Some photography over the years, as well as vintage photos.
I spotted a photo in the “Snapshots” section under “Fawned Memories” with this caption and thought I should take my own photos (July 8, 2023).
Children drink from the David Wallach Memorial Fountain in 1955. When Wallach died in 1894, he left $5,000 for a fountain near the lake to supply water for “man and beast.” Sculptors Elisabeth Haseltine Hibbard and Frederick Cleveland Hibbard collaborated on the fountain, installed at the 55th Street entrance to Promontory Point in 1939. Elisabeth modeled the bronze fawn after a doe at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Her husband created the marble fountain, which includes a well in its base with water for pets and wildlife. Both had been students of Lorado Taft, who created the Fountain of Time sculpture on the Midway and taught at UChicago. Elisabeth also taught at the University from 1943 to 1950.University of Chicago Magazine, Summer 2022
The windy, rainy day overall put me in an autumn mood, and I thought I’d take video of Lake Michigan’s wave action. Instead, I was struck by this unexpected rainbow — the sun wasn’t out.
After months of abnormally dry to severe drought conditions, Chicago had a near record “rainfall event” the weekend of July 1–2, especially on Sunday.
To me, it seemed like a normal rain, but I don’t have a personal basement to worry about. I gave up any thought of outdoor activities and stuck to reading, TV, etc. I figured I’d be grateful if this rain, plus a few others that preceded it, would put a dent in the severe drought conditions.
As of July 11, Chicago was still abnormally dry, but look at the difference.
June 10, 2023:
Same area, July 9, 2023, a little less than a month later:
When I noticed the orange light on my weather radio flashing the evening of July 12, I was hoping for beach hazards or at worst a flash flood watch, but, no, it was a tornado watch. As the sky got darker, it flipped to the red light — tornado warning. Not long after that, the sirens started — an eerie sound in the eerie premature twilight.
Over the next hour or so I saw several reports of tornadoes, starting with Summit in the southwest suburbs. Then it seemed like they were everywhere — southwest, west, north.
The sky brightened for a moment, then darkened, then brightened again just as another brief deluge descended. I looked — yes, there was a rainbow (and a very faint second mirror image rainbow). It faded, then reappeared, or maybe it was a second one in a similar spot. The second, with a faint mirror image like the first, was the full arch, which I couldn’t capture from my window.
It faded as blue sky appeared to the east, then pink from the setting sun tinged the clouds that had piled up.
On a 2013 visit to Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, I came across this gem at a crossroads near the Pomona Natural Bridge. Finding the photos again, I was curious about what this building had been and when it closed for good.
It’s the Pomona General Store, and even the New York Times published an article about it.
At an Illinois Country Store, Nostalgia Sells Best
July 15, 1987
The store was built in 1876 when Pomona, about 15 miles southwest of Carbondale near the southern tip of Illinois, was a railroad town with more than 500 residents and a shipping point for produce.
The original wooden store burned down in 1915. A rebuilt store burned in 1917, and a brick store was built the same year to replace it.
I dug around newspapers.com and found a little of the store’s most recent history starting with the 1970s, when media mentions picked up. Over the next couple of decades, the store changed hands a few times. It also attracted attention as a relic — an old-school general store in an era of big box stores. For years it seemed to be a center of Pomona community. Even after it closed, its location was used for community events like bake sales.
A few people have mentioned surprise the gas pump was in place (as of 2013) as they are “very collectible.” I found a photo from 2022 that shows the pump still there. Perhaps the Pomona community keeps a watchful eye on it.
The store must have closed between 2000 and 2002. Over the next decade or so, it deteriorated more than I would have expected. I’m reminded of what I saw of the TV series “Life After People,” which speculated how plants, wildlife, and other forces would eat away at the infrastructure and buildings humans have wrought after they were no longer maintained.
I imagine someday in Pomona the ivy will finally take over the store, and time will erase the memories.
May 8, 2022
When I first visited the Dan Ryan Woods aqueducts in autumn, they were dry, so I wanted to go back in spring when there was more likely to be water. According to the Forest Preserves of Cook County, “The limestone aqueducts at Dan Ryan Woods were constructed by the CCC to prevent water from washing away soil on the steep ridges. Visitors can still walk alongside the aqueducts as they wind their way through the woods south of 87th St.” The aqueducts are one of my favorite things in Chicago.
I’m not sure whether I’ve seen sea smoke in December before, but it is close to January. With bonus of Jack Frost on the window.
Sea smoke is essentially just fog above water, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel. The occurrence of sea smoke is similar to the steam that appears over a boiling pot of water or a hot bath.
“It happens when the air mass is so cold it makes the water steam like a pot on a stove would,” Samuhel said. Sea smoke is also sometimes referred to as arctic sea smoke, frost smoke, steam fog or sea fog.
In order for sea smoke to occur, the air has to be very cold and the water has to be comparatively warm. As a light wind of cold air sweeps in, it cools the warm air immediately above the water, which makes the air dip below the dew point. The air is only able to hold so much moisture before it condenses into fog, or sea smoke.
Update: As of October 30, 2022, I’d seen all of the Human+Nature sculptures by Daniel Popper at Morton Arboretum.
October 8, 2022
Autumn Saturday afternoon promenade around Promontory Point. But first the view on Friday that drew me outdoors on Saturday despite the persnickety and painful nerve.
The leaves were colorful in person under a beautiful autumn sun. This year the color snuck up on me, and I don’t know how long it will last.
Not long ago I found a message in Facebook Messenger I hadn’t noticed earlier because it was from a stranger. He’d sent a screenshot of a photo, asking if it was mine and where it had been taken.
It was my photo, so I sent back a screenshot from Apple Maps based on the location data, which included “Old Hickory Lanes.” Later I found out there is a bowling alley next to the subject of this post, a house fondly known as “Old Hickory [Tavern],” or now more formally as F. W. Knox Villa.
The question roused my curiosity. Located in downtown Coudersport, Pennsylvania, Old Hickory when I photographed it in May 2015 was a moldering shell of a building whose open windows invited pigeons and no doubt bats in to roost. Fixed up some, but not too much, it would have been the perfect setting for a 1960s horror film. But you could imagine how grand it must have been in its late 1800s prime. It was a shame to see it slowly rotting.
I looked up Old Hickory (thank you, internet) and found out it had been purchased and is being slowly restored. The new owner commented people are disappointed to learn Old Hickory is not on a big lot in the countryside. On one side, it bumps up against the bowling alley, while the other is separated by a bit of yard from the Allegheny River, which in Coudersport looks like a canal.
The new owner mentioned a surprising lack of photos to help guide the interior restoration, then said someone sent a box of interior photos, a treasure trove. It sounds like the owner wants it to look as much like it did in its heyday vs. a modern makeover.
I don’t know what the owner’s intention is. Someone speculated it could become a bed and breakfast, which would draw me back to Coudersport (close to Cherry Springs State Park, an International Dark Sky Park). Whatever Old Hickory will be used for, finally the local pigeons and bats have had to move on.