Journey’s Mark on Rock

By Caryl Clem

Looking forward to concerts in Chicago includes iconic bands like Journey on May 2, 2022 at Allstate Arena. The radio station WLS celebrated their coming appearance with a “Journey” week featuring their lead songs. The magic when music dissolves time happens every time I listen to time buried favorites like “Don’t Stop Believing”, “Open Arms”, and “Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin to name of few of their hits. Decades later after their single hits consistently hit the Top Forty Charts during the 1980’s, generations still relish listening to Journey’s signature music.

In 1975, the first appearance under the band title” Golden Gate Rhythm Section” in San Francisco showcased a psychedelic, jazz, rock combo that featured two former members of Santana. Three releases later by 1977, the bands’ identity is still forming with marginal sales. A new name Journey is on the front cover of “Look Into The Future”, 1976. The “Infinity” album increases popularity with three hit song as Steve Perry’s voice stirs passions. Encouragement by a band members’ father to not give up leads to a hit single, “Don’t Stop Believing” in 1981 along with other popular singles. Within 6 years after a questionable start, Journey reaches record sales demand hitting 9 million in America. The band lost members seeking their own careers at the end of the 1980’s.

Band member changes lead to hiatus in 1987. The reorganization emerged in to the release “Trial by Fire “in 1996 that sold I million. The legacy of Journey was refueled by “Arrival” in 2001 and “Generation” in 2005.  Journey was back on the concert tour reconnecting with audiences from coast to coast. The newest vocalist found by searching YouTube is Amel Pineda since his debut in “Revelation” 2008, “Eclipse” 2011. Pat Monohan from the band Train inducted Journey into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Currently the Freedom tour is a testimony to Journeys’ timeless appeal. The rollicking keyboards, the clever interplay of harmony styles, the ballad lyrics echoing love’s resilience or the pain of loss captures hearts of all ages. Journey music strikes a familiar chord for many. https://mentalitch.com/classic-rock-profiles-history-of-journey/

Go With the Birds

By Caryl Clem

Birdhouses in yards are common throughout Illinois providing homes to the possible 400 species. This month in Chicago, WGNTV Published on April 12, 2022 by Mike Lowe and Kevin Doellman an inspiring story about how spare time during the pandemic for creating a project led to walkers changing course to view the hand painted display.  The article titled, Chicago neighborhood tree filled with colorful hand painted birdhouses is a gift to the street is proof of birdhouse popularity. Beyond the appeal is the need to provide shelter to 25 common birds in this region.

Trailside Museum of Natural History in Cook County sponsors a birdhouse building contest every year. Entries run from March 15 to May 15, 2022. The University of Chicago industrial design course includes a design studio for adobes to provide air circulation and feather comfort. The Southbank riverside park will feature birdhouses designed by University of Chicago students.  Chicago’s Botanic Garden created a bird apartment complex for Purple Martins that fly from South America every spring. A sign in Griggsville Illinois boasts Purple Martins have been credited for consuming 2,000 mosquitos a day. Named, The Purple Martin Capital of the Nation for 30 years from the 1960’s a Purple Martin housing industry flourished in this town run by J.L Wade. A 70 foot condo with 562 apartments dwarfs other pole structures on every street. Famous for their songs and areal flight maneuvers, Purple Martins are a favorite.

I have “regular” bird nest returners in my trees or outdoor light fixtures. I have a determined dove that rebuilds a nest every year over one of my garage beacons. The light pole in my front yard has had several different occupants that ignore the 45 year old maple towering overhead. Obviously, these are signs to provide better housing. Birds are my best friends as they consume annoying, biting insects. Simple birdhouse guidelines encourage birds. Earthy natural colors that blend into the environment are safe for nesting birds that do not want predator birds eating their young. Florescent, metallic, or iridescent paints contain chemicals that can harm birds. Brighter colors in a heavily blooming area attract robust fighter birds. Paint can make the wooden birdhouses more durable. Dark colors hold in the hot summer sun heat and can kill a bird inside. Swallows do not want a perch so an invader has a harder time to gain occupancy.

I believe to help nature maintain a healthy balance means “ Go With The Birds “ ,support them in your yard while enjoying a better solution to insect control than chemical sprays.

Fifty five years ago: The Chicagoland tornadoes of 1967

For me, it was in the late afternoon after school and I was playing outside at a friends. We were planning our weekend and the weather had been beautiful for April with high temperatures in the 70’s. It was a time of no cell phones or computers on April 21st, 1967. But Father called from the front porch after getting home for work early, that I needed to get home. Strange, it was not dinner time when the usual call from Mom went out. My own home was about a half a block west from where I had been playing and I was shocked as I glanced at the western sky. I suddenly noticed that the trees, the birds were quiet for April and the sky was a heavy gray, tinged with a smudge of green. Like the massive snowstorm months before, Chicago’s weather was about to change.  Something in my heart told me that the call to home was not a good one and I raced to the front porch, my Dad sat in his chair. He loved storms and that was his spot regardless of the severity but this time he told me and Mother, who was standing inside the front door, that we needed to be in the basement immediately. At no other time in my short life, do I remember that command. Mom and I headed for the basement, me first but Mom kept trying to get him to come in as she stood on the basement stairs, scared.

The first tornado, better known as the Belvidere tornado, struck approximately at a little before 4 pm where the Chrysler plant near 1-90 witnessed the destruction of over 400 cars. Then, the destruction continued to the town of Belvidere where hundreds of homes were damaged but it was just at the time that school was getting out and buses were being loaded at the high school. Elementary students were already on the buses but over 1,200 high students were dismissed and tried to get back into the building. According to sources, twelve buses were rolled over and students were flung like leaves into the field. Thirteen of the 24 fatalities and 300 of the 500 injuries in this tornado occurred at the high school. At 5:03, Lake Zurich and surrounding suburbs felt the effects of their own tornado where over 75 homes were completely destroyed. Moving rapidly with no warning as had been described by many residents that there was no noticeable roar until upon them. It ripped through Seth Paine Elementary School, tearing down thick brick walls but leaving clocks showing 5:05 pm.  Many people were caught in their autos as they were returning home from work. Mike Doyle has written an interesting book about the Belvidere Tornado.

But it was the Oak Lawn tornado that was on its way to my neighborhood in Calumet Park and according to meteorologists, the worst storm of the day. According to sources, at 5:15 pm. an off duty Weather Bureau employee saw a rotating cloud mass over his house in Romeoville. Windows were blow out at a restaurant at at McCarthy Road and 127th and an observer at the Little Red School House at 99th and Willow Springs Road saw a funnel.

The tornado touched down just east of 88th Avenue between 105th and 106th Streets at 5:24 p.m., 24 minutes after the tornado warning was issued for Cook County.  But it continued hitting homes and crossed the Tri-State Tollway, hitting a drive-in movie near Chicago Ridge finally moving to the heart of Oak Lawn. It was here that many homes were leveled. It was here that one of my parents best friends was hurt As we later learned, he was sitting in traffic at the intersection of 95th Street and Southwest Highway where a light pole smashed into the top of his car crushing him as he was heading to pick up his daughter at the Oaklawn Roller Rink. He did survive. The greatest total of life took place there. Between 25 and 40 automobiles, halted at this intersection for a traffic light, were thrown in all directions, some carried northeast at least a block and set down on the Oak Lawn athletic field.

The Oak Lawn Roller Rink was completely destroyed but his daughter had left early and was safe from the destruction. Four were killed at the rink.  Fortunately, as the tornado passed over the Dan Ryan Expressway and headed our way, it began to dissipate causing lighter damage to vegetation, roofs and garages. According to sources, it finally moved offshore as a waterspout at Rainbow Beach, where we swam as kids. My father summoned us out of the basement as he had watched the storm pass over from the front porch. Though the clouds were high then, he knew the damage west had been serious. At least 10 tornadoes raked northeast Illinois, three of which were violent, F4 tornadoes. In the wake of the twisters, 58 were dead, more than 1000 were injured, and there was nearly half a billion in damage costs. Kevin Korst is the Local History Manager for the Oak Lawn Public Library and the author of “Images of America: Oak Lawn” and “Images of America: Oak Lawn Tornado of 1967”.

(Original article revised and written in 2018)

In your Easter bonnet

The Easter parade was always planned, following the religious service on Easter Sunday. Never another day which was truly a way to celebrate Jesus. Easter parades involved women who were finely dressed in new clothes and hats. Having new clothes and expensive attire actually began in Europe in the early 4th century as a celebration to the resurrection. It symbolized re-birth, renewal and hope. In 1933, American songwriter Irving Berlin wrote the music for a revue on Broadway called As Thousands Cheer. It included his song “Easter Parade”, which he had been working on for fifteen years, and in which he had finally captured the essence of the parade. Both the song and the revue were tremendously popular. The song became a standard, and fifteen years later was the basis for the film Easter Parade. My family members remember the Chicago parade in 1939 taking place in front of the Drake hotel after services. Women of wealthy families would attend service and then head for a luxurious lunch. Another Chicago parade took place in on Michigan Ave in around the Fourth Presbyterian Church in 1927. Many dressed in fine clothes and bonnets. They were usually wealthy congregants and influential pastors.

The Easter parade is most closely associated with Fifth Avenue in New York City, but Easter parades are held in many other cities. Starting as a spontaneous event in the 1870s, the New York parade became increasingly popular into the mid-20th century—in 1947, it was estimated to draw over a million people. Its popularity has declined significantly, drawing only 30,000 people in 2008. It was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid but now the Easter parade and bonnet festival still exists. The Easter Parade & Easter Bonnet Festival is a spontaneous event that takes place every year in New York City. On Easter Sunday, Fifth Avenue (from 49th St to 57th St) is closed for traffic. The fun begins at about 10 am. The promenade of hundreds of people wearing weird, funny, and inventive costumes usually attracts crowds of spectators.

Other wonderful Easter celebrations planned on Easter Sunday throughout the country:

New Orleans Like so many occasions in New Orleans, Easter Sunday is celebrated with a parade…actually three. The oldest Easter parade in the city is the one founded by Germaine Wells in 1956. Most are Christian so as many have said, it a spritual time in the city. Therefore, Easter gets its fair number of parades dedicated to different issues and topics, such as The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade, Chris Owens French Quarter Parade, and the Gay Easter Parade. The Historic French Quarter parade starts at Antoines restaurant at 9:45 and arrives at the St. Louis Cathedral for mass at 11:00. There are also Easter Bonnet awards.

The Easter Parade on Union Street in San Francisco is another popular event on Easter Sunday. The parade begins at 2pm but there is also Easter bonnet contest as well. Other parades and contests are available to see at Golden Gate Park.

What Easter means to me

It began with an Easter bonnet that never fit me right, but I had to wear it since hats were all the rage in 1960, when I was five. I remember loving my lace ankle socks, Mary Jane shoes and my white clutch purse, holding it delicately with white gloves. I remember many beautiful dresses….and it seemed like hours that my Mom took me shopping to find the best one on Easter Sunday. I remember a white linen dress with multiple colors of trim; that I still have in a box. I remember the dress in the above picture and having Easter, brunch or dinner; sometimes at a restaurant like the Green Shingle or at home with friends and family. I remember the excitement of my Dad’s good friend who had just gotten his first Polaroid camera and couldn’t wait to take a picture of Mom, Dad, and me.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it was about Easter celebrations in Downers Grove with my own children now adults. As I do every few years approaching holidays and birthdays, I travel back in the storage boxes of their youth like traveling back in time in a Polaroid memory. In my son’s baby book, sure enough, there is his first Easter card. I remember one his first bunnies bought to celebrate….there it is. I remember Mom and a neighbor buying my daughters’ Easter dresses, one with colorful tulips and my young son had to wear a tie. Once again…found among the blankets, stuffed animals and other memorabilia. We would have an Easter egg hunt at our house for the kids and neighbors. My neighbor, who was the Mysterious Bunny, that no one knew, left baskets at my front door every Easter. Before John passed, he left new bikes for my children at the front door.

As a kindergarten assistant, our school celebrates Easter with talk of the Easter bunny. Students had to take home a plastic egg and fill it with something. When they bring, it back to school, the classmates have to try to guess what it is. Today, the best Easter gifts include Dylan’s Candy Bar, Harry and David gourmet food gifts for adults. However, Carters has the perfect outfit for your little one, and, of course, Crayola that include buy one get one get one free so that you can include coloring books and art supplies in the basket. Hanna Andersson offers jammies for the little ones.

After many decades, what does the holiday mean. First of all, it begins with Palm Sunday which is the precious start of Holy Week. The Sunday before Easter. The celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem; sharing palm branches. Later, he is tried and crucified; the darkness of Good Friday but knowing in my heart that he has died for our sins. Finally, it is Easter and his resurrection; a yearly celebration realizing that there is something greater and more powerful than ourselves. Knowing that there is always hope. Hope in the God above. Hope that giving our lives to God will always bring miracles in many forms. And finally as we continue to believe and give, we learn that God’s timetable for our lives is perfect.

That is what Easter means to me.

Chicagoland’s Hegewisch Records

Moving to Dolton from the south side of Chicago in the early 1970’s, my record collection expanded. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s first album, Carol King’s Tapestry, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Deja vu and 64 of the Greatest Motown Hits (4 albums) and more became an obsession. As well as my shopping trips to Hegewisch Records & Tapes which was a legendary store that was located first in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago. The store started in 1965 as a novelty shop selling sundries as well as records and music. The record and music operation moved to its Calumet City location in 1974 at 522 Torrence Ave. Other south suburban locations were in Richton Park and Merrillville, Indiana. It was founded by Joe Sotiros. And the store had everything including accessories and t-shirts. Here, you could meet a number of bands for record signings and concerts such as Elton John, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Roger Daltry. Even the Blues Mobile from the Blue Brothers movie showed up. A dear friend who played drums for a group called Thunder got to meet Wishbone Ash, an incredible rock and blues group. It was nothing to wait in line for hours to see favorite bands and nobody complained. I will say again….no one complained since we all had something in common that we loved.

But on Friday, the 13th, September in 1991, Joseph was murdered on his ranch in Crete. He was found by friends because they had not seen him for a few days and were concerned. They contacted the police immediately. This has haunted his sister Brenda for years since no arrests have been made. The Calumet City store changed hands after his death but closed its door about a year after. The store was finally demolished to make way for a Walgreens.

In Merriville, Indiana, Hegwewisch was a staple from the mid -1980’s through the 1990’s. However, as what happened to most record shops, Circuit City and Best Buy took over with better sales and finally the shop was closed. The building was torn down as well located on Rt 30. Today, Lisa, Joe’s niece, has a Facebook site that truly honor the memories of the record shop. My daughter who is 30+ loving the music of that era, like me, has always said that the Baby Boomer’s generation of music can never be matched.

Chicagoland’s Rose Records

My first experience flipping through 45’s was traumatic. After getting my first portable record player, my Mom took me shopping in 1968 and said I could buy 3 45’s and she didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time. I picked Woman, Woman by Gary Puckett and The Union Gap, even though I loved the melody but have you got cheating on your mind for a girl in fifth grade, was not really what I was thinking about. My second choice, Bend me, Shape Any Way You Want To. But in junior high, my love for rock and roll in the late 1960’s began to expand and I couldn’t wait to buy records which included Spirit in The Sky by Norman Greenbaum, the newest in psychedelic rock. My girlfriend and I would travel downtown from the southside of Chicago on a Saturday on the Illinois Central, get off at Randolph, head over to Wimpy’s and then Rose Records on Wabash. My first album purchased at Rose was Blood, Sweat, and Tears, released in 1968. The building was two-stories later becoming Tower. The escalator was up and the elevator was down. Records were arranged by label and catalog number, and since most people didn’t have those memorized they had copies of the Schwann catalog in the bins so you could look up the numbers.

According to the Tribune, Rose Records is especially noted for its flagship store at 214 S. Wabash Ave., which Aaron Rosenbloom developed and ran from the earliest days of the firm. It is one of the world`s largest record stores, with 100,000 titles on cassettes, CDs and LPs. In 1931, he and his brother, Merrill, founded Rose Records as ”Rose Radio,” retailing Zenith, Emerson and Detrola models. They later added phonographs and records. They had an excellent collection of classical music. Early Chicago bands had entertained at the Rose such as the Smashing Pumpkins who played in 1991.

In the 1980’s, there were 49 outlets but by the early 1990’s, stores began to close because of the cut throat prices at Circuit City and Best Buy. Many of the stores opened during the chain’s expansion were in suburban malls with high traffic flow, but rents at those locations were high, and the spaces were too small for the stores to maintain the wide selection Rose was known for. When Rose moved into outlying markets like Milwaukee and Madison, where it wasn’t as well-known, it had trouble capturing a significant market share.

Today, a Rose Records exists in Germany which includes house music since 2011 but not related to the Rose of Chicago.

Celebrating National Library Week; libraries an integral part of my life

Growing up in Chicago in the early 1960’s, we did have a library at school. The Chicago Public Library came to visit me and my classmates at Kate Sturgis Buckingham School and Joseph Warren School. I loved books but had a difficult time with comprehension until 5th grade. I remember book carts being displayed in a row in the gym for us to select a book to take home. Extra books were available on shelves in a tall closet where we could look at the books. Brenda Brave Helps Grandmother, a picture book by Astrid Lindgren, was a favorite. Some liked the Hardy Boys Series when they got older, but for me, it was the Trixie Beldon Series or Little House on the Prairie. The South Chicago Library Branch is still located at 91st and Houston and was built in 1941. That was my mom’s place since she was an avid reader; always a book in the evenings. The library was completely renovated with a new addition in 1994. There is also the Avalon Branch at 81st and Stony Island that opened in 2006.

Moving to Dolton in 1970-1978, much of my library experience took place at Thornridge Highschool, where I was a library assistant for my sophomore year, South Suburban College, and Lewis University, though the Dolton Library, 14037 Lincoln Avenue, still available, was popular during the summer as well as the South Holland Library. Originally, the South Holland Library was opened in 1962 after a 500,000 dollar referendum was passed. A new library was built in 1972 at its present location, 16250 Wausau Avenue. Most of my reading was textbook literature for high school and college papers, I still had to read for fun and relaxation. After Trixie Beldon, I had moved on to Nancy Drew and finished the series, but my favorite author in the late 1970’s was John Saul. His first, a horror best seller, was Suffer the Children in 1977, Punish the Sinners,1978, and Cry for the Strangers in 1979. I have read all 37 of his thrillers.

Teaching at the old Warren Township High School in Gurnee on O’Plaine Rd during the 1980’s, I remember the library at school. Because of the school library, I did not go to the Warren-Newport Library frequently, which opened in 1973 and is one of the busiest libraries in Lake County or the Waukegan Library. Waukegan’s current library building is located at County and Clayton Streets and is part of a governmental complex including both municipal and county buildings. It was designed by William Ganster of the Waukegan architecture firm of Ganster and Henninghausen. The library opened for service on December 27, 1965 and was dedicated on April 19, 1966. The library went through a complete renovation in 2015. The library honors Ray Bradbury, the science fiction author, since he was born in Waukegan in 1922. I was never much of a science fiction fan, but it was at this time that I fell in love with Anne Perry, a historical detective writer and Jeffrey Archer.

For over 30 years, my library of choice has been the Downers Grove Library, 1050 Curtiss Street. Especially with technological services, I can search for a book online, reserve it, and when it is ready, they will send an email saying that it is available and for how many days on specific hold shelves. You can reserve books that have not been published yet, but will come out sometime that year. Following a successful referendum for a tax-supported library, a small-frame building on the southwest corner of Main and Curtiss became the library’s second home. Circulation in November of 1912 was 1,520. In 1996, residents approved an $8.2 million referendum to reconstruct and update the library by adding an addition. The new 67,738 square foot building opened in February of 1999.

Being over 65, I can’t wait to read; still. I am always looking for the best in historical fiction and I love authors such as Kate Morton, Sara Paretsky, Claire McIntosh, Kristin Hannah, James Patterson, and the list goes on, and on, and on. I even belong to a book club; the creator of the club has invited women all over the country that she knew. We once shared the library together as teachers at Warren Township. We truly need to focus on the reading skills of young children. I am certainly an integral example. I have lived a lifetime’s love of reading.