Grand Power

By Caryl Clem:

As indispensable as a backup flashlight battery

When life darkens, ahead difficult navigation

Love and wisdom shine in body form

Action centered supporting family

A search light offering a brighter platform.

Transportation to school

Bedtime requests, tuck in stories

Searching birthday gift “cool”.

Spend a 24/7 hour weekend monitoring children

Claiming their company, part of your vacation.

Flip any traumatic tragedy

Reversed by smiles and humor

Into a laughable comedy.

Events spun inside out

Removing personal doubt.

 

Grandparents, living source of family history

Legendary, bridging time

Discover what is mine

Building links to our ancestry

Linking past, future into a living story

Depending on your reliability.

Not important if one’s memories blur

You will always be honored for who you are.

Happy Grandparents Day

The little engine that could

I think I can….I can…I can. The values of today as well as yesteryear have not changed. Because the boys and girls are still reading the little engine that could. Some are still reading the original that was published in 1930 stressing optimism and hard work.

This was also a book that encouraged me to become a better reader. Reading was a struggle in first and second grades but it was the little engine that could that told me I could do this too. And I did…I did.

I began to think about the little engine while watching a student in my class follow the words being read out loud on his starfall iPad reading app. But this was a tale of two little engines that together, they could do it. The book talks about the  little red engine who trys and trys while a similar blue little engine helps push the cars of toys over the mountain. Other engines also pass them by.  This version focuses on true teamwork.

The student was excited about the story adding the types of childhood inflection repeating words as I did decades ago. He read it over and over in class. The same week that I noticed him become entranced in little engines, another student selected a book from the wide variety in the classroom. The original Little Engine that could.

And she did the same with the small, hard copy book. She decided to read it outloud while others listened. Later that day we had an assembly with a few members from the Kane county cougar team supporting are reading program.  Once again, one baseball player said that his favorite book was …guess what? Three times. … a charm.

So, of course, after school that same day, I went to the community library. I had saved many of my childhood favorites in a bookcase at home but not this one. There were many editions of the book as I discovered through the digital card catalog  including , a DVD, and a movie. But copies were checked out and the librarian said that it was always like that with The Little Engine That Could. Would I like The Little Engine That Could Gets a Check Up?

No, that is fine. I will just have the students read to me the copies at the school I assist,  whenever I need to be reminded of my childhood..my beginnings of academic success. Whenever I need to know,today, that I still can!

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago’s Most Popular Ghost: Resurrection Mary

As a lifer in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, I have taken many trips along the roads, Resurrection Cemetery and the Willowbrook ballroom to find Mary…no luck so far but continue to do so when I hear there may be new sightings.

Who is Resurrection Mary? Just outside Resurrection Cemetary in Justice, Illinois a few miles southwest of Chicago, Mary, a young ghostly hitchiker has been seen along Archer Avenue between the old Willowbrook Ballroom and the cemetery since the 1930s. Mary has been picked up by drivers and then suddenly disappears by the cemetery as the driver passes by. Sightings have described her as having blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing a white party dress. The first sighting of Mary was actually from Jerry Palaus asking Mary to dance and when they touched, she was so cold.

Where and when has Mary been seen? Over the years, Mary has been seen a number of times. She showed up in 1973 at the Harlows nightclub on Cicero Avenue and since recorded sightings include one in 1976, 1978, 1980, and the last being in 1989. Janet Kalal and a friend were out in October of 89 and they were out for a drive ending up at Resurrection Cemetery and claim that Mary stepped right in front of their car. They were moving and felt no bump , seeing a stream of white.  Just this year, a movie was made about Resurrection Mary.

What and who do I believe?

Ursula Bielski, a Chicago historian and lover of ghosts, met her on a bar stool at the tender age of vie, drinking a Shirly Temple at Chet’s Melody Lounge on a Wednesday morning. According to Ursula the research that connects Mary to a real person that is the most solid is that Mary is Anna Norkus who was born in Cicero in 1914.  As a young girl, Anna used her middle name Mary, because of her devotion to Blessed Mary. Anna  loved to dance and her father took her to the famous OHenry Ballroom (Willowbrook) and  on the drive home they were passing Resurrection cemetary and was in a car accident. Anna was killed.

Ursula talks more about her research of Mary She is the author of: Chicago HauntsMore Chicago HauntsGraveyards of ChicagoCreepy Chicago, and the forthcoming book, Beloved: The Lives and Afterlives of Resurrection Mary. With her husband, David Cowan, author of To Sleep with the Angels (on the tragic Our Lady of Angels school fire) and Great Chicago Fires she owns and operates Chicago Haunting’s Ghost Tours. She has been awarded as one of the top ghost tours in America and provides different tours that you may enjoy such as Gothic Chicago Tours, The Devil and the White City, and the Classic Chicago Ghost Tour that includes the site where the Eastland disaster occurred. You can visit her Web site at: www.chicagohauntings.com.

As a Downers Grove resident today, I still wander over to Justice and Willow Springs. Just last year, the Willowbrook Ball Room was destroyed by fire. However, a nonprofit foundation plans to re-build with therapeutic dance programs for seniors and the disabled including a ballroom.

I wonder if there are more ghosts than ever walking along Archer Avenue. It is a beautiful day today….I might just take another cruise.

The Haunting Begins at Home Depot

For me as a child, with the exception of a pumpkin carved for the family’s dining room table, outdoor decorations weren’t as popular in the 1960’s. Indoor Halloween parties consisted of bobbing for apples in a tub set up in the neighbors basement and, of course, orange and black streamers draped with a few occasional flying bats and maybe fake spiders. However, in the 1980s/90s, outdoor decorations were the spooky rage.

Our home for my children was decorated with unique gravestones with family friends names on them, lots of hanging spiders, flying ghosts,  a witch who slammed into a tree, a mummy, lots of pumpkin signs and scarecrows which have now became early Autumn ornamentation. My best selection of scarecrows over the years were from Good Will, handmade.

Now Halloween is bigger and better than ever with even more fall glitz and scary glamour than decades before. Strings of lights outdoors frame the trim sidings of homes and windows in orange and black. Fog machines are in motion at night and larger than life decorations, some motor activated, stand with creepy pride on your front lawn.

Halloween is just around the corner and many Americans, like me, are looking forward to decorating their homes during this spooky season. Consumers have many choices when it comes to décor, and the experts over at The Home Depot are predicting some interesting trends that will take the fright factor to a whole new level, all while keeping it fun:

  • Rise of the skeleton animals: Skeletons are more popular than ever! Add pizazz to both indoors and outdoors with ponyspider and dinosaur skeletons such as the 9ft standing skeleton T-Rex This dinosaur is perfect indoors or right out on the front lawn. Make a statement and create your own skeleton family – adding more animals will be sure to give a friendly scare to your guests and trick-or-treaters–many options feature motion-activation and LED lights.  
  • Larger than life spook-factor: Size matters for Halloween décor, and trick-or-treaters will love walking to your house when they see a huge 9ft Gargantuan Spider, a 16ft Colossal Serpent that that will give your entire neighborhood a fright or the Motorcycle Riding Reaper.
  • Themed decorating: Experts predict simple decorating to be a trend for Halloween this year and The Home Depot category experts have categorized product into themes – scary skeletonscreepy cemeterywicked witcheshaunted housemonsters & zombies – to make it easier than ever to deliver the fright both inside and out of the home. Add eerie fog to your yard with the Fog Tube Accessory Kit hooked up to your fog machine.

If you opt to keep things even more simple, but don’t want to lose out on the “WOW” factor, Halloween lighting decor is easier and spookier than ever with the new WindowsFX Plus Projector exclusively from The Home Depot.

  • Why is it a top pick? The Window FX Plus Projector is the newest and easiest way to decorate any home for Halloween and beyond.
  • How it works: Simply hang the screen, position the projector at the window, select a video and press play to enjoy your fun-filled motion pictures. Animated videos will be seen from outside the home. And the new Plus version also has a HDMI port, so consumers can use the projector with wireless streaming media devices for a bigger and better outdoor movie night and even a football viewing party!
  • Great extras: Remote control , tripod stand and 12 pre-loaded videos

For more information visit http://www.homedepot.com/

What Baby Boomers didn’t know

Those over 60 were taught that we would retire with a substantial savings from a company we had worked for all of our adult lives.

Unfortunately, our parents lied to us.

They did not teach us how to jump from one job to the next and still be able to hobble to the workplace at the tender age of 72.

They didn’t teach us about the healthcare market; astronomical costs to maintain our health. They went from insurance on the job that the company paid for, after decades of working for the same company and retired directly into Medicare.

They did not teach us that we would be competing with youth of all ages and that are experience and wisdom didn’t mean quite the same as it did for them in the workplace

They also did not tell us that people would be promoted whether they were qualified or not.

They taught us about establishing college funds for our own children but forgot to tell us how much we needed to send our kids to school.

They did not tell us that our tri-level home or two-story condo would cause havoc on the kneecaps and that a steady banister on stairs would actually be useful.

They did not teach us to celebrate our golden anniversaries and birthdays with a designated driver. In fact, they left out the part that one alcoholic beverage would knock us out and caffeine would keep us up all night.

They did not teach us organization tips like putting our keys in the same spot every day so we didn’t have to rely on failing memory to find them.

They did not show us the proper way to go down a playground slide with our grandkids.

Unfortunately, in their timeline, there was no way to teach us about internet violence, terrorism,  social media political back-stabbing, online buying subject to constant security checks and threats.

We were taught to never speak in public about politics or religion.

We were taught decorum and respect.

We were taught to trust.

They didn’t tell us that we would hate crowds, loud music, traffic jams and driving in bad weather. They didn’t let us know that we would be fearful driving in blizzards and that is why their older counterparts moved to warmer climates. Now we know!

They didn’t tell us that we would be screaming out 1973 after a song recorded 40 years ago had been played. Nor did they admit that 40 years ago would seem like yesterday.

They didn’t tell us about constant maintenance and more maintenance of the mind, body and spirit. And they didn’t tell us about the exhaustion that came with all that constant maintenance as well as a waistline that would continue to bloom regardless of what we did to decrease it.

Finally, they did not teach us how we should take care of them. They never wanted to go there and neither did we.

What We Do Have

When I take the time to look back and remember, my aunt used to always tell me that it was hell to get old. I was just too ignorant to listen. Why should we, old age was incomprehensible and would never happen to us. Surprise!

They didn’t say surprise when we started to falter or that, ultimately, old age would sneak up on us and be filled with all sorts of surprises.

It all depended on how you looked at it.

For me, however, they did give me one quality of life that is timeless and I intend to keep regardless of the aging factor and that is a sense of humor!

Hopefully, the rest of you can laugh at yourselves as the gifts of aging, keep on giving. 

And the love we shared in our youth for many is stronger in memory than ever before.

Actually, those are the healthiest resources we have!

The Kitty Book

I found it and my heart skipped a beat….the cover was torn but thank God it had not been discarded after 50 years of ownership. Because there was very little I knew about her and my introduction was acknowledged by the book. As I gently leafed through the yellowed pages, the book brought back the same smiles and favorites pictures; the same colors that moved me to a different level.  Contained in a brown leather cover with gold letters, it was something I always asked for after arriving at my Aunts for Sunday dinner.

I felt closer to her as a child. She had passed away when I was a baby. The pages of her book lined with similar composition paper that I used to create my own school assignments of passion. Just like Grandma.  The Kitty Book, Grandmas scrapbook, was designed for me before she passed away and her favorite pet graced the pages; cats of all dimension and domestication. Cats climbing out of boxes from old newspapers, cut out cats small and large gracing a scattered page, cats in color from birthday, Valentine’s Day and postcards, and cats playing with mice. We had Tiger Tex and Wildcat Whitney ready for a fight and the lonely bulldog with the majestic Persian.

Everything you ever wanted to learn about cats is in the Kitty Book. And just about everything you wanted to learn about Grandma. She was deliberate, creative and could neatly package a book of love and affection.  She loved cats and in later years, unbeknownst to her inspiration, I owned two cats of my own.  That was just the start of her memories which continued on in later years, finding her scrapbook from her own childhood in the early 1900’s filled with calling cards of friends and beautifully embossed  cards presented to Lottie Emerson; her rewards of merit.

My grandmother was an accomplished pianist and played the organ/piano at church in a small town in Central Illinoia.  I, too, studied piano and won awards for my talent.  The next step of my discovery was found in a ledger with one article after another from a local newspaper outside of Kankakee. Voice of the People was written by my Grandma so much like my own column where we both talk about our yesterdays marked by our today’s or influences exerted in the wrong direction.

While I have published non-fiction essays on inspiration and nostalgia, she and I talk together of the value of a smile, snap judgments, the art of thinking and what constitutes greatness.  Though we are really not carbon copies, I do think talent may just be in the genes.  And I become more amazed at the bond as I study her accomplishments further.

Finally, I learn through a newspaper article that one of her stories had been published in the Yearbook of Public Opinion entitled, Gable, Whiskers and Milksops. The volume consisted of quotations from letters written by the readers of newspapers and magazines in the United States, published somewhere between 1937 and 1938.  So I searched and searched again.  No luck.  But as the Internet and its sources became more advanced,We, The People, The Year book of Public Opinion was found and only one copy of its kind.

Strangely enough, I could afford the purchase.

Lottie M Emerson’s review of Clark Gable’s portrayal of Charles Parnell, the famous Irish politician in the 1937 biographical film graced the pages. Many thought it was Gables worst performance. Grandma thought it was the best she had ever seen in all her career.  Ultimately, Grandma was not afraid of expressing her honesty in the public eye.

Neither was I.