Thankful for copy machines

Once again, I have to call the specialists from the main office. While I am copying away on colored paper, two sided and stapled, it digitally informs me that there is a jam somewhere in the monster of the machine. It happens quite alot for me sometimes asking for permission to go on…strange commands…that even the jam specialists are not sure what they mean….time to re-set.

And believe it or not, during my first year of teaching, it was Mrs. Johnson, a senior teacher, who taught me how to copy classroom material on the good old mimeograph machine, or a ditto machine; that many of you may never have heard of before. I was terrified and I had to watch carefully…many times. It had become an art for her. All staff at the school watched her turn out perfect copy. I don’t think that happened for me.

There was also a distinctive smell with the freshly printed paper. The ditto machine used an alcohol-based fluid to dissolve some of the dye in the document, and transferred the image to the copy paper. The smell came from the ditto machine’s duplicating fluid, a mix of methanol and isopropanol.

Mimeographs, along with spirit duplicators (ditto machines) , were a common technology in printing small quantities, as in office work, classroom materials, and church bulletins. It was widespread and cheap. In the late 1960’s, early 1970’s, mimeographs, spirit duplicators, and hectographs began to be gradually replaced by photocopying. But photocopying machines were extremely expensive.

It wasn’t too long after that we experienced our first Xerox machine. Xerox became so successful that, in North America, photocopying came to be popularly known as “xeroxing.” I still say it. And the training was so intensive even though collating, colored paper or stapling was not an option.

Now, its a commercial, digital or analog copy machine. And Xerox is still around..quite the giant… though there are several brands. The average office copy machine cost $1,500 with higher grade copiers reaching $12,000 and beyond depending on printing speed, quality, and advanced features like stapling, scanning and faxing options. You may rent or lease them as well.

This time I did not call the jam patrol. I decided to take a deep breath and not be so afraid of making a situation worse. Now, the arrow points to exactly where the jam is and it was where the paper fed into the machine. Typical, but I did not see anything. I removed the paper,re stacked the paper and closed the drawer. I hit start and I couldn’t believe it…..it worked! Wow, maybe I will try this again sometime!

 

Thankful for birthdays

Birthdays! The joy of a new life, a truly momentous occasion for all ages, a new beginning, a new pleasure or just thankful you have lived another year.

Assisting in the kindergarten, the children’s birthdays are the most treasured day of their young lives. In the 1960s, I felt exactly the same way. Even though I can watch my home movies Dad took of my parties in the finished basement and see the real thing, I understand the same feeling the little ones experience today. I remember that incredible nervous feeling waiting for my friends to arrive for my day with presents for me…….no one else. I was extremely fortunate that my parents planned great parties with plates and napkins that matched, a bakery birthday cake decorated with my choice of theme; one year was a carnival cake.  Sometimes, we had noisemakers, hats or bubbles as favors. And always ice cream!

But birthdays lost their sentiment through high school, college, until the dreaded legal one though I don’t remember getting drunk. Throughout my 20s, I taught high school and again..classroom parties were few and far between until I turned 30. That was the age I  finally seemed credible…even as a teacher.

In 1988, my one year old son cried terrifying tears while several guests sang happy birthday to him. It was the first time I had ever seen a child uncomfortable at birthday time. Strange, he still does not like that kind of attention in his 30’s. But it did improve with the birth of my daughter who treasured theme parties to plan such as The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas and parties reserved at places like Let’s Dress Up.

When she was about 10, we passed out tickets, rather than invitations, from the White Star Line to travel on the Titanic where they ate in the Grand ballroom and experienced a surprise sinking of the ship during a sleep over. My son and I handed out life jackets and we told the girls that they had to climb into plastic boats in the backyard. On a beautiful summer night, we drenched them with a hose. They didn’t complain and after drying off, they watched the new movie.

This month is my birthday. It is actually marked on the classroom calendar. November 21 is the day, the day before Thanksgiving this year….a day off of school. One girl asked me how old I was and she was confused. She couldn’t count that high!  Those numbers are still foreign to her. Me too! But she doesn’t care as long as I can still sing and dance. Certainly I have more birthdays behind me than ahead, but I am thankful. I am truly grateful.

And I will celebrate; making my own page for my birthday book in class. We have shared many coloring techniques together and I love to color. They can still sing happy birthday to me without the cha cha cha. They can still give me a hug, a high five, a special handshake,  a completed, detailed job coloring their own birthday artwork for me or just a warm smile. And another wonderful day will be spent with the kindergarten class who still helps me out when random aches and pains strike and they know its time for a chair. Many will sit with me on a bench in the playground during recess. Not afraid to become too close.

And probably the best birthday of all time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Words

By Caryl Clem

Standing while singing the Star Spangled Banner

By the last lingering note, I shed a tear

Overwhelmed by the sheer determination

The United States Armed Services has shown.

Once summoned to protect their land

Overcoming any obstacle, our best women and men

Risking everything to face danger head on

Bravery, loyalty wrapped in a uniform.

 

For the hours of dedication

For leaving your families behind

For the safety of our nation

5 word summation

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

You are the strength that protects our future

Guardians of what America stands for.

The Ghost Army: Honoring our veteran heroes

Unfortunately, my father passed away in January 2014 before I discovered the Ghost Army  World War II PBS Documentary, which was released in May of 2013. A couple years afterward, I started to hear there was a committee looking into honoring the brave men of the 3132nd and possibly 3133rd with the Congressional Medal.

It was around 1998 that Charles Weingate, my father,started talking about his time in the war with the Ghost Army. I recall him telling my brother and I about running the wire all night long and in the morning, tried to get some sleep. He was suddenly awakened by another soldier telling him that the German Army had just surrendered to them shared by Diana Weingate.

Its existence was finally acknowledged in the mid-1990s, when it was declassified. The Ghost Army, the 1,100 men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, was finally able to share their personal experiences. Consequently, they were able to share the fascinating battlefield illusions they created whose American purpose was to fool Hitler with fake strategic games and theatrical events leading more than 20 missions and saving the lives of thousands.

These disguised missions were composed of inflatable tanks and false radio transmissions. Giant speakers were used to broadcast the sounds of men and artillery to make the Germans think that the units were larger and deflect their concentration from other battles. Painters designed hundreds of rubber tanks, jeeps and aircraft. Aircraft could be inflated with gasoline fueled air compressors that looked authentic to Nazi military. They were told never to tell anyone about their war experience even after the war had ended.

Les Gates, 95 from Arkansas, spent the better part of three years with the 3132nd and 3133rd signal service companies. I got to the 3132nd from the A S T P program when it was dropped. The 3132nd was the first organization that started training in the art of sonic deception at Pine Camp, N Y . We were all ushered into a room with guards outside the door and we were told we were not to speak to anyone about this. I developed appendicitis at Fort Slocum-Port of demarcation and “missed the boat” and was transferred back to Pine Camp to join the 3133rd. The 3132 operated in the European theater .

The 3133rd went on to Italy and operated there until the end of the war. Both units were reported to have been VERY effective in their operations. 

Diana Weingate was able to read a previous article about the Ghost Army that I wrote about the story of Les Gates’s participation in the Ghost Army and who currently lives in Arkansas. She contacted me and Les Gates by email. She was able to to talk to Mr. Gates on the phone and felt honored to hear his stories, bringing her even closer than ever to her father. Diana and her family are organizing a media push to find out more about The Ghost Army Legacy Project where you can donate and send letters to help support the campaign in awarding a Congressional medal to the unit. Her father is in the picture;standing on the left.

After investigating the Legacy Project, head over to another site which is ghostarmy.com and you can learn more about Rick Beyer, the award winning documentary filmmaker, best-selling author, and long-time history enthusiast. He produced and directed the award-winning PBS documentary The Ghost Army, and is the co-author (with Liz Sayles) of The Ghost Army of World War II.  Rick Beyer is also president of The Ghost Army Legacy Project.

Please feel free to contact Les Gates or Diana Weingate at lesgates@suddenlink.net or Diana at razmuth80@yahoo.com.

Thankful for brothers

By Caryl Clem

No matter how many cards were surveyed

Not one lengthy card accurately conveyed

The man who is my brother and friend

Thoughtful,wise,whose mind is always open

Searching, discovering innovations

His talent, continually fresh expressions

For your birthday, I wish for you

Feeling pride in what you are able to do

Eagerness to live each day renewed

Stay ageless, conquering time with emotion

As a sister, I couldn’t be luckier

Thankful to have and love you, my brother

Witchcraft power

By Caryl Clem:

Distortion of reality

Flickering lights floating free

Possible spiritual aggression

Visual perception becomes a question

As illusions become a mystery.

Avoid the woods where among thick branches

The Russian Witch on chicken legs haunches

Ready to capture and curse any stranger

Who ignored danger, took no precaution.

Catermaco, Mexico, witchcraft central

Warlock magic viewed as professional.

Spanish black and white magic reside

Avoid a spiritual collide, hire a guide.

English witch, Treva punished doubters

Tortured unbelievers in supernatural power.

Around the world l witchcraft egends abound

Terrifying tales of witches actions in stories

Keeping children through the centuries spellbound.

Halloween 1950/60’s and today

By Caryl Clem:

During the late 1950’s, Halloween was big. I vividly recall the planning for a homemade costume started in the summer-to find material and finalize the creative design embellishments. My childhood ritual was to meet with 4-5 neighbor friends, then walk to the agreed 7 to 8 houses of  nearby neighbors. Small town congeniality, the Moms met beforehand to divided food favorites of popcorn balls,  peanut-butter cookies, oatmeal/raisin cookies, rich chocolate cake, a bag of peanuts, fruit. My decorated shopping bag overflowed with homemade delicacies.

Next was a neighbor’s  Halloween Party  with a blindfolded spooky hunt including grabbing peeled grapes that felt like eyeballs, feeling sharp bony pieces while digging for hidden prizes in a mysterious container. Later in the evening, The Lion’s Club or American Legion had a costume contest and surprise goody bag to take home.  By high school age, we were no longer trick or treating. We were at work or helping answer the door for the younger generation.

In 1951, the famous cartoon figure, “Peanuts” is seen “trick or treating” down his street. Disney follows suit in 1952 showing a cartoon of Donald Duck taking his nephews, Huey, Dewie, and Louie out. The cartoon initiates the now popular term in its title, “Trick or Treat “.  Commercial products replace homemade goods , department stores produced mass quantities of super hero costumes.  Home and family based magazines run features on decorating, food recipes, annual  popular costume choice, and games for Halloween.

Old rituals of carving hollowed out gourds, and  turnips to make lanterns warding off evil spirits changed to using  pumpkins by immigrants arriving in America. Hunting for the perfect pumpkin remain a family favorite.  The legend of Stingy Jack, rejected by God and the Devil, explains why Jack is forced to roam through Halloween Night with a lantern. The popular term,  Jack  O’Lantern, for the lit pumpkins guarding doorsteps. Since the 1960’s, the  lure of graveyards, ghosts and spooky illusions inspire outdoor decorating as towns sponsor haunted houses.

Popcorn balls first recipe appeared in 1861 and taffy apples discovered in 1904 now arrive in the home bought at stores. Prepackaged goods are preferred after incidents of tampering were reported. The most famous in 2000 when a Snickers bar had needles In spite of the small incident rate, pressure for safety has favored tightly packaged goods too small to hide objects inside with towns banning homemade products.

Now popular, it is the trunk and treat party where invited friends come to share treats together at a designated parking lot with their car trunks decorated and share treats instead of going door to door, trick or treating. Not only has it been a great social experience for small children in the community, schools and clubs are organizing trunk or treat parties along with assigning a theme.

Halloween has become the second biggest holiday celebrated in America! Last year an estimated 6 billion dollars was spent by Halloween fans.

Have a very Happy Halloween!

Prairie Avenue ghosts

I love to walk up and down the historic avenue. I have read many historical novels such as Prairie Avenue by Arthur Meeker.  Its always a new field trip to walk with the ghosts on Millionaires Row and to read about them. Residents of the street have influenced the evolution of the city and have played prominent national and international roles moving there after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. By 1886, the finest mansions in the city, each equipped with its own carriage house, stood on Prairie Avenue. In the 1880s, mansions for George Pullman, Marshall Field, John J. Glessner, Philip Armour and Kimball. Mansions were located between 16th and 22nd streets.

A few of the mansions do remain such as the Glessner House which is a active museum and the Henry B. Clarke house, also a museum. The Marshall Field, Jr. Mansion at 1919 South Prairie Avenue, now condos, is marvel of preservation and sensitive reuse. And many say that Prairie Avenue is haunted.

Glessner House was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887. So different from the Victorian houses that were being built at the time and eventually those, for the most part, were torn down. The House is a National Historic Landmark and offers wonderful tours with many of the rooms accurately restored to their original appearance and decorative objects and furnishings have been added by the Glessner family. John Glessner lived there until 1936 and thousands tour the house every year.

Henry Hobson Richardson never got to see his creation built since he died after he completed the blue prints. Many have seen him walk the halls. Even during the time the Glessner family lived there, Haunted houses.com  claim that many family member felt a cold presence moving through the mansion,even today.

The Glessner House Museum offers haunted tours of historic Prairie Avenue. Director of the Glessner House has admitted that there is a strange feeling that has been experienced on the street. The Keith House, privately owned by Marcy Baim, is another on the street. It has been restored, at 1900 Prairie and offers special events such as weddings.

The Kimball House: The house was built in 1890–92 for William Wallace Kimball, a piano manufacturer. I still have a Kimball upright that was built in 1949.  Kimball reportedly spent $1,000,000 on the home. The house is located at 1801 Prairies and though some feel that the outside design is cold, the inside is beautiful with maple floors and 29 rooms which have been sub- divided though many have stayed the same such as the library, huge drawing room, and dining room that housed Mrs. Kimballs massive silver collection. She also collected many paintings by such artists as Rembrandt, Millet, and Monet including many others. But when Mrs Kimball died in 1921, the house was converted to a boarding house which eventually failed and was bought by Daisy Hull for 8,000 in backward children. But finally, the house, along with the Coleman house at 1811 were acquired by R. R. Donnelley in 1973 who donated them to the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 1991.  They leased and then sold the properties to the U. S. Soccer Federation for use as their national headquarters, which is how the building is used today. Mrs Kimball still walks the halls. Noises have been heard along with apparitions seen as well as the feeling of being watched.

The Marshall Field Jr House: According to Curbed Chicago, Designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman, the home sold to the son of one of Chicago’s most famous 19th century entrepreneurs for $65,000 in 1890. After a stint as a psychiatric hospital, the structure was sold to the Chicago Architectural Foundation in the 1970s before being partitioned into condominiums in 2007. There are six million dollar condos with a private courtyard in the back. In the past, there have been claims to hear footsteps and strange cries.

Find out more about the Shadows on the Street: Haunted Tours of Historic Prairie Avenue Glessner House 1800 South Prairie Avenue Chicago, IL, 60616 United States.  During this 60 minute walking tour through the Prairie Avenue Historic District, learn about the mystery surrounding the death of Marshall Field Jr., the tragic events that plagued the Philander Hanford house, the lingering ghost of Edson Keith, and more.

Fall scenes

By Caryl Clem:

Festive October clad trees

Leaves swirling in brisk breezes

Parading along the winding road.

Blazing badges of red, orange gold

Against the brilliant dress blues sky

Bittersweet time to bid summer goodbye.

A rake, my swinging partner dancing

Two stepping across the lawn, entrancing.

Burning sacrificial piles, yard ashtray

Inhaling memories of yesterday and today.

Flattened fields, corn stalks, hay stacks

Packages of harvest goods climax.

Beer fairs, Germanic food traditions

Worldwide Oktoberfest celebrations

Vintage attire, Chicken Dance contests

Heritage customs survive modern progress.

Gather, raise your glasses high

Toast this year’s bountiful supply.

Chicago’s only Irish castle

I have attended a wedding back in the 1980’s. My mother lived not far from the castle during her elementary years of school in Beverly.  The castle was built on Longwood drive and 103rd, three stories high, with crenelated towers of limestone. Known as the Givens Castle, it was to look like a real Irish Castle from Dublin.

The south side Chicago castle was built between 1866-1867 under the direction of Robert C. Givins. According to Beverly Unitarian Church Fellowship, which purchased the church in 1942,  originally the castle had fifteen beautifully furnished rooms. They were decorated with rich tapestries, elegant chandeliers, and big copper gaslights; they were warmed with tiled fireplaces and were lit with stained glass windows.

There were five owners, or some say, castle keepers of the building. The Givins family, the Chicago Female College, the Burdett family, the Siemens family, and finally Beverly Unitarian Church. The Givins family lived there on and off from 1887 to 1909. The Chicago Female College, a prestigious high school for girls, rented the Castle from 1895 to 1897. The Burdett family lived in the Castle from 1909 to 1921. The Siemens family lived in the Castle from 1921 to 1942. Today, the Commission for Chicago Landmarks have claimed the house as Chicago’s only castle.

But after my mother would drive me by her old home in Beverly in the 1960’s, she would take me by the castle and claim,that it was haunted, according to her father. We attended a wedding together in later years and I didn’t see a ghost, neither did she, but some still claim that within the castle, they have heard mysterious sounds such as the tinkling of glasses with no logical reason.

According to Prairie Ghosts and my Mom, a young girl had died from the flu back in the 1930’s when the castle was owned by the Chicago Female College. In the early 1960’s,the janitor of the church saw a young girl and actually talked to her. She seemed confused and mentioned that the church was not the  same. The custodian was sitting with her and then got up to walk away, turned back to approach the young girl and she was gone.  Legend and my Mom claim that this girl was the ghost of the one who died and was in shock, especially not realizing that this castle was now a church. The custodian searched everywhere and the girl was not found, even footsteps in the snow outside did not appear that day.