If these men were alive today, wouldn’t they be amazed?16 Apr 1973, Mon The Buffalo News (Buffalo, New York) Newspapers.com
From a Facebook post, snow totals from the recent storm in western New York, aka the Niagara Frontier. Hamburg is my hometown.
This is from the June 7, 1943, edition of the Altoona Tribune (Pennsylvania).07 Jun 1943, Mon Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania) Newspapers.com
I posted the photo below the other day and sent a Flickr link to to firehydrant.org, which accepts photos of fire hydrants.
The fire hydrant is a necessity, not a relic, but this one on the University of Chicago campus near the anatomy building is certainly vintage. I did some poking around and found a website dedicated to the fire hydrant and its history.
The next morning I received this response from firehydrant.org volunteer Jim Q. I wondered where the hose would attach!
That’s an indicator post that controls a valve for an automatic sprinkler system. Indicator posts are used because it would be easy to shut a valve during sprinkler maintenance and then forget to open it. The indicator post eliminates all doubt as it displays OPEN or SHUT.
Interesting photo because I didn’t know the Eddy name was still in use in 1962 for indicator posts. Eddy Valve made fire hydrants. After the company was bought out their fire hydrant design continued and is still sold today by Clow Valve.
There’s more here about indicator posts.
When I came to Chicago in 1979 (gulp!), you could still find a newsstand here and there. The most prominent, outside the Chicago Cultural Center at Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, was the first and last thing commuters saw at street level as they left and returned to the Illinois Central Railroad’s Randolph Street Station — the perfect place to pick up a paper or magazine for the train ride home.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the newsstand predated the 1929 stock market crash. At one point it was owned by “King of the Newsstands” Robert Katzman, a fellow Hyde Parker who also owned a busy newsstand at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue.
Richard J. Daley, “da Mare,” didn’t like newsstands, claiming many (most?) were dilapidated and didn’t fit in with his beautification plans for Chicago. It also sounds like he may have had the support of one particularly vocal citizen obsessed with getting rid of newsstands. In the end, like Meigs Field, they had to be destroyed.
By then, the newsstand at Randolph and Michigan, Rick’s News, was owned by Rick Graff, who’d bought it in 1984 when he would have been about 22 years old. (That makes Graff one year younger than me — and here I would have thought a newsstand owner would have been some crochety older man, the street equivalent of Mike Royko.) It’s hard to conceive of a young man investing in a newsstand in the 1980s.
From the Chicago Tribune, dated June 12, 1992 (when I would have been 30):
There are about 355 newsstands in the city. The city put final notices to apply for permits on 155 of the stands, and 85 of them did not respond. Those 85 are to be demolished.
. . .
Although the city began its work on the South Side, the most publicized case involves Rick’s News, on the corner of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue, in front of the Chicago Public Library’s Cultural Center. Rick`s, which is owned by Rick Graff, is not one of the first 85 targeted, but the stand is expected to be demolished.
A newsstand has been at the corner for the past 80 years, but General Services Commissioner Benjamin Reyes and other Daley officials have made it clear that they want it removed.
Also from the Chicago Tribune, dated May 23, 1994:
OK. So City Hall won.
And Richard Graff, owner of the oddly charming newsstand on Randolph Street outside the Chicago Cultural Center, lost.
The long-running legal fight between Graff and Mayor Richard Daley’s administration ended when the U.S. Supreme Court refused on May 16 to hear Graff’s appeal of a lower court ruling that the city can force him to close his business.
Never mind that a newsstand has been at that location on Randolph for at least 70 years. Never mind that Graff paid $50,000 to buy the business in 1984. Never mind that he has a steady clientele for his magazines and comic books, not to mention dozens of passersby who pat his friendly Alaskan malamute-the one usually found wearing sunglasses.
. . .
Even people who have never spent a dime there can see that it is an eccentric little piece of a wonderfully eccentric city. Rick’s News belongs in that spot.
Finally, from June 13, 1994:
Crews tore down the stand Sunday afternoon, marking the last chapter in a four-year legal battle between the city and newsstand owner Richard Graff, 32.
. . .
“Do you believe it?” a passer-by muttered as he stared at the spot Rick’s no longer occupied. “This was a landmark.”
For 26 years, people new to Chicago have never browsed Rick’s News or experienced this piece of Chicago’s eccentric history.
Even if you’ve never seen a newsstand in person, you may have spotted them in vintage movies or TV shows, or in movies or TV shows set in the early to mid 1900s. One of my favorites is in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “The Big Goodbye.” Jean-Luc Picard, as his favorite hard-boiled private eye, Dixon Hill, didn’t think to bring money to pay “Mac,” the newsstand vendor. “Mac” says Dix can catch him next time. No wonder newsstands in Chicago were dilapidated! No cash for upkeep!
According to Yelp! there are a few newsstands left are, including this highly rated one. It was out of Daley’s reach in Evanston, north of Chicago, and looks more like a store than a newsstand.
Here’s a review from March 2020:
I wish we could clone Chicago-Main Newsstand and put them all over the US because newsstands like this simply don’t exist anymore. They’re a dime a dozen in Europe but stateside if you want a Financial Times or Italian Vogue you need to subscribe. OR, you could go to Chicago-Main and get just about any magazine your heart could desire. Sports, travel, lifestyle, art, home decor, fashion, auto, literature, wedding, parenting, pet, food, architecture, naked people, crossword puzzles, sudoku, atlases, Chicago history, and a great newspaper selection. Cigarettes, candy, gum, and some greeting cards, too.
I’m glad it’s around. Where else could you get one of those elusive out of town papers?
Marietta Schirf was my dad’s youngest sister. He said he didn’t know how she snuck into the Armed Forces because he was sure she didn’t meet the minimum height requirement.
At a 1980s July 4th concert on Capitol Hill, E. G. Marshall officiating, veterans by branch were asked to stand up. When the turn came for the Air Force, she stood and whooped, to the surprise of our neighbors on the grass. I asked why Air Force, and she answered she’d been in the Army Air Corps. That’s the first I’d heard that.
Aunt Marietta died in the mid-90s. How she would have appreciated the resources of the internet. She once took me to the Library of Congress to look up articles on sugalite.
I will have to look up Front and Center. On the internet.
It was 36 years ago today . . . wait, that sounds like a Beatles song. Anyway, here I am, young, hope
lessful, and unemployed. When I woke up on Monday, June 13, it was the first time in my life I had nowhere to go. Adrift. Typical because planning isn’t my forte, but it wasn’t a good feeling. I was too burned out and poor for graduate school to be an option.
After spending part of the summer selling Chicago City Ballet tickets by phone (really), I found a full-time job starting in late September through the classifieds in the Chicago Tribune (really).
One job I interviewed for that I didn’t get — a writer/editor for a dietitian association (if I remember correctly). Why didn’t I get it? I couldn’t type fast enough.
I can’t say we took any great American road trips when I was a child — mostly 200-mile jaunts to visit family in the Altoona area of Pennsylvania or rare shorter ones to local attractions like Niagara Falls or Letchworth State Park. The first car I remember was a powder blue Ford Falcon. With Virgil and me in the back seat picking on each other and wondering “Are we there yet?” after 25 or 50 miles, time and money may not have been the only reason we didn’t travel far or often.
Later, my dad bought a used van with two back seats. This was such a novelty that kids stopped by to pile in. All that room! Of course it was bare bones, a working man’s van, with none of the comforts of today’s SUVs and minivans, like DVD players or even — gasp! — cup holders. We “roughed it” back in those days with tap water or water from a roadside spring in Pennsylvania kept in a jug. We’d have to pull over to drink it. And we didn’t know about “hydration,” only thirst.
We had only an over-the-air radio — no Sirius, no subscription services tailored to our tastes. You might find yourself in a part of the country with only bland pop and country & western. Our series of bare-bones vehicles didn’t have 8-track tape decks or CB radios for chatting with passing truckers. I don’t think the radio played much of a role in our trips, except to get traffic and weather.
We had games like “punch bug,” in which being the first to see a Volkswagen Beetle on the highway entitled you to punch your annoying brother, sister, or friend. We also kept an eye peeled for “beavers,” station wagons with wood-paneled sides. We’d make a pulling motion to truck drivers to try to get them to pull their air horns. We liked the ones who accommodated us. I understand the tradition continues today, although with safety first (no startling of unaware drivers) and the hope it doesn’t provoke a modern road rage incident.
Of course there were no USB ports, but there were cigarette lighters — in 1965, a whopping 45 percent of Americans smoked. I’ve never bought a car, but it sounds like what Wikipedia describes as a “de facto DC connector,” or cigarette lighter receptacle, is more likely to be used to power portable accessories (“lights, fans, beverage heating devices, and air compressors for inflating tires”). I wonder if it can be used for e-cigarettes? J’s is used for an iPhone charger. With only about 15 percent of Americans smoking today, I suspect the car cigarette lighter as such has achieved “relic” status for many of us.
Neither the Ford Falcon nor the vans that followed had air conditioning save that offered by an open window and a speed-generated breeze. I don’t know how we held conversations on the open highway. Maybe we didn’t, other than, “He’s picking on me!” and “Are we there yet?” punctuated by “Ralph, STOP!” (My mother had imaginary brakes on her side and possibly a worn-out floorboard.)
Most cars sold in the U.S. now come with air conditioning as a standard; it’s a given, not a luxury — not so north of the border. Today we “wind” the windows down mostly to take photos, ask passers-by questions, pay entrance fees or talk to booth operators, and on occasion encourage a fly or mosquito to vamoose. I say “wind” even though the push of a button opens the windows (as long as they’re powered, that is).
In the old Ford Falcon and vans, you did wind the windows up and down, just like we used window winders to open and close the trailer’s jalousie windows. I had to look that term up — jalousie windows in campers/trailers/mobile homes were common in the 1950s and ‘60s, but aren’t anymore.
Although cars.com talks about “old-school manual crank windows that seem, especially now, from a bygone automotive era,” they’re also not quite a relic. People don’t want them for themselves, but they do want the lower car price. They’re also found in many trucks. The 2015 cars.com article concludes, “For now, at least, it’s clear there are enough price-conscious new-car shoppers to keep manual windows around.”
I’ve never been a smoker, and I don’t feel nostalgic about car cigarette lighters. As with push lawn mowers and clotheslines, however, I do miss manual windows and window winders. Power windows have their advantages when you spot something and want to take a photo or video quickly (although they make enough noise to scare off animals). On the other hand, when I wait in the car I don’t always remember to open the window when the power is on, so I resort to the alternative, awkward in a parking lot, of opening the door. It doesn’t sound like much, but sometimes I want to crank open the window.
At least it’s not because someone used the cigarette lighter.
Note the date — 2 March 2019, the first Maple Sugar Time held at the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Park. No doubt it will be years before the signs are replaced.
As I’ve probably said before, Maple Sugar Time brings back one of the few bits of childhood I remember, if vaguely. My class — second grade? — made a field trip to a maple sugar farm (sugar bush) in March, I assume. I wish I knew where, but I’d guess it was owned by the family of a classmate. The world is enormous to a seven-year-old, so I remember it as far away and magical.
The day was dreary and foggy. Dense clouds of fog everywhere at ground level. Or maybe I’m confusing the outdoor world with the sugar shack, where the steam rose in clouds from the boiling sap. I’ll never know for certain. In a world before smartphone cameras we weren’t able to preserve even marvelous moments except in our faulty, failing brains.
I was given a piece of maple sugar candy to try. LOVE. Much better than plain white baking sugar or sugar cubes — some ineffable, ephemeral quality beyond mere sweetness. My mother must have given me some money because I bought a tiny bag of the precious maple leaf-shaped goodness. Even now, when my “allowance” is more substantial and all my own, I look upon maple sugar candy as a rare luxury.
Perhaps the other high point was the draft horses snorting steam into the fog. We may have gone on a wagon ride. If such a thing makes me happy today, imagine how it thrilled me 50 years ago?
Back to present-day Indiana. J and I indulged in our traditional start to Maple Sugar Time — the Chesterton Lions Club pancake-and-sausage breakfast served in a vinyl-sided tent that keeps out some of the cold and breezes. It’s like the year’s first picnic.
Our timing was perfect. We finished our 2 p.m. “breakfast” and found Ranger Bill with a group at the Maple Sugar Trail, ready to go. The hike covers how to identify sugar maples, and I learned the box elder is a maple.
We walked through the various eras of maple sugar making, from hot rocks to metal pots to Chellberg Farm’s sugar shack to more modern methods. As many times as I’ve been to this event, I’d never gone inside the sugar shack. While an impressive amount of steam arose inside (welcome shelter after the cold!), it came from boiling water. Current daytime temperatures are too cold for maple sugar sap to run. Maybe next week — current forecast is for temperatures in the low 40s. But the forecast changes every day.
The walk ended up at the Chellberg farmhouse. Since the building that formerly housed the store has been covered to an employee/volunteer center, the maple goods were for sale in the entry room. Yes, I did buy maple syrup, maple cream, and of course the luxury of my childhood, leaf-shaped maple sugar candy. In another room, we picked up a Dare maple cream cookie. They’re not just for the kids.
Outside we found Belgian draft geldings Dusty (2,450 pounds) and Mitch (2,350 pounds). Dusty left horse slobber all over my hand and bag. When a girl and her brother stood by him for a photo, he started to groom her hair. A little disgusted, she shoved her brother into her former spot. “That won’t help,” the volunteer said. “He’ll just reach right around him.” On cue, Dusty did just that. He wasn’t licking only people. Between visitors, he gave Mitch’s neck some good grooming strokes.
We said goodby to Dusty and Mitch and chickens and headed to Indiana Dunes State Park so I could get a yearly pass and because the beach is gorgeous (and less crowded) on a cold March afternoon. We walked around, but not on the shelf ice. It seems someone finds out the hard way every year that the sign isn’t there for decoration.
We tried the Speakeasy at Spring House Inn, but at this time they don’t serve meals so off we went to Chesterton’s Villa Nova to warm up on Italian cuisine (and add back any calories we may have burned off).
Today is the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth. I discovered this delightful clipping about a hike to a farm and a picnic with storytelling under a big tree she helped to organize. It could be straight out of Anne of Green Gables.
I love finding these blurbs. This and others are giving me new insight into my parents’ early lives pre-me.