Good Old Days: Valentines Day

Saint Valentine’s Day was a feast day in the Catholic religion, added to the liturgical calendar around 500 AD. The day was commemorated for two martyred roman priests named—you guessed it—Valentine. … Because of this legend, St. Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. No one knows exactly when the celebration began in sending cards but their is evidence that it took place as early as the fifteenth century,

It is said by the 18th century,February 14th became an occasion for people to exchange letters or small presents to commemorate love between lovers and friends. But back in the day, it was very expensive to buy Valentines cards and huge boxes of candy.

NJM Blog offers some information about Valentines Day candy. For example, the history of Sweethearts Candy Hearts began in 1866. Daniel Chase developed a machine that could press food dye letters onto the candy lozenges made famous by his brother, New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) founder Oliver Chase. Heart-Shaped Boxes of Chocolates: Richard Cadbury, son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury, created ‘fancy’ boxes of chocolates to increase sales.

School celebrations of Valentines Day consisted of making your own valentines in the early eighteenth century here in America. Teachers would help students make cards; passing them out to everyone in the classroom. Teachers would decorate classrooms with felt hearts and banners. As a Baby Boomer, we brought Valentines to school that were sold in a small red box with a variety of small, one dimensional cards to choose from that would fit the personality and gender of each child. You better pick something that was sports oriented for the boys…never kissing anyone. Your gifted valentines were stuffed in a plastic bag to bring home. The same was for my own children growing up in the 1990’s but Valentines were more theme-oriented celebrating famous toys, stars, or movies. I remember my son sending Spiderman cards. There was a collection of cards with Michael Jordon on them that said your cool and of course, Barbie or Pocahontas (celebrating the movie) was a favorite for girls 20 years ago.

Now, however, decorated Valentines Day boxes that are sometimes larger than the student, are brought to school. They represent mailboxes of all different themes with an opening ready for cards that may be a monsters teeth, a unicorn, a cat, a dog or a fairy castle with a magic door for cards. They are absolutely gorgeous and a great idea for parents to help decorate; bringing out how special and creative Valentines Day can be. Today, classrooms also celebrate Valentines Day parties usually hosted by volunteer parents. Though candy is an issue, the parents bring great snacks for the kids.

This year for the kindergarten students, my daughter and I made Valentines with two hearts glued together with a Tootsie Pop in the center that had attached googly eyes, Looks like a butterfly with glitter heart stickers since the parents agreed to the lollipop this year. Since we have a short week at school, I passed them out yesterday. There is something special about making your own creation and not one disliked the Tootsie Pop or the flavor they received since they were able to eat them in the classroom…all at once…following afternoon recess. Wow…maybe we should do this more often for it was much quieter than usual at one point. Their little mouths had something else to concentrate and couldn’t talk and lick at the same time.

Happy Valentines Day!

The Good Old Days: Grandparents and Thanksgiving

Kempton was always known as the small town with the big heart; the town of my mother’s family beginnings; her grandparents, my grandmother who had passed away in 1958, aunts, uncles and my great aunt, Lulu Pearl. My earliest memories of Kempton were on Thanksgiving Day at Aunt Lu’s two bedroom corner, blue cottage neatly painted in white trim. A vegetable garden was meticulously maintained in the back with her specialties of beets and tomatoes while well-trimmed shrubs surrounded the foundation of the home.

Coming from the city, my immediate family was always the first to arrive while Aunt Lu called the others to join us on her believe it or not box phone with crank and real receptionist named Jenny. That gave me plenty of time to cut out the latest Betsy McCall and her clothes. After the rest of the family arrived, we took our places behind the long table in the dining room eating from her blue willow dishes. Pumpkin pie was always her winning recipe.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving break is Grandparents Day at school; a wonderful time for those traveling to see their grandchildren. For our district, Grandparents Day is usually one of the biggest attended events with just grandparents…not sons or daughters who have kindergarten or early elementary children. Just for Grandma,  Grandpa and Grand friends…sometimes Aunts or Uncles if Grandma can’t attend. Over 300 attended today. Many become new Grandparents on that day for children who do not have a guest. A study out of the University of Oxford found children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems, and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school.

Though she never learned to drive, Aunt Lu would find her way to our house in the city by my cousin every summer. I could always count on a game of Yahtzee every time I offered and she always made the best fried potatoes in town. Because of unpredictable weather, the winter months were generally confined to her little town in Kempton but one year she came to stay and had arrived two days after Christmas. It was unusual for her to venture out in the cold months but my father was in the hospital. Children were not allowed to visit during the 1960’s and Aunt Lu felt she could help.

During her first night’s visit, the phone had disturbed our usual game of Yahtzee and after that I found that Aunt Lu could offer so much more than games. It was a nurse from the hospital; my father had passed away. Though I was 12 and tried to be adult, Aunt Lu let me cry as long as it took, keeping her arms around me, never tiring or disturbing me from my tears. What incredible timing for Aunt Lu’s calming patience in such a terrible storm. Ten years later, Aunt Lu passed away after passionately celebrating her 90th birthday with her family.

Today, I appreciate the towering strength she provided that day and the strenuous days that followed; never perceiving the no pomp and circumstance woman as one of the most salient women I was blessed to know. And I try to follow her loving example everyday reminding myself that every tragedy as has a reason.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Native Americans enrich the tapestry of our American culture’s quilt

By Caryl Clem:

As a young child, I colored pictures of Pilgrims and Native Americans. I remember teepees and 2 seated skin canoes floating down rivers.   Years later, I discovered most of my knowledge about Indians was either false or based on a stereotype. November is the month to honor our Native American Indians.

Powerful prose continuously unites people when they share life’s experiences.  Distances disappear; the common desire for love embraces all. Joy Harjo, who has written poetry, published books and composed songs for decades; a Muskogee Indian was awarded the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress on June 19, 2019.  Her quote” how time and timelessness can live together in a poem” during one of her interviews provides insight into the depth of her prose.  Playing saxophone in her band, “Arrow Dynamics”, several CD’s of her original music cumulated in receiving Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year in 2009. Listening to her music allows you experience layers of harmony and song.  Joy currently is writing a book that documents the contributions to jazz the Muskogee Indians can trace back to Congo Square in New Orleans.

New Orleans, Louisiana, world renown for gaudy, fascinating costumes featured during Mardi Gras celebrations. The Port of New Orleans constantly shipped slaves, a key labor force.   Local Indian tribes had had their own conflicts with “White Rule”.   Native Americans helped hide runaway Black slaves during Mardi Gras parades using elaborate costumes as a disguise.

The Cherokee Nation, a tribe from Iroquoian descent, inhabited the eight states in The Great Lakes area. Transportation across the water was done in huge hollowed out tree trunks, averaging 40 feet in length carrying 20 men.  Families built log cabins. The food staples known as the “Three Sisters” of corn, beans, and squash are found in any supermarket. Spices for flavor and medicinal purposes were Sassafras, Sage, Juniper, and various Chile peppers. In 1621, an Indian Chief brought popcorn to a Thanksgiving dinner.  The Spanish introduced peanuts to the Indians who learned to grow them.   In the Northwest, symbols of marriages and births in a family were carved into totem poles: visible sign of their wealth and influence.

Education of its citizens was considered the great equalizer; The Cherokee Nation formed an accepted common language and ran a printing press publishing its own newspaper in the 1820’s.   (Chicago’s earliest printer in 1833.)  The literacy rate of Cherokee citizens in Oklahoma ranked higher than the neighboring states of Arkansas or Texas.  Chief John Ross constructed the Cherokee Female Seminary in 1847, the first higher learning school available for women west of the Mississippi.  The Cherokee Male Seminary opened in 1851.  Cherokee sports included a stick ball game considered the beginning of Lacrosse, a popular sport today.

Native Americans are one of the reasons Americans are able to live in “Land of the Free”. Americans working on dreams coming true, in the country we love, all sharing the foundation given us by those who were here first.

Promoting compassion, confidence and solutions

Its almost 20 years that Hope’s Front Door has been open to clients seeking assistance in the six communities of Darien, Downers Grove, Lisle, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge. Many have no idea that there is an urgent need in the Western Suburbs for emergency assistance for families and individuals in crisis. DuPage County is considered economically rich in salary and property value but over 6.7 percent live below the poverty level evaluated in 2017. According to recent statistics, homelessness has improved, but the need for help with other living expenses is greater. Hopes Front Doors  continues to provide relief; helping assist in transportation, food and medical/dental vouchers and, most importantly, they try to emphasize how clients can make long-term, sustainable changes for the future.

Hope’s Front Door programs include the Pathways to Financial Health that provides budget counseling and handling financial crisis. Volunteers from several local banks meet one-on-one with clients to mentor and educate them on such issues as saving and debt management. Their Pathways to Employment program provides recruitment events and job coaches; the latter that will help structure your resume or provide interviewing tips. Information about local job openings is available by signing up for the HFD Weekly Job List. Their Health and Wellness program gives clients the chance to receive emergency dental care or special housing for medical purposes. Prescriptions and eye exams, or even eye glasses can be obtained with help from Hope’s Front Door.

Hopes’s Front Doors annual school supply donations fundraiser has begun this summer with the great partnership of the Downers Grove Junior Women’s Club. Backpacks are needed. Look for donation baskets at the following Downers Grove drop-off locations now through August 12th:

Drop Off Sites:

*Important reminder: Hope’s Front Door can only accept new (not used) supplies.*

In September 2020, Hope’s Front  Door will be celebrating 20 years of serving our neighbors in need. Cocktails for a Cause Kick-Off Event will be held September 14th to fund Hope’s Front Door’s emergency/immediate assistance services, education/empowerment programs and upcoming 20th Anniversary Campaign activities. There will be exciting raffles and silent auctions as well as sponsorship and underwriting opportunities. Larry Mowry, ABC7 Chicago News meteorologist, will MC this fun-filled evening.

We hope you can join us!

Saturday

September 14, 2019

6:30 p.m.

At the home of Rhonda & James Gaw

8738 Ainstree Lane, Burr Ridge, IL

$75 per ticket

To purchase tickets go to the Cocktail for a Cause website page http://www.hopesfrontdoor.com/cocktails-for-a-cause/

Hope’s Front Door 1047 Curtiss Street, Room 610 Downers Grove, IL 60515 Phone: 630-322-9803 Fax: 630-241-3224

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, 10:00am-11:45am; Monday evening, 6:30pm-8:00pm

CLOSED ON TUESDAYS

Send an email: info@hopesfrontdoor.org

50th Woodstock Anniversary

I really wanted to go in 1969. I still want to go in 2019. Back then, I picked out the shirt I would wear for three days;  a peasant blouse with puffed sleeves that was an orange color with yellow flowers. But nobody asked me to go with them. I was too young to drive, just graduating from junior high. I knew one acquaintance that was going but he was much older who had been drafted to Vietnam. He didn’t want some kid in his car and my mother would not let me go anyway.

Many felt the same way as I did but no one ever expected the numbers that showed up and that Woodstock 1969  would be considered the greatest festival of all time.Only two people died at Woodstock 1969 though over 80 were arrested on drug charges and we did see the news reports on TV. Because of the torrential rains, many adults considered it a disaster and local businesses were threatening lawsuits, but the kids, as they were called, were happy. The bands were just beginning with the exception of Joplin and Hendrix. Carlos Santana was only about 13.  Now, the grounds are the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts; considered a National Historic site. No festival has been the same since. They have tried numerous Woodstock festivals through the decades and they just didn’t work.

Woodstock was a music festival held between August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York, 43 miles southwest of Woodstock. The festival was headlined by legendary performances of Joe Cocker, Hot Tuna (Jefferson Airplane), Starship (Jefferson Airplane), Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, Richie Havens, Melanie, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Levon Helm (The Band), Arlo Guthrie, John Sebastian, Leslie West Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and Santana. Santana will be playing at the 50th in Bethel.

There are two festivals that are gaining popularity throughout the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Woodstock 50 is a planned American music festival, scheduled to be held on August 16–18, 2019, at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. Supposedly a free concert supported by Michael Lang, line up is not official and some have dropped out.

Bethel Wood Center for the Performing Arts on the original 1969 Woodstock site is  constantly holding concerts, festivals; a year round center for events, programs inspiring others in the arts as they are a (501) (3) (C) Arlo Guthrie will perform on the festival field, 50 years to the day that he played Woodstock. Guthrie’s performance will be followed by a screening on the field of the Woodstock documentary. Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band will perform on Aug 16th at the Bethel Woods pavilion. Woodstock veterans Edgar Winter and Blood, Sweat and Tears are also performing that night. On Aug. 17, Carlos Santana will return to Bethel for a show that will feature the Doobie Brothers as the opening act.

The still married, husband and wife pictured on the iconic album cover wrapped in a blanket will also be attending the 50th Bethel Woods festival.

My daughter walked the grounds of Bethel Woods on a trip to visit family a few years ago; a man who worked there attended  the original Woodstock and showed her where Jimmy Hendrix played. “An old man,” she said. Ah, Yes…that is what we have become. At that time, the grounds were quiet but she was impressed since she has been a follower of rock and roll beginnings.

Though, I have not gone yet, that’s what I want to do….soon. Not necessarily to listen to music, but to spend that quiet moment just to see, to relive the news reports, to imagine, the peace, the love and a vision of my young self in the pretty peasant shirt I had picked out sitting and experiencing such a treasured moment in time……..50 years ago.

 

 

 

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.

Dr. Michelle Radwanski – Argonne Animal Hospital: A true gift

I sat in the chair in my living room rocking him gently, as he rested his face in my neck, purring.  For eighteen years, we had done this routine when he was sick or just needed special attention but this time I was deeply sobbing knowing what the rest of the day might bring.  He was seeing a new vet in a few hours. She was a Mom to a student at school and we talked about Joe Bo briefly on a school field trip.

We waited in the exam room, Len and I, taking turns holding him and I thought of our last cat who was the same age when she had died at home two years before. It was a holiday weekend and horrible to watch her fail without a vet’s assistance.

Dr. Radwanski, owner of Argonne Animal Hospital in Lemont, Illinois, walked in ready to examine Joe Bo. She had a thorough knowledge of explaining what was happening with the cat as she gently explored his body especially for not having seen him before or any  past veterinarian records. She was extremely skilled in determining that he was in his declining days as she communicated clearly and also mentioned some medical options that may prolong his life a few days, a few months. However, we knew as a family with advice from Dr. Radwanski, that euthanasia was best for him and the procedure was completed that day without pain. Joe Bo’s quality of life had been greatly reduced and the doctor cared only about his welfare and that he did not suffer any further.

Dr Radwanski completed her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine with honors in 2000 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Since then, she has over 18 years of experience caring for animals in the western suburbs of Chicago. She is skilled in diagnostics, anesthetics, surgical, and dental procedures. She holds a special interest in preventative medicine, senior care, dermatology, pain management, and dentistry. Most of all, she has become a respected community veterinarian.

A true angel was brought into our lives that day in Dr Radwanski at Argonne Animal Hospital as we said goodbye to Joe Bo. If we get another kitten or maybe a puppy, he or she will be immediately attended by the doctor for the first annual exam, crisis, or whatever comes first. There are no other words to express her honest love and true calling for the animals she treats.

Please feel free to call her office anytime or visit her website at argonneanimalhospital.com

National Best Friends Day on June 8

By Caryl Clem: 

Recovering from the Great Depression was a task that required Americans to join together and work hard for each other. The pleasures in life were limited, annual wages for the average family was $1,160.00. Over 1/3 of the movie cinema’s had closed.  The news featured real life stories of survival, and started public opinion polls to encourage the public responding to issues.  In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act. Another act during this year to build public confidence and trust, Congress passed a Best Friends Day on June 8th and Friendship Day for the first Sunday in August.  At the core of American values is the desire to respect each other and discover what we can share together.

Discovering the depths of friendship occurs naturally as children play together. As a kid, do you remember counting down the days to the arrival of the summer carnival? My favorite friend coached me into my first roller coaster ride. I felt fearless beside her, ready to try anything.  We screamed in unison during the thrilling ride. Excitedly, we quickly decided to get in line to buy another ticket.  Good times were magnified in her presence. When I felt disappointed or angry, she found a way to help me see a “brighter” side.  A few years later, she told me she was moving with her parents to another state.  A parting hug with tears in my eyes was the last memory. I did not realize what I had until she moved away.  I was 11 years old.

Through the years, having a best friend that understood my personality and emotions saved my sanity and provided someone to share the range of experiences in life.  You never feel alone when you have a best friend as songs on this theme prove.  I love to listen to Christina Aguilera’s, “I’ll Turn to You.”  She sums up in a few words what a best friend means. Time deepens your relationship. To me, Best Friends are like a fuel that helps us achieve our top performance, increase our mileage and stay on the road of life longer. Touch base with your Best Friend on June 8th and celebrate what you have shared together.

Last days of recess

I take a break on the wooden bench, reflecting during outdoor kindergarten recess, the last week of school. My…… how they have grown physically. The difference from the start of the year is uncanny. They have learned how to use their words and handle issues between them….less tears. Though sometimes the girls emotions are triggered out of nowhere, at a Grandma or Grandpa passing away over a year ago or losing their favorite pet. Some days are still just too long for those in kindergarten. However, they have learned about hands to self and not walking up the slide. Sometimes they fall with minor injury and dirty clothes, but they get back up, brush the dirt off and move on. Overall, they have come a long way.

One spring day at the school playground for me in the early sixties during second grade was not fun. A bully from our school was trapping some of the girls, including me, on a school step in front of our door outside that lead to the playground. I took a run for it and he began pulling on my skirt to stop me and it fell to my knees. A teacher at Buckingham school did see the event and he was taken to the Principal. His parents were called and I didn’t go to school for several days out of embarrassment. Finally, someone convinced me that the girls on the step wanted to be my best friend forever. I saved them, thus, becoming popular overnight.

My opinion of boys did improve for me on the sixth grade playground at Warren Junior High School when I was asked to go steady and wear his gold id bracelet. The bracelet was beautiful with his name elegantly engraved. This was a first and I was more interested in wearing the bracelet than the boy himself. I was popular, once again, among the girls and the boyfriend lasted two weeks.

For my children growing up in the 1990s, I don’t recall any significant events happening to them on the playground. Then again who knows? What I still don’t know may not hurt me or them. Maybe, I will ask them when I am in a silly mood.

I watch the girls on the swings now…five or six in a row…some trying to pump as high as the one next to them, surpassing others. Then I see her. I have written about the little one before. She was very tiny and younger than most with less experience in kindergarten when she began the school year. I pushed her most days on the swing or a friend in class helped. We tried to teach to her to push,many, many times, but no luck for months.

I looked at her face and I caught glimpses of what she would look like when she grew up…confident and breathtaking. This young woman smiled at me and her legs were pumping on the swing. Slowly, at first and then she began to swing. A look of surprise completed her features as she swung higher and higher; knowing her best was yet to come.

And so it ends…….. a wonderful year for me. Consequently, trusting in the true magic beginnings of growth, possibility and fulfillment for all of them. Will they remember? Probably not, but I will, right here in the written word especially if age-related problems take over. That is all that matters!

 

 

Thankful for music

It was in the beginning of the school year that the kindergarten students were exercising to a variety of music, a selection of songs from all eras, and suddenly Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd came on. They continued, without interruption, but I picked up my pace singing to myself as the substitute gym teacher just smiled. Over Halloween, Michael Jackson moved the children along in movement.

My own children remember me singing to a fake microphone…a hair brush, to be exact, while Whitney Houston played in the background. My daughter and I sang together one night and got caught by her brother and his friends walking in the door. He was ready to turn around and walk out….never to grace our lives again. He was in high school with free rent and food…he thought better of it.

Music has always made me smile and my collection is vast starting in the days of bubble gum rock such as Woman, Woman by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. From there in the late 1960’s/1970’s, we included popular Motown with the hits of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and the Temptations as well as harder rock like Jethro Tull, The Who, Three Dog Night, Earth Wind and Fire, Chicago and the list goes on and on. I even tolerated some disco. I did play piano for many years and easy classical music along with show tunes, popular through the decades, were my best performances.

In many elementary classrooms today, teachers will select videos from Go Noodle, which promotes movement for kids and many have learned how to floss from Blazer. No, it is a dance. And then there is famous Fabio Moose and making purple soup! Now, many, not a great example of beautiful music. Oh my….I sound just like my mother when rock and roll hit the scene.

But our passionate music teacher always saves the day by introducing the kindergarten through second grade students to different forms of classical and shows them how to move through various tempos. Our class sees her twice a week, once on Friday afternoon so it is truly a blessing to leave the school with the true promise of music in my heart. Last week, I listened and watched the students learn how to move and freeze through the orchestrated arrangement of the Syncopated Clock by Leroy Anderson.

Oh, how I remember that song playing on my Mom’s radio by the Boston Pops orchestra, in the kitchen, back in the days when I was in elementary school! Oh yes, Mom..if you are listening….. the lifelike sounds of exceptional music are being introduced and played again everyday. Mom would be proud of the talented music teacher and her students!