Barbie turns 60 in 2019?

Early one evening, I sat at the dinette table in the house I grew up.  I remember as if it were yesterday!  A south side of Chicago neighborhood during the month of late November in 1961 quietly going through the infamous Sears wish book. Every child, at that time, was probably doing exactly the same. It took hours but I wanted to be sure to pick out the gifts for Santa to deliver. I actually had to cut a picture of them out for my Mom. It was one magazine I never found boring. I finally found her with a black and white striped swimsuit and black hair…not the blonde. I was told to pick out a case too, of course, I chose a large black one so I could collect a lot of future clothes. And through the short years ahead, I did collect store bought dresses and shoes as well as Grandma made clothes for the Barbie family.

For future birthdays and holidays, I was also gifted with the Barbie corrugated cardboard dream house,(took hours for my father to put together) the hair salon (also of corrugated cardboard), a pink plastic convertible, Ken, his own case, heaven forbid, and Pepper, her own case who was Tammy’s little sister. I have no idea who Tammy was..not a Mattel family member… but made by Ideal. No, I did not have a Barbie camper…many have asked.

My girlfriend and I even created a wedding reception and banquet hall tables that we designed using shot glasses from my father’s bar and sent pictures to Mattel. We didn’t win any prizes or receive a response. But, today, I still have the case for Barbie, some ratty clothes, Ken who is sickly bald, still wearing one his original moth eaten collegiate sweaters. Strangely, Pepper looks pretty nice in her case and party dress.  But Barbie,my doll, my first, has been missing for years.

In the 1990’s, my daughter liked the cartoon character Barbies that included Anastasia Barbie being her favorite. She also loved Princess Jasmine and Pocahontas. The most important kid activity for her was buying and dressing up her dolls. Holiday Barbie dolls came out in 1988. Probably the first Holiday Barbie dolls  are valued as much as 750 dollars. still in the box. We actually have a Celebration Barbie for the year 2000 and a Victorian Christmas Barbie on skates.

Today, Barbie still has a pink convertible and dream house which has been remodeled (more than one story).  One of my kindergarten students was asking Santa for a Barbies careers doll as a baby doctor and a camper. You can also become a baby nurse and drive around in a Care Clinic van. Actually, it is good to establish the interests of little ones in future careers and vocations early on. You can choose to be a Barbie career chef, bookkeeper and there is actually a Barbie for president.

The Barbie doll was invented in March of 1959 by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, whose own daughter was named Barbara. For almost being sixty years old, she is definitely better looking than ever before.  Without the slanty eyes, she is completely diverse in color and size. She can be petite or tall if she chooses. She can even be granted magical powers by a fairy. There are even work out Barbies…made to move dolls. And Ken..two years younger than Barbie…. is quite the fashionista with a variety of clothing styles to match his varied sports interests. Maybe that is the key in turning 60 years of age; still vibrant, young, successful, popular and healthy all these years. Maybe we all should take a lesson from Barbie and her friends at Mattel.

My student did get the Barbie camper….the life size one you drive yourself. Wow..just what I always wanted.

 

 

Canfield soda along with potato chips: Jays, of course

I googled his shop, my fathers, Glass Sales and Service shop, at 6755 South Chicago Avenue. It looked like it had been torn down. But across the street the decrepit remains of Canfield Soda still stood; a company that also progressed along with my Dad. Though I am not sure the details, my Dad did business with AJ canfield back in day always bringing home free cans of 50/50/ a mixture of grape and lime.

Many were introduced to soda by drinking ginger ale, inspired from Canada, and 50/50. The older Canfield was a railroad worker, prior to beginning the company in 1927, with his son who was known as AJ. AJ was 25 years old when he took over the company and they expanded to another facility at 89th street in Chicago. Canfield’s Chocolate Diet Fudge soda was created in 1972 and sold over 200 million cans. In 1995, the A.J. Canfield Company was sold though you can still purchase both sodas at Marianos. AJ passed away at the age of 84 in 2000.

Jays Foods was also founded in 1927 with the beginnings of Leonard Japp Sr selling pretzels from his truck. Eugenia, Mrs Japp, had a potato chip recipe and Leonard along with a partner began selling Mrs. Japps Potato Chips. However, after World War II, that was changed since the name Jap created a negative connotation. The chips were changed to Jays Potato Chips while the company became Jays Foods. Jays was sold to Borden but acquired back to the Japp family in 1994 and sold again to a Chicago equity firm and another snack company. Finally, the company filed bankruptcy in 2007 and the Chicago plant was closed but Snyder’s-Lance continues to manufacture and distribute the product.

Japp died in 2000 at ninety-six and according to South Side Weekly, Al Capone encouraged Japp to open factories and mass produce his snacks. My father commented that the mob, during the 1930’s, truly stepped in to help small, creative business starting out in Chicago after the depression. I think he did some work for them though he would never share.

The chips were produced by state of the art machines at the plant on 99th Street and Cottage Grove, opened in the mid 1950s. According to Made in Chicago Museum, Japp offered profit sharing to employees, daily lunches and even served lunches to neighborhood kids.

Most grocery stores still stock Jays and Canfields, but are they the same? Canfield bottles compared to cans? Jays was actually sold in large tins in the fifties and today you can buy vintage potato chip tins of all types on Ebay….including Jays. Or trade yours in for a price.

I was never a consistent lover of soda or potato chips over the years but if it was a home grown Chicago business, you had to buy and love them.

 

 

 

Family time enriched by card and board games

By Caryl Clem:

High spirits evident by laughter and smiles occur the moment you know you have won a game!  Lady Luck was an honored guest by my side anytime I challenged any family member to Gin Rummy, Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, or Cribbage.  The thrill of risks combined with skill made long winter days fly by as we played taking chances, placing bets, enthusiastically shouting out our feelings. Family gatherings today have many choices blending old game allure with new approaches and situations.

Fascination with trains is evident by train themed exposition shows during the winter. Honoring this American preference is the Days of Wonder brand, Ticket to Ride.  Planning and building a railroad across America from the first showing in 2004, its’ popularity has remained constant. Expanding on the original version, A Ticket to Ride, Europe covers major cities in Europe.  In 2018, A Ticket to Ride, New York City premiered. The rules fold out like a travel brochure, and taxis replace trains as transportation.

For fans of mystery and suspense, Castle Panic challenges the players to defeat the monsters surrounding the castle.  For former lovers of Clue, an updated  card game has come out Codenames (2015) publisher Vlaada Chvatil involving secret agents. Deciphering clues is based on word association experience, young teens on up will enjoy this game.

Several popular strategy games are available for young adults. Highly recommended with millions sold is The Settlers of Catan Mayfair Games (1996) designed by a German Klaus Teuber where players compete to form a successful colony.  A Worldwide Tournament is held every two years for serious game players.  Pandemic (2008) by Matt Leacock involves a theme of survival as players strive to keep cities safe from spreading diseases and epidemics.  A tabletop gaming series about survival by the same creator includes Forbidden Island (2010) Forbidden Desert (2013) Forbidden Sky (2018). Lovers of Star Trek can enjoy the recent release of New Frontiers by Rio Grande Games engaging players building their own space empire. Scythe (2016) entertains the question, How to conquer Europe without warfare?

As the game horizon has expanded, a new dimension has emerged, teamwork.  Terraforming  Mars (2016) by Jacob Fryxelius  presents the dilemma of trying to survive on the red planet that cannot support life. Players on Mars must change it into a green planet. Strategy requires working together to find a solution, collaboration.  Check newer versions of games for collaboration.

No matter what the weather, playing games will add rays of sunshine from smiles shared while relishing the festivity.  A painless way to build learning skills and practice social interaction, bring on the game afternoon or night!

Rush Street Chicago: Yesterday and today

My aunt always told me that my grandmother Amelia owned part of Rush Street in the early 1900’s. She said it was located near the Rush street bridge. Though I had heard this story as a child, wasn’t sure what to ask and my Aunt died in the late 1990’s. Other family members have never confirmed the reality. That was the first time I heard about Rush Street.

It wasn’t until the 70’s and early 1980’s that I heard about Rush with an invitation to go party and drink. This was the Las Vegas of Chicago even more popular in the early years before I was able to drink.  The most popular places I visited was Faces but I probably spent more time on Division Street at the Original Mothers and Butch McGuires, the latter that opened in 1961.

The following describes some of the popular places on Rush; yesterday and today:

Whiskey Go Go is still a nightclub in California and has opened the doors for many including the Doors, Van Halen and Steppenwolf. The first opened in 1958 at the corner of Rush and Chestnut in Chicago.

The Backroom a great jazz and blues venue and probably one of the oldest jazz club that began in the 1960’s. It continued on into the 70’s and 1980’s. Musicians specializing mostly in jazz but also touching on soul, funk, R&B and blues, play on an elevated stage on the east side of the room and under a most impressive sculpture created from brass horns, to match the column-like structure that looks like a coatrack made of horns near the southeast corner of the room.

The Happy Medium  was built in 1960, located at Rush and Delaware, which was a combination theater and disco. Helen Reddy actually stared at the club. The owners, George and Oscar Marienthal, also owned Mister Kellys, also on Rush and the London House. The London house opened downtown Chicago in 1946 and created the popularity of jazz musicians including Ramsey Lewis.

Punchinellos was a theatre bar and again celebrities such as Barry Manilow and Della Reese would frequent the bar.

Mister Kellys was launched in 1956 and was truly the leading example of night club celebrity elegance, combining music with comedy, which included the beginnings of Bill Cosby, Bette Midler, Woody Allen and Barbra Steisand. Mr. Kellys was restaurant that also featured the best steak and their famous green goddess salad.

Rush up another bar where many talk of meeting Todd Rundgren and Frank Zappa.

Faces opened in the early 1970’s and you could become a member of the club for 50 dollars. I went to Faces a couple of times in the lates 70’s and not sure how I got in, but it was loud though fun for dancing compared to many clubs in Chicago. This was supposedly the best place to meet and greet.

Today,  some of the best bars and restaurants include the following:

Pippins: A great Irish pub with an excellent hotdog, serving from the Downtown Dogs next door, and an extensive beer selection. Pippins has been a part of the Rush Street scene for over 45 years and offers a very authentic Irish experience.

Hugos Frog Bar: Also located in Naperville, Hugos offers excellent mussels and oysters on the half shell including an expansive wine list sharing with the iconic Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse. Gibsons is the first restaurant group to be awarded its own USDA Prime Certification

Tavern on Rush: A great bar and restaurant with a DJ located in the heart of Rush street. They are known for the best calamari and excellent horseshoe bar along with split level seating.

Jellyfish:  Located on the second floor across the street from Hugos and Gibsons, this is a great place for enjoying the cuisines of several countries that include Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. From 3-6pm, you can experience signature cocktails during happy hours.

New Years’ Revelation

By Caryl Clem:

Older bathroom scale, obvious time for an update

Compared to previous amounts, registers the wrong weight.

My washer and dryer, schedule an examination

Faded, dull clothes, tight waistband frustration.

Bargains, coupons, tempting sale promotions

Replacing my wardrobe, a  logical conclusion.

Check the market for commendable detergents

Just need to find the correct cleaning ingredients.

To protect my bright form fitting styles

The mirror test,  pass months later with smiles.

Athletic center nearby offering new membership deals

Tired after shopping, working out has no appeal.

Wall screen T.V. flashing adventurous sequels

I’m zestfully watching the good guy conquer evil.

Later, I’ll just eat just a little tasty snack

A new year tradition, cutting back.