Forgotten mall: Hillside Shopping Center

Hillside Mall located in the Chicago suburb of Hillside at Roosevelt and Wolf was originally an open air mall that was built in 1956. The anchor stores were Carsons and Goldblatts and initially 21 stores existed, however, that increased in 1958 according to Mall Hall of Fame.  Stores I remember were Carsons, which was three levels. A friend remembers special times with his Dad at Karroll’s Men’s Wear. But in the 1960’s the mall was sold and refurbished; enclosed and climate controlled in August of 1967. Stores also included Lyon and Healy where my Mom and I bought sheet music. Armand was a great restaurant with a smorgasbord as they were called then.

Newer and larger malls began to show their face which included Oakbrook and Yorktown in Lombard which are still open today. Also opening in the 1970s was the North Riverside Mall. Remodeling was done in the late 70s and early 80s but Hillside was declining rapidly. Located near the Eisenhower expressway, there were no immediate off ramps near the mall and people had to go a few miles out of there way to get there.

It was purchased by Northbrook-based New Castle Partners in January 1992. They decided to remarket the struggling complex as a value-oriented shopping hub, changing its name to WEST POINT CENTER in February. Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based Menards opened a home improvement store in the vacated Goldblatt’s space in mid-1992. Prior to Menards, Zayres and Ames were also there. But when Carson’s was closed in 1997, the mall was demolished.

The Hillside Mall Cinemas was closed by Loews Cineplex in late 2000’s and now houses a church, while the adjacent Hillside Mall is now a Carmax used car retailer. They opened as one screen in 1962 but eventually had three. Cinema Treasures offers some great history of different movie theaters throughout the country and is building the world’s largest guide of theaters. They have over 53,000 movie theaters from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and dozens of other countries around the world.

 

 

 

 

Herb Gardening

By Caryl Clem:

Learning to cook in the 1950’s provided little exposure to the sensation of fresh herbs to flavor your food dishes. Collectible today are the orange and green tins from A&P storing cinnamon, sage, marjoram and all the common spices of that era. My eternal gratitude to the Italian chef in the 1960’s who introduced me to fresh basil, garlic, rosemary and oregano at the neighborhood store. After eating the meal we prepared, my mind set about spices shifted, now I was suspicious of any that came in a can or jar.

Fresh herbs you just picked have unbelievable flavor with health benefits.  Many herbs contain immune fighting vitamins and heart healthy antioxidants. If you love a variety of flowers blooming through the summer in your yard, consider herbal beds. Purple ruffle basil has deep purple/ red leaves. Basil comes in over 8 types, ranging in flavors of licorice, anise, and citrus with a peppery bite. Another Mediterranean favorite, purslane has yellow flowers with a piquant lemony flavor. Borage has dazzling blue flowers with a cucumber flavor. Perilla used in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam has a cinnamon edge with a cumin/citrus bite. Mrytle has orange blossom flavor leaves. Chives have purple button top flowers. The array of different leaves and blooms is attractive many naturally attract bees and birds. Herbs are thoroughly explained in “Herbs and Spices, the Cooks Reference” by Jill Norman.Culinary opportunity herbs offer include plant origin, flavors, growing conditions, decorative appeal describing blooming, with recipe advice.

Traditional favorites found in stores around the Chicago area are rosemary, basil, sage, parsley, dill, cilantro, mint, oregano, marjoram, and thyme.  All of these herbs except cilantro and mint love well drained soil and sun. Mint is an aggressive plant; I have it in its own territory by a window well. Cilantro does better in the shade. To keep a supply of cilantro all summer, keep planting seeds every 2-3 weeks. If you use cilantro often, try Rau Ram from Asia with a citrus more peppery bite. Marjoram is like a baby sister to oregano, same family but its flavor weakens the longer it is cooked. Another partial shade herb is Angelica from Russia and Scandinavia with yellow flowers, popular to use with fish described as a juniper, anise, and celery mix. A book recommended in an article on gardening in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune referenced, “Homegrown Herb Garden, A guide to Growing and Culinary Use”by Lisa Baker Morgan and Amy McCormick.

Warmer days ahead should include growing fresh herbs for your kitchen. When temperatures will average 60 degrees or higher during the day and no lower than 45 degrees at night, your herbs will flourish. Herbs are resilient requiring little maintenance. You can have it all, colorful beauty, flavor and healthy cuisine in your own yard.  Enjoy your inside/out herbal spice shelf.

My first 45 rpm records

Sunday was National Record Day and I could write many articles concerning record collections. But let’s talk about 45 rpm records. They were my first before albums because they were cheap and I was young…only about 10 to 12. Singles were popular with the young crowd more than albums and rock and roll artists. Along, with my first record player, I also received an off white box with a gold gilded design to fill a decent collection of 45 rpm records. My first ones consisted of Downtown by Petula Clark recorded n 1964,  I Know a Place, also by Petula Clark in 1965, Bend me, Shape me, by American Breed in 1967, Woman, Woman by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Spirit in the Sky, by Norman Greenbalm. It was after Norman that I moved on to bands and albums.

The most common form of the vinyl single is the “45” or “7-inch”. According to sources, the names are derived from its play speed, 45 rpm, and the standard diameter, 7 inches. The 7-inch 45 rpm record was released March 31, 1949 by RCA Victor as a smaller, more durable and higher-fidelity replacement for the 78 rpm shellac discs. The first had recordings on both sides but the other side was generally not a popular song by the same artist. Most ran about 2-4 minutes.

History Dumpster offers some interesting information concerning 45 rpms. John Lennon once asked how long he could record his song to George Martin in 1968 and George Martin, after some experimenting, found the answer – 7 minutes, 11 seconds. And thus the playing time of “Hey Jude”.  I guess Bruce Springsteen made one longer. Portable battery operated phonographs were also made for taking your music anywhere. Though you were lost without your record inserts.

These records did last longer than I expected though declined in the 1980’s when cassettes became the rage. Some were still being recorded in 1990. Thursday’s Golden Goodies offers some great vinyl records today that you can order online. Their Internet store has more than 47,000 different vintage 45 rpm & LP records in stock. You can actually get a carrying case for your 45 rpm records and spindle domes to properly center your record on a turntable.

Of course, you can sell your 45 rpms directly on Ebay. There is collection of country (not my favorite) for over fifty dollars. It has been awhile since I have seen my childhood box and records though clearly remember the collection. I know the box is somewhere but while writing this story, I found the exact box online. Back in our day, the variety was not as vast as it is today. And it is only seven dollars.

 

You can still redeem S & H Green Stamps not Plaid Stamps

Being home during this uncertain time, brought moments of re-organization and a special box saved by my Mom. I had time to really investigate. While laying the books and single stamps out on table to organize for a photo, my adult daughter walked in asking what these were. Oh my..…so I tried to explain helping my own Mom lick stamps at the dinette table in the 1960’s and fill books so we could go shopping. Retail organizations, like grocery stores, gave out stamps according to how much you bought. My mom got Plaid stamps when she went to the A&P. What’s an A&P?  Mom got green stamps at National Foods. Of course, another question about the defunct National food store. A great blog idea entitled forgotten grocery stores.

Sperry & Hutchinson began offering stamps to U.S. retailers in 1896. Shoppers accumulated stamps, they moistened the reverse and mounted them in collector’s books, which were provided free by S&H. Depending how many books you collected, you could buy household items offered at a redemption center. In Chicago, redemption centers were located in Wiebolts stores or Magikist The following stores were listed on the back of one of the books published in 1965 when Ford City had been built.

*State and Madison         * Harlem-Irving               *Milwaukee and Ashland                             *Oak Park                       * 63rd near Halsted          *Evanston           *Lincoln near Belmont  *Lincoln Village              *Meadowdale                     *Randhurst        *New Ford City

The program had its greatest popularity during the mid-1960s, but started to decline in the mid-1970’s. However, stamps can still be redeemed. The green stamps do not expire and WIKI shows you how to send in your stamps for money or set up a site to use online. Today, S&H offers “greenpoints” as rewards for purchases made on the Internet if you are not interested in cash.

Plaid stamps could be used buy purchasing from a gift catalogue and today, they are not redeemable, however, it is a great idea to check out opportunities to sell on EBAY. Plaid stamp books are selling for five to ten dollars but filled books with stamps are worth more. ETSY also offers a variety of vintage stamp collections. A vintage double-sided Plaid Stamp metal sign is going for over 150 dollars.

Good Old Days: Strange parallels with 1918 and the Asian Flu in 1957

My grandmother had saved 50+ copies of these comics in the 1950’s. She, too, was a published writer for a newspaper and artist. As I searched through the copies this week, I found a group called Miserable Moments, having no idea that this comic, written by Erwin L Hess, described the Spanish flu from 1918 comparing to the new pandemic of 1957 that was just beginning. The grandfather talks about 1918 when churches, school and theaters were closed…most people still getting it regardless of wearing mask. The author also talks about the flu which would probably get them in October, 1957 when this was published.

The “Asian flu” was the second major flu pandemic outbreak of avian influenza(H2N2) that originated also in China early 1956 lasting until 1958. It originated from a mutation in wild ducks combining with a pre-existing human strain. The virus was first identified in Guizhou. By June 1957 it reached the United States. Some of the first affected were United States Navy personnel at destroyers docked at Newport Naval Station, as well as new military recruits elsewhere. 

The first wave peaked in October which he talks about in the comic and the second wave, in January and February 1958 among elderly people, which was more fatal. It was spread among children but not harmful to them.The vaccine was available from October 1957 in the United Kingdom in small quantities but once sent to the US, it was effective. According to sources, about 100,000 people died in the US and almost two million died world wide but considered the worst flu epidemic. Some only experience mild symptoms such as a mild cough, fever while others developed severe respiratory illness such as pneumonia. 

Comic artist Erwin L. Hess (1913-1999) featured nostalgic memories in his popular newspaper comic panel The Good Old Days. His detailed art combined with easily-recognized themes from American family history resonated with readers who grew up in small towns and farms across the country. The Good Old Days was published from 1946 to 1981.

After reading about the history of the Asian flu and the onslaught of H1N1 in 2009, one report commented about in spite of the scare stuff in the lay press. When it comes to social media and the news emphasizing fear over faith, some things never change.

National Stress Month

By Caryl Clem:

April is a National Stress Awareness month, ironically during a time America is facing the most traumatic event in decades. As uncomfortable as you may currently feel staying home, flip your feelings using this time to your advantage. Everyone has a story to tell about their experience. Telling your story releases the pent up emotional baggage, reducing stress while increasing brain activity according to research from Harvard. Writing or taping personal experiences turns your brain on to creating a cause effect scenario. ‘Stories are the way we understand and make sense of the world we find ourselves in.’ says Clare Patey, Director of the Empathy Museum.

Creating a story folder could combine your feelings and images. Keep the stories short, they provide a future window to revisit how you faced the pandemic. I remember finding an antique food stamp book in my Mother’s dresser drawer. I had no clue what feelings surrounded this relic. I wrote about how I changed during this time. When I couldn’t fall asleep, I started cleaning blinds at 1 a.m. Never in my life have I tackled a job I hate the most to get so tired I would fall asleep. A friend of mine called ,she felt she was living in a science fiction fantasy, driving down an empty street with empty stores. Years from now these stories will breathe life into the pictures being taken.

During the 1930’s, America was recovering from the epic Depression Era. A phrase heard on the street reflecting the economy was,” Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”. This meager amount could buy a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, or a gallon of gas. Couples would gather to share a pot luck dinner and play a game. A popular game was buying and selling real estate, invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1903. There were no written rules, game procedures traveled by word of mouth. A frequent player of this game, Mr. Darrow, unemployed, low on funds, asked his friend to write the rules down. Darrow sold these rules to Parker Brothers. The allure of wealth and power skyrocketed, Monopoly, into a financial success.

A common theme in games is overcoming hardship. If you feel creative, design your own board game that mirrors surviving with practices of stay at home and social distancing. Design a card deck with short examples given either positive or negative points. Running out of food, lose 5 points, utility bill forgiven, 10 extra points, sunny, warm day to walk the dog 5 extra points, free pizza with delivery coupon, 10 extra points are examples of what is possible.

Volunteer work accomplishes releasing stress reducing body chemicals. Health care professionals are notoriously independent. If you know one, reach out and ask if you can help by doing laundry, shopping for groceries, checking on an older person they know, preparing food for their families. These saints among us don’t have the time or energy to conduct their lives normally. Food pantries are short on help. The key to managing stress is STAY POSITIVE. Relish creating memories your family can look back on in the future.

Buckingham Fountain

My first experience visiting Buckingham Fountain was not pleasant. I remember my Dad and I walking very close to edge of the fountain; terrified of the Art Deco seahorse that was, supposedly, a state staring at me, spouting water. I began to cry; only in kindergarten at the time. The fountain represents Lake Michigan, with four sets of sea horses (two per set) symbolizing the four states—Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana—that bordered the lake. Setting gracefully in Grant Park since 1927, from afar, Buckingham Fountain was absolutely beautiful whether it was during the day or watching the light show at night. I remember many summer evenings driving “downtown” as we described it then to gather at the fountain.

In 1924, one million was donated to the city to build the fountain by Kate Sturges Buckingham, philanthropist and art patron in memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham, who was director of the Art Institute. My grade school built in 1962 was named after Kate Sturges Buckingham so I know the name well. Work began in 1925; taking two years to build. The fountain is one of the finest ornamental structures though not always appreciated for its elegance The Buckingham Fountain was manually operated from 1927 through the 1970s and my significant other who was 18 was arrested for the first time swimming drunk in the fountain with his friends one night. Back in the 1970’s days, they were arrested but let go, generally without legal consequences, after their parents picked them up.

For years, the fountain was entirely manually operated by two stationary engineers who each worked a daily twelve-hour shift. Historically, the major water displays occurred only twice a day, three times a week. These displays were so popular that they began to be offered every day in the late 1950s. According to the Chicago Park District, they used a keyboard with twenty-one electric switches that could fade, brighten, and blend colors to create numerous light effects. Although the light show was first automated in 1968, the water continued to be manually operated until 1980, when the operations were fully computerized. There were some years that the fountain was not operated here in Chicago but in Atlanta. The Chicago Park District offers some wonderful information concerning the structure, the fountains water capacity and upgrading the computer controlling the fountain in 2013 as well as water display hours.

In accordance with the stay home order, all Chicago Park District fieldhouses and playgrounds will remain closed until April 30th. But generally the fountain does not open until mid May through October, so visiting would be a great trip to put on your wish list.

Keeping in step at the parks

By Caryl Clem:

April’s monthly theme is for everyone to walk so put on your favorite soles and head for a park while practicing social distancing. Cook County Forest Preserves feature 70,000 acres and over 350 trails to investigate while Chicago’s parks cover 7,600 acres. To locate the scenic 31,000 acres with 206 pathways and trails to explore; the largest selection of endangered and wildlife species in Lake County along the Des Plaines River or the shores of Lake Michigan.

A contest had been held to decide what the best park should offer and the winner influenced the next 50 years of park designs, Frederick Law Olmsted. The New York Central Park in 1857, was a showcase of beauty, a park with rolling landscapes and graceful wrought iron benches. The most frequent visitors were the wealthy. The best roads were there for carriage races held on a regular basis. By the turn of the century parks were constructed for the working class in neighborhood locations.  The love of sports becomes part of park services in the 1960’s.  Parks offers a huge variety of activities from museums, conservatories, cultural centers in addition to exercise.  A majority of parks feature a younger child area with playground equipment and sand boxes. Any park is an adventure to walk through while studying nature. There are interactive maps with GPS available, for instance LCFPD.org/maps.

The Rails to Trails movement idea started in Chicago. May Theilgaard Watts in 1963 wrote to the Chicago Tribune proposing closed Chicago-Aurora-Elgin railroad line was a space to walk going to waste, this was a missed opportunity. In her words, “ if we have the courage and foresight..then from this strip we can create a proud resource.”  Years later, The Illinois Prairie Path Organization turned her words into a reality currently used by over 800,000 people who have walked along the Illinois Prairie Path. Outside of  Chicago, this site offers locations complete with ratings.

The best example of wetlands is in the Spring Bluff forest preserve in Winthrop Harbor that links to the Chiwaukee Prairie in Wisconsin. The 4, 500 acre is the highest quality of coastal area in Illinois and southeast Wisconsin awarded the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance in 2015.

History and culture exploration are offered in several parks; for example The Dunn Museum in Libertyville, Indian Park near the West Rogers Park area’s Cultural Center offering Native American themes to pay tribute to the former Pottawattomie tribes that occupied this territory,  and Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park . Old roads and horse trails wind through Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods.

For dog owners,  (annual permits required )pawsitivly great spots In Lake County,

   Dog Park Maps
Duck Farm »              Independence Grove »             Lakewood »
Prairie Wolf »             Waukegan Savanna »

For Chicago, check out these trails for your favorite pet.

Currently, many parks are closed so check before going. Spend April walking, even around your neighborhood. Doctors advise a minimum of 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week. When the parks open again, explore and feel the excitement of a new adventure while improving your health.