• Jim Frost/Sun-Times
  • Johnny Lira

With a little luck and a few more breaks, Johnny Lira might have been one helluva writer.

The man certainly had a way with words. He was a natural-born storyteller with great pacing and timing. He’d start talking about one thing, wind up talking about something else and then—just when you thought all was lost—he’d double back to the starting point.

But Johnny wasn’t much for schooling. As a kid, he was in and out of several different schools, running with the wrong crowd in the old Italian neighborhood near Erie and Damen.