Ten of the most haunted Chicago/ Illinois bars

Excalibur /Chicago Castle,the nightclub dates back to the late 1800s and was the original location of the Chicago History Museum. With its three levels and 60,000 square feet of adult entertainment, it is a Gothic graystone located at the corner of Dearborn and Ontario. It is a designated landmark building and used to be the Chicago Historical Society. It closed as the Excalibur in 2012. Most recently the Tao Group opened its signature Hybrid Asian Cuisine/ Nightclub in the location in September of 2018.Tao operates on the 2nd floor. Many employees felt the place was haunted and it has been filmed on a variety of paranormal shows.

Websters Wine Bar located at a 2601 North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago is said to be haunted by a lumberjack from the early 1900’s and has been seen in the party room on the second floor. Websters has a comprehensive global wine list and a great menu of small dishes, salads and cheeses.

Red Lion Pub is on the north side of Chicago at 2446 North Lincoln Avenue. Now a more upscale neighborhood, according to Haunted Houses people have died in the building including a woman who died from an epileptic seizure, a mentally challenged woman, a young cowboy, and another male entity according to ghost experts. These spirits walk the floors of the restaurant to name just a few.

Bucktown Pub was established in 1933 and a very typical, cozy tavern with creamy, draught beer. According to TrueIllinoisHaunts.com, the pub is believed to be haunted by the site’s former owner who committed suicide in 1986 and whose spirit apparently thinks he still runs the place. Napkins are re-arranged and sometimes the jukebox goes on and off.

Liars Club located at 1665 West Fullerton is supposedly haunted by a women who was killed by her husband. They lived in the apartment above the bar. One employee actually saw an illusion leaning against the bar and some have been tugged on their arm but no one is there. This unique club was formerly known as the River East. The club is located between Clybourn and the Metra tracks on Fullerton.

Country House in Clarendon Hills is a two story building erected in 1922 as a place for locals to congregate for drinks, food, and good conversation. In 1974 during a meeting with a contractor to renovate the restaurant the men were sitting in the bar and shutters on the windows opened without human contact displaying shafts of light. Other workers have seen dishes move and have heard moaning in the walls. Others have actually seen a woman who they call the lady in blue.

Chets Melody Lounge  The bar got its name from Chet Prusinski in 1963 and is located at 7400 Archer Avenue in Justice. Of course, it is the famous Resurrection Mary that many wait to show up at the bar since those that have seen the ghost in the past run for a drink at the bar, also across the street from Mary’s home, Resurrection Cemetery. The Ghost Research Society has investigated the bar last year.

Cigars and Stripes is a bar in Berwyn Illinois featuring some of the best barbeque and a cigar store. But paranormal experts say that something haunted is going on according to Legends of America. There are many accounts of glass falling off shelves and the phone receiver being picked up and put down. People are actually watching it happen and hearing things as well.

Irish Legend is located in Willow Springs on Archer and has an exceptional menu of Irish classics. According to Only in Your State, It was originally built in the 1920s as O’Henry’s Roadhouse which was a speakeasy with ties to vintage mobsters like Al Capone, who was known for having people killed and then hiding the bodies. According to employees and the owner, things get re-arranged at the pub and restaurant.

The Great Escape restaurant at 9540 Irving Park Road in Schiller Park began in 1889. The bar and banquet room are still part of the original structure and on the website, there is a whole section dedicated to the haunting s that have occurred. Old fashioned music is heard from the 1920’s, there are cold spots and sometimes you feel someone standing right next to you. The Chicago Paranormal Detectives was invited to have the full 10 person paranormal team come in and spend the night investigating. Visit to find out what they discovered.

Celebrating autumn

By Caryl Clem:

September 23 marks the first day of autumn. Toiling farmers are grateful for the harvesting of their crops. As the days grow cooler, you feel renewed energy to join others for festive holidays during the fall season. My enthusiasm to travel to an apple orchard remains as poignant as my first time searching for the perfect apple. In the past few years, I preferred the apples to be picked, labeled, and available for tasting. Last weekend I was a kid again biting into crisp apples discerning which apple candidate was the winner. With my friend, we discussed what to purchase from the selection of sugar free preserves and while drinking a sample of apple cider. On the return trip home, several apple edibles chased hunger away.

One of my favorite flavors of ice cream is Pumpkin Spice.  Various squashes appear on supermarket shelves increasing food options for dinner. Popular favorites include butternut, earthy, sweet Chinese Kabocha, Spaghetti ‘s light strands great for sauces, round acorn squash , sweet Japanese red Kuri , sweet dumpling squash, delicata squash, sugar pumpkin ,blue hubbard and banana squash. In every meal, an autumn food star can spice up your palette.

An increasing number of consumers are learning how to preserve harvested vegetables and fruits. The pressure cooker would beep and whistle while my mother showed me how to convert the entire garden’s bounty into jars. The heat outside often matched the heat inside our tiny kitchen. Canning is a process that demands fortitude and patience.  Instead of the long canning process, freezing, drying and fermentation techniques are used more often.  To acquaint yourself with the newest techniques, check out this article.

Chicago offers 3 large beer festivals at the end of September, 312 Block Party Goose Island Brewery, United Center, September 20 2019-September 21 2019 / Revolution Oktoberfest, Revolution Brewing, Logan Square, BeerHoptacular, Vertiport Chicago, Little Italy, UIC, September 28 2019.  If you are in the mood to sip a beer, here is a calendar website There is abundance of small town beer festivals as well as in the suburbs.

Harvest feasts vary across the world.  In grade school, coloring pictures of Pilgrims and the Native Americans taught that the harvest Thanksgiving was first celebrated in the last Thursday in November. The history books left out the first harvest dinner celebration held in Jamestown. Germans served bountiful meals to celebrate the harvest time after the autumn moon that fell on the first Sunday in October. Both the Protestant and Catholic churches honored this day with religious services. Jamestown residents in 1610 held an Erntedankfest known as a Harvest Home) supper.

Pilgrims from England had the experience of participating in a religious feast that occurred after honoring St Michael’s mass on September 29.  All gathered at one location to participate in a food and craft market with dancing, singing, eating and playing games.  Maidens in parades wore corn wreaths; before the feast was to begin a queen was chosen. Lastly, townsfolk adorned the home and alter with corn dolls to ensure prosperity.  This holiday would happen after the women preformed the final “gleaning” of the fields. Those who ate geese thought it would lead to financial prosperity. The county fairs at the end of summer bear many similarities to old harvest customs. During Celtic rule in Ireland, harvest was on August 15.  A favorite part of the Irish festival was a horse swimming competition. In America, the Thanksgiving dinner was proclaimed a National Holiday by President Lincoln in 1863.

Fall has arrived featuring the gratitude for a bountiful harvest, the satisfaction of eating autumn star foods with friends and family, attending festivals blending old and new customs, and exploring the world of past and present when retelling ghost stories.

Five of the most haunted Illinois towns and tours

Alton: The city is actually considered the one of the most haunted towns in America according to Meeting of the Great Rivers. Alton is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and visitors including hunters have seen orbs of light in various places throughout the town. Through the years, many travelers have investigated and inquired about the unexplained happenings and psychic phenomena found throughout Alton.  Several locations that are noted to be extremely haunted, including the infamous McPike Mansion, The First Unitarian Church, and Milton School, have been featured on television shows on the Travel Channel and Syfy Channel. Alton tours is offered by Alton Haunting and tickets are on sale.

Naperville: Naperville has been known as one of the best cities in the US to live but according to Mysterious Heartland, one of the most haunted. A massive train wreck took place in 1946 where two passenger trains collided. Forty seven people were killed and one hundred and twenty five were injured. Many still ghosts or shadows walking on Loomis Street. Buildings at North Central College are also haunted as well as ghosts sited at the Naperville cemetary. Check out Naperville ghost Charlie Yellow Boots who walk the streets and the historic streets are supposedly EMF active.  Naperville Ghosts provides an interesting tour with Kevin Frantz who has also written two books about the Naperville Ghosts and actual encounters.

Galena: Ghost stories have been circulating since 1880 and according to Visit Galena, were actually written in local newspapers back then. The Lady in Black is said to haunt the DeSoto House in downtown Galena and one guest actually has a photograph of her. There has been many natural disasters in the valley but a great deal of historic preservation in Galena which tends to bring on the spirits according to many. Embe Eatery and Lounge has witnessed flying objects and the library at Ryan Mansion is something very strange for those looking for ghosts. Amelia Ghost Tours offer a great evening along with dinner theatre tickets available. Matthews Haunted Pub Crawl leads those to three historic pubs to visit ghosts located in downtown Galena. Ghost equipment is used on both tours.

Decatur: There are many stories of hauntings in Decatur, but few that have received as much attention in the general public at the time of their appearances as the “black ghost,” which there are reports of as far back as 1880 according to the Herald Review. Just south of the main highway in Decatur is the Greenwood Cemetary where people have a young woman crying on a set of stairs and orbs of light. Or visit Avon Theatre which has also been known to have spooky encounters. During the 1920’s, Decatur was known for bootlegging, gambling, prostitution, murder bringing violence which many felt contributed to spiritual drama.  Like Alton Tours, the same company runs the tours called Haunted Decatur.

St Charles: Hotel Baker is a hot spot for ghosts since sources claim that a chamber maid killed herself in the Fox River though there are no records of the suicide. Created in 1928, Hotel Baker was an elegant hotel that included the Rainbow Room, a two-story ballroom encircled by columns that featured a dancing floor and famous entertainers such as Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk. Since the hotel has been restored, it continues to be a choice of luxury. And the Arcadia Theatre in downtown St Charles is another haunted building where the lights go on and off. The Dunham-Hunt Museum is supposedly by Jane Dunham who is believed to have lost some of her personal items while the house operated as a museum. St Charles Ghost Tours is the place to contact for an amazing history.

Degree Pursuit

BY CARYL CLEM:

Destination, a new staircase to climb, with mind and body

College classes, revelations of self-discovery.

You’re the specimen in the lab of self-development

Perfection is not as valuable as progress

Learn from mistakes, how to reassess

Trails, procedures exposing individual skills and talents.

Seeing yourself through instructors  viewpoints

Feedback strengthening your accomplishments.

While bonding with those on a similar pathway

Friendships, a haven of acceptance and safety.

Determination, fuel to reach graduation.

Proof of dreams and deeds unification.

Capturing The Devil

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

As in her previous novels, Kerri Maniscalco is exceptional when describing historic descriptions of the time period; decadent illustrations of Audrey Rose’s finest gowns, accessories, food and decorations as well as the horrifying, detailed descriptions of murder that her, Uncle Jonathan and Thomas investigate. The main character, Audrey, is a fearless, sophisticated Victorian feminist who always endears her readers into believing about the respect of a woman’s choice and the power of true love.

When Audrey, Uncle Jonathan and Thomas first arrive in Chicago, despite the tang of smoke in the air the authors impression of the city is charming and accurate in historical perspective as a city that had been burned to ash but risen much like the mythological phoenix. While visiting the World’s Fair, the character Noah, a friend they meet from the academy, makes a comment about seeing the White City at sunset. As a reader, I had no idea what would come next until Audrey and Thomas see the electric lights come on across the grounds as the sun sets, another brilliant creation of a picture in words describing the exciting beginnings of electricity.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve encountered before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another. Every sentence describing the HH Holmes lair is masterfully crafted and terrifying. Capturing the Devil is an irresistible page turner that makes you wait until the final pages to find out whether Audrey and Thomas will die or marry.

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside New York City, where her fascination with Gothic settings began. In her spare time, she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Stalking Jack the RipperHunting Prince Dracula, and Escaping From Houdini.

Kerri describes what it was like to live in a haunted house, “It’s an old house with a lot of history! Parts of it are civil war era and other parts are Victorian. One of my favorite stories about the ghost activity was when my best friend and I were home alone making snacks after school and heard a child giggling in the foyer. We ran to help my mom and little sister with the groceries, only to discover they weren’t home yet. The TV wasn’t on and neither was the radio, so we were pretty freaked out. We stood there, looking at each other, fear creeping in, when my mom pulled into the driveway a few minutes later.”

Kerri also talks about her publishing experience; what she feels very similar to what writers normally do,” I have a bunch of trunked novels tucked into the depths of my office. I queried other books, got tons of requests, tons of rejections, and continued working on my craft. Some people call it stubbornness, but I like to think I’m an optimist. My agent plucked me from the slush, then I took an online webinar with her and it really opened up our communication. I have the full story (with gifs) on my website. She sent my book off to my (now) editor and the rest is history! BUT…I wrote seven or eight books before I wrote Stalking Jack the Ripper, and each one was a fantastic learning experience. It’s also important to note that SJTR wasn’t the first book my agent shopped to editors—we came VERY close with two other projects before getting that yes from JIMMY Books. My best advice for other writers is perseverance!

Why Kerri chose Chicago and Holmes is that she read Holmes’ jailhouse confession before she drafted Stalking Jack the Ripper, and it played a pretty large role in how she developed the whole series. From the castle in Romania, to setting Escaping from Houdini on the RMS Etruria, and even the characters from each book. I go into greater detail in the author’s note in Capturing the Devil, so I won’t spoil anyone here!,” she said.

This is her final book in the series but she is currently working on a new project that will be turned in this fall, and while she can’t give any details now, Kerri is totally obsessed,” I am thrilled to write a story that’s been flittering around on the backburner for years.”

Kerri has Lymes disease and encourages others to devour reading regardless of illness,” Reading has been one of my greatest escapes when my Lyme rears up and wreaks havoc on my body. I can go anywhere and do anything between the pages of a book. At my worst with Lyme, I could only read a sentence or two and then I’d forget what I’d read. It was frustrating, but it still gave me something to focus on outside of the negative parts of a chronic illness. Reading and writing remain my favorite hobbies; I credit them both with being a light to get me through the dark times.”

Capturing the Devil will be on sale September 10, 2019

· Book page on Hachette’s website

· Amazon

· Barnes & Noble

Find your local store at Indiebound

Styx

Best Thing was the first hit which came out in 1972 and I really did not know the song that well. It was that  Lady, from the moment I saw you..…. that captured my passion and the many hearts of others. The song was popular in Chicago in 1974 with the help of radio broadcaster, Dick Biondi, but was finally heard nationwide by 1975. Hitting number 6 in the charts. However, it was Come Sail Away in 1978 that would bring tears to my eyes because I loved the sea; especially sailing at that time in my life when the song hit the charts in 1978.

It was true irony when I was writing and researching Styx that I happened to overhear a young third grader, Cannon, talk about his dedicated knowledge of songs and love for the band. Knowing the songs of today, Cannon talked about the discs Regeneration, Volume 1 and 2 recorded in 2011 which included Grand Illusion. His ten year old sister, Ella, discussed the new high-fidelity, analog, studio album Mission currently on sale. Her favorite song was Radio Silence.

In August 1961, at 12 years of age, twin brothers Chuck (bass) and John Panozzo (drums) first played music together with their 14-year-old neighbor Dennis DeYoung who played accordion and sang, while living in the Roseland, Chicago area. Eventually they began using the band name ‘The Tradewinds. Many I have met through the years remember going to school with the band members, living in the same neighborhood, seeing them at high school concerts or listening to their music at summer fairs.

According to Wikipedia, Chuck left to attend seminary school for a year but returned to the group by 1964. Tom Nardin had been brought in to replace Chuck on guitar, and Chuck decided to play bass guitar when he returned to the band. John Panozzo was the drummer, while DeYoung had switched from accordion to keyboards. In 1965, the Tradewinds name was changed to TW4 (There Were 4) after another band, the Trade Winds, achieved fame nationally.

By 1966, the Panozzo brothers had joined DeYoung at Chicago State College and kept the group together by performing at high schools and fraternity parties while studying to be teachers. In 1969, they added a college friend folk guitarist, John Curulewski, after Nardin departed. Hard rocker guitarist James “J.Y.” Young came aboard in 1970, making TW4 a quintet. In 1972, the band members decided to choose a new name when they signed to Wooden Nickel Records after being spotted by a talent scout at a concert at St. John of the Cross Parish in Western Springs, Illinois. The name Styx was chosen.

Today, Styx continues to tour but band members have changed over the decades.  However, Tommy Shaw, James “J.Y.” Young, and Chuck Panozzo are considered the main musicians. John Panozzo passed away in 1996. Drummer Todd Sucherman, keyboardist Lawrence Gowan and bassist Ricky Phillips have been with the band for many years. The band is still known as the band with everything; a powerful mix of sound and creativity.

Dennis DeYoung, founder of Styx and writer of many songs, sings with his own band that showcases many of Styx’s greatest hits.

Amber Bakery and Dressels

When getting cakes for birthday parties as a child for the kids, they were decorated beautifully. And it was always Ambers for the kids birthday party or school functions; a yellow cake with white frosting. Though I think I liked their cookies the best! The Ambers family lived across the street, owning a duplex and living on the second floor. I baby sat for the family that lived on the first floor. Ambers owned two shops; the South Shore location was at 2326 East 71st street and 9157 South Commercial Ave; the last address was the one we visited. Ambers did sponsor many school functions and celebrated the opening of Buckingham school in 1962.

I was never a strong cake lover because my favorite dessert, even to this day, is ice cream. Just recently, I read that ice cream is good for breakfast…can’t picture that yet. However, Dressels, really changed all that and a wonderful article in Lost Recipes actually has a home recipe for their chocolate whip cream cake. Mom would have this cake at parties when the adults were present. And Dressels was one of the first where their chocolate cream cake could be purchased and frozen called frig-freez cake. It was delicious and I passed.. on ice cream.. when we had Dressels.

Dressels were originally made in Chicago at a plant on the south side. William Dressel left home with his brother, Joseph, in Wisconsin,  to start a business in Chicago in 1913. Herman, their other brother, joined them 10 years later. There first bakery was at 33rd and Wallace developing the first whipped cream cake. In the 1940’s, Dressels was selling over 10,000 cakes per week and by 1963, Dressels was celebrating their 50th Anniversary. Dressels was also a leader in frozen foods with  annual sales of 3.5 million. Later in 1963, the firm was sold and expanded by American Bakeries Inc.

The Dressel’s cake is still being made at Wolf’s Bakery in Evergreen Park, which has been serving baked goods since 1939. In fact, Wolf’s Bakery at 3241 W. 95th St. has been selling its version of the cake since 2009. Many customers have commented that the cake tastes exactly the same.

Even though the hours are early morning as I write with my coffee, I am getting hungry. Not for breakfast food or ice cream either!!