Highlights for children

A husband and wife team began a magazine in 1946 to give children Fun with a purpose(their tagline). And it worked giving children the encouragement to learn in all different avenues that included stories, art work, puzzles, games and for me as a child, finding the hidden picture. It took me awhile learn to read, write and comprehend but I could not take my eyes off the picture page whether I checked it out at school or in a doctor’s office where Highlights were found for many Baby Boomers. Highlights encouraged to me read and now celebrating 75 years, Highlights has a book that is collection of just hidden pictures. I have placed my order.

Founder Garry Meyers and his wife were teachers of illiterate soldiers and became nationally known in education for a column called Parent Problems and co-authored many books before starting Highlights. There first copies only sold approximately 20,000 copies in 1995 they sold over 2 million. Highlights circulation numbers declined by 2015, and the magazine announced that it would move some content onto tablets and mobile devices with the help of San Francisco startup, Fingerprint Digital, led by former LeapFrog Enterprises executive Nancy MacIntyre. The magazine launched a new mobile app Highlights Every Day, in April 2017.

Highlights today offers clubs and a variety of magazines including Highlights Magazine ages 6-12, High Five Magazine which focuses on pre-school ages 2-6 and Hello Magazine. With new discoveries in every issue, HELLO magazine is made for babies and toddlers. Durable, wipe-clean pages and stitched binding means they’ll enjoy it all month. They offer a great collection of picture, puzzle, arts and craft, sticker and game books for all ages besides the magazine as well great gift bundles. It’s never too early to inspire a love of reading!

Celebrating 70 years of Colorforms

When assisting in kindergarten in past years, the kids would share their version of colorforms with me knowing it was my favorite game to play as a child myself. But just last week I walked into a kids store and there they were…the original colorforms…dressing up for the weather just like when I was kid in the 1960’s but modernized. I also remember dressing up Tammy, the Beatles in 1964 and for the boys they gravitated to Batman and Scooby Do. In the 1990’s, my son enjoyed Colorfoms when he wanted to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Curious George. Colorforms is easy with shapes cut from vinyl and can cling to a smooth background making your own special design. Colorforms is one of the most loved and respected toys beginning with the couple Harry and Patricia Kislevitz in 1951.

The first Colorforms® set was hand-cut: a thimble, a bottle, and a medicine container top were just some of the shapes that would become the foundation of the very first Colorforms set, designed by Patricia, and now housed in the Museum of Modern Art in its permanent collection. Colorforms® first launched through FAO Schwarz.  Colorforms first launched through FAO Schwarz and in 1957 Popeye became the first licensed cartoon character to be featured in a Colorforms set.

In the 2000’s, though Internet use boomed, Colorforms came alive with Harry Potter, Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer and the Hungry Caterpillar. In 2011, Time magazine awarded Colorforms as the toy of all time. In 2014, Out of the Blue Enterprise acquired Colorforms. Billions of sets have been sold and Colorforms continues to make the best plastic creative toys and I continue to gravitate towards any student who is playing with a set. I can’t wait to play.

Service Merchandise

On a vacation break watching Buzzer TV, I happened to watch a few of the Concentration Game Shows with Alex Trebek in the 1980’s and you could win a beautiful diamond necklace from Service Merchandise. I did not know diamonds where part of their catalog showroom. Lucille Ball was a regular advertising the jewelry from Service Merchandise on commercials; including many other stars. The Chicagoland area had 24 stores. My first experience was at Lakehurst Mall in Waukegan in the 1980’s where I bought a phone answering machine! They were located in Orland, Berwyn, Deerfield to name just a few. Originally opening in 1934 as a small five and dime then became a catalogue showroom 1960 in Nashville founded by Harry and Mary Zimmerman. Service Merchandise was also a prominent sponsor of Wheel of Fortune.

In the mid 1990s, the hand-filled paper forms were replaced with barcoded pull tags placed on/near each item in the showroom. For non-jewelry orders, customers would enter the showroom and receive a carbon-paper order form and clipboard to record the catalog numbers of desired items The jewelry department was in the center of the store operating on a first come basis. Items were displayed in working order in the showroom, allowing customers to test products as they shopped. 

This was changed in the late 1980’s with computer kiosks and changed again in the 1990’s where there was touch screen serives. However, a recession would slow business even further. Places like Circuit City and Best Buy began to take over as well discount options which included Walmart andTarget.

They also tried drive through windows but that didn’t work finally closing the largest catalog retail empire in 2001 due to bankruptcy and disappearing catalog business. It had reached its peak in 1994 with over 4 billion in sales.

Piano lessons

Many Baby Boomer children began with piano lessons building levels of musical accomplishment. Some stopped early on though I did continue through the years and taught individual lessons as an adult. My first teacher was Ms. Vera and it was all about the infamous John Thompson beginning with Teaching Little Fingers to Play. I didn’t like it much… all I remember was playing chords. My second teacher, since Vera retired, was Ms Frank, also known as Corinne Hepburn, when I was 13 and that is when I took off. I had tiny hands but she made everything possible and told me I had talent. She was fun and excellent pianist herself. Others may know her! She taught for 70 years, starting at her studio in Roseland, southeast Chicago neighborhood at the Calumet Conservatory of Music above the Roseland theatre, 40 years at Melody Mart in Homewood and finally in Mt Greenwood.

John Sylvanus Thompson was an American pianist, composer, and educator born in 1889 and lived until 1963. His piano methodsModern Course for the Piano, Teaching Little Fingers to Play (the first part of the Modern Course), Adult Piano Course and Easiest Piano Course are published by the Willis Music Company. According to many teachers, the legendary Modern Course series provides a clear and complete foundation in the study of the piano that enables the student to think and feel musically. It’s known as the method for quick, dedicated learners. The books are still for sale throughout the internet.

I have several John Thompson books from the 1960’s but currently Etsy has Teaching Little Fingers to Play (the picture above) published in the 1950’s for 72.00 dollars. I will keep mine in good condition and my mother’s books. John W. Schaum was another popular teacher and composer Bachelor of Music degree from Marquette University in 1931, a Bachelor of Music Education degree from University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University in 1934 in Evanston, IL.

In Chicago, Forster Music Publisher, Inc. was a major American publisher of popular songs founded in 1916 by Fred John Adam Forster (1878–1956) and was located on Wabash Ave and according to sources, is still in business located at 5309 W Devon Ave # 1.

Calumet Conservatory of Music in Roseland is no longer there but Melody Mart was founded in 1956, and still serves the local community’s needs for music products, lessons, repairs and instrument rentals located on Dixie Highway.

Ravinia Festival

Every type of music can be seen and heard representing the most celebrated, diverse music festival; the oldest in the United States opening in 1904. Ravinia, for me, brings memories of first seeing the Chicago Symphony orchestra; a mesmerizing experience for a young Baby boomer girl with her family. For my grandmother, it was known for the best opera in the 1920’s. For a dear friend, it was Earth, Wind and Fire. Born and raised in Chicago, my Aunt remembered the trains that would stop at the entrance. Trains still stop at Ravinia’s historic entrance today, serviced by the Metra Union Pacific North line, making it the only private train stop left in Illinois.

When it was originally built, besides including an amusement park, Ravinia offered a Casino, Grandstand, Music Pavilion, and a Theater which showed live performances as well as motion pictures. From 1919 through 1931, Ravinia was known as the “summer opera capital of the world and after the Great Depression, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra became a mainstay and still performs today. For five decades, Ravinia has made music more accessible through fine education programs now called Reach Teach Play® so attending student orchestra performances is not uncommon.

Today Ravinia operates as a self-owned nonprofit—the Ravinia Festival Association—still overseen by a volunteer board of business and community leaders, but now managed by President & CEO Jeffrey P. Haydon. The park and Pavilion are available for limiting seating this year. You can still bring your own food for picnics. A non-for profit festival shop is open for gifts and souvenirs. Ravinia Market, located in one huge indoor/outdoor dining pavilion, features five mini restaurants serving burgers, paninis, tacos, pizza, and barbeque. Dining options are run by Levy Restaurants (Spiaggia, River Roast, Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap).

Ravinia is hiring for all positions this summer including front and back-of-house positions for food operations.

Poplar Creek/Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

It was at Poplar Creek that I saw Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band on July 6th in 1991. Our seats were located in the covered pavilion and were comfortable; the band easy to see and hear. Actually it was a great night and I am not the best at large, outdoor scenarios. The theatre opened in 1980 and closed in 1994. It consisted of a covered pavilion and grass seating area, and had a capacity of 25,202 people: 7,202 reserved seats and 18,000 lawn seats. John Denver was the first to perform along with great bands such as James Taylor, Chicago, and Jefferson Starship.

Poplar Creek began to face declining audiences even though it was suppose to be used for theatre productions, graduations and other shows. World Music Theatre was opened in 1990 in Tinley Park and shows declined even further at Poplar Creek. Sears acquired the property and now the Sears Centre opened right near the former Poplar Creek. At World Music Theatre, Cher was the first performer and I saw Garth Brooks on August 28th 1992. Friends were drunk during that concert and I did not enjoy like my experience at Poplar Creek.

Now called Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, it is one of the largest music venues in the Chicago area, with a capacity of up to 28,000 spectators: 11,000 reserved seats and 17,000 lawn seats. It is a venue pulling fans from the city of Chicago, as well as surrounding suburbs and neighboring states and had over 1,500 concerts.

Believe it or not, many concert ticket stubs from Baby Boomer days are on sale at Ebay. For those into collectable items, ticket stubs are a valuable commodity. Ticket collecting for sports fans is an avid interest and tickets can sell for hundreds of dollars.

Chicken Soup of the Soul: Navigating Eldercare and Dementia

I did not even know when I would begin reading the book of 101 true stories, including one of my own, describing the written contributions of those who have experienced dementia and eldercare in some way or another. Many writers are family detailing the devastating effects of illness through caretaking. I didn’t know if I wanted to experience the depression that stories like these usually create. I was on vacation! But this week, I began to read and the first narrative was absolutely beautiful; eloquently comparing the decline of a mother to Alzheimer’s like an Autumn tree. From that story on, I could not put this book down and was truly honored to become a member of the Chicken Soup of the Soul family.

Chicken Soup of the Soul shares some amazing stories of hours, days, years, and sometimes a lifetime, of navigating the world of eldercare and dementia. Stories talk about how eldercare can be like a disconnecting phone line but not steal one’s spirit. They share their experience of that last, gleaming smile of a loved one. Stories relate how choices of new places are never easy but the impressive communities of assisted living are available.

Some stories help us empathize that special walk down memory lane. They talk of the loss of one parent while the other completely declines in health and it takes a village of caregivers to help. How simple notebooks, coloring books, special games, phones or IPads have made a difference. Stories share the beauty of music, projects created and, ultimately, reinventing purpose. Humor is related in stories about missing teeth and snoring. Many stories just focus on having a good day and embracing love.

But, most important, they really inspire support and hope in helping readers who may feel alone while empowering them in their role as a caregiver. Chicken Soup of the Soul: Navigating Eldercare and Dementia is currently available for purchase at a variety of retailers. Check out there website for more information. I have spent many years as a Chicken Soup of the Soul reader and since there beginnings, they have published over 250 books. However, I had forgotten their motto, Changing Your World One Story At Time…..that they have truly done…once again.

Dairy Queen

By Caryl Clem

Hot summer days or nights call for a trip to Dairy Queen for the famous “concrete” served flipping bottoms side up to prove thickness. A tradition started when a customer kept challenging Ted Drewers to make his shakes thicker.  In 1959, Ted tipped the container upside down to prove the ultimate thickness had been reached. Some places will not charge for these if this trick is forgotten. When an Oreo cookie was crushed into a Blizzard in 1985, a legend was born. Sales climbed to over 175 million in the first year.  A farmer, J. F. McCullough and his son perfected the soft serve creation in 1938 now the largest seller of soft serve products worldwide.

In Kankakee, Sherb Noble, owner of a small ice cream shop agreed to execute a sample run of their product to gauge popularity. On a steamy August afternoon the ploy, “All You can eat for 10 cents “brought so many eager customers storming into the small shop, Noble was afraid of crowd damage. After surviving the 1,600 customers, Noble made plans to sell this new product.  Later a freezer was found made by Harry Otis that poured the soft serve treat efficiently.  J.f. McCullough has been quoted for saying, “the cow is the queen of the dairy business.” thus the name “Dairy Queen”.  In 1940, Noble opened the first Dairy Queen store in Joliet.

The first logo for Dairy Queen was a Dutch girl with pigtails.  Next logo, Dennis the Menace reigned for over 20 years until he was considered outdated to be retired in 2002.  The most important feature, the menu. This year the Dreamsicle Dipped Cone came back on the 2021 Spring menu, 3 new shake flavors, Choco Hazelnut Chip Shake, Mint Chip Shake, Raspberry Chip shake, Tropical Lemonade Twisty Misty Slush  (mango, lemon lime and lemonade) plus they reinvented the  1955 Dilly Bar  option that is gluten and dairy free. An array of soft serve favorites and (charcoal grilled food by Brazier’s at many locations will satisfy hunger and your sweet tooth.

Summertime food good for you and others because Dairy Queen’s charitable work is  done through International Dairy Queen Corporation which donates to Children’s Miracle Network. In the over 5,000 stores there are franchises that are independent. I am ready to try the new Tropical Lemonade Twisty Misty Slushy.

Dog N Suds

By Caryl Clem

The lure of extra money propelled 2 university music professors Don Hamacher and Jim Griggs to open a stand in 1953.  Every college campus offered cheap food hotspots; University Of Illinois in Champaign was no exception. A nothing fancy, DogNSuds Drive In, serving dogs and root beer evolved into a 68 year old company.  How?  Legendary DogNSuds was a lucky merger between a satisfied older lady customer offering cash support and an unforgettable logo. Read on for the real story……

“ Brother, what was your most memorable experience?”  He sat back in his chair, his eyes brightening.   He started, “This is a story not in print but true. I played a part in the DogNSuds logo formation.  A contest was held, the winner would be the emblem for Don and Jim’s growing company venture. Professors I knew.  My fraternity roommate drew the final draft of our combined ideas.   First, an animal Americans’ love had to be selected.  Almost in unison, several young men shouted,” A Dog” !  Perfect connection to hot dogs on the menu. Time debating on what action the dog would do. No agreement until a collection of ideas resulted in a logical conclusion, a dog carrying a tray of food.  My roommate and I exchanged ideas drawing the image, The Winner !.  The intensity of team spirit that night I will never forget.”

The first logo, Disney felt infringed on their characters, so the dog went through a face lift.  During the age of muscle cars, a trip to the drive in was an event showing off your vehicle . The Ingleside DogNSuds  started the practice of “Saturday Night Cruising”.  A magazine commented that by the 1960’s if the town had a stoplight, it had a Dog N Suds. Beginning in 1963, 2 locations still open today are: Richmond, IL. that remains a small family run business  and Grayslake , IL .under new management of the 5th owner.

After declining  sales during the 80’s DogNSuds was sold to Van Dame company in 1991 ; eventually all rights  went  to the current company TK&C’s LLC. The joy taking a trip to one of those Drive Ins will never fade for me. Celebrating summer, cruising, munching  on a Coney dog while sipping frothy stick to your lips root beer. Memories carried in the heat of a summer breeze. Take a trip back in time by reading a book by one of the Cofounders, Don Hamacher: The Journey Through The Life Of Don Hamacher released in 2012.

The amazing life of Miss Frances

I don’t remember her since I was only about 3 or 4 but my Mother, who died the same year in 2001, did not like her because she always told the children on television to run and find their mother. And that is what I did, supposedly, every time I watched her. Miss Frances would then discuss with Moms what supplies were needed for projects. Miss Frances was the host of the children’s television program Ding Dong School, seen weekday mornings on the NBC network in the 1950s and nationally syndicated between 1959 and 1965. Each began with the ringing of a handbell. Miss Frances Horwith was extremely bright and grew up in Ohio skipping many grades because of her intelligence and love of academics.

She came to Chicago and earned her Bachelors degree from the University of Chicago in 1929. She taught first grade from 1929-1932 at a school in Evanston. According to sources, she then became the supervisor of the Works Progress Administration‘s nursery schools in Chicago until 1935. She earned a Masters at Columbia University, directed junior kindergartens and became Dean of education at Pestalozzi-Fröbel Haus Teachers College. Finally, she earned a doctorate at Northwestern and was in variety positions as a Chicago school counselor positions and taught at Roosevelt University.

Ding Dong School was a half hour children’s TV show which began in Chicago in 1952 and the first pre-school series before Romper Room by one year. Just after the show aired for the first time, the station received 150 phone calls praising the show. She was the only one on air admired by Fred Roger and activities could range from modeling clay to finger-painting. She had over a million viewers and won the Peabody Award but the show was cancelled because she refused to commercialize childrens education.

She was the author of over 25 children’s books and had moved to Arizona since her husband was having health issues in the 1970’s A month before her death, Horwich was inducted into the Silver Circle of the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of the Television Arts and Sciences on June 2, 2001. She died of congestive heart failure at the age of 94.