Introduction to the Good Old Days: The Fourth of July

I found them in a Victorian box the cover decorated with miniature roses of days long ago.  I remember the day which was cold, wet and a time where I had nothing constructive to do.  Being an only child, there were days like this so I decided to play in our basement and look through old packing boxes of memorabilia.

It was my grandmother’s box and it looked like it had contained real flowers at once time.  The box was like the cover of a book and had a gold binding.  Scripted writing said “roses for you” and I wondered if my grandfather had given real roses from this box on a special occasion. But it wasn’t dark and disintegrating flowers that I found beneath the cover, but piles and piles of 5 by 7 sheets of yellowed newspaper clippings.  There had to be over a hundred comics and in each corner the label read “The Good Old Days by Erwin L. Hess.

These had been printed in the 1950’s but their black and white pictures depicted the world much younger, in fact, beginning at the turn of the century. The detail of each comic frame reminded me of scenes from perfect doll house rooms.  You could look at one drawing several times and still not see everything.  This shows a celebration of the Fourth of July in 1954 but it talks about remembering 1919; over a hundred years ago. That is why I have taken out the box many times through the years.

Today, begins the journey of the good old days series and I will post a story and comic to match a topic throughout the year. Of course, I will also being doing other writings about everything and anything. However, you will always know by the yellowed comic chosen with label and title, The Good Old Days.

There is an expression that says “one picture is worth a thousand words”.  As you view the comics in later posts, not only do you learn about the past and its progression, but you will experience the artful moments of family, canvases of adventure, scenes of the seasons and just plain enjoyment. You will realize the milestones of invention, the joys of house and home, entertainment in different forms and that unconditional love for family or friends has never changed from past to present.

Erwin L. Hess was an artist for all types of comics and began “The Good Old Days” series  in 1947.  Believe it or not, the comics were still being published until 1981.

During the 1930’s and 1940’s, he did artwork for comics such as Roy Rogers.  He had also illustrated several children’s books.  He had become quite popular for his creation of Captain Midnight , another newspaper comic strip.

Wrigley chewing gum

Juicy fruit and bazooka,(bubble gum was bazooka penny candy with the comics inside wrapper) was the ones that fought for being number one in my life. I chose Bazooka more in the early years because if we had an allowance, we could buy penny candy and that was the selection in the bin at Cozy Corner on the south side of Chicago. Cozy Corner was a great little store and diner located next to South Chicago Hospital. Juicy Fruit came in a package and was more expensive. There was another store across the street that I remember buying magazines and my Archie comics. Another story coming soon on that trend.  But throughout my life, decades later, it was Juicy Fruit, a package of five, created by Wrigley here in Chicago.

In 1891, 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago from Philadelphia with $32 and the idea to start a business selling Wrigley’s Scouring Soap. Wrigley offered premiums as an incentive to buy his soap, such as baking powder. Later in his career, he switched to the baking powder business, in which he began offering two packages of chewing gum for each purchase of a can of baking powder. Wrigley soon abandoned baking powder, entered the gum industry and in 1893, he offered two new gum brands; Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint.The popular premium, chewing gum, began to seem more promising. Wrigley also became the majority owner of the Chicago Cubs in 1921. William Wrigley Jr. died on January 26th, 1932, at the age of 70 and his son continued to run the company.

According to Wikipedia, In 2005, Wrigley purchased Life Savers and Altoids from Kraft Foods for US$1.5 billion.On January 23, 2007, Wrigley signed a purchase agreement to acquire an 80% initial interest in A. Korkunov for $300 million with the remaining 20% to be acquired over time. On April 28, 2008, Mars announced that it would acquire Wrigley for approximately $23 billion. Financing for the transaction was provided by Berkshire Hathaway, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan (Warren Buffet) Berkshire Hathaway held a minority equity investment in Wrigley until October 2016.

 

My Dad, Happy Fathers Day

When I looked up the definition of father, I was amazed at how many categorized fathers we have today. From the weekend/holiday fathersurprised father, stepfathersecond father to just mothers partner or husband; all of which define “the Dad”.  And, believe it or not, there is the DI Dad who is the social/legal father of children produced via donor insemination.

Father is also considered a founder of a body of knowledge or institution like George Washington; the Father of Our Country. And now I can understand why fathers are seen as authority figures and are suppose to possess experience and knowledge in life to pass onto others. That is what being a father is about; the active father who speaks of wisdom and guidance.

My father passed away when I was twelve and Fathers Day was not a Hallmark occasion that was at the top of my list. He was several years older than my Mom and always wanted a little girl. My mother never re-married and someone said that a father is a girl’s first love. Only he could push me on my new swing set at our home in Chicago.

With time, I realized my father, John, was gone and could not be replaced though I would always be grateful for the strong memories of his love for me. Some didn’t have any example in their lives. And as the years passed, I figured out that I could have as many fathers as I wanted; a trusted male friend who nurtures and helps you live a more fulfilling life.

They can be a neighbor that offers support when you struggle, comfort when you are down and their snow blower when there is a foot of snow in your driveway. They can be a manager who reminds you that you are truly worth it regardless of your awkward stumbles at work. They can be a co-worker that offers you a smile, something to laugh at, thumbs up and a cup of coffee when you are having a bad day.

They can be a brother who offers unconditional love and commitment regardless of how you frustrate him. They can be any relative who is protective, concerned and sees your success rather than incompetence. They can be your best friend’s father who spent hours tutoring you in math and building your self-esteem in a subject you never thought possible.

They can be the salesman or contractor that is really looking out for your safety and best interests. They can be your postman who always makes sure your mail is delivered on time and doesn’t rush off without saying hello. They can be teachers and role models to all children of any age and family.

Most of all, they can be the one above…you may not be able to see, but truly loves you.

(Re-posted-originally published June 17, 2018)

Last days of recess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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. 

Green river and chocolate phosphates

There was a diner we would stop at after our excursion to the Oaklawn Roller Rink. They still served Green River soda and my girlfriend and I had to have one.  The flavor was better than having a Coke or Pepsi. According to John Fogarty, the Green River song was inspired by the soft drink.

According to Wikipedia, Green River soda was first introduced in 1919, by the Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company of Chicago. Prior to 1920, the brewery produced the popular Edelweiss beer. Schoenhofen began manufacturing Green River and other soft drinks in order to survive the Prohibition Era. It was also made by the Sweetwater Brewery in Green River, Wyoming.

It was popular as a soda fountain syrup, trailing only Coca-Cola in popularity throughout the Midwest. After Prohibition ended in 1933, the Schoenhofen Brewery continued to manufacture Green River, while resuming the production of alcoholic beverages. The Brewery closed in 1950.The brewery district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 27, 1978 and the Administration Building and Powerhouse were later designated Chicago Landmarks on July 13, 1988 located in the Pilsen neighborhood

The Green River brand continued to be produced by other manufacturers after the closing of Schoenhofen Edelweiss. Green River’s current manufacturer, WIT Beverage Company, acquired the brand in 2011. You can buy Green River at Walmart, Binneys, or even buy online at Amazon. Contact GreenRiver.com and connect with their Facebook or Twitter page.

I first tasted a Chocolate phosphate at Markons restaurant, located on Jeffrey Ave in Chicago, in the 1960’s. Markons was a great place to go for lunch since my junior high was located down the street or after a  swim at the Jewish Community’s center pool during the summer, right next door.

The phosphate has been around a long time.  The Wild Cherry Phosphate, among children,  was the most popular during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. A good chocolate phosphate starts with good chocolate, or better yet, cocoa powder, soda water and acid phosphate.

Margies Candies on Montrose still offers phosphates. Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream offers all flavors; Chocolate, Cherry, Vanilla, and Green River included. Lindy’s Chili and Gerties has several locations in the Chicagoland area including Morris and Countryside. The Big Top Restaurant in Norwood offers a great vanilla phosphate.

 

Nostalgic bunny ears tales

By Caryl Clem:

Outdoor egg hunts, bunny baskets brimming with treats

The thrill of rummaging for hidden treasure sweets

Easter traditions bringing squeals of pleasure and laughter

Surprises planned for children by lovers of adventure.

Growing up in the 1950’s, I had a magical Easter bunny visitor

He hopped through the house leaving signs of his travels

His silhouette of big feet and crooked ears, unmistakable.

Numbered One clue, bunny ears sticking out of drawer

Verse tells me, “Bunny jumped from my bedroom floor

Looking for a place to spend the night inside a drawer.”

The quest turns up paper sticking out of a sock, Clue Two

Rhymed verse tells me he has left something for me to chew

Bunny ears are edging out from a living room chair seat

Clue Three heavy with taped gum, displays his feet

In the piano bench between a classical music sheet.

From room to room, the clever bunny hopped to hide candy

Humor obvious while uncovering the latest bunny ear mystery.

An empty Easter basket waited at the end, as he bids adieu

To be filled with discovered candy and my bunny ear clues .

This magical bunny has traveled within the family clan

Smiles, surprises, laughter, reborn at Easter, a legend

As children hunt down where the bunny could land.

Remembering your first pet: National Pet Day-April 11

By Caryl Clem:

My constant companion as a child in the 1950’s was not a doll or stuffed animal, it was a petite, soft furry black cocker spaniel named Candy.  She was difficult to hold because she would be licking you furiously while wagging her tail. A spinning top was easier to grip. She followed me no matter where I went, listened to my stories and never told anyone my secrets. She turned me into a dog lover.  After Candy passed away, Mother and Father said, “No more dogs”. I felt inspired after watching Disney movies, a pet could be any willing animal.

Next door to my house was an unsightly lot full of abandoned vehicles, commonly termed a “junk yard”. Naturally, my parents had forbidden me to travel there. During a morning stroll pass the junk yard, I could distinctly hear a dog whimpering.  My heart jumped snapping my body into rescue mode. I broke house rules, I had to find that dog!  I found more than a dog, a starving mongrel mother and puppies. I ran home to plead mercy for them.  A compromise was made between me and my parents, I could cautiously assist animals but I was not allowed to bring them home. I met with the owner of the junk yard and he agreed I could feed approved animals if I told him where they were. I did not realize I was the reason many animals went missing.  I found a variety of critters including several snakes and a snapping turtle during those years.

According to the 2017-18 statistics, over 68% of American households own pets. Dog owners are more prevalent than cats. The pet industry has tripled in the last 15 years.  Pet ownership trends in pet ownership show more seniors are adopting pets (Pets for seniors), most pet owners purchase insurance, diets focus on nutritionally balanced and organic food supplies. Pet spas are offering grooming, massage and exercise with T.V. socialization. There is even a Dog Persons Dating App. Restaurants that advertise “bring your dog to dine”  are opening.

Pets and their owners share a bond that creates a chemical in the brain that lowers blood pressure, fights depression, and lowers chance of strokes. Owning pets can reduce allergies in children according to several medical studies.  Parents debating the value of a pet should check out an excellent review of 22 studies of the impact of companion animals on child development.

The charm of animals can be enjoyed in a variety of movies. Grab some snacks and watch a few of my favorites : Finding Dory (2016), Zootopia ( 2016), Eight Below (2006), Happy Feet (2006)Finding Nemo (2003), War Horse (2001), My Dog Skip (2000),Babe(1995),Free Willy (1993)Homeward Bound, The Incredible Journey ( 1993) Adventures of Milo and Otis ( 1986) and Benji( 1974).

Getting chicken pox, measles or mumps during the 1960’s

Now, when you look up information about chicken pox, the first word that pops up is rare. The chicken pox vaccine was added to the immunization schedule in 1995.  My eyes followed more information about chicken pox gravitating on the disease description of shingles, the same virus as chicken pox’s. Shingles is not so rare for me and those over 60. Studies suggest over 95 percent of people age 40 and older have had chicken pox and it is advised to get the vaccine for shingles that originated a few years ago.

For me, it was in 1963, I  was annihilated with the pox’s. Everywhere I looked, I was marked for life. To this day, I still see one on my nose. And they itched. Nothing much took care of that back in my day….calamine lotion maybe and I was out of school for almost two weeks. I remember sitting in the den, mittens on my hands since my parents had to stop the scratching somehow.  Dad and I watched the Real McCoys on Saturday night TV in Chicago.  I remember going back to school at Kate Stugis Buckingham the first day and my teacher, Mrs Lannon, as well as classmates, were so concerned about my illness, offering me special breaks throughout the first week.  And two years later, I experienced a mild case of the mumps but not with the same kind of attention.

The recommended vaccines were developed early in the 20th century. These included vaccines that protect against pertussis (1914), diphtheria (1926), and tetanus (1938). These three vaccines were combined in 1948 and given as the DTP vaccine. Smallpox,Diphtheria,Tetanus, Pertussis, which I remember as well as the famous polio vaccine. When the polio vaccine was licensed in 1955, the country celebrated and Jonas Salk, its inventor, became an overnight hero.

In 1963 the measles vaccine was developed, and by the late 1960s, vaccines were also available to protect against mumps (1967) and rubella (1969). These three vaccines were combined into the MMR vaccine in 1971.

Now, we are protected by vaccines that include Hepatitis A and B, Pneumococcal, Influenza Rotavirus, HPV. The pneumonia vaccine is recommended for people over 65. Just last month I had the flu after taking the flu shot and experienced pneumonia at the same time and still under the age of 65. And, once again, I was off of school for over a week. I missed Valentine’s day but the kindergartners did not forget me; bringing chocolate for the holiday and making handmade headbands when I returned.

Though I was with family, not hospitalized, in my favorite bed and so grateful for classroom gifts, there is nothing like being sick with your Dad in front of vintage TV. My Dad passed away right after my attack with the mumps. Though Facebook and Twitter can be fun with the opportunity of immediate sharing one’s thought,there is nothing like returning to school without social media giving everyone a heads up. Eyes wide that you didn’t die. And big smiles on your best friends faces. Yes, there was the phone but it was just different.

Thankfully, today, I am finished with medications and x-rays. I feel great and I am not going to get shingles but after all these years, I still miss my Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago land Miller’s Pub and the Italian Village

My first time at Millers Pub on Wabash in Chicago was in the late 1970s and a group of us was having a night cap after a play. I think the play was Send in the Clowns. Though I wasn’t a beer drinker, other drinks just didn’t seem appropriate so I had a beer that tasted better than most. It was later that I had dinner before the theater as they actually promote. In 1950, three brothers of Greek descent, Pete, Nick and Jimmy Gallios, pooled all of their resources and purchased the flailing Miller’s Pub from the Miller brothers, who had established the bar in 1935. After the purchase, the Gallios brothers did not have the $500 it would have cost to change the sign on the pub, so the name Miller’s remained.

Many celebrities have frequented the pub and celebrity photos grace the walls along with authentic oil paints. The family still owns Millers and thousands continue to enjoy an exquisite beer collection as well as extensive menu. Jimmy Durante never came to town without stopping by for some figs & cream- he didn’t drink. Millers is open until 4am that is why it is a great stop after the shows for even coffee and dessert.

It was in the upstairs restaurant with the beautiful wall design and Italian lights that I first visited the Italian village, built in 1927, the oldest Chicago restaurant. It was a date in the 1970s, the perfect elegance for romance. I don’t remember what I ate but always favored the wine.

Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Italian Village is home to three restaurants, each with its own chef, menu specialties and unique ambiance. Italian Village’s origins began on September 20, 1927, when Alfredo Capitanini opened the doors to what would soon become a Chicago landmark. Italian Village was kept in the Capitanini family, and in 1955, the second generation of Capitaninis opened the doors to their second restaurant, La Cantina, in the lower floor of the Italian Village building.  Mom liked that restaurant best and it was here that we shared special field trips. With business doing so well for the Capitanini family, they decided to open one more restaurant in their Italian Village building called The Florentine Room now called Vivere, focusing on true gourmet.

As we visited Miller’s pub after the show, the Italian Village offers a great before the theatre menu including lasagna, their house specialty and always my favorite.