Civil War Days

Saturday was a beautiful day for a trip to the annual Civil War Days at Naper Settlement in Naperville, Illinois. As we entered the Civil War era camp, we noticed the crude replica tents the re-enactors set up to sleep in, as well as the wonderful aroma of around 50 campfires (most with meat hanging above). Hundreds of re-enactors were busy with their rustic way of life; some brought their babies swaddled in 1800 cloth.

The battle re-enactment was great. We were forced to stand behind five or six rows of people, but we were able to see just fine. The battle used black powder muskets and era cannons which filled the air with light gray smoke. I couldn't imagine how smoke-filled a civil war battlefield would have been given the huge amount of smoke these few guns put out in such a small period of time. It must have been almost impossible to see anything. During the larger battles of the Civil War, it has been said that so much sulfur was released into the air that after a few days of fighting, the sulfur would seed the clouds and rain would begin to fall.

Here's a shot of a single Union soldier - notice the fire exiting the barrel of the musket (but please don't notice the guy taking his picture in the background)!

Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin

A quick visit to Carthage College for a copyright workshop turned into a 4 1/2 hour drive in heavy Chicago traffic. I gave myself three hours to drive less than 100 miles on interstates and I probably averaged 20 miles per hour! What a headache.

The conference was informative, and I was able to take a few quick shots of Lake Michigan and some Carthage landmarks on my lunch break.
Lake Michigan Shoreline Kenosha, Wisconsin

The conference was in the main library which had an auditorium seemingly equipped for performances and perhaps videography.

Hedberg Library, Carthage College

The Kissing Rock is a landmark of Carthage College. Click on this link to read about its history. It has been painted many many times by students and organizations. It appears this time it was painted black and colorful feathers were stuck to it. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that Carthage removed the feathers from its logo last year, or if it's just supposed to be pretty. Maybe someone will comment....

Kissing Rock


Part of growing up on the south side of Chicago was spent shopping along Archer Avenue, between Kedzie Ave. and California Ave. This was before Walmart and all the others became so prominent.

I can remember "Archer Avenue Big Store" a department store that took up a good portion of the block just north of Sacramento Avenue. This was an old fashioned, private owned department store with worn out hardwood floors, and wide terrazo stairs leading to the lower level. I spent most of my time on the lower level looking at the toys when I was young, and then graduated to the decorations and housewares around Christmastime as I grew up. I purchased my first set of miniature Christmas lights for $3.99 sometime around 1979. Before then, most Christmas lights I knew of used the large, colored glass bulbs, so it was a treat to get a set of the tiny ones.

Another well known store on this section of Archer was Neisner's, a variety store that sold everything from greeting cards to mothballs, clothes to vases. The old five and dime with a lunch counter! Where have those days gone?

My mother would take us there for lunch occationally, where we would sit at the counter on the swivel stools attached to the floor and watch the cook make our lunch. The long Formica counter held a variety of juice fountains that cycled the different colored juice to the top of the clear, rectangular container where it dripped down the sides creating a fountain of juice. Soft drinks were served in paper cone cups placed inside aqua colored plastic holders similar to the ones shown here. conecupsodacup1When the cup was in the holder, an hourglass shape was created. Using a straw to get the last drops of juice out of the pointed end of the cone cup made a lot of noise!

After lunch it was off to the toy department! I still have a little red firetruck, Santa Clause figure and assorted other toys and decorations from that store. Neisner's had some other prominent features of dime stores of the time: A photo booth where you could get six pictures for a quarter; a record bin where you could get a 45 rpm record for under $1, and an original stamped tin ceiling complete with tin crown moulding.

Neisner's closed in the early 1980's, but was replaced with another variety store called McCrory's. I worked there for about seven years from high school and through college; it was close to home and a fun place to work. While ripping out some old shelves in the store basement, I found the cast iron Neisner's sign that was originally mounted on the brick facade of the building.

The sign is about 14 inches long and weighs at least three pounds. It's part of my small collection of things from the past that I won't part with.

5 cents to a dollar? Where can you buy anything anymore for 5 cents?

The "Right" Way to Look at Things


Here's a sign I ran across while driving in Lockport, Illinois.
Such a bold statement for a business, I had to get a shot of it.

Disney World 1973

Originally opened in October 1971, Walt Disney World has grown into an American institution. My first visit was in 1973, when the park was only about a year a half old.

Stepping onto the ferry for the ride across the lake to the main entrance was exciting. Here's a view of lake with the park in the background- not much there yet!


The Disney officials did not allow any photos of the rides or attractions, so we didn't get too many photos at the time.

I do remember admission was a lot different than it is today. Back then, you purchased a booklet of tickets. You needed a ticket to get on every ride, so basically, you could only go on a ride once (unless they had different types of books for more money).

I also remember they were planning Space Mountain at the time, and we saw the area fenced off and under construction. So many rides have come and gone, including 2000 Leagues under the Sea, the submarine ride. If you pretended not to see the strings, the fish appeared to be swimming in the water. Here's a neat site with a lot of photos of the ride, including behind the scene pics:

It was probably the most crowded place I've ever been. We still talk about the crowd, but in those 30 years, Disney has really learned to keep that crowd moving. I'm sure it's more crowded now than ever before, but the lines move pretty quickly and you no longer remember the crowds more than the fun.