A special trip to Chicago’s Our Lady of the Angels

Of course, what comes to mind for many of you my age and older, is the tragic school fire on Dec 1. 1958 at Our Lady of Angels school in West Humboldt Park. I was only three when my mother began to cry when watching the news. But I will never forget. Being taught fire safety in elementary school, teachers always referred to the horrific event that killed 92 children, three nuns and hundreds who walked away with significant injuries. Consequently, the fire did lead to major fire reforms in schools throughout the country and over 60 years later, you rarely hear of a child being hurt in a school fire.

Over decades, I have visited the neighborhood, saying a prayer, feeling the unrest and watching the massive decline. If you or your family were not involved in the fire, you certainly knew someone on the street that you lived who may have lost a child. The pain was too great and many moved on to begin a new start. In the late 1960’s, blockbusting occurred in many parts of the city where real estate practices essentially forced whites from their homes to create high housing prices for blacks. Whites also took the jobs with them and blacks were unemployed. Our Lady of the Angels couldn’t survive and the parish closed in 1990.

The school closed as a Catholic school first but was a charter school until approximately 2017 when given back to the Franciscans at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels . Fr. Bob Lombardo came to Chicago in 2005, at the special request of Cardinal George, to set up a mission outreach to help the poverty- stricken neighborhood that struggle with gang infiltration and drug trafficking on Chicago’s west side; one of the most violent areas in the country.

Many may not realize that  Fr. Bob erected the first on-site outside memorial for the victims of the tragedy, which was blessed by Cardinal George in 2007. He is a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. In Chicago, Fr. Bob has functioned as the founder/ director of the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels, founder/ superior of the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago, a newly established religious community of young men and women living and serving at the Mission of Our Lady of Angels.

Fourth of July weekend I visited their monthly food pantry with an added bonus in which they gave away 80 mattresses for those in the community. They provide fresh produce, non perishable food, clothing, and household goods to about 250 families each month at their Mobile Pantry. They have 75+ volunteers that help and you can sign up at any time. Families can take a cart filled with food and volunteers will help walk the family to their homes as long as it is within a block from the pantry. But the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels does so much more.

The Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago are an extremely educated and talented group who have been invited to take part in pilgrimages throughout the world. In the beginning, Fr Bob graduated from Notre Dame University in 1979 with an accounting degree and worked at Price Waterhouse. It was shortly after when he found his calling to become a Franciscian and a priest with over 30 years of religious experience.

Sister Kate, originally a nurse, talked about her humbling experience working in the community and their excitement in being able to renovate the school for more program space and retreats. The Church currently provides Eucharist adoration as well as neighborhood prayer services while the original Convent houses the female Franciscans and their offices. The rectory currently houses Fr. Bob and the male Franciscans. Kelly Hall hosts their monthly food program as well as senior programs. And they have received incredible donations that have allowed them to re-build and continue their unwavering commitment to help others. It not easy being who they are, but their graciousness towards others is genuine, constant and truly God’s gift to all of us.

Those who believe that all was ultimately lost in that community after the unforgettable fire…..maybe not. For the Franciscans do pray for those lost in 1958 and their survivors. But their current passion is not giving up on their mission to improve the lives of others they meet today; reminding us who is always in charge with them.

They improved my life in just a few hours and maybe the blessings of the community angels……. many so young…… are assisting the Franciscans to trust and always have faith in God’s timeless love.

 

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.

 

Wrigley chewing gum

Juicy fruit and bazooka,(bubble gum was bazooka penny candy with the comics inside wrapper) was the ones that fought for being number one in my life. I chose Bazooka more in the early years because if we had an allowance, we could buy penny candy and that was the selection in the bin at Cozy Corner on the south side of Chicago. Cozy Corner was a great little store and diner located next to South Chicago Hospital. Juicy Fruit came in a package and was more expensive. There was another store across the street that I remember buying magazines and my Archie comics. Another story coming soon on that trend.  But throughout my life, decades later, it was Juicy Fruit, a package of five, created by Wrigley here in Chicago.

In 1891, 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago from Philadelphia with $32 and the idea to start a business selling Wrigley’s Scouring Soap. Wrigley offered premiums as an incentive to buy his soap, such as baking powder. Later in his career, he switched to the baking powder business, in which he began offering two packages of chewing gum for each purchase of a can of baking powder. Wrigley soon abandoned baking powder, entered the gum industry and in 1893, he offered two new gum brands; Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint.The popular premium, chewing gum, began to seem more promising. Wrigley also became the majority owner of the Chicago Cubs in 1921. William Wrigley Jr. died on January 26th, 1932, at the age of 70 and his son continued to run the company.

According to Wikipedia, In 2005, Wrigley purchased Life Savers and Altoids from Kraft Foods for US$1.5 billion.On January 23, 2007, Wrigley signed a purchase agreement to acquire an 80% initial interest in A. Korkunov for $300 million with the remaining 20% to be acquired over time. On April 28, 2008, Mars announced that it would acquire Wrigley for approximately $23 billion. Financing for the transaction was provided by Berkshire Hathaway, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan (Warren Buffet) Berkshire Hathaway held a minority equity investment in Wrigley until October 2016.

 

Free O’Douls at the Cubs vs Mets game: June 21st

Chicago fans can get their hands on limited edition cans of O’Doul’s, designed by local artist Brandon Breaux, on June 21st at the Cubs vs. Mets game at Wrigley Field. Visitors can visit Responsible Fan kiosks on concourse levels during the game. Fans at the game can look out for O’Doul’s signage on the big screen in the outfield to learn where else they can find the cans throughout the stadium. The cans will be given away at the game free of charge, no purchase necessary.

After the ODoul’s can refresh in November with NYC-based artist Mr. Kiji, they wanted to bring him back for a second launch and expand to two additional top markets in the U.S. The O’Doul’s team worked internally to identify three unique artists that produce art reflective of their cities’ one-of-a-kind aesthetics, and approached Brandon for this unique opportunity.

Brandon talks about his artwork for the brand, “The design utilizes color forms to communicate, which I feel speaks to the brand’s message and impact that message holds. The goal of the design is to make something that attracts people and gives off a good vibe in any environment.”

Brandon Breaux is a fine art/designer who was born in Chicago graduating with a Bachelors of Art and Design from DePaul University and is currently working out of the city. He is widely known as the artist behind all 3 of Chance the Rapper’s iconic album covers but continues to be involved with painting, sculpture, web, video and print projects. Brandon has his own shop online with a variety of art that you can purchase including a picture of Chicago’s great Harry Caray (still available) and Harold’s Chicken; another Chicago favorite. However, his overall goal is to inspire and educate by producing creative solutions. Once a child myself from the south side of Chicago, I appreciate Brandon’s collaboration with The Invisible Space at 85th and Cottage Grove offering yoga and meditation sessions helping to transform others into a more healthy life style; just like promoting a non-alcoholic environment.

O’Doul’s has been a leader in premium non-alcohol beers for nearly 30 years. Wanting to socialize responsibly, Anheuser-Busch- ODouls bottled beer was always my choice at a restaurant or bar for it’s full body taste. Perfect for attracting people who want to enjoy the fine beer flavor but take pleasure in a sober/ positive event. O’Douls and O’Douls Amber contain only the finest of natural ingredients-including barley malt, domestic and imported whole cone hops, brewer’s yeast, select grains and water.

In a time when more brands are entering the non-alcohol beverage category, O’Doul’s wanted to shake up its look for long standing brand fans, while enticing new consumers to drink responsibly and in moderation this summer.

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.

Chicago Cookies

Every time I think of the butter cookie in the blue box, I hear the Salerno Butter Cookie song in my head constantly. It was famous in the 1960’s and continued on through the years though butter cookies were not my favorite. Though I did like putting them on my fingers like a ring.I have always been a chocolate fan especially a rich, chocolate chip cookie. But Salerno has been a favorite since 1933. The original factory was located at 4500 West Division in Chicago and Alyce Salerno was the last of the original Salerno cookie owner who died in 1985. Her father originally began the company. Since, the company and recipe has been repeatedly  sold  you can still get the cookies online and in many grocery stores.

Maurice Lenell: My Mom always served the pinwheel swirl cookie and jelly star cookies with coffee and for guests. Not sure why they were the rage since, again, it was always a chocolate chip cookie…even today. Maurice Lenell grew up working at a small Swedish bakery on the northwest side of Chicago. In 1937, when he struck out on his own, Maurice used his hands-on baking knowledge and many of the family recipes to produce his own cookie jar favorites. Maurice Lenell signature cookies soon became a Chicago institution.  In 2008. Maurice Lenell cookies finally closed its doors. The Cookie Store and ore opened in 2010 to serve as the unofficial outlet for the brand but it has been closed since 2015.

Lorna Doone is a golden, square-shaped shortbread cookie produced by Nabisco. It was possibly named after the main character in R. D. Blackmore’s 1869 novel, Lorna Doone. The original cookie recipe came from the Malloys. The couple came from County Cork, Ireland. Emily and John Malloy ran a bakery in Chicago. The couple came from County Cork, Ireland. Emily had created the recipe, but when they closed down the bakery, John sold the recipe to Nabisco.

National Pizza Day: May 17th

By Caryl Clem

An eating experience can be life changing; food delicious beyond description develops into a craving that will shape your future restaurant choices. My first time going to Pizzeria Uno on Wabash and Ohio streets convinced me that the very finest pizza in all of Chicago was served there. From the moment I entered the dining room, all my senses were on fire smelling, tasting, touching, swallowing, hearing fragments of chatter while observing the oozing cheese and array of toppings to devour. I broke every proper eating mannerism, eating with your fingers, taking as many servings as possible, practically gulping down every morsel.  Instantly, I became a deep dish pizza fan.

Discovering the inventions and trends that came from Chicago is an actual job. The city of Chicago’s cultural historian, Tim Samuelson, researched the origins of deep dish pizza. A transit from Texas University, former lineman Ike Sewell teamed with Italian-American Ric Riccardo, a food business operator working with Chef Adolpho Malnati Sr. to create a round dish pie pizza baked upside down in 1943. The popular new version of pizza led to a second location named Pizzeria Due opening in 1955.  Alice May Redmond and her sister Ruth Hadley were chefs in the early days. Chicago style deep dish pizza becomes loved from coast to coast. Today all the chefs families have opened their own versions of restaurants serving pizza.  Opening in 1966, another thick crust Chicago favorite formed by two brothers Rosario and Francesca Salerno opened their family business, Salerno’s on 16th Street.  Chicagoans have loyally supported them over fifty years enjoying a tantalizing array Italian food based on family recipes.

While exploring pizza information, I was surprised to discover thin crust has won the majority of business for decades, currently at 61 %.   There are over 8 crust thicknesses and varied name styles from California, St. Louis, New York City, Sicilian and Napoleon. You can become a pizza connoisseur traveling around Chicago by reading this article in TimeOut Chicago.

For the calorie counter pizza consumer, the same amount of flour goes into each crust; the leavening agent determines the thickness. The crust can be dominantly corn, gluten free, or grains. Leaving off the meat reduces artery plugging animal fats. Deep dish pizza has less meat fat per serving. Pizza cheese is low in fat compared to burger cheese flavors. Pizza is better for you than a Big Mac or bucket of crispy fried chicken.  Celebrate ending another week at work and go out for a pizza on National Pizza Party Day.

Back to life: But not Wanzer

Before school, I would eat my breakfast, generally, Frosted flakes cereal, soaked in the best milk ever at the dinette table . Even the butter on my toast was rich and creamy. The orange juice just ok. Sometimes he would come before I went to school entering the small entry way by the back door. Sometimes my Mom thought he was cute. But he was always pleasant, the same guy for every delivery that she could depend and always Wanzer, for us anyway.

Sidney Wanzer was the son of Nicholas and Betsey (Hill) Wanzer. Sidney and his parents followed his oldest brother Moses to western Dundee Township, Kane, Illinois about 1840. He married Jane Bradley, the daughter of William S. Bradley, another Fairfield, Franklin, Vermont, immigrant, on 22 October 1857 in Elgin, Kane, Illinois.

The family lived in Chicago and had ten children: Luna, Bertha E., William Bradley, Bessie, Howard Hill, Sidney, Jennie L., Breddie, Arthur Grant and Charles.

Sidney Wanzer began hauling his ‘country-fresh’ milk from the farms in the Elgin and Dundee areas to Chicago in 1857. He later partnered with his brother to form the Wanzer Dairy in Chicago.They pioneered the use of the glass milk bottle, scientific testing to determine the butterfat content of milk, mechanical refrigeration for milk storage and applied the pasteurization process invented by Louis Pasteur to kill bacteria in milk.

The main dairy in Chicago was at Garfield Blvd. (55th Street) and the Dan Ryan Expressway along with two other south side plants. A distribution center was located on Lawrence Avenue between Wolcott and Ravenswood.

Wanzer was sold in the 1970’s to Borden. Home milk delivery from local dairies and creameries was a mainstay for many families in the 1950s and ‘60s. But as it became easier and cheaper to buy milk at the grocery store, and as processes were developed to extend milk’s shelf life, the milkman began to fade into the past.

However, now all over the country, trucks are delivering fresh milk in glass bottles and organic vegetables.  Ecoli scares and processed food with few health benefits have changed the food market and many people ordered online and delivered once a week, or month or anytime that fits your schedule. Glass bottles have returned because they can

Some of the best milk delivery in Chicago today are Mori Milk and  1871 Dairy. Mori Milk is located in Franklin Park and has been providing milk, ice cream, cheeses, juices and yogurt delivery for the last fifteen years. Mori Milk is a distributor for Deans foods, Breyers, Ben & Jerry’s and Good Humor.

However, 1871 Dairy is a wholesome dairy infrastructure in Chicago that can claim 100% grass fed products. With a subscription, you will receive free home delivery for those in the Chicago and Western Suburbs tasting the best in cultured buttermilk and drinkable yogurt.

Currently, my son works for Hinkley Schmidt and delivers water to scheduled businesses and communities. It’s those that are retired that want to know who he is, his name and will he always be delivering. They like the idea that it is that same man every time ….just like my Mom’s milkman.

You can actually purchase old glass bottles of vintage Illinois dairies on Etsy and a wonderful children’s book called Milkman Bill. 

Green river and chocolate phosphates

There was a diner we would stop at after our excursion to the Oaklawn Roller Rink. They still served Green River soda and my girlfriend and I had to have one.  The flavor was better than having a Coke or Pepsi. According to John Fogarty, the Green River song was inspired by the soft drink.

According to Wikipedia, Green River soda was first introduced in 1919, by the Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company of Chicago. Prior to 1920, the brewery produced the popular Edelweiss beer. Schoenhofen began manufacturing Green River and other soft drinks in order to survive the Prohibition Era. It was also made by the Sweetwater Brewery in Green River, Wyoming.

It was popular as a soda fountain syrup, trailing only Coca-Cola in popularity throughout the Midwest. After Prohibition ended in 1933, the Schoenhofen Brewery continued to manufacture Green River, while resuming the production of alcoholic beverages. The Brewery closed in 1950.The brewery district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 27, 1978 and the Administration Building and Powerhouse were later designated Chicago Landmarks on July 13, 1988 located in the Pilsen neighborhood

The Green River brand continued to be produced by other manufacturers after the closing of Schoenhofen Edelweiss. Green River’s current manufacturer, WIT Beverage Company, acquired the brand in 2011. You can buy Green River at Walmart, Binneys, or even buy online at Amazon. Contact GreenRiver.com and connect with their Facebook or Twitter page.

I first tasted a Chocolate phosphate at Markons restaurant, located on Jeffrey Ave in Chicago, in the 1960’s. Markons was a great place to go for lunch since my junior high was located down the street or after a  swim at the Jewish Community’s center pool during the summer, right next door.

The phosphate has been around a long time.  The Wild Cherry Phosphate, among children,  was the most popular during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. A good chocolate phosphate starts with good chocolate, or better yet, cocoa powder, soda water and acid phosphate.

Margies Candies on Montrose still offers phosphates. Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream offers all flavors; Chocolate, Cherry, Vanilla, and Green River included. Lindy’s Chili and Gerties has several locations in the Chicagoland area including Morris and Countryside. The Big Top Restaurant in Norwood offers a great vanilla phosphate.

 

Getting chicken pox, measles or mumps during the 1960’s

Now, when you look up information about chicken pox, the first word that pops up is rare. The chicken pox vaccine was added to the immunization schedule in 1995.  My eyes followed more information about chicken pox gravitating on the disease description of shingles, the same virus as chicken pox’s. Shingles is not so rare for me and those over 60. Studies suggest over 95 percent of people age 40 and older have had chicken pox and it is advised to get the vaccine for shingles that originated a few years ago.

For me, it was in 1963, I  was annihilated with the pox’s. Everywhere I looked, I was marked for life. To this day, I still see one on my nose. And they itched. Nothing much took care of that back in my day….calamine lotion maybe and I was out of school for almost two weeks. I remember sitting in the den, mittens on my hands since my parents had to stop the scratching somehow.  Dad and I watched the Real McCoys on Saturday night TV in Chicago.  I remember going back to school at Kate Stugis Buckingham the first day and my teacher, Mrs Lannon, as well as classmates, were so concerned about my illness, offering me special breaks throughout the first week.  And two years later, I experienced a mild case of the mumps but not with the same kind of attention.

The recommended vaccines were developed early in the 20th century. These included vaccines that protect against pertussis (1914), diphtheria (1926), and tetanus (1938). These three vaccines were combined in 1948 and given as the DTP vaccine. Smallpox,Diphtheria,Tetanus, Pertussis, which I remember as well as the famous polio vaccine. When the polio vaccine was licensed in 1955, the country celebrated and Jonas Salk, its inventor, became an overnight hero.

In 1963 the measles vaccine was developed, and by the late 1960s, vaccines were also available to protect against mumps (1967) and rubella (1969). These three vaccines were combined into the MMR vaccine in 1971.

Now, we are protected by vaccines that include Hepatitis A and B, Pneumococcal, Influenza Rotavirus, HPV. The pneumonia vaccine is recommended for people over 65. Just last month I had the flu after taking the flu shot and experienced pneumonia at the same time and still under the age of 65. And, once again, I was off of school for over a week. I missed Valentine’s day but the kindergartners did not forget me; bringing chocolate for the holiday and making handmade headbands when I returned.

Though I was with family, not hospitalized, in my favorite bed and so grateful for classroom gifts, there is nothing like being sick with your Dad in front of vintage TV. My Dad passed away right after my attack with the mumps. Though Facebook and Twitter can be fun with the opportunity of immediate sharing one’s thought,there is nothing like returning to school without social media giving everyone a heads up. Eyes wide that you didn’t die. And big smiles on your best friends faces. Yes, there was the phone but it was just different.

Thankfully, today, I am finished with medications and x-rays. I feel great and I am not going to get shingles but after all these years, I still miss my Dad.