Happy Halloween

As a child, I loved autumn with the breathtaking color of the season, pressing leaves in scrapbooks, spending hours selecting a costume and, of course, carving a pumpkin with, for me, Dad. It was his job to cut but I scrapped away the innards. The only time I liked kitchen duty. And I remember being a gypsy, (above/ black and white) with my best friend, Karen next to me and her brother behind and another neighbor. My first celebrated Halloween; living on the south side of Chicago on 91st street. Future Halloweens in the city included becoming Little Bo Peep with a crooked staff that eventually gave way to the wind and a date girl wearing a beautiful wide skirt with mini calendars attached. Among the many dressed as Super Man, witches, Bat girl, Sleeping Beauty and Minnie Mouse, cowboys and Indians, and of course, Casper, with silly masks to match our attire back in the 1960s.

For me as a Mom in the 1990’s in Downers Grove, it began when my son was only two and hated being a clown. That’s because the face Mom had painted on his delicate skin was way too scary for Halloween. He scared himself when he looked in the mirror and trick or treating was just out of the question. But it did get better especially when he was some sort of car robot with a mask and my daughter was a princess with her best friend as a cat…still a best friend today (above/color picture). As my son and daughter celebrated the season each year, costume decisions improved to include Robin Hood and a court jester, a baby. a Power Ranger instead of Super Man and a nerd with a huge dictionary….not a computer… Though there was one Halloween, that costumes were trash bags since the rain was incessant for trick or treating. That didn’t stop us. We also decided that a carved pumpkin was not enough so the house was dressed with lovely rust and yellow floral arrangements and a yard filled with ghosts, signs, funny gravestones, and spider webs throughout.

And the neighborhood was packed with children trick or treating; knowing the adults that answered their doors. If we didn’t have an appropriate trick or treat bag, a pillow case would do and besides the candy bars, suckers and bazooka gum with comics, we would get even more like a popcorn ball. Sometimes we would worry about the occasional razor blade showing up in our candy but candy being spiked with chemicals was rare.

Now, though there are no grandchildren, I am assistant in a grade school and there is nothing more fun than watching the fabulous costumes, parties and parades every year and they continue to knock on the door, same door, on October 31st, 2021. Though the signs have become faded and the gravestones totter, new additions such as a family of scarecrows have been added, floral arrangements refurbished and my 30 plus daughter coming to spend a pre-Halloween weekend, carving the best pumpkin ever, while munching on roasted pumpkin seeds and home-made pumpkin bread.

Once a child, forever a child and another year of adding more pictures to that scrapbook or should I say, Facebook page instead.

Kindergarten: How about you?

I don’t how other Baby Boomers began their education but this book, Work That is Play, I completed in kindergarten and work WAS NOT play for me in any form. I began my days at Thomas Hoyne Elementary at 8905 South Crandon in 1961. My special number was 23. I did like to color but I cried alot. Actually, the only time I didn’t cry was when Mrs. Obrien, my teacher, said that I that I had real talent. When I sat with my friend Wendy on the carpet singing songs and Mrs Obrien played the old upright piano, I could tolerate the experience. I became a high school teacher first in my 20’s followed by a lifetime in many educational roles. Currently, approaching retirement, I assist in the younger grades. Consequently, knowing exactly what it takes to be able to help them smile once again and accept their own challenges.

Written from the cover of the book in 1958, Work that is Play was a reading readiness book that would give the child activities that would offer them concrete experiences in building a foundation to insure success in acquiring the tool-subjects of First and Second Grade. It was a book that was in loose leaf form so the teacher could use the sheets as she wanted. Work That is Play eliminated paste since all the materials to be pasted were printed on gummed paper. Little certificates were given as award to the child for the completion and the book comes with special fasteners for binding the book together. The book was published at J.M Kehoe Publishing Company which was located on 2429 Clybourn Avenue in Chicago.

Today, Hoyne Elementary is a Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster School; K-8. Hoyne offers students a rigorous academic curriculum and provides numerous reading programs based on grade and skill level. During the early 1960’s, there was over crowding of the area and another school was built to accommodate. I went to Kate Sturgis Buckingham School at 9207 Phillips for first through fifth grade but they were closed in 2013. Actually, they became a school for just special education students. Warren, also a magnet school, at 9239 South Jeffrey is where I completed my junior high education.

Many my age do not remember those early years but it is the teacher that makes the difference regardless of how young. It is the teacher that touches a life forever.

The New Colony Six

After receiving a video from my love a few months ago, the song and photos intrigued my writing interests. I Will Always Think About You. The video link is highlighted a few sentences below; real people in love during the 60’s and 70’s. Everyone looked familiar. I wore those shoes, used the same barrettes in the same place on my hair and used that same pay phone. I wore a dress just like that and the same make-up. He and I had the same car. He had a college jacket with the same letter L for Loyola? We all looked young and beautiful; in our own special, distinctive way many decades ago. And I cry when I watch and listen every time. I wonder how the lives in that video have transformed. Our they here today; healthy and in love? The song reached the Billboard’s top 40 on May 11,1968 presented by a young, Chicago band, The New Colony Six.

My significant other actually played with the band when then needed a substitute drummer since he played with many including the Association. Back in the day, he become young friends with Ronnie Rice (vocals, keyboards, guitar) who replaced Craig Hemp and this song becoming one of Rice’s hit singles. Formed in Chicago, the group had ten top singles that hit the charts between 1966 and 1971. That song actually hit the local airwaves in 1965 and was listed 14 times on the national charts. Things I’d Like to Say was another popular song released in 1968 on their album Revelations and as a single. Original members were Ray Graffia (vocals),Chick James (drums), Pat McBride (harmonica), Craig Kemp (organ), Wally Kemp (bass), and Gerry Van Kollenburg (guitar).

Ronnie Rice has played the guitar since he was 16 years old and he began his musical career as a solo performer in Evanston, Illinois. In the mid-seventies, he developed his own rock and roll classics still attending hundreds of concerts throughout the United States. Ronnie has played with other bands including The Buckinghams, The Ides of March, The Cryin’ Shames and The Shadows of Knight.

The New Colony Six performed at a 1987 Reunion show at Chicago’s Park West the “Colony” has been one of the nations favorite acts at a variety of events as well as those GREAT SUMMER FESTS ever since. Today, Ray Graffia stills play along with Bruce Mattey / Vocal & Guitar RickBarr Drums Gary Greenman / Keyboards Bill Szostek /Bass & Vocal Greg Favata / Guitar & Vocal.