even took over clearing snow on the block after heavy snow fell on the area Wednesday and Hoffman couldn’t clear it.
With the potential for more snow late Saturday, Lopez wasn’t sure if that resident would clear the walkways again, but said he’s confident someone will continue Hoffman’s tradition.
“There’s still people in Chicago that care for their neighbors,” he said. “I think somebody will take over. I don’t have a snow blower, but if I did I would do it.”
In his letter, Hoffman said he hoped that his neighbors would continue to keep the block cleared. He thanked area residents who chipped in to help him pay for gas and maintenance of the machine and said he was proud to help them out in the cold and snowy times.
“It was my pleasure to relieve elderly people of this hard work, and also working people, by letting them sleep or hug their lovely wives for another few minutes longer while I was cleaning snow.”
Hoffman also apologized for the “loud noise” during his early morning cleanings, but he continued to lighten his neighbors’ winter blues with one final sentence.
“Spring is around the corner, the snow will be gone, therefore keep smiling,” he wrote.