Chicago’s Oak Street Beach

It was in the 1970’s during my high school and college years that I remember traveling with friends to Chicago’s Oak Street Beach for a summer field trip from the south suburbs of the city. We would also pick out high rise apartment buildings we wanted to live in after college. And I remember it crowded with beach chairs, towels, bicycles and of course, numerous bathers and acrobatics. I remember male friends wanting to be a life guard as a summer job there; where prestigious life began. Oak Street Beach is located at 1000 N. Lake Shore Drive at Oak Street and Lake Michigan near the Gold Coast/Streeterville neighborhoods.

According to the Chicago Park District, Lincoln Park and Lake Shore Drive suffered constant damage from storms and lake shore erosion. The city built a breakwater made of pilings, planks, and stone on the lake’s edge between Oak Street and North Avenue in the 1870’s. This device could not protect Lake Shore Drive, so in the late 1880s, the commissioners began working with the Army Corps of Engineers to design a seawall between Fullerton and North Avenues to provide better protection. Lake Shore Drive was also extended south from Oak Street to Ohio Street.

The park district claims property owners helped pay for the landfill extension, which included a breakwater to protect the lake shore and roadway from erosion. Constructed in the 1890s, the project included a 50-foot-wide roadway as well as an extensive granite-paved beach, stone sidewalks, bicycle path, bridle path, and luxury lawns with elegant trees.

The beach was extremely popular in the early 1900’s but rich, mansion property owners complained about how small it was so it was extended in 1923. My father remembers living in the city in those early years as a child attending the beach. According to sources, over 50,000 visitors were known to travel to the beach during that time.The Chicago Park District offers some wonderful history on all Chicago area parks and when they can be used.

Today, Oak Street has gone through many renovations and has a outdoor cafe though with Covid restrictions, not available at this time. Currently, the beach is closed but when opened, you can rent beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas. Of course, public restrooms are available. Usually, various vendors carts are seen along the path. Besides swimming, many beach goers play volleyball or just sit, taking pictures of amazing sunrises and sunsets. Still, a beautiful place to visit.

Photo courtesy of Greg Wass

Chicago’s impact on Fox Lake

By Caryl Clem:

Chicago Trading Company, a giant distributor of crops by trains and ships that resulted in Chicago becoming the largest grain port in the world by 1854. When the Wisconsin Central railroad connected to the Chain O’Lakes area in 1882, a resort haven for wealthy Chicagoans was created. Chicago Board of Trade members decided to build a private grand hotel in Fox Lake, The Mineola on 91 North Cora Avenue in 1884. The three story structure with a two tiered veranda featured one hundred private room suites with hot and cold running water available for $2.00 daily. Labor statistics in 1884 for Chicago day laborers averaged about $2.20 a week. The hotel sold to a new owner in 1891 that expanded business by going public. Weekends at the hotel featured entertainment while enjoying the surrounding scenery. Sightseeing steamboats carried tourists to” Egyptian Lotus “beds flowering on several lakes.

In 1897, The Chicago Board Trade members shifted focus to opening a private boating enterprise, The Pistakee Yacht Club still in operation today. Boat racing competitions attracted powerful men. In 1922, Cook County Board President, Anton Cermak, thrilled 5,000 spectators victorious in his “City of Chicago” boat. Governors of Illinois, Otto Kerner, William Stratton, Fred Busse, and Big Bill Thompson all relaxed in the Chain of Lakes summer activities. Gatsby era mansions appeared along the Chain of Lakes coastline as families claimed their summer retreat territory. Fox Lake became the summer hot spot; leisure time could be spent boating, fishing, hunting, gambling, dining and dancing.

When the Nippersink Station opened connected to the Milwaukee railway in 1901, a broader financial spectrum of people arrived. In 1907, permanent residents in the Fox Lake area numbered around 500, soaring to over 20,000 during the summer months. Over 45 liquor licenses were issued in the Fox Lake area just before the Prohibition hit. By 1910, The Chicago Tribune reported the Mineola Hotel lacked morals and was not a proper place to spend time since excessive drinking, prostitution and gambling existed. The Fox Lake village did not place any limits on profitable business practices. During the 1920’s Prohibition era liquor flowed freely throughout the area.

By the “Roaring Twenties” Fox Lake became the choice hangout for mobsters and gangsters. Al Capone, head of Chicago’s North side battled “Bugs” Moran head of Chicago’s South side for control of the booze trade, during beer wars in Chicago. Both owned property near Fox Lake. On June 1, 1930 the feud came to a head at Manning’s Hotel in Fox Lake when 3 of Moran’s crew were shot dead, commonly referred to as the Fox Lake Massacre. A year earlier, Capone had lost lives to Moran in the St. Valentines’ Day Massacre. Moran, outmaneuvered, losing power left the Chicago area shortly after this attack. Fox Lake today continues to grow and change remaining a favorite summer retreat.

Magical summers

Many Baby Boomers growing up did not always have their summers planned with vacations. Some went to summer camp and many, like me, waited anxiously for best friends to get home from camp so we could play or create the next adventure. Some of us had no place to go during the summer with the exemption of exploring the neighborhood because we did have full freedom to go outside and play on a nice day.  Full freedom to explore and be back by 6 for dinner or for some until the street lights came on. No fear of stranger… danger!

Sometimes, we would go to the local playground or city park such as Chicago’s Bessemer which had a community pool or Stoney Island Park, which was popular for its ball fields, now known as Jessie Owen Park on the South Side of Chicago. Of course, riding our bikes(without helmets) often doing all sorts of stunts to get there. Many families had plastic, above ground pools in their backyard…not so different as those today.  The backyard sprinklers were are last resort but always fun once turned on. We never got sick drinking from the hoses either. Playing hopscotch, kick the can, red light, green light, red rover, Chinese jump rope, jacks( inside and out.)

I am not sure if it initially came from boredom or just not sure what to explore next but we produced plays, musicals and all sorts of summer shows for our families. One my friends and I did was about Betsy Ross and instead of the infamous lemonade s tand we re-created the Sip and Stir on a front porch which was originally an ice cream shop in Old Town. We made chocolate shakes and decorated the porch with tissue flowers. Though unless we had help from a Mom, we had to make sure that cooler was stocked with ice.

If in junior high and a Chicago city kid, sometimes we would ride the local Illinois Central Train downtown for lunch in the Narcissus room at Marshall Fields. Sometimes we would ride the bus to Evergreen Plaza in Evergreen Park on the west side; one of the first indoor malls.

However, screens did come into play when it was a rainy day. You could select from 3- 5 channels. If it was Saturday morning, you had a variety of cartoons to choose. Prime television was generally in the evening and reserved as a family event after your friends returned home. Board games or blind mans bluff were always an option and some of us had indoor ping pong or pool tables that we were allowed to play in the cooler finished basement since some did not have air conditioning.

Saturday afternoons could offer corny black and white horror movies such as Attack of The Crab Monsters,Teenagers From Outer Space and I Was A Teenage Werewolf. This was all after adjusting the TV antennas which could take some time especially if weather was poor and Mom watching over you while you made Jiffy Pop, the best stove- top popcorn that you loved to gently slide back and forth over the burner and watch the foil expand to new heights. Evenings were always spent with my favorite paint by number set from Bargain Town or reading which was encouraged before I went to bed. We always took trips to the local Chicago Public Library branch. Today, I am an avid reader and love to paint for fun.

Raising children in the 1990’s actually was pretty similar to the 1960’s though there television sets had a lot more channels to select. And they still made Jiffy Pop and my kids loved to help. Personal computers were just showing up in homes and they were pretty bad. So were pagers used mainly for work and more Mom’s needed jobs. I still let my children take over the neighborhood on bikes.Though, they did not have the run of as many blocks like we did in the old days. They did play outside and established some creative plays to perform for parents. Games were similar like tag, Red Rover with the exception of Marco Polo, a new game at the pool. I found sometimes, as parents,we would get too involved in the preparation of games and adventures. Maybe,we should have taken a back seat more often and just watched them build their creativity and love for one another. A very difficult exercise.

Today, just give kids markers, chalk, paper, and even washable paint. Let them go for it outside. Give them boxes, paper towel rolls, saved cereal boxes, tape and let them create their own summer houses, vehicles or forts. Pull out old clothes, dresses and see what they can do. Let them play with their friends and learn together. As far as games,Duck, Duck Goose and Monkey in the Middle seems to be popular. Gathering by themselves to play without you is the best of time for your children during the summer.

But never limit your field trip trips to the local library. You can actually cook Jiffy Pop on the grill outside. And watch the entire shows and movies from the past on Netflix. Maybe true summer fun hasn’t changed that much after all.

Distress Bandanna and State Farm promotes safe driving this summer

By partnering with local police officers and State Farm agents, Distress Bandanna has distributed over 58,000 bandannas to teen drivers.

Distress Bandanna and State Farm are teaming up to remind drivers of Scott’s Law and other driving tips to stay safe during summer travels. Scott’s Law, or the “Move Over” law, requires drivers to slow down and move over one lane when possible while approaching stopped emergency vehicles, stranded motorists with hazard lights on, and any vehicle with flashing lights.

Distress Bandanna, a non-profit organization originated in Southern Illinois, promotes safe teen driving through educational outreach and classroom presentations. By pairing up with local police officers and State Farm agents, Distress Bandanna has distributed over 58,000 bandannas to teen drivers to be used in roadside emergency situations.

This past year, Distress Bandanna offered an extra credit assignment to students going through this program. After each presentation, the organization posts class photos on social media, and students are asked to share or retweet with “#ScottsLaw”, “#MoveOver” or “#All50States”.

“Just the other day, we had 53 students from the same high school complete this extra credit assignment within 24 hours,” said program founder and coordinator Vivian Anderson. “We feel strongly in the education of new drivers and creating safe driving habits while they are young will make our roadways safer for everyone!”

State Farm has supported the Distress Bandanna program since 2017 and has presented to drivers’ education students in high schools across Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Tennessee. For more information, click on Distress Bandanna.

As the weather heats up and more drivers take to the roadways, here are some tips to keep everyone safe while having some SUMMER FUN:

· Start your trip with GPS and music set; phone stowed. Keep children and pets content by bringing along a favorite toy, treat, or blanket.
· Understand the laws for passenger restraint. Both child and pet passengers require special attention. No passengers belong on a lap or in the bed of a pick-up truck.
· Make sure that the heatingventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) of your vehicle is in good condition before your trip begins. This will be especially important for those longer trips.
· Make it a point to pull over if a child or pet needs attention, or if you feel tired or drowsy. This way you keep your eyes on the road.
· Eating along the way may be necessary, but you should pull over for this, too. Pack snacks and drinks for everyone, including pets, for convenience.
· Remove loose objects from your vehicle, they can become projectiles in a crash, causing injury to people or pets. In the event of a crash, unsecured pets may become frightened and jump from open windows.
· Forbid paws and heads from being out the window. This applies to both 2-legged and 4-legged passengers.
· Understand construction may be underway along your route. Plan ahead and find alternate routes and pet-friendly stops, helping to get you to your destination on schedule.
· Never leave children or pets in cars alone for any period of time. Temperatures can rise 19 degrees in just 10 minutes, putting them at risk.
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Grand travel trends taking off

ANAHEIM, Calif. (March 26, 2019) – It’s no surprise that Millennials love to “do it for the ‘gram.” But when it comes to travel buddies, it’s Millennials’ desire to travel with Grandpa and Grandma that may surprise you.

According to a new survey from Visit Anaheim, the official destination organization for Anaheim, multi generational vacations are top-of-mind with travelers when it comes to reliving memories, while also creating new ones, with the next generation. The survey, conducted by OnePoll for Visit Anaheim, polled a sample of 1,000 Americans and found that Millennial respondents (aged 25-34) lead the category when it comes to wanting more multi generational trips, coming in at a whopping 83 percent.

“While Visit Anaheim knew that families loved reliving childhood experiences by having grandparents tag along on vacation, we were surprised by the enthusiasm that the Millennial survey respondents had for this ‘Grand travel’ trend,” said Jay Burress, president & CEO of Visit Anaheim. “Millennials often have a close relationship with their parents and are now becoming parents themselves. The Baby Boomer grandparents are incredibly active, so they can easily keep up with the grand kids. Additionally, as many smart parents have figured out, having Grandpa and Grandma around means Mom and Dad can escape to check out the local nightlife or less kid-friendly attractions, knowing the kids are in great hands.”

In fact, two thirds (66 percent) of respondents have traveled with three or more generations of their family, making vacations with grandparents, their adult children, and grandchildren, a travel trend with no signs of slowing down. In fact, the majority plan on taking more extended family trips.

Nostalgia is one of the main reasons the trend keeps growing. Many parents and grandparents love reliving memories. The majority (56 percent) “strongly agree” that multi generational trips are more special when visiting somewhere their parents or grandparents have been before and 53 percent report being “very happy” when they take trips to places they’ve previously been with their parents or children.

VISIT ANAHEIM’S GRAND TRAVEL CONTEST

With Spring vacation around the corner and Summer vacation planning in the works, Visit Anaheim is kicking off their first-ever Grand travel contest. One lucky family of six will win an Anaheim vacation, including accommodations at Great Wolf Lodge and tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm – perfect for a family of four, plus two grandparents. Contest starts Tuesday, March 26, 2019 and ends Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Enter to win here. Find rules and regulations available here.

Actress, activist and mom to four kids, Holly Robinson Peete, is helping to kick-off the contest by encouraging families to take Grandma and Grandpa along for the vacation fun.

“Anyone who watches us on ‘Meet the Peetes’ knows that my mom is a big part of our lives – and that includes vacation time,” said Robinson Peete. “Whether it’s a girls weekend in New York City visiting my daughter, Ryan, or escaping for a quick staycation to somewhere fun like Anaheim, having grandma along for the journey is something the entire family looks forward to every chance we get.”

Additional Survey Highlights

Other noteworthy Visit Anaheim survey results include:

  • LET’S HIT THE ROAD – Multi generational trips are most likely to be either a road trip

(69 percent), traveling to see family (67 percent), or a flight to a major destination (48 percent)

  • PARENTAL PLANNERS – When planning a multi generational (grandparents, parents, kids) trip, parents are most likely to choose the flights (46 percent), set the dates (38 percent), pick the hotels/lodging (44 percent) and pay for the trip (41 percent)
  • GRANDPARENT TRAVEL PERKS – Top benefits of traveling with three generations are:
    • Allows bonding time/memories to be built between grandparents and grandchildren (67 percent)
    • Spending more quality time together (65 percent)

Though packing up the minivan with three generations can be fun, over half of the respondents              (51 percent) have taken a trip where Grandpa and Grandma took the grand kids on vacation – sans their adult children. Many wanted one-on-one time with their grandchild(ren)/grandparent(s) (48 percent), others celebrated a special event or milestone (45 percent), and some believed it created a different dynamic when parents are not there (41 percent).

“Getting to spend time with your grand kids is always special, but being able to vacation with them is truly a treat,” said Dolores Robinson, Holly Robinson Peete’s mom. “My grand kids affectionately call me everything from ‘Gorgeous’ to ‘G-Money.’ It’s because we’ve carved out time to create memories that we have such a close bond. Visit Anaheim’s survey is proof that families love to travel with grandparents. And I love that they’re giving a family a chance to win a vacation to Anaheim – including spots for Grandma and Grandpa. How fun!”

Fans can watch Holly, grandma Dolores, Holly’s husband – NFL veteran quarterback Rodney Peete, and their four kids, embark on their newest adventures on season two of “Meet the Peetes,” which debuted on the Hallmark Channel in late February and airs Monday at 10 p.m./9 Central.

For more information on Anaheim and to begin planning a memorable family-friendly vacation, please visit: visitanaheim.org.

About Visit Anaheim 
Founded in 1961, Visit Anaheim is a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit destination marketing organization. Visit Anaheim’s mission is to develop, promote, market and sell the destination as a premier visitor destination benefiting the economic vitality of the local community. To learn more about Visit Anaheim, visit: visitanaheim.org and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.