The magic of the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle

One kindergarten student went to the Museum of Science and Industry, loving the baby chicks as her favorite exhibit. I did too and so did my own children. But when I begin another trip in the room with the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle,I am constantly in awe. I am quiet and so overwhelmed by the intricate detail of the amazing workmanship, artistry and beauty every time I visit. Maybe I have missed something again. I always do. But one year, I finally bought a book before the Internet was a resource.

The creation is the ultimate dollhouse/castle donated by Colleen Moore to the museum in 1949. She was a  Hollywood icon and one of the highest paid actresses. She conceived and designed it with about one hundred Hollywood craftsman and designers between the years of 1928 to 1935. She spent about a half a million on the castle. It has toured the US raising over a half a million dollars to give to children’s charities. Currently, the castle has 11 rooms and wonderful stories to go with each room.

The following describes each room and the finishing touches that were fascinating to me and my children:

Kitchen: It was not just the Mother Goose fairy tale murals on the walls. The best thing I liked is the kitchen of the witch from Hansel and Gretel.

Dining Room: The tapestries on the walls are so intricate that you cannot see the stitches at and the silver ware and plates on King Arthurs table are made of gold. So many pieces are over 100 years old.

Cinderella’s Drawing Room: The floor is made from China combined with quartz and jade. There is a beautiful of mural of Cinderella. A grand piano with an illustration inside the top is an instrument I always wanted to play on. I took piano lessons for many years and taught lessons.

Great Hall: On walls, windows and the ceilings there are amazing drawings of several fairy tales. There is a rosewood table that has Cinderella’s slippers on it and the chairs of the Three Bears. Of course, the balusters throughout and the stairs are gold.

Chapel; On the prayer bench is a small bible. The smallest in the world and printed on real type. I always stared at the electric pipe organ with gold pipes and music pours from it. The stained glass windows are actually made with diamonds and emeralds taken from Moore’s brooch.

Library: Is a sea motif in beautiful blue shades. There are pictures describing the classic literature of Gullivers Travels and Robinsoo Caruso. There are over 100 real books in the library many of them handwritten by famous authors.

Princess Bathroom and Bedroom: The bath tub is silver and real water can flow from the dolphins mouths on both sides of the tub. The bed is the same that Sleeping Beauty, my favorite Disney character, slept in. There is also a golden harp instrument that I always wanted to play

Prince’s Bathroom and Bedroom: The bathroom is upstairs with a mirror filled jewels. The bedroom has a huge white bear rug with real mouse teeth that I was always a little afraid.

Attic: This is just like most attics. Things that used to be in other parts of the castle are stored in the attic.

Magic Garden: Another favorite of mine. I loved the cradle that rocked the baby and you could actually see Santa Claus all year round.

Christmas Tree Shimmer

By Caryl Clem

Communities across America kick off the Christmas Holidays with Tree Lighting ceremonies. This tradition was almost short circuited. A pastor lit a Christmas tree in the late 1890’s in a small town in Pennsylvania. The tree was torn down by townspeople who feared evil spirits had possessed the tree. First, Boston held a tree lighting ceremony on December 24, 1912. Chicago was a leader in spreading the idea of Christmas festivals starting with the grandeur of a giant shimmering tree. Mayor of Chicago, Carter H. Harrison, Jr. held the first official Chicago Tree Lighting in 1913 in Grant Park. Attended by 100,000 enthusiasts, the festival was planned by the President of the Art Institute, Charles L. Hutchinson according to Glessner House website.  The first President, Grover Cleveland, had an electric tree in the Oval Room for his granddaughters.  Ten years after the grand Chicago affair, President Cleveland presented a 3,000 bulb tree in the Ellipse on Christmas Eve. The magic of illuminated trees overcame the original mistrust of using electricity.  New York City in Rockefeller Center celebrated their first tree lighting ceremony in 1933.

Edison’s business partner, Edward H. Johnson invented the first string of white, red, and green bulbs in 1892 which he proudly displayed on his tree in a parlor window overlooking Manhattan in New York City. The first lit Christmas tree emerged. Johnson resourcefully hired a reported to take pictures. Only the rich could afford to hire a wireman (labor $1,000) to install a string of bulbs ( $300-$350 each).  General Electric was offering bulb strings for sale in 1903. The prices dropped after World War II, increasing the popularity of Christmas lights.

Every child hears stories of Christmas Magic. I was convinced these stories must be true after one glance at “bubble lights” on our family Christmas tree. I could sit and stare mesmerized by the bubbling glow amidst the popcorn strings, dangling cookies and bright tinsel.  After the introduction of “BUBBLE lites” by the NOMA Electric Corporation in 1946, competitors produced similar lights with the names Kristal Snow and Sparkling Bubble Lamp. The idea for bubbling inside a light was inspired by 2 popular selling items from the Montgomery Ward’s store. An accountant, George Otis combined the traveling light action in an illuminated Juke box with the shape of a Glow Light Candle. He filed a patent in 1935 that he later sold to NOMA. He was hired as a designer who played an active in improving lights in the years to come. The founder of Ward’s was a Chicagoan,  Aaron Montgomery Ward starting his business  in 1871 with the idea to sell to rural farmers the goods too far away for them to normally purchase. By 1923, the business had expanded to 244 stores in various states.

By the light of a shimmering tree, feel inspired by this year’s holiday magic!

Earth, Wind and Fire: Kennedy Center Honors

Oh, after the love has gone… How could you lead me one…And not let me stay around? Of course, just heard on the radio reminding of my own breakup sadness when this song came out in 1979; After the Love is Gone. But it was September recorded in 1978 that was always my favorite and when played in the early years of its recording, I would ask who sang that song! September reached No. 1 on the US R&B chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

Another legendary music group that combined the elements of jazz with pop and who many have said changed the sound of music, Earth Wind and Fire began in 1969 Chicago. Maurice White who was the founder actually played with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and a session drummer at Chess records, which helped his vision for the new band.  After signing with Columbia Records, the band rose in recognition with songs such as Shining Star in 1975, one of their most inspired songs.

Your a Shining Star…no matter who you are.… Shining Star for you to see what your life can be can a great dance song during club time in the 1980’s when I was a young adult but a great song to play as background music in the classroom. A song that when many students were down…they truly listened, smiled, and shined with accomplishment.Also a song for the my own young children to play and dance in their living room…singing the words directly to each other or their friends, making a new day of love and friendship.

Maurice White passed away in 2016 but still in the heart and soul of all of their music. The three original members – Phillip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson — have been together over 40 years. Earth Wind and Fire continues to travel throughout the country with elaborate and dynamic performances.They built their legendary status with numerous albums to this day, garnering 20 Grammy Award nominations (winning six as a group) and a Hall Of Fame Induction along the way.

On Sunday, December 8, 2019 in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, Earth, Wind and Fire will be honored at the 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors. Sally Field, two time Academy Award winner and Linda Ronstadt, with worldwide album sales of more than 50 million, and Michael Tilson Thomas,Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony will also be celebrated that evening.

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.

Chicago’s Art Institute

For me as a child in the 1960’s, it was the Thorne rooms first that truly excited me to see what was inside of the building with the huge lions. I loved dollhouses and anything miniature to collect and play.  And I also liked to visit them again during the Christmas holidays catching glimpses of holiday decorations in the rooms.

My children loved the Thorne rooms too in the 1990’s and to this day, somehow we head to them first. The rooms were elaborate and different from our own homes; a wonderful learning experience of the past where we could view a Pennsylvania kitchen in 1752 or an English cottage during the Queen Ann period.

The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications. Her work shows the upper class homes in England and Frances as well. Hours can be spent visiting the Thorne room exhibit and examining the precise details behind the glass in cased rooms.

From here, it was important to see the Georges Seurat painting  A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and we were interested in counting the dots. The Art Institute has one such sketch and two drawings. We also had to see the most popular American Gothic by Grant Wood. This familiar image was exhibited publicly for the first time at the Art Institute, winning a three-hundred-dollar prize and instant fame for Grant Wood. The image contained the farmer with his pitch fork and daughter in front of their house.

And then it was on to the gift shop and being a true lover of all books, this was one of my favorite shops. Though not a good painter or sculpture by any means, the shop had wonderful art books, postcards, colored pencils, special paper, and reproductions such as Monet’s Water Lilies. And today, they offer fashion items and jewelry. You can created an account and order online.

Today, there are a variety of dining options at the Art Institute that includes a fine dining restaurant called Terzo Piano. There is the Museum Cafe that provides great choices for kids and the Balcony Cafe that provides a snacks and desserts.