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.

Forgotten Malls: Lincoln and Lakehurst

After moving to the south suburbs in the early 1970’s, I had friends that moved even further south. Spending time with friends in high school and college, it was time to hang out in the nearest mall. Besides, River Oaks in Calumet City, we went to Lincoln Mall in Matteson which opened in 1973 with anchors Carson Pirie Scott, Montgomery Ward, Wieboldt’s, and JCPenney. B Dalton Bookstore was another favorite there. The one place I remember the most was riding the glass elevator at Lincoln Mall. The Mall was developed by Randhurst Corp, the same developer consisting of Wieboldt’s and Carson’s executives who developed Randhurst Mall and Lakehurst Mall.

Moving to Waukegan in 1978, to teach at Warren Township High school, shopping after school or on weekends was an important event especially since we had a dress code. Besides Marshall Fields, another favorite was Carsons in Lakehurst Mall. Pier I, Service Merchandise and Red Lobster, some of my other choices were built on the outskirts of the mall. My mother loved to visit and treat me for dinner at the Red Lobster. Lakehurst Cinemas were also popular built across the street.

Lakehurst Mall was the first regional shopping complex in the northern Chicago suburb of Waukegan. The mall officially opened in 1971. It was built to service the growing town of Waukegan, the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, and the northern suburban sprawl of Chicago. On August 8, 1991, Gurnee Mills opened seven miles (11 km) away from Lakehurst. The newer, larger Gurnee Mills proved a much larger draw than expected, devastating Lakehurst’s retail base.

After several years of decline, Lakehurst closed in 2001, and was demolished in 2004. Lincoln Mall was demolition in 2017. Matteson casino group gets the ok, just a few months ago,to make old Lincoln Mall site its new proposed location.

John Wayne Gacy, Defending a Monster by Sam Amirante & Danny Broderick

He was a clown that actually entertained at children’s birthday parties living in Norwood Park, Il. A well-known and well-liked community member; a trustee of the Norwood Park Twp. A suburban man who ran his own successful business. A director of the Polish Constitution Day Parade who received Secret Service clearance and a picture with the first lady, Rosalynn Carter. A man who murdered 33 young boys between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. Burying most of them under his house which is no longer. I was in college at the time and he was one of the worst in serial killers. Convicted, John Wayne Gacy was sentenced to death on March 13, 1980 for 12 of those murders. He spent 14 years on death row before he was executed by lethal injection at Statesville Correctional Center on May 10, 1994.

And the story of Gacy begins with a phone call to a young lawyer and friend of Gacy’s. Sam Amirante describes the phone call, Sam, could you do me a favor. Sam will never forget those words. Sam had just opened his first law practice and Gacy was upset about what he thought was police harassment. Consequently, the narrative begins. Defending a Monster, published in 2011, is truly a page-turner that you cannot put down. It is Sam’s first murder case; defense attorney for one of the most disturbing men of all time.

Sam Amirante and Danny Broderick reenact the crime cases as well as the Gacy’s insane, drunken and early morning confession in Sam’s office. And the book details the excellent, but frightening story of John Wayne Gacy and the intense, intricate trial. Sam describes in a note that an attorney/ client relationship is confidential and should not be broken even after death but Gacy wanted the story told.  Amirante labored over this for many years before writing the book. But there were so many rumors of John Wayne Gacy. It was important for Amirante that the historical record be set straight.

Though Amirante was threatened many times for defending Gacy, he truly feels that all have right to a trial regardless of the crime. These are principals woven into our Constitution as the authors describes in the first few pages. Every person accused of a crime has the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of his peers. No crime is too gruesome, person too dangerous or too complicated.

Danny Broderick is an author and founded the firm of the Law offices of Daniel J Broderick. Broderick represented thousands of persons charged with felony and misdemeanor charges.

I heard about Sam Amirante through a client who used his firm. Sam was an associate judge in Cook County until 2005 at the same time a special mentor of mine was also a Cook county judge who had passed away. They did know each other. I then began to research and decided to read more about the story of John Wayne Gacy since I love anything and everything about Chicago’s history. Mr. Amarante also wrote procedures adopted by the Illinois General Assembly as the Missing Child Recovery Act of 1984.

American Girl

It was Samantha Parkington that was all the rage for many.  My daughter loved the doll and got one along with a look alike doll. I loved the books. But it was the Bitty Baby that truly brings back special and sometimes emotional holiday feelings. Christmas 2000 my daughter really wanted the Bitty Baby and under the tree on Christmas morning, there was nothing with the excuse told to her that we just couldn’t afford it. Later that morning, we traveled to the nursing home to see my Mother who would die later that summer. She handed my daughter the wrapped box and still had no idea the Bitty Baby was inside. She thought when first looking at the box that it was just too small for a baby doll. She was hoping up until the last minute that the doll would be hers forever; still is in a neatly wrapped storage box along with Samantha.

American Girl is an American line of 18-inch dolls released in 1986 by Pleasant Company. The dolls portray today eight- to twelve-year-old girls of a variety of ethnicity, time periods of origin, faiths, and social classes.Originally, the stories published into books focused on various periods of American history, but were expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from contemporary life. Aside from the original American Girl dolls, the buyer also has the option to purchase dolls that look like themselves.

Bitty Baby was an American Girl line of 15″ infant baby dolls for children ages 3 and up. Bitty Baby’s arms, legs, and head are made from vinyl. A precursor to the line called Our New Baby was first released in 1990,which consisted of Caucasian (with blond hair), African-American, and Asian-American variants. The dolls were marketed as a way to get children to adjust to having a young baby in the house. The dolls were gender neutral, unlike the later Bitty Baby; it was expected that the doll could be a younger boy or girl.

The American Girl series, by various authors, is a collection of novels set within toy line’s fictional universe. Since its inception, American Girl has published books based on the dolls, with novels and other media to tie in with their dolls. The books follow various American girls throughout both historical eras and contemporary settings.The historical novels that have corresponding dolls are referred to as the Central Series such as Samantha Parkington, Kirsten Larsen, Molly McIntire.  And I read them all even trying my hand at writing one and sending it to the publishing company.

A related series entitled History Mysteries, also known as Mysteries Through Time and/or Mysteries through History was released by American Girl in 1999 and discontinued in 2004. The series comprises a total of 22 books by various authors and forms a companion series to the popular American Girl books; unlike Girl of the Year and other lines, they do not come with any doll or toy and acts as a stand-alone novel set in a particular period in American history.

Today, all dolls purchased actually come with a book. For 2020, American girl has a new doll with a hearing loss. She is a competitive surfer that lives in California named Joss.

And the dolls of my daughter’s childhood are now considered antique and worth some money. Just like mine. One Samantha doll with her original outfit and accessories recently sold on eBay for $400. And the original Bitty baby can be found right now for under $50 dollars with only a few scratches.

Oh boy, the Grinch

The week after Thanksgiving it began..a kindergarten boy wore a t shirt with a sketch of the Grinch on it; handmade by his Mom. I wanted it! But when I was his age I was afraid of the Grinch. I loved having Mom read the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas and loved reading it to my own children. The first animated movie was telecast in the United States on CBS on December 18, 1966 and has been a holiday favorite ever since. The special also features the voice of Boris Karloff as the Grinch and the narrator; a 26 minute cartoon with Cindy Lou Who that everyone loves. My children were fascinated by the cartoon and one Christmas, my son got a talking Grinch doll. We still have the box. I am sure the doll is somewhere in our present garage mess.

According to Grinch Mania, the musical adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas started in Minneapolis in 1994, where it also showed in 1995 and 1998 to enthusiastic audiences. In 1998, the musical began playing in San Diego, where it has shown every year since then. The production hit the big time and Broadway in 2006 where it quickly became the hottest ticket on Broadway.

As my children got older in their junior high years, their true and everlasting love story with the Grinch came out in 2000How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. Based on Dr. Seuss’s 1957 book of the same name, it was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film. The film is narrated by Anthony Hopkins and stars Jim Carrey in the title role, along with Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, and introducing Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who. And according to box office statistics, one of the most successful films.

In 2018, The Grinch was released and distributed by Universal Pictures in the United States on November 9, 2018, in RealD 3D, a computer-animated Christmas comedy-drama film and played at select IMAX theaters produced by Illumination. It grossed over $511 million worldwide, so far obtaining the highest-grossing holiday film of all-time.

In the kindergarten classroom last week, we watched both cartoon from 1966 and the 2018 movie since the movie starring Jim Carey is a little scary for 5 and 6 year olds..a little scary for me. Though I must say I was positively memorized by the 2018 film….. finding the Grinch more funny than frightening.

Ultimately, as a mature adult…sometimes mature…., I love the Grinch as a doll, a picture on a box, musical renditions performed on stage, cartoon form, or any movie. It was his heart growing three sizes that day for all generations to remember…. that maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas means just a little bit more.

 

World Book

As I sat at my card table in the den watching TV, or painting, the World Book Encyclopedia was sitting on a shelf right next to me within hands reach. My mother was so excited when we got them. Like the internet, no family could or should live without them in the 1960s. Now, whenever you had a question for a parent or grandparent, the famous line was let’s go look that up in the World book. I especially liked H.. the one for the human body.. where you opened the book and saw the delicate, plastic, shiny drawing pages.

The first edition of The World Book Encyclopedia was published (as simply The World Book) in 1917, by the Hanson-Roach-Fowler Company in Chicago. Unlike the way most other encyclopedias were printed, World Book has traditionally been published in variously sized volumes, depending on the letter of the alphabet. And it still exists today.

World Book Encyclopedia was also published in electronic form for Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac OS X.  Thousands of print sets are still ordered annually, mostly by schools who use them as teaching tools for library research skills; public libraries and homeschooling families are also frequent purchasers. Currently, the 2019 general A-Z look-up source in 22 hard-cover volumes is under 1,000 dollars. World Book also has a series of children’s learning books that deal with science, nature and technology.

My children were 1990’s kids though the computer age was just beginning but for me, we still used the available encyclopedia or dictionary. The computer took forever to connect in their early years but throughout high school and college it was amazing what we could find together. Though Grandma would still refer to …where is that world book? 

Today some students in the elementary classroom will run to their IPad to look something up on the Internet but there are many that will remember that hardcover book. They run to that learning book on the shelf with the colorful photos of the Under the Sea Fish and animals; looking to learn the non-fiction facts about what an octopus really is. Learning to read, at his or her level successfully, as they turn the pages. I can’t wait to sit with them sharing their success with a beloved hard-cover.

 

Chicago Public Library, libraries and book mobiles

I have a distant memory of a bookmobile standing outside our school once though I do not remember selecting any books. However, in elementary school at Buckingham we did not have a library and the Chicago Public library came to visit us. We met in the gym and specific grade level books were placed in carts and disposable chairs were seated in front of the carts. When called, we could select books. I am not sure how many minutes or days we attended. We also had a storeroom that was situated in the gym and books were shelved from floor to ceiling. These were not our books but were leased from the Chicago Public Library and librarians would travel from school to school at that time.  In third grade, I remember getting ready to select books to take home and a lady from our main office was crying over the loud speaker announcing that our president, John F Kennedy had died. I remember looking at the clock that was located by the speaker; it was about 1:15. We did not pick out books that day because we were instructed to go home.

The Chicago Public Library (CPL) is the public library system that serves the City of Chicago in the U.S. state of Illinois. It consists of 80 locations, including a central library, two regional libraries, and branches distributed throughout the city’s 77 Community Areas.The American Library Association reports that the library holds 5,721,334 volumes, making it the 9th largest public library in the United States by volumes held, and the 30th largest academic or public library in the United States by volumes held. The Chicago Public Library is the second largest library system in Chicago by volumes held (the largest is the University of Chicago Library). The library is the second largest public library system in the Midwest, after the Detroit Public Library.

According to American Libraries, bookmobiles have a proud history of service dating back to the late 1850s, when a horse-drawn collection of books began making the rounds in Cumbria, England. Here in the United States, the first bookmobile is widely attributed to Mary Lemist Titcomb, a librarian in Washington County, Maryland, who in 1905 posited “Would not a Library Wagon, the outward and visible signs of the service for which the Library stood, do much more in cementing friendship?”

Today, bookmobiles still exist especially in rural areas where Internet access is not the best. Though the number has dropped, Aurora Public Library in the western suburbs loves their Bookmobile that visits schools on a three-week rotation throughout the school year. The Bookmobile also delivers materials requested from the collections at the Santori Library, Eola Road Branch, or West Branch.   In addition, the Bookmobile has community stops conveniently located throughout the city to serve customers of all age and is available for special events.

I am blessed that the Downers Grove Library is close to home and thankful for the Internet that I may reserve books. You can reserve books that have not been published yet and coming out sometime that year. I make sure I order a combination of old historical fiction and the latest bestsellers. That is one thing I cannot do…… finish one book without another waiting by my side.

You are never bored if you love to read.

Pitch What’s True

Ten thousand pitches in the form of queries, pitches, proposals, manuscripts, submissions that she has evaluated in the twenty-five years of publishing books and running publishing companies.

Sharon Woodhouse, is owner and publisher of Everything Goes Media, a nonfiction book publishing company with four imprints and consulting division, Conspire Creative. She is truly an expert and has shared her knowledge in workshops to thousands of writers on navigating the best path to a published nonfiction book. And now she has put her material in a book as well as the assessment tools she and her editorial team uses when they evaluate a new project.

Pitch What’s True is a workbook that expands your knowledge of what publishing a nonfiction book is all about and what that can mean in your life as an author. Many do not acknowledge the true process, energy and commitment that is involved in becoming a published writer and building a relationship with the publisher. The book is a checklist on understanding general publishing industry insights such as knowing what publishing options are available; the Literary Marketplace and Publishers marketplace are some examples. Pitch What’s True also helps authors differentiate between the success of print and digital formats.

The workbook discusses gaining intense knowledge of the specific publisher you are pitching. Will your book, for example, open up new groups of customers and be a financial asset to the publisher? The workbook also provides a step by step cheat sheet for finding and contacting the optimal publisher for your book. Which publishers should be at the top of your list, aiming, for example, at least 50 to 100 publishers total?

To showcase the true value of your talent as a writer and really put your soul into the publishing game, contact Everything Goes Media website for more information on purchasing this excellent tool, Pitch What’s True. Great exercises are included to keep you on track in the publishing process to meet your own goals.

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.

 

Honoring black history

By Caryl Clem:

Chicago has been the front stage for introducing life changing famous black trail blazers. The first street in a major city to be named after a black women civil rights activist and journalist, Ida B. Wells was dedicated on February 11, 2019.  The last street change was done in 1968 to honor Martin Luther King.  In the magazine, “ Make It Better” February 2019 edition, on the list of what to do in Chicago is the new exhibit at the Museum entitled, “Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade 1808-1865 featuring free Saturdays February 9.16, and 23.  Celebrating Black History Month includes recognizing the dynamic black women leaders who make a difference in Chicago. Last year, this magazine did a feature article describing 42 influential black women in Chicago in all career fields.

Since artistic expression is a major tourist attraction for Chicago, several noteworthy black women are leading the way.  Currently, the Deputy Director of Development at Chicago’s Contemporary Art Museum is Gwendolyn Perry Davis. Last year, she promoted an exhibit of Howardena  Pindell, a black women pioneer in abstract art. Ms. Pindell is famous for her techniques working with circles. The interview begins with this quote, “All the pieces … are an attempt to unite my mind again, to mend the rupture.”—Howardena Pindell.  She was troubled as a child to notice the  red circles drawn beneath the dishes her family ate on when dining out on vacation trips. During this interview, titled Controlled Chaos by Jessica Lanay, Ms. Pindell explains why she wanted to change how circles influenced her life.

Perri L. Irmer is the President  & CEO of DuSable Museum of African-American History, a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. Ms.Irmer stated in the magazine article, “The DuSable Museum is elevating the often hidden histories of Chicagoans such as Jean Baptiste Point DuSable — the Haitian immigrant who founded our city — military leaders, educators, and other black Chicagoan’s whose contributions are illustrative of black accomplishment throughout society.”

The political landscape of Chicago has been shaped by twenty famous black women and men. A comprehensive description covering their various contributions from Jesse White, Chief Jude Timothy Evana, Barrack Obama and Emil Jones, Jr. a Kimberly Foxx, Toni Preckwinkle to name a few examples in Chicago Defender’s Top 20 Most Influential Political Figures by Mary L. Datcher, Managing Editor for Chicago Defender.

If you want to explore a well-known black neighborhood gathering place, take a trip to a non-profit café with a welcoming atmosphere that encourages conversation and friendship, Kusanya Café 825 W. 69th Street  Chicago  773-675-4758.  In Englewood, a rustic chic coffee shop nestled inside a 100 year old building, surrounded by the art work of local artists, it is a haven offering a safe place to meet and enjoy life.

As described in an article describing the café,” Kusanya is home to a variety of free, community-driven arts, culture, and educational events, including Saturday morning yoga, a farmers market on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 4-6 p.m., and an open mic on second Saturdays featuring storytellers from around the neighborhood and across the city.”

The tapestry of Chicago life has been made richer in texture by its black men and women. Chicago offers many opportunities to celebrate Black History in Chicago.