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!!

The first day of school

Nobody took a picture of me on my first day of the school year and posted on Facebook for all of my family/friends to see. Not in 1961. In my early elementary years, no one really explained what was going on. Back in those days, it was one moment at a time and not much forethought was counseled a head of time. Just go and do. I was terrified of school until fourth grade. All I remember about the first days of kindergarten is my father dropping me off and meeting my school teacher, Mrs. O’Brien, at Thomas Hoyne School, her last year before retirement. And that made her wonderful because she was the Grandma I didn’t have at home and she had a way treating her students with kindness, patience, and one that encouraged early talents in special ways.

My own children followed the same tradition since they did not have social media. And my son began to cry as he was coerced to ride the kindergarten bus. Thankfully, back then, kindergarten was only a half a day.

As an assistant in the kindergarten classroom this year, I also help in the main hallway, while students from ages kindergarten to second grade, enter for the beginning of the school year. And I am excited… not only meeting new students today but hugging those that I have known the last two years. The buses begin to arrive before 8:00 am and at 7:40 we open our doors. Some run to me with new outfits, backpacks, and,of course, I am amazed how tall they are. One kindergarten student is crying and does not want to let go of Mom, and one first grade girl that I had last year, stops, gives me a hug and helps me with the new student.

As the day continues, I had forgotten all about the exhaustive first day episodes in kindergarten. Some runners, some criers, lots of trips to the washroom, constant classroom reminders to raise your hand and learn how to form a straight line. I had forgotten about the numerous questions when lunch was scheduled after morning snack, how many times they wanted to play on the playground, and when was it time to go home…they missed their brother, their sister, or their new pet. I had forgotten the need to be pushed on the swings. I had forgotten that I needed to increase my dose of Aleve for the day as a result of my continued mobility.

But at the end of the day, some gave me more hugs, beautiful smiles, and one young gentleman gave me a dandelion on the playground; thanking me for tying his shoe. Nobody missed their rides or buses home….not that I am aware of anyway. And most of all, they remembered my name which is something I am still working on as far as their names are concerned.

And as we send them off to after school programs, Mom’s, Dads, babysitters and Grandparents, I know this will be a wonderful school journey for all of us.

Year after year, many of us, as educators repeat the rituals of going to school. Though academics are certainly important, the best lessons that we can teach our students is love and understanding that eventually builds trust to sustain them for a lifetime. We owe it to their future; giving them the caring time and genuine attention they need everyday.

As an educator, parent, grandparent or friend, never underestimate the power that you have to make a difference in one child at a time.

Never underestimate the gift of a child……right back at ya!!!

Chicago stockyards

I visited the stockyards one time since a friend of my Dad’s worked for Swift in 1959-1960 and I remember just a few brief moments of smell and memories of cattle carcuses hanging from the ceiling. I don’t remember any other area because I was only about 4 or 5 and my Mom said we walked through pretty quickly to meet my Dad at an office where he was visiting. At first, the major meatpacking companies resisted change, but Swift and Armour both started surrendering and vacating their plants in the Yards at this time.

My Dad was several years older than my Mom and his father worked at the stockyards during the early 1900s and my grandfather was working there during the time of the fire. The fire, which broke out at Warehouse 7 of the Nelson Morris Company at the Chicago Union Stock Yards on the 4300 block of South Loomis Street, was first reported on December 22, 1910 at 4:09 am. It resulted in the death of twenty one Chicago firemen.

Dad also had friends that worked at the stockyard in 1934 and on May 19th, another significant fire took place destroying over 80 acres of land and 50 were injured though most were fireman. The fire had blazed for over 4 hours and many home owners and renters that lived in the surrounding areas were asked to evacuate. Over 2,200 firefighters battled the blaze. All the telephone lines, electric lines, and gas mains in the vicinity of the yards were put out of commission and some people were homeless around the Halsted area though there are no specifics at that time.

In 1921, the stockyard employed over 40,000 people and Americas center for meatpacking.Once refrigerated trucks and highways came into play, the processing plants, no longer dependent upon the proximity of the railroads, decentralized and moved west. The Union Stockyard and Transit Company closed its doors in 1971.

The Union Stock Yard Gate, located on Exchange Avenue at Peoria Street, was the entrance to the famous Union Stock Yards in Chicago. The gate was probably designed by John Wellborn Root of Burnham and Root around 1875, and is the only significant structural element of the stock yards to survive. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1981.

The Good Old Days: Rain

I love rainy days; especially weather watching for storms. I get so excited checking weather reports and the radar; technology that we have today versus the good old days. Though Alexa and Weather Underground do make mistakes. But even back then, everyone loves a rainy day…. napping, reading, playing a game or spending time with your own vehicles of nostalgia though for many that may be on our computers, phones and visiting social network sites.

Just the other day there was a morning rain storm and for many in the area, electricity was lost for hours. Today’s people could not survive with the loss of power during a rain storm and unfortunately attics are not made for snuggling. Right before the storm really began, I took my usual, summer morning walk and loved watching the clouds formulate while the raindrops slowly fell and it felt beautiful. The winds picked up as soon as I reached the house.

At the elementary school I work, grades kindergarten – second, no one…no one… liked to get rained on. We would always have extra umbrellas available if we were escorting a student from a car or bus. One of my jobs was to help manage kindergarten recess and generally it was outside. The kindergarten classes would eat lunch first and then all 100+ students would head out one door to the playground. I would open that door, always checking the grounds first before releasing them.  One spring day, the air was heavy, a little cloudy but none of the other recess supervisors had rain indicators on their phones saying that rain was on the way. Our phones did not lie about weather alerts today, but I was hesitant when I opened the door.Well, we let them go and they were all out less than ten minutes, when there was no thunder, lightening…. but pouring rain. I blew the whistle to have them line up early and I was shocked how well they managed. Some screamed but for the most part, they didn’t run slamming into the one door we always used that entered the building. They lined up in their five class lines, facing one of the other supervisors and the wall of the building, who always stood there. As I passed the lines to open the door and let, them in, some were actually holding their hands out, smiling, looking up at the sky as the rain continued, quietly stamping the puddles already forming, but each line gracefully walked into the building.

Some had spring jackets on and they didn’t complain after hanging their coats and heading into their classrooms. Some did ask if they could change their shoes since they had an extra pair of tennis shoes for P.E. The main office had video cameras and watched them come in; hoping there would not be a mob and there wasn’t. Those adults viewing the cameras were surprised at the smiles of fun on their faces.

Oh, boy how good their bare feet would have felt in the rain that poured most of the afternoon….just like the good old days.

Morton Salt: 105 years old and still the one

The only costume for Halloween that I ever one a prize for was dressing as the Morton Salt container at a college party.  I spent hours taking my time painting the poster board and iconic logo; the little girl dressed in a yellow raincoat with a yellow umbrella carrying an open salt container. I dressed as the actual girl with a yellow dress and umbrella when I was younger but my mother would not let me carry the salt opened continuing to say the Morton salt slogan, When it rained, it poured.

Morton Salt’s logo features the “Morton Salt Girl,” a young girl walking in the rain with an opened umbrella and scattering salt behind her from a cylindrical container of table salt, and is one of the ten best-known symbols in the United States. The company began in Chicago, Illinois, in 1848 as a small sales agency, E. I. Wheeler, started by the Onondaga salt companies to sell their salt to the Midwest. In 1910, the business, which had by that time become both a manufacturer and a merchant of salt, was incorporated as the Morton Salt Company. It was named after the owner and founder, Joy Morton, the son of J. Sterling Morton.

Currently, Morton Salt is owned by German fertilizer and salt company K+S and has always had facilities in the Chicago area closing the Elston plant in 2015 but now Morton Salt and R2 Companies have established an agreement in which Morton Salt will retain its highly recognizable branded rooftop and relocate its Research & Development (R&D) Center to the site from its current location in Elgin, IL. Morton Salt is also the sponsor of the Morton Arboretum, a 1,700-acre (6.9 km2) botanical garden in Lisle, Illinois.

Everyone asks who was the girl or what was her name underneath the umbrella. She was called the Umbrella Girl but no name was ever given and an ad agency came up with the idea because they wanted to let customers know that this salt in the new cylinder would pour easily just like rain. The ad was published in Good Housekeeping in 1914 and though she changed the first few decades, her last changed was in 1968.

DuPagePads 15th Annual Run 4 Home

WHEATON, ILLINOIS – You can end homelessness one step at a time at DuPagePads Run 4 Home. The 15th annual run/walk will be held Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 8:00 am, beginning at 703 West Liberty in Wheaton. The 10K and 5K CARA certified race and USATF certified course appeals to serious runners, casual joggers and walkers. Your whole family will enjoy the event with a 1K Family Walk and Kids Corner featuring games, prizes, face painting and more.

Following the race, enjoy music, refreshments and the award ceremony. These special recognition s include King/Queen of the Hill, Largest Participating Group, Top Fundraisers and more! In addition to the award, the Largest Participating Congregation will also receive a complimentary table at our Wake Up Your Spirit Breakfast on November 6th, featuring Chris Norton, professional speaker and author.

“We are incredibly thankful for our supporters. From our sponsors to attendees and volunteers, all funds raised make an impact on our mission. This year, we are thrilled to announce our Diamond Sponsors: Continental Motors of Naperville and Mike Lifts 100 Tons, who have amazed us with their generosity,” said Carol Simler, DuPagePads President & CEO.

In addition, other generous sponsors for DuPagePads Run 4 Home include: Exelon Generation, First Trust Portfolios, Innovator ETFs, Invesco, ACCESS Community Health Network, Mitchell Swaback Charities, Ostrander Construction, The Schulte Wealth Management Group of Benjamin F Edwards & Co, Tuk Tuk Naperville, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Daily Herald Media Group, DynaCom, Kindred Coffee Roasters, Naperville Running Company, Professional Wealth Advisors LLC and Jim and Kathy Schlesser.

Registration is available at http://www.padsrun.org. For additional event information, visit www.dupagepads.org/events or contact Carrie at 630.682.3846 ext. 2290 or CFlick@dupagepads.org.

***

With over 30 years of experience, DuPagePads is the largest provider of services to those who are homeless in DuPage County. DuPagePads’ solution to ending homelessness is housing, coupled with support services and employment to transform lives. The administration office is located at 601 West Liberty, Wheaton, IL 60187. Additional information can be obtained by contacting DuPagePads at 630.682.3846 or at http://www.dupagepads.org.