Kilbourne Park/Old Irving Park

After spending time with my daughter in Old Irving Park, Chicago, I decided to explore Kilbourne Park, where my better half, who has been in my life for a decade, grew up. It was a beautiful, cool day where I spent time in the park enjoying the walk, exercise that I needed and was greeted by many that were doing the same. At the corner of Kenneth and Roscoe, I continued to explore the neighborhood, specifically checking out the house at 3342 Kenneth. Someone was celebrating a party, as you can see in the photo. He had moved into the house in 1960 from the time he was 5-11 years old. His father worked for the Chicago Post Office. His mother worked at Slidematic, located at 4520 W Addison St, still in business today. A diverse, middle-class neighborhood with several houses and apartment buildings, celebrating the beauty of their homes with home-made gardens and flower baskets.

According to the Chicago Park District, Kilbourne Park was created by the Irving Park District, which was formed in 1910 and managed three parks in the area. Fifteen years later, the Chicago Park District acquired the site.  By the late 1920s, the park’s recreational features included athletic fields, a running track, horseshoe and tennis courts, an 18-hole putting green, two playgrounds, a children’s wading pool, a sand box, and penned-in rabbits. Kilbourn Park also had a fieldhouse, maintenance building, and greenhouse. In the 1990’s, the park went through major renovation. Today, the park offers some great summer activities for children and adults, including a children’s day camp. There is a basketball league for young teenagers, both male and female. Garden Buddies meet next week to attract toddlers to nature.

Getting back in my car, I continued enjoying the expansive architecture that has become a national landmark. The Whistle Stop Inn has held a variety of businesses but was established as a Chicago landmark in 1990. The ornate building was built in 1889 and is located at 4200 W. Irving Park Road. Another national treasure is the Ropp-Grabill House which became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It was linked to the Underground Railroad because there were many tunnels under the house used to protect slaves, and it has been truly one of the most preserved. The home was tastefully restored by a single owner and last sold in 2019, located at 4132 North Keeler. The Digital Research Library offers a great historical account of how the suburb of Irving Park was annexed to Chicago.

Wall calendars

Though the tiny calendar at the bottom is missing, this was my father’s business calendar that he brought home fromwork to hang next to the new wall phone in the kitchen. Glass Sales & Service was his shop where he created glass furniture tops, mirrors, windows as well as repair auto glass located at 6755 South Chicago Ave, BUtterfield 8-5558-59. The framed calendar also had a thermometer on the side. The calendar was supposedly from 1962. Mom said the reason he brought it home after the year had ended was in honor of the death of John F. Kennedy as a keepsake. Though he voted Republican in the past, he did like Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do For Your Country. And each day passes on as wall calendars continue to be popular decades later; in every shape or sizes to 12, 16 or 24 months. Back then, companies would share them with clients like my Dad did. As the years continued, wall calendars sometimes hung from strong magnets on refrigerators. I found a picture of me teaching in a class during the 1980’s and there it was…a wall calendar. It was a theater class. In the 1990’s, when I was involved in scrapbooking, I created a wall calendar with favorite pictures of my young children.

The best of calendars could be wooden, magnetic, tapestry, and dates or years demonstrated on plates as well. Of course, for the guys, the vintage Snap-on calendars with pin up girls were a must. Though Snap-on created great calendars celebrating vintage cars. Snap-on tools continues to make calendars today, announcing a special UK customer garage contest to be featured in the 2022 calendar.

In the last decade, I have collected several wall calendars that depict special artists. One was a Van Gogh from 2010. Sometimes I will frame a picture and others times I will try to copy a painting, creating my own work of art. I was never good at it so now I have an art table where I practice my sketches using water colors, acrylics, and oils. Still not very good, but I try. Another calendar that I have from 2019 contains the paintings of folk artist Mary Singleton.

The Spruce offers some great suggestions for Wall calendars where they spent hours researching wall calendars, evaluating design, ease of installation, and customization options. One of their favorites with Minted’s beautiful calendars, designed by independent artists. Start you calendar on any month, and customize with favorite photos and important dates for the year. Receive a FREE calendar when you save 10 personal occasions.

Gone But Not Forgotten, Maxwell Street

By Caryl Clem

Chicago’s Maxwell Street culturally impacted city lifestyles since the late 19th century. A family affair started by Jewish residents to enjoy music, food and shop among local vendors. This area stretched from Roosevelt and 16th street to a central location at Maxwell and Halsted.  All the flavors and sounds left behind in Eastern Europe including Ukraine, would be reborn on Sundays. The City of Chicago recognized this popular spot in October 1912 by officially naming the location as The Maxwell Street Market; forerunner of the Sunday flea market tradition of hunting for treasures. 

After a World War and crop failures in Europe, Chicago throbbed with a variety of cultures as immigrants flooded into the factories and neighborhoods. Maxwell Street with hopeful business entrepreneurs earned the nickname, “Ellis Island of the Midwest. “Music artists gained recognition and fame playing during Maxwell Street Days. Communities changed as blacks migrated from the jobless Deep South to work in Chicago. Established Jewish merchants were eager to rent out spaces to the newcomers. Black musicians replaced the Jewish Klezmer style music with appearances including Louis Armstrong who produced records in Chicago starting in 1925. The competitive drive of emerging musicians evolved into using amplifiers and technology to blast loud music over the noisy crowd.  Maxwell Street became a stage for blues and jazz artists.                                                            

The  shoppers’ thirst to hear musical performances attracted Big Bill Broonzy singing solos and playing a  new type of jazz releasing over 250 songs from 1925-1950 that evolved into “Chicago Blues.”    Names that ring a bell in our memory today such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddly, Howlin Wolf, Little Walter, Memphis Minnie and others under the mentoring of Broonzy ushered in a new era of rock and roll.  A famous Broonzy song, “Black, Brown and White” echoes issues still faced today. Throughout his career, Bill Broonzy kept in touch with his Maxwell Street roots including Papa Chris Jackson who linked him to Paramount Records.  Jimmy Davis was a Maxwell Street regular for over 40 years.

In 1994 the University of Illinois at Chicago required more land for their campus so Maxwell Street was relocated to Canal Street, then in 2008 to DesPlaines Street.  Still in an historical district less than two miles away from the Art Institute, the new environment is reported to be dominated by Mexican food and vendors. The flea market tradition with hundreds of vendors to tempt your wallet thrives in Chicago at Wolff’s Flea Market at Allstate Arena or for those willing to travel to Kane County Flea Market, Illinois or Elkhorn, Wisconsin or Wilmot Flea Market, Kenosha, Wisconsin.

State Street Bridge turns 73 years old

Memorial Day Weekend brings the parade back to Chicago this year to honor those who have served in the military. But an important bridge celebrates its birthday. Through the decades, how I remember watching the State Street Bridge rise and fall for boats and yachts to travel past. When I was young in the 1960’s, I remember holding my mother’s hand tightly as we walked across the bridge, even though it was enclosed in railings. It was back in the early 1980’s that the bridge began to open, and one girl was caught on the bridge near the center. She could not maintain her grip and started to slip. Her fall was saved by police, who got her before she fell into the water. According to sources, she did break her leg. In the early 1990’s, my children were terrified to walk across. The State Street bridge was officially christened the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge when it opened in 1949, dedicated as a memorial to World War II veterans who fought in the Philippines.

Actually, the bridge has been reconstructed five times. The first one was built in 1864 but was destroyed by the Chicago fire. The crossing is actually one of the longest and handles six lanes of traffic. The American Institute of Steel Construction or AISC is a non-profit trade association founded in 1921. Its purpose is to promote the use of fabricated structural steel. AISC recognized the bridge as a steel bridge that exhibits innovation, aesthetics, and cost effectiveness in it’s engineering and design. Limestone-clad bridge tender houses are on the SE and NW corners of the bridge though they are not open to the public. The bridge was the last to be built in Chicago.

It has been 73 years that we celebrate the beauty of the bridge; a constant reminder of our wonderful military veterans. Happy Memorial Day.

The last week

After many years in a variety of educational positions, for the last five years, my retirement job has been in an elementary school as an instructional assistant in a pre-k through second grade school in Downers Grove. For them, this is their last week before summer break, so they are excited and the week has been filled with extra activities to celebrate moving on to the next grade. As I lovingly watch them learn and grow, I can’t help but think about the week in Uvalde, Texas which we will never forget. The horrific mass shooting occurred when an 18-year old with an assault weapon murdered 19 children and two teachers in their elementary school classroom while injuring more than a dozen others. It fills me with an overwhelming sadness, grief for those lost in Texas, and fear.

What???? Another school shooting??? Not again, and it can happen anywhere, including the suburb of Downers Grove though administration throughout the suburbs are taking the right action. A school resource office should be in every school building. All outside doors are locked and some schools require scanners as people walk through the doors. All visitors must present a government issued photo ID. Safety drills are conducted at each of our schools throughout the year, and staff receive training on how to respond in crisis situations. Whatever it takes to keep children safe.

There is one argument after another about gun laws. My concern is have the recourses to handle mental health issues and drug addiction. According to Impact Dupage, behavioral health continues to be a chief concern in DuPage County. Addressing behavioral health requires attention to substance use disorders as well as mental health. According to sources, the opioid epidemic in Illinois continues to manifest in multiple ways that include historically high rates of overdoses and overdose-related fatalities. Children and families need more resources for counseling they can afford and even more social workers at schools that can get a handle on the issues going on with a child.

There is always something positive that develops from tragedy. Maybe one mother will become sober for life and maybe one father will suggest counseling for his family. Maybe one grandmother will spend more time with their grandchildren, maybe one couple will recognize the love of their life. Maybe one teacher will give their children more hugs, maybe one parent will hug their child a little tighter. Maybe one person will finally honor another without complaint, maybe one company will offer a product at no cost for those that struggle. Maybe we will demonstrate more respect for our teachers, administration and staff at school. Maybe one more person will believe in God because there are truly more angels in heaven than ever before.

As we pray for the grief of the families and friends related to the following:

  • Eva Mireles, 44
  • Irma Garcia, 48
  • Xavier Lopez, 10
  • Uziyah Garcia, 9
  • Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, 10
  • Jose Flores, 10
  • Tess Mata, 10
  • Amerie Jo Garza, 10
  • Jayce Luevanos, 10
  • Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
  • Miranda Mathis, 11
  • Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
  • Jackie Cazares, 10
  • Ellie Garcia, 10
  • Alithia Ramirez, 10
  • Rojelio Torres, 10 
  • Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
  • Nevaeh Bravo, 10
  • Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10
  • Eliahana ‘Elijah’ Cruz Torres, 10
  • Layla Salazar, 10

God bless you all!

Chicagoland’s Sam Goody and Camelot music.

After moving to Waukegan in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, I remember it was about playing Billy Joel, The Stranger album over and over again. It was also about Faces, released in 1980, the tenth studio album for Earth, Wind and Fire. It was about Thriller, the album, by Michael Jackson in 1982 and Thriller, the song played in every local disco at the time. Most of the disco floors were blocks of color. There was one at Greenleaf and Washington in Gurnee and another in a plaza on Washington where I remember the colored floors. Then, there was Mirage by Fleetwood Mac, released in 1982. But I still played my 60’s and 70’s classics which included Band on the Run by Paul McCarthty and All things Must Pass by George Harrison. I shopped at Lakehurst Mall which included a Sam Goody shop as well as a Camelot music. I played piano and found that Camelot was a good place for sheet music.

Sam Goody was a music and entertainment retailer in the United States and United Kingdom, operated by The Musicland Group inc. Sam “Goody” Gutowitz opened a small record shop in New York. Though he had sales at his store, he truly was known for mail order of discount records and at the time in the 1950’s college students loved him. In 1978, the company was acquired by the American Can Company (later renamed Primerica), the owners of Minneapolis-based Musicland,[ Goody’s rival] Sam Goody continued to grow through both acquisitions and organic growth, including the launch of its website. It was purchased by Best Buy in 2000, sold to Sun Capital in 2003, and filed for bankruptcy in 2006 closing most of its stores.

Camelot was one of the largest retailers in the United States. It was founded in 1956 by two brothers, Paul and Robert David in Ohio and they had two shops which included Camelot music and the wall. The Wall was best known for its trademark “Lifetime Music Guarantee”, which offered free replacements for cassettes and CDs that had been damaged in any way. In some Camelot stores, you could step on a numbered floor circle triggering an audio mechanism. You could here a list of 20 hit tunes. At 70 years of age, David sold the company in 1993 to Investcorp. In 1998, the company owned 455 stores in 37 states. That same year, Camelot was bought by Trans World Entertainment including the Wall locations as well.

Happy Mother’s Day, Beautiful

That’s what I said to my Mom in a card when I was a child. Strangely enough, a kindergarten student calls me “Beautiful” everyday. I think she needs glasses. On the cover of the cards displayed, my own painted artwork with Mom and a basket of candy. It should have been for Easter. My talent in writing was more than I expected at that young age. Mother, Mother, I’ll help and stay until the day you pass away. I’ll make you happy all through the year with kisses hugs and wonderful cheers. I don’t know about the hugs and cheers but I did stay with her until she passed away in 2001. Though my card was printed in block print, I did know cursive and signed it Love, Karla. Mom told me that most of my cards were signed, Love, Karla Korff which she always loved. As far as gifts for Mom, she was not a breakfast in bed lover. She did like breakfast at Denny’s in Calumet City when we lived in Dolton. But dinner was her favorite, choosing red snapper at the Green Shingle in Harvey,Chuck Cavalinnis in Dolton or the Flame in Country Side.

Back in the late 1990’s I found another card in a treasured box that says For Mom with our love and appreciation on Mother’s Day. And I know why I kept it. It was signed by both children in their best cursive. Their Dad probably bought it and for them to do something together was quite unique. I did like the beautiful bow and especially the line that says how thankful they were for my faith to help get them through difficult times which I still try to do today by responding to their phone calls and text messages. Though I have learned that it is not just my faith in them but my steady faith in God. Some of my favorite gifts have been fresh flowers for the dining room table, and a candle from my daughter as well as Lindahl chocolate. My son is known for bottled water since he works for Hinckleys, teas and he knows I love my Starbucks. Jamesons for a filet mignon in Downers Grove is my favorite for dinner but there have been many years spent having breakfast and lunch at Stevens in Woodridge.

And as I write and read this again; it is not about vacations or the most expensive gift, it is truly the love and encouragement we give to each other every day until we are able to call heaven our new home.

Happy Mother’s Day to all that celebrate with kisses, hugs, and wonderful cheers.

Journey’s Mark on Rock

By Caryl Clem

Looking forward to concerts in Chicago includes iconic bands like Journey on May 2, 2022 at Allstate Arena. The radio station WLS celebrated their coming appearance with a “Journey” week featuring their lead songs. The magic when music dissolves time happens every time I listen to time buried favorites like “Don’t Stop Believing”, “Open Arms”, and “Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin to name of few of their hits. Decades later after their single hits consistently hit the Top Forty Charts during the 1980’s, generations still relish listening to Journey’s signature music.

In 1975, the first appearance under the band title” Golden Gate Rhythm Section” in San Francisco showcased a psychedelic, jazz, rock combo that featured two former members of Santana. Three releases later by 1977, the bands’ identity is still forming with marginal sales. A new name Journey is on the front cover of “Look Into The Future”, 1976. The “Infinity” album increases popularity with three hit song as Steve Perry’s voice stirs passions. Encouragement by a band members’ father to not give up leads to a hit single, “Don’t Stop Believing” in 1981 along with other popular singles. Within 6 years after a questionable start, Journey reaches record sales demand hitting 9 million in America. The band lost members seeking their own careers at the end of the 1980’s.

Band member changes lead to hiatus in 1987. The reorganization emerged in to the release “Trial by Fire “in 1996 that sold I million. The legacy of Journey was refueled by “Arrival” in 2001 and “Generation” in 2005.  Journey was back on the concert tour reconnecting with audiences from coast to coast. The newest vocalist found by searching YouTube is Amel Pineda since his debut in “Revelation” 2008, “Eclipse” 2011. Pat Monohan from the band Train inducted Journey into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Currently the Freedom tour is a testimony to Journeys’ timeless appeal. The rollicking keyboards, the clever interplay of harmony styles, the ballad lyrics echoing love’s resilience or the pain of loss captures hearts of all ages. Journey music strikes a familiar chord for many.

In your Easter bonnet

The Easter parade was always planned, following the religious service on Easter Sunday. Never another day which was truly a way to celebrate Jesus. Easter parades involved women who were finely dressed in new clothes and hats. Having new clothes and expensive attire actually began in Europe in the early 4th century as a celebration to the resurrection. It symbolized re-birth, renewal and hope. In 1933, American songwriter Irving Berlin wrote the music for a revue on Broadway called As Thousands Cheer. It included his song “Easter Parade”, which he had been working on for fifteen years, and in which he had finally captured the essence of the parade. Both the song and the revue were tremendously popular. The song became a standard, and fifteen years later was the basis for the film Easter Parade. My family members remember the Chicago parade in 1939 taking place in front of the Drake hotel after services. Women of wealthy families would attend service and then head for a luxurious lunch. Another Chicago parade took place in on Michigan Ave in around the Fourth Presbyterian Church in 1927. Many dressed in fine clothes and bonnets. They were usually wealthy congregants and influential pastors.

The Easter parade is most closely associated with Fifth Avenue in New York City, but Easter parades are held in many other cities. Starting as a spontaneous event in the 1870s, the New York parade became increasingly popular into the mid-20th century—in 1947, it was estimated to draw over a million people. Its popularity has declined significantly, drawing only 30,000 people in 2008. It was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid but now the Easter parade and bonnet festival still exists. The Easter Parade & Easter Bonnet Festival is a spontaneous event that takes place every year in New York City. On Easter Sunday, Fifth Avenue (from 49th St to 57th St) is closed for traffic. The fun begins at about 10 am. The promenade of hundreds of people wearing weird, funny, and inventive costumes usually attracts crowds of spectators.

Other wonderful Easter celebrations planned on Easter Sunday throughout the country:

New Orleans Like so many occasions in New Orleans, Easter Sunday is celebrated with a parade…actually three. The oldest Easter parade in the city is the one founded by Germaine Wells in 1956. Most are Christian so as many have said, it a spritual time in the city. Therefore, Easter gets its fair number of parades dedicated to different issues and topics, such as The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade, Chris Owens French Quarter Parade, and the Gay Easter Parade. The Historic French Quarter parade starts at Antoines restaurant at 9:45 and arrives at the St. Louis Cathedral for mass at 11:00. There are also Easter Bonnet awards.

The Easter Parade on Union Street in San Francisco is another popular event on Easter Sunday. The parade begins at 2pm but there is also Easter bonnet contest as well. Other parades and contests are available to see at Golden Gate Park.

What Easter means to me

It began with an Easter bonnet that never fit me right, but I had to wear it since hats were all the rage in 1960, when I was five. I remember loving my lace ankle socks, Mary Jane shoes and my white clutch purse, holding it delicately with white gloves. I remember many beautiful dresses….and it seemed like hours that my Mom took me shopping to find the best one on Easter Sunday. I remember a white linen dress with multiple colors of trim; that I still have in a box. I remember the dress in the above picture and having Easter, brunch or dinner; sometimes at a restaurant like the Green Shingle or at home with friends and family. I remember the excitement of my Dad’s good friend who had just gotten his first Polaroid camera and couldn’t wait to take a picture of Mom, Dad, and me.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it was about Easter celebrations in Downers Grove with my own children now adults. As I do every few years approaching holidays and birthdays, I travel back in the storage boxes of their youth like traveling back in time in a Polaroid memory. In my son’s baby book, sure enough, there is his first Easter card. I remember one his first bunnies bought to celebrate….there it is. I remember Mom and a neighbor buying my daughters’ Easter dresses, one with colorful tulips and my young son had to wear a tie. Once again…found among the blankets, stuffed animals and other memorabilia. We would have an Easter egg hunt at our house for the kids and neighbors. My neighbor, who was the Mysterious Bunny, that no one knew, left baskets at my front door every Easter. Before John passed, he left new bikes for my children at the front door.

As a kindergarten assistant, our school celebrates Easter with talk of the Easter bunny. Students had to take home a plastic egg and fill it with something. When they bring, it back to school, the classmates have to try to guess what it is. Today, the best Easter gifts include Dylan’s Candy Bar, Harry and David gourmet food gifts for adults. However, Carters has the perfect outfit for your little one, and, of course, Crayola that include buy one get one get one free so that you can include coloring books and art supplies in the basket. Hanna Andersson offers jammies for the little ones.

After many decades, what does the holiday mean. First of all, it begins with Palm Sunday which is the precious start of Holy Week. The Sunday before Easter. The celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem; sharing palm branches. Later, he is tried and crucified; the darkness of Good Friday but knowing in my heart that he has died for our sins. Finally, it is Easter and his resurrection; a yearly celebration realizing that there is something greater and more powerful than ourselves. Knowing that there is always hope. Hope in the God above. Hope that giving our lives to God will always bring miracles in many forms. And finally as we continue to believe and give, we learn that God’s timetable for our lives is perfect.

That is what Easter means to me.