Seals and Crofts

Hearing on the radio that Jim Seals passed away just recently at 80 years old, brought back visuals of their first hit, Summer Breeze. For the most part, our generation knew exactly where they were when a song is brand new and sometimes heard for the first time. I can recognize song years better than any other memory. Summer Breeze was released in 1972 and I didn’t have to research the date. I remember sitting in my bedroom at the apartment on Chicago Road in Dolton. It was a very simple song, and my mother liked it too, because it represented home, family and security; coming home from work and sitting out on the porch. It was simple. “Summer Breeze”, reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as Diamond Girl which came out in 1973. Diamond Girl, you sure do shine. Not the most brilliant song, but something that has stuck with me for almost 50 years. My all-time favorite from 1973 was We May Never Pass This Way Again. Hummingbird was a beautiful melody that a friend of mine, who passed away many years ago, loved. When I hear the song today, I always think of him. Other songs were “I’ll Play for You” in ’75, “Goodbye Old Buddies” in ’77 and “You’re the Love” in ’78.

According to sources, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts were both born in Texas, Seals in Sidney and Crofts in Cisco. They first met when Crofts was a drummer for a local band. Later, Seals joined an outfit called Dean Beard and the Crew Cats, in which he played sax; later on, Crofts joined Seals in the band. With Beard, they moved to Los Angeles to join the Champs, but the two did so only after the group’s “Tequila” reached No. 1 in 1958. Seals also spent time during 1959 in the touring band of Eddie Cochran. The were then involved in a band with Glen Campbell and Jerry Cole but finally decided to play as a duo with Seals on guitar, saxophone ,and violin and Crofts on guitar and mandolin. They were extremely gifted to be able to write music as well as play. Both were married. Crofts was married to Billie Lee Day in 1969, and Seals married Ruby Jean Anderson in 1970. 

Though the duo disbanded in 1980, they reunited briefly in 1991–1992. Jim Seals’ Bahá’í faith reflected his work life. In later decades, Seals still toured occasionally, joining Crofts for a brief reunion in the early 1990s. They reunited for one final album, Traces, in 2004. Seals also performed on occasion with his brother Dan, who died in 2009. Crofts lived in Mexico, Australia, and then Nashville, Tennessee. He currently resides on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Seals moved to Costa Rica and had lived on a coffee farm off and on since 1980, as well as in Nashville and southern Florida.

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!

Lilacia Park

I have to smell the lilacs in May. It reminds me of Mom and Dad. After living in Downers Grove for over 30 years, I had no idea that I could smell the flowers at a historical park in Lombard, a neighboring suburb, only 15 minutes away. A friend had posted about her field trip to Lilacia Park on Facebook so I took a morning trip there last Sunday. It was the perfect day for the weather and photographs. A beautiful walk! Lilacia Park, an 8.5-acre garden, is located at 150 South Park Avenue, Lombard, Illinois. Yes, I could smell the lilacs but I didn’t think about the past, but the elegance of the moment.

Lilacia Park is aworld-renown horticultural showcase that features over 700 lilacs and 35,000 tulips annually. In 2019, the park was named to the National Register of Historic Places for its significant contribution to horticultural history in the United States. Lilacia Park is most recognized for being home to Lombard Lilac Time, a blooming festival happening during the first two weeks of May. Col. William Plum and his wife Helen Maria Williams Plum traveled to Chicago in 1869, where he wanted to practice, but also investigated areas outside of the city. One was the new village of Lombard which had been known as Babcock Grove.

He purchased land on the corner of Park and Maple. The estate would eventually be known as Lilacia, the Latin term for lilac. The couple had taken a tour to France and visited the famous gardens of Victor Lemoine where they fell in love with the lilacs. They bought the first two after touring the Arboretum. Helen passed away in 1924 and the Colonel lost interest in the estate. He tried to sell it to Joy Morton. It was Morton that told the Colonel that the collection had become so much a part of Lombard that they should remain there, and not at Thornhill Farm, now known as the Morton Arboretum. The Colonel passed away in 1927 and in his will, he dedicates the gardens to Lombard requesting it to become a public park. The home was used as a small library but was demolished when a new library opened in 1963, still dedicated to Helen Plum.

The park is open all year. Lilacia Park hosts many special events each year, including the Mutt Strut Annual 5K & 1-Mile, Movies & Concerts in the Park, Jingle Bell Jubilee, Holiday Lights, and more. Host your wedding at Lilacia Park!

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.

“Winging It” during the Super Bowl

By Caryl Clem

February is a big month celebrating over 50 foods. Get your napkin supply ready. Anyone with a Sweet Tooth, nearly every day offers a treat and it is Chocolate Lovers Month. Watching your sugar intake, National Snack Month offers tasty dips, chips and savory meat snacks. According to sales over 1.4 billion this year, consumers preferred to “Wing It” during the game with chicken wings. The best wings drown in a can’t stop eating rich covering like Aria B Mumbo Sauce created in Chicago. Did I mention, keep those napkins close by!

February is African American Heritage month, Argia B. Collins, an African American who enriched Chicago’s culinary experience. A Navy man from Mississippi thought his entrepreneur dreams could come true in Chicago. He moved here to work for his oldest brother in the 1940’s. By 1950, he opened his first restaurant on the South Side in Bronzeville. The Collins’ brothers were opening successful restaurants in different neighborhoods serving ribs and southern favorites. Competing with his five brothers, Argia opened a test kitchen in his first place and expanded to build two more restaurants featuring his Mumbo sauce on wings and other meats. The customers loved his sauce and kept bringing their own containers to take home more sauce.

To meet customer demand, he opened a manufacturing plant on the Southside and kept advertising. After a feature advertisement in a 1970 Life magazine, the sauce became a national favorite. Barbeque culinary experts across the country raved over this Mumbo Sauces’ combination of flavors. There was an effort to discredit the Chicago claim to this recipe but a court case decided the recipe’s authenticity.  Chicago has the right to claim this brands’ birthplace.

If you love hearty, spicy wings try Aria B Mumbo Sauce. Now a legacy that started as mix of determination and motivation to create the Mumbo sauce he remembered from his childhood. The southern roots for these sauces have led to legends in other towns. In New York, John Young, an African American during about the same time developed a “mombo” sauce for “Buffalo Wings”.  In DC another pair of brothers developed a Mumbo sauce that is well known.  None of the competition has statewide distribution this company supports.

Aprons

I remember my Mom during a 1960’s holiday cooking in the kitchen with her apron. One of my earliest memories is her laughing with my aunt wiping her hands on the half-waist apron. I also remember her wearing a dress for most holidays. One was a beige short sleeve knit with horizontal pinstripes. I also remember a black skirt with a white button-down blouse; her blue apron with flowers on the pocket covering that. She could dust quickly with an apron on. I also remember my aunts ruffled apron that I would cry into…for what reason….I do not remember. Another neighbor had a sheer white embroidered apron with pink flowers that she wore at birthday celebrations. How can I forget another relative who lived in a farm town and used the gathering apron. As she got older, it was easier for her to gather fruit and vegetables from her small garden; beets and tomatoes were my favorites.

Sometimes when we would visit when I was little, I remember she would share wildflowers in her apron for me to hold. I still have memories of neighbors that had half-waist aprons with pockets to hold their cigarettes and matches, though I don’t remember the smell being any different than an apron that smelled like vegetables and spice. I was so excited to get a hand-maid apron from my aunt with the pockets filled with crayons. I found one that was layers of lace made in the 1930’s in a family hope chest. In the 1970’s, I remember aprons that were floral but like an artist smock with front pockets and snaps. The picture represents one for sale on Etsy.

Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Len’s Auntie Sue would make aprons since she worked for Form Fit, headquartered in Chicago, for many of the family members and that would be their Christmas presents every year. Each was gracefully created to match holiday colors or celebrate the season with flowers, butterflies and birds. Homemakers woke every morning to get their coffee, and put on their favorite apron while they made breakfast; a variety was necessary to make their day. It was a lot easier to wash aprons than dresses which could be dry cleaned and that was expensive.

Etsy offers a wonderful collection of vintage aprons that provide pictures of styles that immediately take you back to those precious memories back in the day. So much detail went into the various designs; such cute reversible aprons with scalloped hems. Some are patchwork patterns that truly resemble the 1950’s or the apron pinafore with blue tulips that I know I have seen before.

Christmas reflections 2021

By Caryl Clem

Holiday’s allow us to travel through time

Bouncing back and forth between then and now

Cherished Christmas tales lit by fireplace flames

Imagination casts a spell over moonlit lawns

As children fight sleep to spy

Or hear the whisper of a silent sleigh

Pulled by reindeers hooves on frozen stardust

Trails in the starlight sky

Shining proof he has stopped by

Musical bells heard below

Blend with Secret Santa’s HO! HO! HO

Every tradition and custom feels brand new

Timeless wonder the magic surrounding Christmas

Another year passes with grace

As we reflect on the love in our lives

Eager to begin another year

Celebrating promise and hope

Stepping forward into a Happy New Year.

A Looking Glass…..Colored Thankful

A reflection written by Caryl Clem

Thanksgiving season is a great time to reflect on the blessings in our life. Not all blessings are tangible because I am grateful for the time I spent in classrooms during my life.

As I walked to school as a child thinking the cold stern brick building with unblinking eye windows appeared formidable. I soon discovered that classrooms are alive with caring and sharing.  I thrived in the small town classes. Kids on phones are missing out on the secret note passing experience.

Magically through the years, friendships are at the top of the blessings list. I doubted my continued career in education then a birthday gift changed my mind. A small picture frame contained a big moment in life message: “ One Hundred from now…it will not matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a CHILD.

Every time I view this silver framed jewel, like a movie reel inside my head a past teachers’ voice and smile surfaces. “I had talent. I must never give up. Believe in yourself and your potential.  Stay positive.” The same advice I carried into my classrooms.

When I asked my Dad for guidance on how to manage students, he thoughtfully replied: humor, compassion, preparedness. He said his favorite teacher opened every class with a joke, or some thought provoking comment.  I remembered my Dad’s classroom with an array of Salada tea bag sayings, quotes or Peanuts’ cartoon plastered on a bulletin board.  Dad urgently stated, “Listen to every student’s story, they need to feel you are on the same page with them.”

Years later, a few students have updated stories left unfinished when they graduated. A former gang member had a scholarship in Criminal Justice.  Another former gang member, now a mentor working with the Sheriff’s Department.  Students who thought college was not possible became college graduates.  A determined male teen opened a successful business with his older brother. Years of stories have convinced me the majority of students win in the Game of Life.

I am thankful for all the teachers who know the unbeatable formula, combine your heart and soul with the science of learning.  A classroom is so much more than a backpack with textbooks.

(the glass is available at ETSY)

The wonderful world of untapped innocence in the classroom

One kindergarten student was visiting a classroom and having such a terrible moment in class that within five minutes of him crying, two other kindergarten children gave him their special classroom rewards they had just received from their teacher.

For the last 40 days of school, a first grade student always makes sure the special needs child is securely sitting in their carrier seat on the bus and and tries to cheer him if he is having sad day.

Julie always helps five-year old Amanda on the playground when swinging on swings or going down the slide just to make sure she is having fun safely.

Five year old John helped another another boy, Tom, who was angry, pick up blocks that he had thrown so that Tom would have a better day.

Seven -year old Mary made a special picture for her friend that is very sick and was not instructed to do so. This gesture was created during indoor recess at school.

One boy always makes sure a friend that is new to school finds the right classroom he is in everyday.

Mira always asks another to play with her at recess or when they have a break because the other one feels left out.

Robert struggles with assignments but will sit and concentrate for a long time reading The Pigeon has to Go to School and many of the Mo Willems books as a special treat with his teacher.

A second grade student, Elisa shared her favorite book patiently with a first grader and helped her improve her reading, reading some words for her and sounding out others. She asked if she could help her in the future if she needed assistance.

Sheri McCabe, fourth grade instructional assistant, made a great Wonder Wall last year for a student she was working with and learned about the teaching idea from others on the Internet. She wanted to use it again so she put it in the room she is working in this year. She told the class about. Whenever they have a question about something they wonder about, they can put the questions on a post it and put it on the wonder wall and they will discuss them once a week. Sheri went back to the class a couple hours later and all these post it’s were up on the wall. Here are the questions they asked: How does it feel to be blind? I wonder how a rocket blasts off? Why is there school? Who made books? How do you drive a car? How is candy made? Do plants fart?

It doesn’t get much better than this. God bless them all!!!

I

It only takes one…….

As I was sharing my story about Prairie Avenue to the many Facebook sites, I was thinking about my cousins comment to me when I would become discouraged. It only takes one to read your story and become inspired. Right at that moment when God’s angel was reminding me, someone wrote a response on how she enjoyed all of my stories of Chicago field trips. All? It can also take one negative comment… why I write without getting paid more. My passion…..do ya think?  What are other examples of… it only takes one…. to positively change your attitude? Read on…..

After years of infertility and sickness, they found a lady had only three mature eggs. One was fertilized. The miracle egg became the perfect baby. It only takes one!

After years of addiction, he finally quit and remained sober meeting the love of his life.

After a few years in a public school, a child was not doing well. A change to a smaller, private setting was a much better venue and the student prospered. She became a teacher. She became a principal.

She had lost her family to death, as well as her job and really wanted a new start. She moved to the state she had always dreamed and her life changed for the better.

Sometimes, it takes just one phone call, email or conversation to open new doors of hope.

Sometimes it just takes one smile on someone’s face.

What about that son, daughter or loved who says just the right thing at just the right time?

What about the one friend that has known you for decades and all of sudden shows up in color or in a message?

And what about your Mom or Dad telling you how proud they were of you before passing away many years ago?

Maybe it is the phantom driver behind you who paid for your lunch in the McDonalds drive through line that made a difference in your life.

Let’s not forget the people who shoveled your driveway after a massive snowstorm while you slept and never let you know who did the work.

Or the plumber that changed out a toilet for free after a huge leak on the weekend and no one was there to help.

Even the dentist who fixed a partial denture that had a chip for no charge because he knew your insurance would not pay.

And what about that one email from Chicken Soup of Soul that tells you they are going to publish your story and the book arrives in print.

The man that was dying of cancer with no hope from any physician meets a friend at a high school reunion who is a doctor that specializes in his type of cancer. The man is still alive many years later.

How about the man that could not stand to watch his wife of 50 years die; her health had been failing for months but kept hearing a voice saying he would be okay and when she died, he heard her voice saying that she was great.

Or the millions of angels stories out there of tragic accidents being halted.

When you have been told that as a teacher, you have been an Angel to their child, you finally put your decisions in God’s hands.

And sometimes, it only takes ……that one prayer.