Ford City Mall

For me, my first experience with here was not shopping but seeing the Exorcist released in 1973 followed by Jaws in 1975. But many remember the buildings at Ford City were constructed by Chrysler Motors in 1943 to produce engines for the B-29 bomber. It was  called the Dodge Plant; a sprawling industrial complex with dozens of buildings. The main building occupied 20 city blocks and was then the largest space in the world under a single roof. I know parents of many Baby Boomer children taking jobs there during the war. When the war ended, the plant was stalled until the Korean war when Ford purchased the property and aircraft was manufactured there. The Ford company modernized everything inside the building, employing nearly 12,000 people. After that war, the building closed again in 1959 and the government sold it to Harry Chaddick

The mall opened in 1965 as Ford City. The mall consists of two halves – a strip mall and enclosed mall. The mall consists of two halves – a strip mall and enclosed mall. The strip mall portion is connected to the enclosed mall by a tunnel called “The Connection”. It utilizes the basement between the severed halves of the buildings directly below the parking lot. The Connection was originally called Peacock Alley from the late 1970s through the 1980s.

On May 27, 1966 Ford City Cinema I & II opened at 7601 S. Cicero Ave. Boasting Chicago’s first TWIN theatre. The movies shown that day were “A Thousand Clowns” and “The Great Race”. Ford City East Cinema opened in 1981 and was located at 76th & Pulaski. This theater had three screens.On August 10, 1990, the theater became known as Ford City 14 Theaters. It was one of the largest megaplex theaters of its day. In 2002, AMC took over the Ford City 14.

Currently, Ford City has about 87 stores. Many that go want to tour the basement alone which is still known as “the connection” originally called Peacock Alley.

South Chicago shopping and Commercial Avenue

In the 1960’s, Mother and I shopped at the first Jewel store on 92nd and South Chicago Avenue earning a set of plastic furniture that my cousin helped produced. The building is there but empty now. Also on 92nd, we would go to Steel City Bank. Mom liked to buy her clothes at Gasman’s and if I was patient while she tried on clothes, we would go across the street to Bargain Town where I could get a new paint by number. When selling Girl Scout cookies, our troop would sell in front of Goldblatts and for awhile I was a Rainbow girl attending meetings at the Masonic Lodge at 91st and Exchange. Building is there as well but empty and not in the best shape. Many of my Catholic friends attended Immaculate Conception at 87th and Commercial.

It went on and on when talking about Commercial Avenue or South Chicago Avenue. There was one place after including restaurants, bakeries, hardware stores, shoe stores, dress shops, 5 and 10 stores, theaters, banks and the small business man thrived. The last mill at the South Works site of the United States Steel Corporation (US Steel) closed in 1992. The loss of this major employer has taken a significant toll on South Chicago particularly its economic activity. So in 2016,a plan was put together to revitalize the area focusing on Commercial Avenue between 83rd an 93rd. In ten years, they hope that the economic vitality of the area will be recaptured.

The owners of the Chicago Skyway want to get involved with a community improvement project, it makes sense to jump on the opportunity. Such is the case with the South Chicago Underline Project, a proposal to add facilities for walking, biking, playing, and relaxing under the elevated highway on the Southeast Side

Number 23 and telephone exchanges

During school one day, I sat with kindergarten students watching the teacher talk about numbers and I heard the number 23. And after that, I was gone into my own special memory of the number that was assigned to me during my own kindergarten days. All I could think about was that 23. I was number 23. Even without looking for the number among my own memorabilia, number 23 has been emblazoned deeply in my mind since kindergarten just like my Baby Boomer phone number too. Essex 5- 5930 or dialed as Es 5-5930. Essex was a street located in the South side of Chicago.We had to proudly recite our phone numbers throughout our early elementary years. And most of us from that generation will not forget those important numbers decades later.

telephone exchange name or central office name was a distinguishing and memorable name assigned to a central office. It identified the switching system to which a telephone was connected. Each central office served a maximum of 10,000 subscriber lines identified by the last four digits of the telephone number. Areas or cities with more subscribers were served by multiple central offices, possibly hosted in the same building.

WBEZ offers a picture of a Chicago phone book of all the exchanges in the 1950’s and 1960’s. There were specific exchanges for Police and fire since a 911 emergency number did not exist. It was PO for police as well as FI for fire followed by various numbers outlining specific communities. Phones numbers surrounding Midway airport started with Midway 3 or had to do with the airport itself. But some were just names that did not refer to any area and were actually used in other US cities.

DAD’S Root Beer

My Dad actually made me a root beer float when I was sick and though I was very young, he taught me to add the soda first to a float glass and then the vanilla ice cream. Otherwise, the float will foam more possibly ending up on the counter more than in the glass. Then he would add some whipped cream and of course, a maraschino cherry.  I never was a root beer lover but’s DAD’S Root Beer was the drink he used. My own Dad always believed in using the product that was made in Chicago since he was a local business man in Chicago as well. DAD’S Root Beer was developed in the basement of a Chicago home.

Created in Chicago in 1937 by Ely Klapman and Barney Berns, it was quite a favorite with locals throughout the early 1940’s. Dad’s was the first to format the six pack and the half gallon bottle.Within another ten years, Klapman and Berns would have 165 franchise bottlers distributing the yellow and blue brand across the continent. Made in Chicago Museum offers some interesting history of the plant that began off the Kennedy expressway between Avondale and Logan Square. It used to be the Borden’s plant in the 1920’s. The plant was finally gutted in the 2000’s and renovated into 55 condominium units

The Klapman and Berns families sold all rights to the Dad’s name and logo to IC Industries in the 1970s. Monarch bought Dad’s in 1986. In 2007, the DAD’S Root Beer Company, LLC of Jasper, Indiana, was formed by Keith Hedinger when Hedinger Brands, LLC acquired the Dad’s Root Beer brand and other soda brands from The Monarch Beverage Co. of Atlanta which include  Bubble Up, Dr. Wells, and Sun Crest.

Bubble Up, Dr. Wells, and Sun Crest were drinks that I was not accustomed back in the 1960’s since Dad also did business with Canfields soda where he would get free can’s of 50/50. Canfield’s plant was located across the street from his glass sales shop. I have never been a soda pop lover but an old-fashioned DAD’s, still made with l wintergreen, licorice, and vanilla, along with ice cream is the best. A memory of my own Dad never forgotten.

You can still redeem S & H Green Stamps not Plaid Stamps

Being home during this uncertain time, brought moments of re-organization and a special box saved by my Mom. I had time to really investigate. While laying the books and single stamps out on table to organize for a photo, my adult daughter walked in asking what these were. Oh my..…so I tried to explain helping my own Mom lick stamps at the dinette table in the 1960’s and fill books so we could go shopping. Retail organizations, like grocery stores, gave out stamps according to how much you bought. My mom got Plaid stamps when she went to the A&P. What’s an A&P?  Mom got green stamps at National Foods. Of course, another question about the defunct National food store. A great blog idea entitled forgotten grocery stores.

Sperry & Hutchinson began offering stamps to U.S. retailers in 1896. Shoppers accumulated stamps, they moistened the reverse and mounted them in collector’s books, which were provided free by S&H. Depending how many books you collected, you could buy household items offered at a redemption center. In Chicago, redemption centers were located in Wiebolts stores or Magikist The following stores were listed on the back of one of the books published in 1965 when Ford City had been built.

*State and Madison         * Harlem-Irving               *Milwaukee and Ashland                             *Oak Park                       * 63rd near Halsted          *Evanston           *Lincoln near Belmont  *Lincoln Village              *Meadowdale                     *Randhurst        *New Ford City

The program had its greatest popularity during the mid-1960s, but started to decline in the mid-1970’s. However, stamps can still be redeemed. The green stamps do not expire and WIKI shows you how to send in your stamps for money or set up a site to use online. Today, S&H offers “greenpoints” as rewards for purchases made on the Internet if you are not interested in cash.

Plaid stamps could be used buy purchasing from a gift catalogue and today, they are not redeemable, however, it is a great idea to check out opportunities to sell on EBAY. Plaid stamp books are selling for five to ten dollars but filled books with stamps are worth more. ETSY also offers a variety of vintage stamp collections. A vintage double-sided Plaid Stamp metal sign is going for over 150 dollars.

Forgotten Malls: Lincoln and Lakehurst

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

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

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

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

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. 

We share our memories of the Chicago blizzard: January 26th 1967

The following describes my experiences along with friends, family and acquaintances caught in the blizzard in 1967. What about you?

My Mother was so grateful we had just has the furnace filled with oil prior to the blizzard since oil trucks could not get through!”

Many wore professional mountain snow shoes to get through the streets.

It took my father what was usually a 15 minute ride from work in his car, two and a half hours to get home because the cars were not moving at all.

We played tackle football games a lot and my Mom sent me to the A&P pulling a sled to pick up groceries. The store shelves were pretty empty and I kept tipping the sled on the way home”

My friends Dad was stuck at his office for 2 days.” All he wanted to do was take a bath when he got home and sleep.”

“My aunt grabbed a bus after getting off the Illinois Central railroad. It was a long wait for the bus and when she finally got on, the bus only made it 2 blocks but couldn’t get past the snow drifts. She had to walk the rest of the way home.”

“I laid down in the snow; made snow angels and felt like owned the world.”

“Made over $40 dollars shoveling.”

“My Dad got stuck downtown and ended up hitching a ride home from a Chicago Police Officer.”

I was a newlywed of just 1 month — we were happily snowed in!

I was a Jr. in High School. I drove that day because I was taking finals. It took me over 3 hours to get home. Normally less than 20 minutes. My dad was furious with me…like I knew this was going to happen. School was closed for a whole week.

My Mom was really tiny and she got planted in the snow.  It took several neighbors to get her out.

The Blizzard of 1967 trapped people in cars and public transportation was nonexistent. Many had abandoned vehicles and walked to gas stations, churches and schools to spend Thursday night, January 26th.  By Friday, the city was a standstill. The snow had stopped at 10am with a total of 23 inches, the greatest snowfall in Chicago’s history.

In the city of Chicago 20,000 cars and 1,100 CTA buses were stranded in the snow. People walked to stores to clear the shelves of bread and mild.  Helicopters were used to deliver medical supplies to hospitals and food and blankets to those stranded. Expectant mothers were taken to hospitals by sled, bulldozer and snow plows. Looting became a problem on the west and south sides of the city. All houses were heated by oil added to the furnaces. Oil trucks could not get access to buildings.

Because of high winds, drifting could be over 10 feet in places which included front doors and garages. Many had died from trying to shovel the snow. For the first few days, children were sent to stores for supplies with sleds and snow shoes to pick up food. Many of the stores shelves were empty.

By Saturday the 28th, Chicago was beginning to dig out. The city sent a workforce of 2,500 people with 500 pieces of equipment and other states also sent heavy equipment to help with the snow removal. Snow was hauled and dumped into the Chicago river. O’Hare finally opened around midnight on Monday. Schools did not re-open until Tuesday.

 

Canfield soda along with potato chips: Jays, of course

I googled his shop, my fathers, Glass Sales and Service shop, at 6755 South Chicago Avenue. It looked like it had been torn down. But across the street the decrepit remains of Canfield Soda still stood; a company that also progressed along with my Dad. Though I am not sure the details, my Dad did business with AJ canfield back in day always bringing home free cans of 50/50/ a mixture of grape and lime.

Many were introduced to soda by drinking ginger ale, inspired from Canada, and 50/50. The older Canfield was a railroad worker, prior to beginning the company in 1927, with his son who was known as AJ. AJ was 25 years old when he took over the company and they expanded to another facility at 89th street in Chicago. Canfield’s Chocolate Diet Fudge soda was created in 1972 and sold over 200 million cans. In 1995, the A.J. Canfield Company was sold though you can still purchase both sodas at Marianos. AJ passed away at the age of 84 in 2000.

Jays Foods was also founded in 1927 with the beginnings of Leonard Japp Sr selling pretzels from his truck. Eugenia, Mrs Japp, had a potato chip recipe and Leonard along with a partner began selling Mrs. Japps Potato Chips. However, after World War II, that was changed since the name Jap created a negative connotation. The chips were changed to Jays Potato Chips while the company became Jays Foods. Jays was sold to Borden but acquired back to the Japp family in 1994 and sold again to a Chicago equity firm and another snack company. Finally, the company filed bankruptcy in 2007 and the Chicago plant was closed but Snyder’s-Lance continues to manufacture and distribute the product.

Japp died in 2000 at ninety-six and according to South Side Weekly, Al Capone encouraged Japp to open factories and mass produce his snacks. My father commented that the mob, during the 1930’s, truly stepped in to help small, creative business starting out in Chicago after the depression. I think he did some work for them though he would never share.

The chips were produced by state of the art machines at the plant on 99th Street and Cottage Grove, opened in the mid 1950s. According to Made in Chicago Museum, Japp offered profit sharing to employees, daily lunches and even served lunches to neighborhood kids.

Most grocery stores still stock Jays and Canfields, but are they the same? Canfield bottles compared to cans? Jays was actually sold in large tins in the fifties and today you can buy vintage potato chip tins of all types on Ebay….including Jays. Or trade yours in for a price.

I was never a consistent lover of soda or potato chips over the years but if it was a home grown Chicago business, you had to buy and love them.

 

 

 

Thankful for copy machines

Once again, I have to call the specialists from the main office. While I am copying away on colored paper, two sided and stapled, it digitally informs me that there is a jam somewhere in the monster of the machine. It happens quite alot for me sometimes asking for permission to go on…strange commands…that even the jam specialists are not sure what they mean….time to re-set.

And believe it or not, during my first year of teaching, it was Mrs. Johnson, a senior teacher, who taught me how to copy classroom material on the good old mimeograph machine, or a ditto machine; that many of you may never have heard of before. I was terrified and I had to watch carefully…many times. It had become an art for her. All staff at the school watched her turn out perfect copy. I don’t think that happened for me.

There was also a distinctive smell with the freshly printed paper. The ditto machine used an alcohol-based fluid to dissolve some of the dye in the document, and transferred the image to the copy paper. The smell came from the ditto machine’s duplicating fluid, a mix of methanol and isopropanol.

Mimeographs, along with spirit duplicators (ditto machines) , were a common technology in printing small quantities, as in office work, classroom materials, and church bulletins. It was widespread and cheap. In the late 1960’s, early 1970’s, mimeographs, spirit duplicators, and hectographs began to be gradually replaced by photocopying. But photocopying machines were extremely expensive.

It wasn’t too long after that we experienced our first Xerox machine. Xerox became so successful that, in North America, photocopying came to be popularly known as “xeroxing.” I still say it. And the training was so intensive even though collating, colored paper or stapling was not an option.

Now, its a commercial, digital or analog copy machine. And Xerox is still around..quite the giant… though there are several brands. The average office copy machine cost $1,500 with higher grade copiers reaching $12,000 and beyond depending on printing speed, quality, and advanced features like stapling, scanning and faxing options. You may rent or lease them as well.

This time I did not call the jam patrol. I decided to take a deep breath and not be so afraid of making a situation worse. Now, the arrow points to exactly where the jam is and it was where the paper fed into the machine. Typical, but I did not see anything. I removed the paper,re stacked the paper and closed the drawer. I hit start and I couldn’t believe it…..it worked! Wow, maybe I will try this again sometime!