Born during the turbulence of World War II’s beginning, CHERIE ANTOINETTE O’NEAL entered this life on September 2, 1939. The social and political background of her early years were marked by German Nazi Emperor Adolph Hitler’s invasion of Poland. And, she was often humorously kidded about creating the WWII conflict, which obviously, she had nothing to do with. But, Cherie Antoinette O’Neal, was the 1st daughter & 2nd child of parents, Prince Osceola O’Neal & Lela Means O’Neal, born in Chicago, Illinois. In contrast to the national & political scene she presented herself throughout life as a lovely rose of peace, yet toughness in dealing with life’s challenges. She assisted in the care of her six (6) younger sibling, and dutifully managed household chores for the household to help out her parents when they were called away to work or other family business.
Cherie often enjoyed the fun & escapades of trips on family outings, and managed tasks with the oldest son of the family, Prince O. O’Neal, II, on shopping trips and even searching for the family Christmas tree for the family holidays. Ever attentive to Dad & Mom’s directions, she & her siblings prided themselves in excursions to bring home the Christmas trophy, a tall, full & flush tree for the family. And, she was an unselfish, ever-appreciative person of gifts bestowed upon her. She gave of herself without expectation of being showered with presents by others.
But, there was the fun-loving side of Cherie Antoinette O’Neal who often engaged in dancing to “cut up a rug” to some of the latest 1950’s dance tunes played by famous after-school radio hosts & disc jockeys, Al Benson, Jim Lounsbury, & other popular rhythm & blues pops tunes. She knew well the popular tunes of Clyde McFadden & the Drifters, Sarah Vaughn & later, Diana Ross & the Supremes.
Cherie attended and completed secondary school @ the Lucy Flower High School, in Chicago, Illinois, in 1958. She performed well in the homemaker management courses there, and developed into a stand-out beauty from her high school years onward. Her stunning looks often caused male neighbors’ heads to turn as she proceeded down the street, with whistles following her. She later attended modeling school @ the Crest Modeling School in Chicago, IL. She aspired to become a model, a profession not generally receptive to African-Americans during that era.
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