Saturday, October 8, 2022

Northshore Notes: Accidentally Perfect

     
I'm back, after a pleasant break overseas, just in time to read this lovely ramble into Chicago by EGD's Northshore correspondent, Caren Jeskey. (I wonder if your takeaway will be the same as mine: "Joan Cusack has a store?") One of the delights of Chicago is there are always new things to learn about it.

By Caren Jeskey      
 
    Keeping up with professional licensing boards is one of those joyous tasks of life. For those of you in regulated professions, you know what I mean.
     Every two years, LCSWs (licensed clinical social workers) must acquire 30 hours of continuing education units. Required CEUs are a good thing. Therapists such as myself ought to be keeping up with education. It connects us with experts in the field and helps us keep up with the times. Attending these classes with fellow clinicians reminds me of the importance of our vocation. It also gives me cutting edge information that I can use to enhance my own well-being.
     Eight weeks ago, one client felt they were spiraling out of control and had hit rock bottom. Just a couple of weeks later, they were feeling less depressed and more hopeful. This past week they shared feeling “a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am feeling ease. I am not all the way fine, but I have some peace.” Yes, a plug for therapy. There is no shame in asking for help. Not only does it take a village to raise a kid, it takes a village to care for ourselves sometimes.
     I dotted all of the i’s, crossed the t’s, and paid the fees for my Texas license. (Illinois’ comes up next year). Renewed for two more years. Yee-haw! Or so I thought. Late last Friday afternoon I received an email, letting me know that my TX license was delinquent as of the next day, October 1, pending fingerprints and a criminal background check. This a new requirement, which I had missed.
     I panicked briefly then pulled myself together. I put on my big-girl (work from home) comfy lounge pants and read through the instructions. I was given one option — 
 IdentoGO on Roosevelt Road, just east of the river, with a boastful 2.4 star rating and lots of scary stories about rude, disorganized staff.
     I cleared my Monday morning calendar and headed out down Hunter Road in Wilmette, which turns into Crawford Avenue. The road where “a streetcar conductor who announced ‘Crawford Avenue’ was slugged by a Polish passenger” in the 1930s. Oh, Chicago. You’re so scrappy. At that time a battle between those who wanted the street to be named after Casimir Pułaski, and those who wanted to preserve the history of the road, which was named after pioneer Peter Crawford (who founded Crawford, Illinois— now known as Lawndale), ensued. It’s nice to see that both sides kind of won.
     What a great way to start the week — rolling down the street in my trusty steed (aka Cosmica, the Honda Civic), windows down on a sunny day, with the sights, sounds and smells of the city. Orange vested construction workers and cement trucks peppering the road. Cars with thumping bass overtook me from the bike lane. Men on bicycles with white buckets bungee corded to their two-wheelers, off to find windows to wash for a buck or two.
     Entering the city from the north on a diagonal street is exciting. I followed Elston past the iconic Morton Salt warehouse that’s now slated to become a music venue. As I rounded another bend, there she was. Lady Chicago. Glass skyscrapers sparkling with mid-morning sun. I almost stopped for a hot dog. Taking DesPlaines Street is the perfect antidote to the bumper to bumper traffic I’d have found just a bit east in the Loop, which dead ended me to “the only national furniture store that started because of a motorcycle crash” on Roosevelt. I turned east. Once over the river, I turned north on Delano Court. I felt I was on vacation somewhere new, no idea the area had been so developed. After an hilarious venture into 
IdentoGO, where there seemed no rhyme or reason to the “system,” I now had hours to roam.
     Walking over the Roosevelt Bridge made me feel small, in a good way. The skyline view to the north is impressive, and the steel bridge to to the south speaks to the power of the iron and hard work that has built the bones of our town. I stumbled upon a blanket in a plastic bag, tucked away behind the piss soaked watch tower and decided not to spend too much time back there, alone. I headed to the well-stocked Whole Foods and got a snack, contemplating my place here in this big city.
     After day-tripping for long enough, Cosmica and I headed north down Michigan Avenue, then skirted onto the inner drive. I realized that Joan Cusack’s store was close by, a place I’ve always wanted to go. I popped in, and there she was behind the counter. I resisted fan-girling— she is one of my all time favorites — and said “hi! I am looking for a rubber chicken.” Without missing a beat, she said “I may have some in the back.” I told her that I wanted to buy a small gift for a friend who works around the corner at the Latin School. They had a bomb threat a few weeks ago, and I wanted to bring her a little pick me up to undo some of the stress.
     Joan came back out with a small bag of mini rubber chickens. Perfect. She also handed me a bag of orange jelly candies, the kind my grandma always had. Just the right touch to add to a small paper goodie bag. I suggested that she carry Neil’s new book, and she seemed interested. (I embarrassingly fan-girled a bit, took my bumbling leave, and headed to Latin). A very nice day in our very cool city.




16 comments:

  1. I've been to Joan's store a few times she is a patron of an artist I'm associated with. She's terrific and carries great stuff.

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    1. That's so cool! I don't shop often, but when I do (for gifts) it will be there.

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  2. The Bob's Furniture story reminds me of an ad campaign of 50 or 60 years ago with billboards intoning, "I will bring a mountain to Chicago." My uncle, who had traveled a bit, ruined the mystery by letting us know that the mountain was Folgers Coffee.

    john

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    1. Disappointing. Though it's always good to find some instant coffee in the cupboard when I've run out of beans!

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  3. My parents always called it Crawford Avenue, so I did, too...and most of the time, I still do. Old habits die hard. By the time I came along and was a youngster on the West Side (East Garfield Park, in the early Fifties), people were still saying Crawford, even though the name had officially been Pulaski Road for about twenty years. North of Devon, it's still Crawford...in Lincolnwood, Skokie, and the northwesternmost corner of Evanston.

    I remember the Folger ad campaign. It was in early 1959. "I will bring a mountain to Chicago" had people completely mystified and stumped. Chicagoans were completely unfamiliar with that West Coast brand of "mountain-grown" coffee. There were billboards, signs on the sides of CTA buses, and radio and TV spots. Complete saturation. I was a sixth grader...and it was my first experience of "Is that all there is?" But certainly not the last.

    Whenever I drive past the area, or read descriptions of it, or see images of the South Loop (is it still called that?), I'm stunned. It really does feel like someplace other than Chicago. It's completely transformed from what it was when I left town in the early Nineties. Not that many people were living there then...it was still "the edge" of the Loop and downtown.

    And even earlier (in the early Seventies), I worked in a warehouse at State and Cermak, when it was still pretty sketchy there. I could see the Lexington Hotel, Al Capone's old HQ, from the loading dock. Totally different place, and world, a half century ago. Fifty years? Ouch!

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    1. I had no idea about the Pulaski Crawford feud! Nice story.

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  4. Glad you were able to see Chicago from a new perspective on such a nice day. I'm always amazed when I haven't been somewhere for a while how things change in the bustling, ever-shifting metropolis.

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  5. Unless I missed it--did you get the background check and fingerprinting in on time?

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    1. Pretty much! My license was automatically renewed 6 days after it became delinquent once they received the prints.

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  6. There is a building on the northeast corner of Madison and pulaski with the street names engraved in the limestone facade.
    Madison and Crawford

    My mom would take us there on the bus to shop when we lived in east Garfield park.

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    1. My family doctor had an office in that building until at least 1960, when I had a wart removed there. The elevators still had operators. When I was still very young, it was just a short streetcar ride from our apartment near Madison and Homan.

      Google Earth tells me that "Madison and Crawford" is now almost unrecognizable to a Fifties kid like me. That corner never really recovered after the riots that followed MLK's death in '68. It was a major West Side hub for decades. There was even a Goldblatt's on the southeast corner., which had the first escalators I ever saw.

      Over at Washington Blvd. and Pulaski/Crawford, there's a large, tall, abandoned structure on the northwest corner. It was once a stylish hotel. Now there's a tree growing out of it. The only other place I've ever seen anything like that was in downtown Detroit. Truly a sorrowful sight, even via Google Earth...

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    2. I drive past there 2 or 3 times a week. When I was born we lived at Ohio and trumble never have lived more than 10 miles from there. My wood shop is at Chicago and Cicero.
      I'm always in the midst of my own memories

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    3. I wonder what you wanted to buy at that age? :) https://blockclubchicago.org/2021/03/31/what-would-a-thriving-madison-street-and-pulaski-road-look-like-west-side-groups-launch-plan-to-revitalize-corridors/

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  7. Enjoying your Chicago adventures from the west coast!

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