Sepia Saturday

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Union Station,Chicago

There’s no dining room or lunch counter in the station anymore, but Union Station has remodeled some lounges to return their old glory.

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The Berghoff Restaurant

This Chicago establishment is still in business, though on a smaller scale. I’ve been here a few times with my father. If you’re in the Loop, it’s worth a try.

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Marshall Field’s Walnut Room, Gilded Age

Marshall Field’s department story was “the” Chicago place to shop. It’s where Harry Selfridge got his start and Field was a great innovator in retail and a real estate mogul. (For much of his career he was the richest man in Chicago. Books have been written about Marshall Fields’ professional and personal life. He’s been featured in some novels. In Prairie Avenue he’s represented by Mr. Kennerly.)

My grandmother would take my siblings and I to Marshall Fields for lunch and shopping. We’d either eat in the Walnut Room or the Narcissus Room, where I loved to watch the gold fish in the fountain. 

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The fountain had goldfish

The menu’s highlights were it’s Field’s salad and hot fudge sundae, which what I’d still say is the best chocolate sauce ever.

To see more Sepia Saturday posts, click here.

Did your grandparents take you to eat anywhere special?

Having Our Say

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Based on the lives two delightfully wise and accomplished African American sisters, both of whom are over 100 years old, Having Our Say lays out the history of racial matters from the Gilded Age all through the 20th century. Sadie and Bessie Delaney recount their rather unique heritage as their mother was 25% black and never tried to pass as white. Their white grandfather and Black grandmother couldn’t marry as it was illegal in the south until the late 1960s. Still they raised their family and attended a church that came to agree that okay the only reason you aren’t married is that you can’t be so we’ll welcome you.

The play is structured as a long conversation with a reporter, who’s represented by the audience. The stories range from charming and fun to raw depictions of injustice. Yet at all times the sisters are victors not victims. Neither married and both attained professional status in an era when few African American women could. Their father was a bishop and insisted his daughters go to college, though he stipulated that they work first because he had no money for additional schooling and would not allow them to obtain scholarships because he believed that would make them beholden to whoever supplied the scholarship. Both met his challenge without complaint. Sadie became the first colored* (sic) high school teacher in her all-white high school and Bessie became the first colored woman to be licensed as a dentist in New York.

The women recount their experiences and heritage from family stories of slavery to their own experience with Jim Crow and Civil Rights. Throughout we hear their family stories, wisdom and witticisms.

This production had an inventive set that featured picture frames which would show old photos of the friends and family Bessie and Sadie were describing.

The acting was superb and I’d love to see Ella Joyce (Bessie) or Marie Thomas (Sadie) in another play. The pair brought great energy and chemistry to the play.

My only wish was that the play had more of a plot. As it stands it’s an adaptation of a memoir. So it’s a chronological telling of lived experiences. While these second and mainly first hand accounts are interesting, they aren’t as dramatic as a play that uses Aristotelian principles to give a story plenty of momentum.

I’d prefer a structure like that of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, a former slave who recounts her memories on up to the 1960s. Such a play requires more characters and sets, hence more money, but it offers more suspense. Nonetheless, this is a good production, well worth seeing.

*The women didn’t feel Black or African American were terms that described them well. They were American. They felt “colored” was more accurate than Black.

WPC: Place in the World

 

In the city, in an elegant, yet cozy surroundings or

exploring ancient towns in Asia or

or far off cities in Australia, for example.

1. Each week, WordPress will provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Just a few wonderful posts:

 

Bourbon, Bowties & Bonnets

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Friday I went to a party at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum called Bourbon, Bowties & Bonnets, which celebrated the Kentucky Derby. My friend and I went with colorful, spring outfits, but we didn’t don bonnets because we just didn’t have any. Next year, we will. Still a lot of guests got into the spirit of the festivities and dressed up from head to toe. Many women had spectacular hats, but my favorite was a straw hat with a wide brim decorated with flowers, a small plastic horse and an old ticket from the Kentucky Derby.

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Mint Juleps

When we arrived we were given mint juleps, the cocktail most associated with the Kentucky Derby. A bona fide mint julep comes in a pewter glass and has crushed ice (not cubes), sugar (not syrup), bourbon and mint leaves (recipe here). Bourbon is the first alcohol invented in the U.S. and must be made up of at least 51% corn and be made in fresh oak barrels. After their first use, the barrels are sold to Scotland, Mexico and elsewhere. Those countries use the barrels to make other alcohol. Though distilled in Kentucky for the most part, Bourbon got its name from Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where bourbon became popular.

With our mint juleps we listened to music and nibbled hot appetizers. We learned about the derby’s history.

Then we went upstairs and could taste three different cocktails: The Brown Derby, Old Fashioned and Boulevardier. My favorite was The Brown Derby with the strong Old Fashioned and Boulevardier coming in a distant second and third.

We could wander around the museum checking out this stunning Gilded Age home and the current exhibit on the history of chairs in America. In addition, they had a real life milliner selling gorgeous hats and fascinators, which would be perfect for anyone going to the derby or a royal wedding. Some of our fellow guests were planning on going to the Drake Hotel’s viewing of Prince Harry and Meaghan Markel’s wedding and got their hats here.

Tale of an Accidental Repairwoman

Yesterday, while I was cleaning the lint catcher, something fell down the lint chute.  I couldn’t see it or reach down the chute.  I didn’t even know what fell in, but after one attempt, I could see that the machine wasn’t going to work anymore.

I tried using a tool we have that’s made of wire and can pinch and pick up objects. Since I couldn’t see what or where the item was, this didn’t work. I really didn’t want to pay our handyman to fix this.

Today I went on YouTube, glorious YouTube and found that I’m not the only klutz to make this mistake. I watched the video above and saw that I could fix this myself. I love the esteem boost I get from such challenges so I went to the hardware store to get the tools suggested in the video below, (the video moved too fast for me to follow).

Turned out the socket wrench didn’t work so I went to Lowes, because the hardware store’s customer service was so slow. There the helpful associate helped me select the specific screwdriver needed ($4.97 plus tax). Once I got home I started to work. It didn’t just take 10 minutes, but it wasn’t hard to do. I did struggle with repositioning the outer chute, but after two trips to nearby stores, and about a half hour of working on the machine, our dryer’s back in working order. Total price $5.45. I think I’m stuck with the other tools, but they weren’t that expensive and I can either keep them or sell them on eBay.

Fix it cost: $5.45

Self-Esteem boost: priceless

Charles Dawes’ House

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In Evanston, a suburb just north of Chicago and home of Northwestern University, there are several majestic homes on Lake Michigan. Charles Dawes, former Vice President, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Ambassador to Great Britain, was the second owner of the mansion pictured above.

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parlor for receiving guests, now an exhibit on Dawes

Now the home is open to the public for tours and houses the Evanston Historical Center’s research center.

The home was built by a man who aspired to be the president of Northwestern University. He figured that he’d be a shoe in if he built a home in keeping with a university president, one where lavish balls could be held. Take the tour to find out how that plan worked.

The masterful woodwork. the fireplaces throughout the home are stunningly beautiful. The foyer reminded me of the Magnificent Amberson’s home, though it wasn’t as dark.

I particularly loved the library, which was Dawes’ favorite, and the light, cheerful parlor for Mrs. Dawes.

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Library

Our tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable, striking just the right tone between entertainment and education.

Evanston History Center
Tours last approximately 45 minutes.

Tickets are $10 and children under 10 are free. There’s free entry on the first Thursday of the month. Groupon has deals for small and large group tickets here.

Charles Dawes’ House is open in the afternoons from Thursday to Sunday. Check the website because when there are special events there may be no tours.