Monday, December 05, 2005

Chicago Fiasco - 1954



In 1954, I was in the 8th or 9th grade, and our school was making a bus trip to Chicago, to see several museums and Shedd Aquarium. I had never been more than about 200 miles from home before, so the prospect of this trip was very exciting for me. I had no idea what to expect, but we were given a list of instructions on what to pack, and to be mindful of the cold weather prevalent in Chicago in the early spring.


So I packed sweaters, wool skirts (we were not allowed to wear pants at school-related functions in those days), knee socks and a heavy coat. We were fine with the weather until we got to Chicago, where they were having an unprecedented warm spell. I had no choice but to wear a wool sweater; the temperature got up to 75* and there was no north wind "a blowing", as we had been led to believe. Can you imagine how much collective sweat was shed that weekend? We were all burning up and mad at the people who suggested what to pack.

Leaving from Charleston, WV, we stopped in Indianapolis to spend the night, and I doubt the hotel has ever been the same. This is where I learned about water balloons and prank phone calls. Suffice it to say that my education was thorough over the course of the 4-5 days we were gone, if not high quality. I don't remember the name of the hotel we stayed in in Indiana, but the Hotel Sherman was our base of operation in Illinois. I still have a small soap wrapper from there, but I can't scan it because it is glued into a scrapbook. We called the hotel switchboard and put in wake-up calls for some of the people on the trip, and I guess you can bet they were not for the teacher-requested wake up time of 7 am! We got our come-uppance, though, as someone else did it to us, and we awoke to the brinnnnng-brinnnnnng of the phone at 4 am. We were not happy!

In Chicago, the 45-50 people on the trip were split into more manageable small groups, each with a teacher and a chaperone, and we made our way to various museums and Shedd Aquarium. We were also shown where Al Capone's headquarters were, back in the 20's, and the boys were excited to see that, while the girls weren't very interested in the gangster's digs. From some radio shows we listened to at home, I knew about a famous nightclub there, called the Chez Paree. We drove by it, and I had all sorts of imaginary visions of what went on in that supper club, and got so excited! I hoped to see some celebrities, since all of the big-time singers and band leaders of the day played at Chez Paree at some point. But I guess they don't hang around out front of it in the middle of the day, 'cause I didn't see anybody well-known. I googled it and found a good site about the club, with photos:
http://parsec-santa.com/chezparee/1Chezframe.html There is music on the site too, so if you are at work, turn the sound down.

Before I forget, the top postcard was taken from the top of the John Hancock Center at nighttime, obviously. Sorry it is so dark.

The bottom card is actually a repro of an old Illinois Central railroad poster, and it was used as a "save the date" card for my nephew's wedding several years ago. Great idea for that, don't you think?

I don't have time now to link to the museums we saw in Chicago, but you can google them if you are curious. The Shedd Aquarium was my favorite thing to see there, but I am told by more recent visitors to the "Windy City" that there are multitudes of things to see now that didn't exist when I was there 50+ years ago. Geeze, I cannot believe it has been that long!

I almost forgot, I have a sales receipt from Spauldings Store, 4632 Sheridan Road in Chicago, dated April 2nd, from where I bought two pop-it bead necklaces, as souveniers. Two of them cost $3.06 back then. If you don't know what pop-it beads are, go here:

http://auntjudysattic.com/Antique_jewelery2.htm

No, I am not Aunt Judy!

14 comments:

YellowRose said...

Chicago, my kind of town!! Actually I was born and raised there. Most of my school field trips included the wonderful museums in downtown! I recently went back to Chicago for the first time in 21 years, it was fantastic and let me tell you, it has changed....ALOT!

Great post!!

Colonel Corn's Camera said...

Hey, I have fixed the links to Mandie's pictures on the Tarheel Tavern. Sorry about the oops and thanks for pointing out the mistake.

brendalove@gmail.com said...

We never got any school trips like that!

Inanna said...

Ahh, I've always wanted to visit Chicago... always. Thanks for the trip.

Jamie Dawn said...

A 4 am wake-up is just what you little pranksters deserved!
Sweaters and thick, wool skirts had to be miserable.

srp said...

We lived in Gary, Indiana for a while so am familiar with the museums. We took the train into Chicago. My favorite was the Museum of Science and Industry....especially the castle with diamond, ruby and sapphire encrusted little chairs.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi Judy..
Couldn't get on my computer since Saturday NIght..not the computer itself, Thank God, but a connection gone-bad...FINALLY back on now!
Very fun post and a GREAT Nostalgic trip on that Chez Paree site!!! Thanks for the 'heads up'!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Forgot to say that my favoriote Muesem in Chicago is, The Art Institute..A GREAT GREAT Museum..home to "Sunday In The Park With George"'s Original painting by Seurrat, that inspired Stephen Sondehiem GREAT Musical of the same name!!! Stunning and Awesome painting.

Peter said...

Hi Judy, well Ms non pack rat you've given yourself away here a bit, photo, postcard AND soap wrapper!!

Courtney said...

Morning! Michele sent me.

Arethusa said...

I do like going through the links. Very interesting to read too since I applied to the U of Chicago for law. I always love the images you post along with these little travelogues too.

Greg Finnegan said...

Judy,

I grew up in Chicago, so your trip was a real delight for me! Mom and Dad used to go to Chez Paree; and Mom, who grew up in Great Falls, Montana, always raved about it! Of course, John Hancock Center was built in 1954. In fact, the Prudential Building at 41-odd floors was the newest and tallest skyscraper in 1958, I think, and now it's a dwarf. Thanks for the memories!

Greg Finnegan said...

I meant, "John Hancock Center was NOT built in 1954." It was completed in 1970, and has 100 stories.

Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Memories- enjoyed so much as always! :) Did you ever eat a candy that were dots that you peeled off the paper???