Summers at Lake Michigan

For me, it all began at Rainbow beach which also had an expansive park for picnics. I remember the water purification plant which is now called Eugene Sawyer Purification Plant. My memories of Rainbow had a lot to due with dead fish on the beach and closings due to poor water quality during the 1960’s so since the Southside of Chicago wasn’t that far from Indiana and someone had a car, we would head to Indiana Dunes.

The Dunes was less than an hour from Chicago so a day trip was perfect. Located in Porter County, the beach offered about 15 miles of sandy shoreline with great hiking trails and camp grounds. Though some people became afraid to go to the Dunes in July of 1966 since three young women in bathing suits left the beach, climbed in a small motorboat and were never seen again. Others found the Dunes extremely crowded and in the 1970’s so many of us gravitated to Warren Dunes in Michigan instead.

Warren Dunes has three miles of shoreline, six miles of hiking trails and is open year-round. It also has a dune formation that rises 260 feet above the lake with spectacular views and 1,952 acres of recreational opportunity. Located in Sawyer Michigan, the dunes was approximately an hour and 30 minutes from the city by car and you could take a train from Union Station. The beach was never crowded and always clean. Among the park’s dunes are Mt. Fuller, Pikes Peak, and Mt. Edwards, with the most significant being Tower Hill, the highest point in the park, which stands 240 feet (73 meters) above the Lake Michigan. And downtown Sawyer offered bookstores and antique shops.

Throughout the 1980’s, I lived in the Waukegan area teaching high school and sometimes spending my summers working other jobs or going to school. But did I spend alot of time at Waukegan Harbor and Illinois Beach State Park. In fact, I could hear foghorns from my kitchen window…only a few miles from Waukegan Harbor and the Marina.

The first times I sailed, I did with friends from the Waukegan Harbor and when we didn’t sail, many would fish and take a walk out to the lighthouse. One of the best seafood restaurants was located their called Mathons, which had portholes for windows and a friendly bar. On the fourth of July in 1987, we went down to the Harbor for fireworks and I was pregnant with my son. He had been fairly quiet up until that night when he kicked up a storm at listening to the sounds. He was born only a few weeks later.

The first time I said the words Illinois State Beach Park or was it Illinois Beach State Park when I was in third grade on a stage; terrified to speak. I was so worried that my informational one minute speech, completely memorized, would be botched. It was not by choice. It was a place in Illinois given to me by my teacher to research. All third graders was assigned this project.

That is the first thing that I remembered as a guest at the beach and park. Oh, my, it really does exist! Illinois Beach State Park  stretched 6.5 miles along the shore of Lake Michigan in Zion. The 4,160-acre park, consisted of two separate areas (North Unit and South Unit), which offered ample opportunities for swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping and simply appreciating nature.

In the 1990s, 2000’s and now, I live in Downers Grove with a pool and a pond in the back yard though I don’t think the pond would be good for you! (Caddyshack movie joke for some who remember. In the movie, the pond was better for you.

However, today, my adult children and I travel back and forth, up and down. We have taken a walk at Rainbow beach, had ice cream at the Waukegan Harbor, took pictures of what used to be the beer store at Illinois Beach State Park, explored the Dunes and added Michigan City to our travels.

All through one’s lifetime, great vacations still spent on the shore’s of Lake Michigan!

 

Old Town then and now

It was approximately 1749 North Wells which is now an apartment building but was a quaint stone building with a court yard built in the early 1930s. And not only home to my Aunt and Uncles apartment but Van Sydow Moving Company, where my uncle was a supervisor.

I was only about five when he passed away in 1960 and my Aunt moved to an apartment in the suburbs. But I remember the great windows of their large apartment that looked out over the exquisite tree-lined Wells street. I remember the enchanting courtyard where I would chase fairies and the first remote control that changed the channels on their console television.

I remember my Aunt hating God when my Uncle died. She met a new man a few years later just as special but we returned to Wells street many times to talk about her memories of Old Town as well as create new memories for me.

Many have commented that rents had plummeted in the 1960’s and Old Town was the most populated hippy neighborhood in the Midwest. It was the 1960’s that I remember bits and pieces of the Old Town Art Fair which I have enjoyed over the years. On an average, over 200 artists still display their creative work in June every year.

And after the fair or just spending a weekend in Old Town,  it was the Pickle Barrel restaurant that opened in 1960 on Wells that I went to several times where I remember being greeted with a barrel of kosher dill pickles and popcorn  for snacking. The walls displayed a variety of antiques and tables/chairs did not match.

The first Crate and Barrel store opened on Wells street in 1962 filled with European pottery and glass in. And another all time favorite for me was the original Pipers Alley, a cobblestone passageway that housed several eclectic shops and theater at 1608 Wells street.  The alley lent itself to original Victorian architecture.  A huge Tiffany lamp fixture hung over the the trip down the alley that included an old fashioned candy store,  poster shops, a candle shop, and even a pizza place.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Old Town became the center of Chicago folk music which was experiencing a revival at the time.

In 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music opened at 333 West North Avenue and stayed at that address until 1968, when the school moved to 909 West Armitage Avenue. It has retained the name, although it is no longer located within Old Town. Singer-songwriters such as Bob Gibson, Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, and John Prine played at several clubs on Wells Street, such as The Earl of Old Town.

According to Wikipedia, The Old Town School of Folk Music was closely associated with these artists and clubs. One large and successful folk club was Mother Blues, which featured nationally known artists and groups such as Jose Feliciano, Odetta, Oscar Brown Jr., Josh White, and Chad Mitchell. It also presented comedian George Carlin, Sergio Mendez, Brazil ’66, and The Jefferson Airplane.

In later years and today, I still walk the streets of Old Town enjoying the great shopping and entertainment such as Second City, The Chicago History Museum and O’Briens restaurant.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. is dead: Chicago begins to burn

I was in front of the television set when Martin Luther King Jr was shot.  I remember the black and white newscast of frantic  cameraman capturing the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee where he had come to lead a peaceful march and a lone nut named James Earl Ray shot him as he was standing there.

The single shot was heard across the world, especially in Chicago as he was rushed to St. Josephs hospital and pronounced dead on the evening of April, 4th 1968. I was only 12 and his assassination plunged the city of Chicago into massive violence and turmoil. The Chicago Reader calls it the night Chicago burned and many discuss it today since Chicago’s murder rate has increased.

Many ask if the same past measures in calling the National Guard is something that we should do today when there are problems in the city. There are others that feel the riots had nothing to do with Martin Luther King and just about looting and burning.

Many don’t want to talk about it because it added to racial fear and the white flight.  It wasn’t even dark yet as commuters tried to get home among massive traffic jams where chaos ensued especially on the Eisenhower expressway that night fifty years ago.

Strangely, the Eisenhower stills see’s it minutes of closure due to shootings, one that just occurred not long ago. Riots began breaking out and news captured the violence but what was happening in the city was not the massive rioting but the raging fires that were set, one after another that was annihilating Chicago business in 1968. aFrom what sources claim, the police and fire department admitted they they were out of their control and needed help. According to the Chicago Reader, nearly 600 alarms were tripped in 24 hours. We stayed in our homes, evacuating city streets. It was then that Daley made the decision. Approximately 12,000 army troopers and 6,000 National Guardsmen took over the city.

According to the Chicago Tribune,Mayor Richard J. Daley later told reporters that he had ordered police “to shoot to kill any arsonist or anyone with a Molotov cocktail in his hand . . . and . . . to shoot to maim or cripple anyone looting any stores in our city.” No official death toll is given but approximately 11 people died though approximately 500 were injured and many businesses destroyed. Blocks and buildings were gutted and in some sections of the city, remain the same.

And what were our feelings in my neighborhood, Calumet Heights? Though young enough to not quite get it, in my home, family and friends, I saw massive fear along with realtors telling everyone that their houses would drop like a rock and their post war businesses annihilated. This was just the beginning. My father had died a year prior and my mother and I were alone. The house needed alot of work so she was planning on downgrading anyway to an apartment.

We moved in 1970.  Over a half a million fled the city between 1970-1975 for safety in the suburbs and as children, that was the last thing we wanted. Starting high school in the suburbs was a foggy experience since my time spent growing up in Calumet Heights and Pill Hill was amazing along with many new black friends that felt the same way. At reunions today, many of us discuss that time with a deep seated sadness that we will never forget; tarnished by that massive decision. Never again.

I have traveled through the old neighborhood many times. In 2010, I actually had the courage to knock on the front door of my old home. An elderly black woman answered the door as I proceeded to tell her that I had lived in her home many moons ago. She mentioned my maiden name, which many could never pronounce, but she did perfectly.  Mrs Grisham? I said buried in a bank of memory that I did not know was still there. She nodded, smiled and said the neighborhood was not what it used to be since the house had a heavy, metal screen that she did not open. I smiled thinking that we truly experienced the same. She bought the home from my mother. As she spoke, I was reminded of a beautiful black women sitting on the couch under my Dad’s most treasured wall mirror in the living room.  “I have been here 42 years and my husband passed. I raised my son on my own. Just like your mother.I just found the bill of sale to the home and remembered how I felt so terrible that you lost your father at such a young age. That was the reason your mother moved you to an apartment.

All these years later, she knew exactly what I felt. We both wanted the same opportunity as a child, adult and parent.  I can’t give you a tour, she paused still dressed in her pajamas, but she stood aside so I could see the couch that was similar to my own with Dad’s mirror framing it.  Now I was able to glimpse the woman I had become in the reflection of his mirror after all these years and somehow he was telling me that he approved.

Michigan Avenue Chicago: Through the decades

The first places that come to my mind when I think about Michigan Avenue in Chicago that decorate my childhood was The Art Institute and the Grant Park parking garage below street level.

Most of all, I remember driving from Michigan Ave to Lake Shore Drive and back again several times when a handmade sign was placed in front of the ramp to let travelers know that the garage was full. But they must have been pretty good about monitoring customers and that sign. It would always open for us to park if we circled patiently.

I would glance at the Prudential building as we would circle…For me the highest on the 41 floor where we visited the observation deck many times. But then in 1970, the John Hancock opened and at 100 stories high, it was the tallest building in the world.  Now, of course, Sears or should I say Willis in 1973 was built 110 stories surpassing the World Trade Center buildings in New York, destroyed on 9/11.

A trip to the Art Institute during my younger years would have me consumed by the most remarkable Thorne Miniature Rooms, sixty eight glass boxes in walls displaying European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot,  rooms were designed by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932-1940. The Art Institute had the best museum shop that included a wonderful collection of art books, wall decor, special jewelry and charms. Now they have an expanded and you can order right now online.

During the 1960’s/1970’s, it was the historic Blackstone hotel on Michigan where I attended a young friends Bar Mitzvah in one of its banquet rooms. The Blackstone Hotel has been dubbed “The Hotel of Presidents”. It was once considered one of Chicago’s finest luxury hotels, and a dozen 20th-century U.S. presidents have stayed at the hotel. Today, the Blackstone is still a stunning hotel example with beautifully decorated rooms and marble bath facilities.

I still remember The Conrad Hilton on Michigan Ave in the early 1970’s where I attended an overnight convention now called Hilton Chicago. Hilton Chicago is still an elegant choice to stay in as it was for me as a young girl but today the Hilton has one of the largest fitness centers along with cellular phone rental and complimentary WiFi for Hilton Honors members.

Now known as the Magnificent mile,  north Michigan ave  boosted the construction of Water Tower Place in 1975 but in the 1960’s it was Saks Fifth Avenue that was probably the tallest most prominent shop.  900 North Michigan Shops is a visually stunning and highly desired shopping destination that resides on the north end of Chicago’s vibrant Magnificent Mile.

The exclusive tenant mix offers shoppers an unparalleled experience of more than 70 luxury lifestyle shops featuring Bloomingdale’s and a strong line-up of national brands perfectly complemented by an eclectic collection of unique boutiques and a diverse selection of delectable dining options.

Michigan Avenue extends south into near south side of Chicago and beyond – past what was once the notorious Levee District,  the historic Second Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1874 and still offers services today.

The former home of the legendary Chess Records at 2120 South Michigan. In 1993, Willie Dixon’s widow, Marie, purchased the building which was then renovated and re-opened in September 1997 with a dedication ceremony. It is now home to Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation.

The Lexington Hotel was a ten-story hotel in Chicago at 2135 S. Michigan Avenue that was built in 1892, once a home to Al Capone. The hotel was closed in 1980 and destroyed despite being a landmark.

 

Calumet Heights/Pill Hill Chicago

It began at 2436 East 91st Chicago Ill, 17. Phone: Essex 5-5930. That’s how I remember zip codes, addresses and phone numbers. It was called Calumet Heights where I went to Hoyne Elementary with Mrs O’Brien and because the area was overcrowded, a new school was built in time for first grade in 1962, Kate Sturgis Buckingham that provided kindergarten through fifth grade.

It was in the gym where we had a make- shift library session in the third grade where I sat and stared at the wall clock when President Kennedy was killed. Fourth and fifth grade were probably my favorite with Mrs. Mary Landon who taught me to write and love to read… the little girl that grew oh so much over the years as she wrote in my eighth grade autograph book from Joseph Warren Elementary in 1969. Though, my least favorite teacher was Mrs. Madsen at Warren school, I did win an award in my sixth grade class for writing an essay on Keep Chicago Clean. Overcrowded then at Warren, we had several mobile classes.

My friends are too numerous to mention and we still keep in touch today on Facebook. Some lived in what was known as Pill Hill, where many of my friends parents were doctors that worked at South Chicago Hospital and dentists though there was a variety of business owners in the area; some owned furniture stores.  We had a special group of girls called the Consolettes though I don’t exactly know why we were or established or  what we had done. Every week we met at each other’s home after school….that I remember.

Since we went home for lunch, many of us ate at Marcon’s restaurant, only a block from Warren. A hamburger, fries and Green River float was my standard. During the summer, the Jewish Community Center was next to Marcon’s and it was a special treat to go swimming in their outdoor pool. On 87th street, between Jeffrey and Stony Island we would travel to one place that had the best lochs and bagels, and Totville for clothes.  I think there was a Woolworths there too where I could spend my meager allowance.

I have been back to the old neighborhood many times through the decades. It is not quite the same. In 2009, I knocked on the door of my childhood home and a Mrs. Grishman opened the door. I told her who I was and she had just found the bill of sale when my Mom sold the house to her in 1970. She could not show me the inside but told me my Dad’s mirrors and glass work still decorated the interior.

Recently, I have been back and Buckingham School is closed. In the last few years it had been a special education school but CPS closed the school in 2013 due to lack of funding and need…just the opposite in my day when it was a booming community. The original Warren school had been built in 1920s which had been torn down and a new junior high built. A student was just shot in the playground not long ago.

The windows of Marcons restaurant are sealed with concrete and the community center is still there though I am not sure about the pool.  Perruso Cleaners is still there on 87th Street though most places are closed. However, at the corner of East End and 87th is Thomas’s restaurant….I am also certain that it is where I ate lochs, bagels, and now it  still has an excellent menu and reviews.

The homes have stayed the same with Pill Hill still remaining elegant and many have kept the same landscaping over the years. One day I did a Google run through the neighborhood and in my research found, that Mrs Grisham had died in 2014 and her son had inherited the house.

How ironic that her obituary represented the family, friends and parents I recognized in the same neighborhood.

Mrs. Grisham and I were neighbors for many years. She was a hard-working, intelligent, proud woman. The apple of her eye was her son, Terrence Paul. We grew up together on the south side and cared for our neighbors.

We made a village that took care of each other.

We were neighbors that protected the children and offered the best in culture and education.

Just like us!

Lost in love

Lost in the past websites not only bring back detailed memories of events and places but can make you quite the historian. No, Kresge’s didn’t close that year, but Zayres did. Scary that many don’t know the real statistics.

And as I scroll with a midlife friend born the same year, we scream out the name of the person, place or thing with recognized excitement; we sing the phone number or song that was repeatedly drilled from one ad to the next in out childhood….will probably still remember to sing during our future days of dementia.  We stop for a moment at the photo of W.T Grants, a United States chain of low priced mass merchandise which briefly gives me the chills as I recount my missing child experience when I was only four or five.

I slowly turned and Mom wasn’t there. I just walked down the same aisle and I would be sure to see her and no Mom. So I turned down the next aisle, a little bit more quickly, a little more panicked…no Mom. The next aisle looked exactly the same as the last, cloth, linen that appeared colorless through my unmanageable tears….no Mom. Finally, someone grabbed my hand,

No, we will find her…. a saleslady had said. How did she know?

I was only sobbing a little by this point and the kind lady walked me to the service deck and I had to crane my neck to face the women behind it who asked me my name. I admitted no shame and spoke it clearly. It was strange to hear my name announced on the loud speaker. It was strange to hear my last name pronounced correctly. That was always an exception to the rule. But she found me…did not leave me stranded.

So we continue on our journey down memory lane, buying our first records at Rose, ski jackets at Robert Hall, Buster Brown Shoes and helped collect our S & H green stamps to buy a phonograph. Strange, how we all went to the same places for the same stuff at the same time.

Finally, the dining experience begins with chuckles of neighborhoods Chicken Unlimited, Aunt Jemina’s kitchen, Howard Johnson’s breakfasts, Cals Roast Beef and of Uncles Als barbeque, hotdogs, polish sausage. It seems like there is an Uncles Al’s for everyone’s eating pleasure across the county.

But when we begin to visit the photos of the more elite restaurants of our time, our moods become more contemplative of our own unique dates, desires. and turning points. It was the Chez Paree my friend celebrated prom.

For me, instead of prom, I chose a Jethro Tull concert instead but, yes I do remember the formal restaurants.  It was at Dunlap’s restaurant opened in 1935 that my fathers handwork in glass was displayed behind the bar and only polished until the restaurants closing in the early part of the millennium. A tear descended, while envisioning elegant ladies and their partners, sitting at the bar, my own Mom and Dad gazing with satisfaction in the smoked glass mirror beyond.

We began to crawl through the pictures to maintain our emotional composure. and suddenly, The Deacons Bench was discovered, boosting eighteenth century decor with hurricane lamps on the tables, scattered benches with embroidered seats and crisp red and white checked table clothes, My first visit when I was 10 with my Mom and best friend for lunch, mesmerized at being able to truly step back in time, my second visit for lunch with my Mom when I was twenty one; her sternly lecturing me about my after hours social life even though we lived apart.

Was I really too frivolous in those days?

Though a great work ethic, my free time had its moments of carelessness. Savings in the bank, a fleeting thought. Maybe, I should have been planning for the retirement that I don’t have now.  Finally, the Green Shingle restaurant that had somehow captured the most love in the early 60’s. It was my first date with my Dad in my best dress, shoes and gloves. It was my first steak sandwich medium rare but would not be last. It was my second date with my college professor who helped to celebrate my birthday with fellow students after my Dad passed away. A college professor who passed away from cancer a few years ago. And finally, a date with my first boyfriend as we first held hands at the candle lit table.; killed in a car accident shortly after.

Until today, I never realized that we had all shared the same place. A Dad, a lifelong mentor and my first love in a building who enclosed the magic of it all.  Though the restaurant is part of that which is lost.  Love never is. Though life moves on to another dimension, the surrounding spirit remains as long as I do.

The friend I sit and laugh with today; another love of a new day.  How wonderful it is to be reminded. How wonderful it is to be loved.

Beverly Hills Chicago,then and now

Located on the southwestern edge of Chicago, my mother grew up in Beverly during the early 1920’s and 1930’s moving to Deland, Florida for her high school years in 1935. Her father worked for Illinois Bell and she would meet him at the 95th street train station Rock Island Railroad and walk home together along Longwood drive. There home was tiny compared to most. Father was in an executive position at Illinois Bell but a frugal man.

In the 1960’s, it was Beverly where my Aunt worked at Morris B Sachs on the corner of 95th and Western. It was in Beverly on 95th where my Mother bought my first French walnut bedroom set with desk and hutch that I still have.  Wilson Jump was one of the many vanished furniture stores.

My best friend and I would ride the bus down 95th west, passing Beverly, crossing Western into Evergreen Park where we exited into the shopping mall which is still there but stores have changed. I can remember visiting Mary Jane Shoes, Lyttons, Chas A Stevens and,of courses Carson which is still there but remodeled. My aunt worked there too.

Unfortunately, I also remember Beverly where my fathers funeral and wake took place in 1967 and the funeral home is now a health food store.

Today, Beverly is still a beautiful area with street lamps trimming 95th street, its major thorough fare. Beverly features prestigious, architecturally designed homes which includes the famous Frank Lloyd Wright and George Washington Maher. Many are featured on the historic Longwood Drive where your will now find the Beverly Unitarian Church which was once a resident castle built in 1886.  This house at 10200 S. Longwood Drive was built in 1890 by Horace Horton, the owner of Chicago Bridge and Iron Company.

Open since 1942, Top Notch Beefburger is another great place to stop for a burger and a shake. The burgers are ground daily and come on a toasted bun.  Oreo shakes are an excellent choice along with fresh, cut fries.

If you are just looking to have dessert, at Western and 92nd street is a place your should never miss during the spring and summer months; the Original Rainbow Cone Ice Cream that opens March 4th.  Josep Sapp worked as a Buick mechanic by day and operated a small rainbow cone ice cream shop in 1926, the same location it is today.

At the time, this area was not considered Chicago, however, there were century old cemeteries that Chicagoan’s liked to visit and guess were they would stop for a cone on their way back to the city. The original rainbow cone consists of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet.

Best of eating in Andersonville Chicago

Andersonville’s began in the 1850’s as a Swedish neighborhood and after the Chicago Fire, the entire commercial strip was dominated by Swedish businesses,  Today, Andersonville is comprised of unique, locally owned businesses of many cultures that add a strong sense of community to the neighborhood and has been known as another Mayberry, similar to the town in the Andy Griffith Show. Committed to encouraging unity in the neighborhood and hosting some of the best restaurants in the Chicago area, Andersonville prides itself in being known for its excellent service and prized cuisine.

Anteprima

On  north Clark Avenue, Anteprima offers a delectable and changing menu of wonderful Italian home style cooking.  Offering reasonable three course menus , Anteprima buys from local and organic producers whenever possible beginning every meal with rosemary salted bread sticks and ending with a dreamy chocolate hazel nut tart.  Enjoy beautifully presented pastas or break from the ordinary lunch with grilled octopus.  To compliment your dinner, high-quality Italian wines are available in carafes so you can have more than one glass.

m Henry

Looking for a great breakfast, brunch or lunch, m. henry offers an intercontinental breakfast served with a fresh baked muffin, scone or warm baguette and petite fruit salad served all day. However, known for their fried eggs sandwiches, m. Henry offers a wonderful organic coffee menu and a dandelion, shallot and leek omelet served with house potatoes. Some have also praised the quiche as being the best as well as perfect pancakes.

Big Jones

Inspired by the American South, Big Jones is known for its famous Southern heirloom cooking with Chef and Co Owner Paul Febribach who has been featured on Chicago radio with his recipes published in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-times and the Chicago Magazine just to name a few. Most recently Fehribach has been honored as a nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Big Jones gives a taste of New Orleans by celebrating with Mardi Gras classics such as buttery king cake and more.

Vincent

Cozy bar and biestro, Vincent is another great place to dine on Balmoral Ave. Adam Grandt began his career at the award winning Carlos Restaurant hired as Executive Chef at Sage Grill in 2008. Now his dynamic style adds nothing but accolades for his innovative presentations at Vincent.  Mussels in saffron or any style is one of diners favorites including big burgers and orange creme sickle mousse for dessert.  Mixed drinks are excellent along with exceptional classic meals.

Antica Pizzeria

Charming and an inexpensive experience, Antic Pizzeria  offers delicious Neapolitan pizza and menu choices that include tender calamari and house made desserts that include tiramisu. Mario Rapisarda (Cocco Pazzo, Spiaggia) and Faris Faycurry (Dylan’s Tavern, Villa Nova) combined their 25 years of expertise and created the Andersonville neighborhood’s first ever wood burning pizza oven.  Antica delivers and helps families prepare special events or create a wine tasting.

Hopleaf Bar

Awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourdman for 2016, Hopleaf Bar can also be a haven for great food. With a Belgian-inspired kitchen, Hopleaf offers a great mussels and frites experiences as well as an extensive collection of beers.  The first Monday of every month features Belgian Fried Chicken served with a Kwak in its famous glass. The Chicago Traveler praises HopLeaf  for its grilled cheese that is filled with cashew butter, cheese and fig jam, pan-fried on sourdough bread.

Hamburger Mary’s

When visiting Andersonville, Hamburger Mary’s is a must with perfectly cooked burgers and a variety of toppings to select. The fried ice cream is a great conclusion to any meal at this bar and grille. Hamburger Mary’s received the Good Neighbor Award in 2013 for being the business that best exemplifies the spirit of community support and customer service. Hamburger Mary’s franchises began in San Francisco and their motto is you are what you eat only offering the best in healthy ingredients.

Andies

Butternut squash soup, cucumber mint salad and a gluten-free winter risotto are some of the delectable’s waiting for you at Andies Restaurant. A delicious Mediterranean dining experience, Chef Andie Tamras brings some of the most worthy recipes from Tunisia and Morocco. A favorite for over 30 years, Andies plants their own vegetable garden as well as herbs such as basil, thyme and cilantro. Andies gives back by contributing to community service organizations such as Care for Real and Sarah’s circle

Jin Ju

The heart of Andersonville cuisine also offers traditional Korean dishes in a romantic setting with dimly lit candlelight. Jin Ju offers barbeque pork spare ribs marinated in a spicy sweet red pepper sauce and a great seaweed soup with scallions in a mussel broth. Their Mandoo soup is wonderful with dumplings, scallions and egg in a clear broth . Jin Ju also offers private events and can customize the menu to suit your party’s needs.

Lady Gregory’s

Floor to ceiling windows bring a passionate beauty to Lady Gregory’s in Andersonville. Inspired by Irish Victorian author, Lady Augusta Gregory quoted as the greatest living Irishwoman, this Irish bar and restaurant  is acclaimed for its lobster mac and shepherd’s pie. Also know for a whiskey selection of 300 and 100 beer s. Lady Gregory’s also provides an entire separate gluten free menu as well as a kids menu.  You can also order online for a curbside pickup. A true Celtic experience and a distinctive place to visit on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Historic Pullman Chicago

It was in the early 1960’s that they planned on demolishing parts of Pullman to make way for industrial expansion especially between 111th and 115th. But Pullman residents including some of my own good friends, fought continuously to keep Pullman alive. They founded the Historic Pullman Foundation in 1973. Pullman was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971 and has received similar state and local designations. Through the years as I go travel back, I am amazed by the beauty of Pullmans original architecture.

The first planned industrial community for workers to work , live and worship with family  was the Pullman Historic District south of Chicago; a unique community established by George Pullman, founder of the Pullman Palace Car Company. In 1880, the project began with housing built as red brick row houses including indoor plumbing and spacious accommodations that workers had not been accustomed though workers did have to pay rent. However, the panic of 1893 devastated the railroad industry causing lowered wages and rents that were not decreased. It was just last two years ago that President Obama designated the historic neighborhood as a national monument.

Pullman Foundation Center

On the site of the Arcade Building, this is a great place to begin your tour of Pullman. The center provides a video of the history and exhibits that include antiques from the Pullman Mansion that was located on Prairie Avenue as well as historic rail service items. You can grab a walking tour brochure or plan a guided tour that is available the first Sunday of the month and lasts for about 90 minutes.

Hotel Florence

Known for its luxury and elegance, the Hotel Florence, named after George Pullman’s daughter, was opened in 1881 and cost around $100,000 including $ 30,000 in furniture that included maroon plush velvet upholstery and fine mahogany. A veranda 16 feet wide and 268 feet long extends around the front of the building. When opened, the hotel included a gentlemen’s reading room, a billiard room, lunch room and saloon. The hotel is currently being renovated and for the ghost hunter, many have said that the hotel is haunted.

Executive Row

Take a stroll on 111th street between St. Lawrence and Langley to view the Executive homes that were located near the Pullman company plant.  This row of homes was a showplace back in the day consisting of eight and nine rooms including several fireplaces and a basement in each. Even executives had to pay rent and the going rate was $28 to $50 a month.

Pullman and Arcade Parks

Designed by Pullman and hired architect, Solo S Berman, the Pullman Park was created for recreation and enjoying the green spaces  that are not interrupted by structures. Another Park in the Pullman community is Arcade Park donated by George Pullman once again. Formal carpeted gardens graced the park across  from the Arcade building that housed a post office, library and theatre but was demolished in 1926.

Pullman Factory Complex

Beside the administration building and clock tower, the factory building provided wonderful conditions for the working man. They were well lighted, ventilated with soft colors to provide a upbeat atmosphere, different from so many sweatshops of the era. The 1880 car manufacturing plant was a 700-foot long Queen Anne-influenced structure of brick with limestone accents. The Clock Tower and building was seriously damaged in 1998 by fire but was rebuilt in 2005 located at the northeast corner of 111th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

Greenstone Church

The sanctuary is unchanged  being built  in cherry wood with the original pews. The first tenants of the church were Presbyterian in 1887 but sold to the Methodists in 1907. The distinguished  Steere and Turner organ is one of the very  few manual track organs remaining in the US, the organ has had little repair over the last 100 years with the exception of being powered originally by hand bellows.  The organ contains 1260 pipes with two manuals for the hands  and can be a physical challenge to play, though a treasure for experienced musicians.

Gateway Garden

On the corner of 111th and Langley, the Gateway Garden was the size of 5 city lots with weeds and trash until the Historic Pullman Garden Club  received a grant from Chicago Botanic Garden for development.  Trees and spring bulbs were planted and now the garden offers spectacular color of various annuals, perennials and breathtaking curved seats of shrubbery ; a peaceful place to observe such beauty. The Garden Club hosts special events and tours throughout the spring and summer months.

 

A.Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum

Celebrating 75 years of the national first Black Labor Union, Randolph and the Pullman Porters made real impact in African-American union history.  Pullman Porters were the best in railroad hospitality as they provided excellent service to passengers on Pullman’s luxury trains. In 1925, they established the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first labor union with Randolph as president. The museum provides a calendar of special events celebrating black history.

Pullman Cafe

Complete your tour with a cozy seat at the Pullman Cafe, with fresh fruit and homemade lemon bars or dreamy bread pudding.  The charming cafe also offers a Gotham Salad with toasted walnuts, a garlic sausage pizza, or just enjoy a cup of coffee with friendly staff and all the comforts of home.  The ambience of the Pullman Cafe provides a wonderful conclusions to your trip to historic Pullman. The Pullman cafe is open daily at 112th and Lawrence Ave but currently is closed for winter but will be opening on in March of 2018.

New Years Eve in Chicago

As a child at home, it was about watching the ball drop in New York at 11 Central on TV and then turning on whatever Chicago hosted an hour later for a second New Year’s eve celebration. Sometimes I didn’t make it past 11 pm. On occasion, we would go to a friends house to spend the night. I would play with the other kids upstairs and of course, the parents would do the unspeakable…have fun…dance to the sounds of Mitch Miller in their finished basement.

Sometimes other shows were on that hosted Guy Lombardo’s Band playing Auld Lang Syne; his final New Year’s Eve appearance took place in New York, 1976. Not many may remember him.  And if Guy Lombardo traveled to Chicago, many celebrated bringing in the New Year at the Aragon Ballroom to listen to his orchestra, which was a powerhouse attraction in the 1940s.

Aragon is still in existence today at West Lawrence Ave in Uptown Chicago. The Aragon was known as one of the most elegant ballrooms in the world and has a capacity of 5,000 still offering live entertainment.

If my parents went out for a New Years Eve extravaganza, it was also to the beautiful Edgewater Beach Hotel, a resort hotel complex on Lake Michigan that featured such stars as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. Other new year celebrations included live music at the Willowbrook Ballroom, that had a history of over 80 years entertainment before it was destroyed by fire just a couple of years. A variety of big bands would take the stage for dancing events that occurred on a 6,000 square foot dance floor.

Over the decades, restaurants, ballrooms and historic tradition have come and gone but for those who celebrate at home in front of their screens, you can still watch the ball drop in New York and catch other Chicago New Year’s festivities from all media, too numerous to mention. Certainly not on only four to eight channels back in the day.

Today, popular celebrations that have created timeless tradition in Chicago is a trip to Navy Pier where you can enjoy entertainment and family attractions. Navy Pier offers exquisite cruises along the lakefront with an amazing fireworks display on New Years Eve.

Reserve a table to celebrate New Years at a fine restaurant in Chicago that offers the best six course cuisine at the new West Loop, Bellemore. In the Western suburbs, you may want to try the most popular Meson Sabika in Naperville where you can enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner at this fine Spanish tapas restaurant.

Maybe your New Years Eve is just centered around pizza delivery, lots of wine and banging pots and pans in your yard with the little ones.  Regardless of how you spend the evening,hopefully, the New Year will bring to you nothing less than an abundance of health, happiness and peace.

Happy New Year!