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.

The best candy shops began in Chicago

For me, my weakness has been a toss up between ice cream and homemade candy. Celebrating National Candy month, the following shops described in the article began in Chicago and still exist today. Another article will explore suburban favorites.

Margie’s Candies story begins in 1921 George Poulos opened an ice cream parlor on the North Side. The shop became known as Margie’s Candies in 1933, when Poulos’ son George Peter Poulos married Margie Michaels. Still family owned, Margie’s is known for their fudge and Kosher dark chocolate. Many love the variety of homemade ice cream as well. Margie’s original location is still open at Western Avenue.

Fannie May  continues to provide the best in new gourmet chocolate creations as well as traditional favorites.The first Fannie May retail store was opened by H. Teller Archibald in 1920 at 11 N. LaSalle St. in Chicago. Fannie May is also a great way to bring profits to your fundraiser and offer gifts to your business clients. Fannie May is available for pick up by calling any Fannie May store, which you can check out here to find a location near you!

Another charming shop decorated with original Tiffany lamps, an old-fashioned Coke machine and other memorabilia bought by the family is located on Montrose Avenue. Amy’s Candy Bar is located in Lincoln Square was opened in 2011 originally inspired by Amy’s grandmother,Geraldine. As a child, Amy spent hours watching and helping her grandmother bake but decided to forge a career with a degree in psychology and marketing. She worked in corporate America in later years. In 2006, she decided to leave her present position and enroll in the French Pastry School in Chicago. Amy’s shop offers some of the best hand-crafted confections that include her signature sea salt caramel. You can also order your favorites online.

Katherine Anne Confections promotes cocktail truffle” month in their kitchen, and they thought a banana daiquiri truffle would be a great choice for the month. Extra ripe bananas, white rum, and milk/semisweet chocolate with a touch of sea salt is part of the creation. At the age of 10, Katherine would use cream from her family’s Jersey cows to create soft, old-fashioned caramels on their farm in Wisconsin. “Katherine’s Karamels” were sold at her Dad’s office and quickly became a local favorite. In 2012, Katherine opened her cafe in the Logan Square neighborhood on Armitage and she also offers excellent coffee drinks.

Cunis Candies originally opened its doors in 1933 on 79th street by George Askounis. Now, Kathy Biesiada owns the store in South Holland which has been a south side favorite since 1971 and still family owned. Cunis is especially known for their ice cream as well. Some delights include the Turtle Sundae and Peach Ice Cream topped with fresh peaches, the latter available in June. They take pride in their homemade chocolates that include freshly dipped turtles, chocolate strawberry’s, chocolate covered orange peels and in the fall, the best caramel apples;  which are first dipped in caramel, rolled in pecans, then drizzled with around a quarter pound of milk or dark chocolate.

Cupid Candies,another family owned business was founded by Paul Stefanos in 1936 has been producing quality chocolate and serving Chicago land residents in their own retail stores for the past 68 years. The first store was at 79th and Ashland, where only fudge, toffee, and popcorn were sold. By 1940 Paul Stefanos, and his wife Pauline, opened another store at 3207 W. 63 rd Street, along with a small manufacturing facility, where the chocolate line really grew. They continue to manufacture chocolate for some of the finest candy shops in Chicago that include Crate and Barrel. Currently, three locations are available in Chicago, Oaklawn and Orland Park that offer a soda fountain service.

 

Ageless antiques

By Caryl Clem

My favorite house guest has character, dependability and makes every inch of space occupied functional. If this doesn’t sound like any person you know, it’s because my guest is an 1870’s oak Eastlake side table serving as my T.V. stand.  Every room has an honored guest that fits in with contemporary décor. When I first met these characters, the original finish was degraded or entirely gone, or the structure needed re-gluing; their rescue was decided by the design and wood quality.  The most important factor in saving an antique or aging furniture piece is the quality of durable wood found in walnut, mahogany, oak, cherry, maple and teak.

Trends keep older furniture in the limelight.  Retro is still “hot”, and has been going strong for several years.  Young shoppers seek the clean lines of 1970’s mid- Modern Danish teak style. The 1950’s chrome kitchen sets, Acme Chrome was a main distributor; production of those products is still done by the subsidiary company, ACCRO Furniture Industries. Restoring a kitchen table relic in your family can be done if the rust residue is minimal. Removing the old finish completely and then using the correct paint can bring back an original appearance.

The rebirth of the buffet or sideboard has been emerging for the past 3 years. Originally designed for the dining room to store fine linens, serving pieces and silverware, currently used as  T.V. stands in the bedroom, or a plant table under a large window with storage to hide miscellaneous, or in the back of a large walk in closet.  Buffets come in a huge assortment of sizes and style and before 1960 the majority will have dove tailed drawers with solid wood construction. Stripping any finish made after 1940 involves breaking down the plastic added to the stains. Plastic in a stain seals with fewer coats, adds shine but scratches easily.  Restoring a rubbed oil finish adds the most value, while painting is a popular option demanding less time and preparation. Auctions for furniture online exist.  Sites to explore the possibilities are at Etsy also.

Primitive furniture is irreplaceable, made by a craftsman not a company, truly one of kind, unique. The lumber found in the area was shaped into furniture for family use. Cherry, Oak and Maple were dominant over pine and softer woods.  Farm animal troughs, cupboards, harvest tables and dressers made after Illinois farmland was claimed after the Indian Removal Act can still be found. Often a primitive piece will have several coats of paint.  Another sign of age are rounded wood peg nails.

Chicago’s furniture production was second in the nation by 1920, New York was number one.  Chicago’s Wards and Sears catalogs sold any piece of furniture desired. For example, industrialization in the early 1900’s led to 26 furniture companies in Rockford, Illinois.

Saving any piece from the past is a worthwhile venture. Furniture made today is rarely solid wood. Plastic, wood ground up with fillers bonded by glue and covered with a laminate surface floods the current market. The heavier a piece that looks like wood is, the more likely it is a wood compound. Anyone who has carried a can of paint knows how much a blend of chemicals can weigh.  Authentic wood needs moisture, oil and smart cleaning, no water. Expensive wood construction is done with no screws or nails.   Whatever that antique piece is chances are it can be revived and become a valued member of your household guests.

National Stress Month

By Caryl Clem:

April is a National Stress Awareness month, ironically during a time America is facing the most traumatic event in decades. As uncomfortable as you may currently feel staying home, flip your feelings using this time to your advantage. Everyone has a story to tell about their experience. Telling your story releases the pent up emotional baggage, reducing stress while increasing brain activity according to research from Harvard. Writing or taping personal experiences turns your brain on to creating a cause effect scenario. ‘Stories are the way we understand and make sense of the world we find ourselves in.’ says Clare Patey, Director of the Empathy Museum.

Creating a story folder could combine your feelings and images. Keep the stories short, they provide a future window to revisit how you faced the pandemic. I remember finding an antique food stamp book in my Mother’s dresser drawer. I had no clue what feelings surrounded this relic. I wrote about how I changed during this time. When I couldn’t fall asleep, I started cleaning blinds at 1 a.m. Never in my life have I tackled a job I hate the most to get so tired I would fall asleep. A friend of mine called ,she felt she was living in a science fiction fantasy, driving down an empty street with empty stores. Years from now these stories will breathe life into the pictures being taken.

During the 1930’s, America was recovering from the epic Depression Era. A phrase heard on the street reflecting the economy was,” Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”. This meager amount could buy a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, or a gallon of gas. Couples would gather to share a pot luck dinner and play a game. A popular game was buying and selling real estate, invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1903. There were no written rules, game procedures traveled by word of mouth. A frequent player of this game, Mr. Darrow, unemployed, low on funds, asked his friend to write the rules down. Darrow sold these rules to Parker Brothers. The allure of wealth and power skyrocketed, Monopoly, into a financial success.

A common theme in games is overcoming hardship. If you feel creative, design your own board game that mirrors surviving with practices of stay at home and social distancing. Design a card deck with short examples given either positive or negative points. Running out of food, lose 5 points, utility bill forgiven, 10 extra points, sunny, warm day to walk the dog 5 extra points, free pizza with delivery coupon, 10 extra points are examples of what is possible.

Volunteer work accomplishes releasing stress reducing body chemicals. Health care professionals are notoriously independent. If you know one, reach out and ask if you can help by doing laundry, shopping for groceries, checking on an older person they know, preparing food for their families. These saints among us don’t have the time or energy to conduct their lives normally. Food pantries are short on help. The key to managing stress is STAY POSITIVE. Relish creating memories your family can look back on in the future.

African American Inventions Improve Our Daily Life

By Caryl Clem:

Through the last 100 years, when faced with a problem that needed a solution, African American inventors created products we still use today.  A common example, today’s ironing board with a narrow to wider proportioned curved board. A former slave woman whose main job was ironing women’s garments had moved from Craven County, North Carolina to New Haven, Connecticut after the Civil War.  The president of Yale College in New Haven was a fervent supporter of blacks acquiring the same standard of living as whites. In 1892 when Sara Boone was 60 years old, she patented the device as a cheap, efficient method to iron clothing. Previously, square planks on stands or across chairs were used for ironing.

Do you love to climb stairs or would you rather ride an elevator?  An unsung hero that invented the automatic elevator door is Alexander Miles. His own granddaughter nearly fell down an elevator shaft due to a faulty door. Since his patent in 1887, it’s the base of ones manufactured today.

If you have traveled on a main road, your safety was increased by the installation of the 3 Way Traffic Light Systems.  A successful African American inventor, Garrett Morgan, was the first black man to own a car in Cleveland, Ohio where he witnessed a terrible carriage accident. He was confident that a warning yellow yield light would decrease accidents. He patented his 3 Way Traffic Light in 1923 that was later sold to General Electric. His patents ranged from friction clutches in cars, hair straightener, breathing devices in safety hoods firefighters wear, gas masks, and sewing machine improvements. He left home after an elementary school education.

In 1940 a method to cool the roofing of a truck by Frederick McKinley Jones was the start of a new industry, refrigerated trucking.  Now supermarkets could receive from other areas perishable meat, fish, fresh eggs, bread, dairy, vegetables, fruits, medical supplies, donated blood, and flowers. During World War II his idea made possible sending supplies to our troops of food, blood and medical supplies. He had 60 patents.

Dr. James West was given the assignment to develop a sensitive, compact microphone while working at Bell Labs. He co-founded the electret transducer with Gerhard M. Sessler that is used in  90% of microphones. During his career he had 250 patents and was a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Pioneer computer trailblazers include African American Dr. Mark Dean who was the first African American to win the Black Engineer of the Year Presidential award in 1997. He was the chief engineer at IBM heading a team of 12 members.  At career’s end, he held 3 of the 9 original IBM patents. Dr. Dean was responsible for the color IBM monitor and co- founded the Gigahertz chip that increased processing speeds at a billion calculations per second. . He developed with his colleague Dennis Moeller, The Industry Standard Architecture that allowed plug in devices such as disk drives, printers and monitors to go directly into the computer. He was inducted into the National Inventor Hall of Fame in 2001.

African American Inventors are a bulwark of our national strength and capability.

African American cuisine, Chicago soul food suggestions

By Caryl Clem

Winter weather lingers during February while we look for ways to find comfort waiting for spring. I dig out the recipe books to look up  favorites. When it’s cold outside, I crave eating made from scratch macaroni and cheese bubbling under the bread crumb crust. If you think about Sunday dinner meatloaf or finger licking crusty fried chicken, warm cornbread smothered in butter followed by a tasty cobbler for dessert, all these originated from African American culinary ingenuity. Kentucky Fried Chicken won success with soul food staples as well as several other fast food chicken rivals. Getting the most for your money and taste buds has earned “soul food’ a place on our plates and in our hearts.

Several of our founding fathers all had Black African American chefs that were educated in Europe. In France, Parmesan cheese, butter and pasta was the new rage during the 1800’s. Thomas Jefferson sent his chef to France to learn how to prepare French delicacies. By February in 1862, Thomas Jefferson was hosting parties featuring this macaroni pie specialty. President, George Washington had a famous Black African American Chef Hercules whose clothing can be seen in an museum exhibit in Washington D.C. African Americans as chefs showcasing American food has been established for centuries. These chefs have shaped America’s palate:

Chef Hercules was an African American slave owned by the Washington family, serving as the family’s head chef for many years.

Chef Edna Lewis was a renowned African-American chef, teacher, and author of several cookbooks who helped refine the American view of Southern cooking.

Chef Joe Randall was a good friend of the late Edna Lewis, has been a veteran award-winning chef for over 50+ years.

Chef Leah Chase was an American chef based in New Orleans, Louisiana. An author and television personality, she was known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine. She passed away at 96 in 2019.

Chef Patrick Clark was an American chef. He won the 1994 James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Region” during his tenure at the Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington, D.C. and also competed.

The reputation of Southern wealthy families depended on offering superior feasts. The culinary feats were achieved by slave chefs from a variety of African regions. New to colonists dinner ‘s influenced by West Africa offered tomatoes, lima beans, onions, and chili peppers with peanuts, ginger and lemon grass. Natural sugar from dates, coconuts, sorghum and sweet potato lessen the need for granulated sugar. Garlic, cumin, and chili peppers for meat followed by allspice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Chili made with cinnamon was probably the result of African spice blends.  Africa has five regions that use the same spices and seasoning blends. Across America distinct African American influence is broken down into these categories: “Northern States, “ Agricultural South”, “ Creole Coast”, lastly, “ Western Range”.  Trivia fact, over 1/3 of cowboys in the west after the civil war were African Americans. Spices and flavors from a distant continent won new fans and changed the rather bland  fare forever.

Chicago offers several “soul food” restaurants, a phrase that started in the 1960’s and was common place by the 1970’s. Foursquare provides some great comments and pictures about several. Here are just a few with pictures above that describe their menus:

  1. Luella’s Southern Kitchen
  2. Wishbone Restaurant
  3. Big Jones
  4. Virtue
  5. Feed

The best chocolate drinks

I was not an addict of soft drinks but I could not live without chocolate in any form…even today. I loved mixing Nestles Quick chocolate in my milk drinking cold or warm. I loved eating restaurant bought chocolate shakes or chocolate phosphates along with my hamburger..no fries.. from childhood on.

If Mom bought Bordens Dutch Chocolate, it was usually for a special occasion. Real cocoa that was poured right from the carton and is still sold today. Some may remember Bosco Chocolate syrup which was invented in 1928 in Camden, NJ by an unknown physician. The William S. Scull Company, a company founded in 1831 in Camden, NJ, acquired the manufacturing license. The Scull Company’s most famous product was Boscul Coffee, which gave the product its brand name, “Bosco”. In the 1950s, Corn Products Company acquired Bosco, and Bosco Products, Inc. acquired the brand in 1985.

And I loved Kayo, a bottled chocolate drink named for Kayo Mullins in the Moon Mullins comic strip. In 1929, Mr Aaron Pashkow created Kayo made from skim milk and chocolate syrup, selling his business in 1964 here in Chicago. For many years, Kayo was sold in a bottle then a can. Kayo is currently sold as a powder delivering steaming mugs of delightful hot chocolate, temptingly sweet and richly aromatic. It can be added to coffee to make a delicious mocha or chocolate rush.

And if you are looking for a little alcohol to celebrate the holidays, the Chocolate Martini is highly recommended. Drizly offers a great recipe for this decadent drink. Another favorite of many chocolate lovers is the Chocolate Margarita that uses Godiva chocolate liqueur. Chocolate is not reserved for new cocktails today but has been a long time classic used to make the Brandy Alexander. This creamy delight has been a go-to after-dinner drink and you’ll love the mix of brandy and dark crème de cacao.

Today, some of the best hot chocolate drinks are the French hot chocolate; the recipe is almost like sipping chocolate overseas and truly a luxury on a cold evening. Another great hot homemade chocolate starts from real chopped chocolate cut by hand and incorporates in milk just perfectly. Fifteen spatualas has a wonderful recipe and shows you how to refrigerate for up to three days.

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!

Exploring Native American cuisine

Caryl Clem:

Authentic Native American cooking varies from region to region, recipes adapted to what the surrounding environment supplied.  Traditional cooking consists of four phases since the Native Americans were forced from original homelands under the Dawes Act as groups escaped government control forming new communities in new territories. Historically cooking techniques and methods fall into the pre-contact era before men from Europe were exploring, first contact with settlements, after Indian Removal’s “Trail of Tears” mid-1800’s reservations given rationed food, lastly emergence of Native American owned restaurants featuring indigenous dishes during the last 25 years.

The top chefs from 566 recognized tribes are publishing cookbooks, opening catering businesses, food trucks and restaurants. Red Mesa Cuisine, operated by Kiowa Nation, offers recipes from all generation.  Travel from the past and back at your own dining table. Mouthwatering choices include plank broiled smoked salmon or bison, marinated bison served with Cajun style sauces, Succotash,  blueberry cornmeal mush, wild berry glaze, acorn bread, and fry bread. During the forced containment of the Navajo at Bosque Redondo during 1864-68, the Native Americans created a food staple from the rationed flour known as Fry Bread. Starting as a humble food stretcher to accompany every meal, its popularity spread from coast to coast. Now Fry Bread rivals the lasagna, potatoes, noodles, or rice to earn a place of honor during any culinary feast.

If you are a road warrior blazing asphalt trails, famous Native American cuisine can be found in Albuquerque NM,  Seattle WA,  Denver CO,  Colorado Springs CO,  Santa Fe NM, Minneapolis MN,  Phoenix  AZ ,  Geyersville California, Washington D.C. to name a few. The oldest cooks in America are the new “in” must have taste. Stopping to dine ranges from a Smithsonian museum buffet style restaurant or luxurious hotel while savoring the “harvest”.  For the hands on, do it yourself readers, the following cookbooks were on multiple cites as favorites by the cookbook buying consumers. Bon Appetite!!

THE SIOUX CHEF’S INDIGENOUS KITCHEN BY SEAN SHERMAN AND BETH DOOLEY

THE MITSITAM CAFE COOKBOOK BY RICHARD HETZLER

 MODERN NATIVE FEASTS: HEALTHY, INNOVATIVE, SUSTAINABLE CUISINE BY ANDREW GEORGE JR.

 WHERE PEOPLE FEAST: AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S COOKBOOK BY DOLLY WATTS AND ANNIE WATTS

ORIGINAL LOCALINDIGENOUS FOODS, STORIES, AND RECIPES FROM THE UPPER MIDWEST BY HEID E. ERDRICH

How to save on all aspects of Halloween

Flipp App savings expert Lauren Gruetman provides tips on how to save on all aspects of Halloween. Below you’ll find her tips as well as a few local Chicago deals available now!
Savings Tips:Plan ahead to save big bucks on costumes. There are so many DIY costumes that you can make using items from Dollar Tree. I recommend using the Flipp App to search through the Dollar Tree circular to see what items are in their stores. You can easily make unicorn wings from a feather boa and fairy wings (both are found in the craft section). Use a dish towel and cut it up into a vest to make a cowboy vest. Think creatively around the items you can find there for inexpensive costumes.Candy is cheapest two weeks before Halloween as stores start putting them on sale. And check your local drug stores flyers for deals on Sundays, which is when new deals are sometimes released. You can also look at bulk stores like Costco and Sams Club, but steer away from the chocolate candy. Buy big packages of Airheads and Skittles for a cheaper price per oz.

*It’s possible to throw an epic party for under $40! Stick to the dollar stores for decorations and buy items that can be used from year to year. The days following Halloween are the best times to purchase large blow up items and other Halloween decor.

Watch for Fall Harvests. I find the cheapest pumpkins by driving around and purchasing them at local homes that have them out for sale. You will save a LOT of money and get a larger pumpkin for buying local.

The free Flipp app is available for IOS and Android. You can search weekly ads, coupons and navigate through your favorite stores. The app allows you to check out specific foods or browse a variety of retailers. Once you download the app and add your location, Flipp will locate the stores in your area and you can click on your favorite store to explore its best deals. You can tap a retailer, check out the coupons and load them to your loyalty cards. There are thousands of retailers available including Kroger, Walmart, Big Lots, CVS Pharmacy, Aldi’s, Family Dollar, Home Depot, Loews and Dicks Sporting Goods to name a few. You can even save money on your favorite and find deals at Petco.

Halloween Deals on Flipp in Chicago:
Candy:

Decor:

Costumes:

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