Children’s Picnic – then Horror

The festive Kinderheim Picnic was held annually at Lake Street and Addison Road in Addison Illinois twenty-eight miles west of Chicago. It was a scene of thousands of happy children and families, music, hymns, games, and a baseball game.

There was also a tour of the German Evangelical-Lutheran Orphan Home Association of Northern Illinois which hosted the event.

huhgfIt was so poular that in 1890, five of Addison’s citizens formed the Addison Railroad Company and made an agreement with the Illinois Central Railroad to maintain the short two mile line connecting Addison to the Illinois Central Railroad that came out of Chicago. The very first train came to Addison for the Orphan Home Picnic on September 21, 1890. The picnic train doubled festival attendance from 5,000 to 10,000.

image008-11After a wonderful outing on that September day, the thousands of children and adults began boarding trains back to Chicago about 5PM. The picnic train was actually four trains, the fourth and last containing eight passenger coaches. About 7PM, that eastbound train was standing at the Kedzie avenue crossing and on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad tracks, only a few feet from the Douglas Park station, warned by semaphore of a danger ahead. About fifteen minutes later as the picnic train was about to proceed, disaster struck. A Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Downer’s Grove express train crashed into the rear car of that fourth section of the picnic train.

Festive had turned to disaster. Read on for the human toll.

Continue reading “Children’s Picnic – then Horror”

This church is a ghost

Many of us think of ghosts to be an apparition of someone who has died. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences. The overwhelming consensus of science is that ghosts do not exist but I take no position that they exist or do not.

But what if a church is a ghost?bhgfhj

The German Lutherische Zions Church at 826 W. 19th was built in the Pilsen neighborhood on the lower west side of Chicago, Illinois. The 90-foot-tall bell tower, sturdy wooden doors, worn Chicago brick, and Gothic German script above the entrance celebrate the architecture.

But wait! Something is missing. The wooden doors and façade are still there but the rest of the church is gone and could well be described as a ghost.39783263252_557bee0023_b

Read on to find out what all is not there. Continue reading “This church is a ghost”

Out of a job – February 5 1923

97 years ago today,  fire alarm box Number 848 was pulled at 12:40 PM at State and Chicago Avenues in Chicago. The loud fire bell then rang in Engine 11’s firehouse at 10 East Grand Avenue, about a third mile south and just off State street. teddy and danTeddy, Dan, Buck, and Beauty then unknowingly made their last fire run. The alarm was purposely false, pulled to bring about the last run of a horse drawn fire engine in Chicago.

So, you may ask “what do fire horses have to do with my Chicago website featuring cemeteries?”

Well I invite you to read on and I promise to tell you about a horse grave at the end of my story.

Continue reading “Out of a job – February 5 1923”

Terri – When the Dead Gained Power

She came into thousands of Northwest side Chicago homes every week and was simply known as “Terri”. You need to know her.

lomnbgghjTheresa “Terri” Ann Kruszczak  (1956-1998)  was the most capable staff writer and managing editor of the Times’ six weekly editions, the largest group of the Lerner Community Newspapers, later known as Pulitzer–Lerner newspapers. Terri tirelessly attended community meetings, neighborhood events and school board proceedings in search of her next story.. She wrote thousands of articles that appeared weekly in the Harlem Irving Times, Jefferson Mayfair times, Harlem Foster Times, northwest times, Uptown News Star and other editions. After dinner, she would often return to her office alone late at night to write that one more story before deadline.

Her professional life changed forever in March of 1989 when bones and dead bodies were uncovered on the site of the Cook County Poorhouse and Insane Asylum, later renamed the Chicago State hospital.

Weekly headlines revealed a gruesome story every week:

1990 bones on curb at se corner of Belle Plaine and Neenah“Remains Found at Dunning Work Site”, “ Bone sites multiply”, “Discovery of remains halts project”, “Civil War vet burial could jinx developers”

 “Bones litter the site. Long leg bones and pieces of skulls protrude from piles of dirt. Outlines of bodies can be seen in trenches.” Bones of Human skeletons have remained laying on the ground for over two months after they were uncovered during excavation work”

 Please read on to meet the very special and talented Theresa “Terri” Ann Kruszczak, who as part of her work as a reporter and newspaper editor helped preserve a lost cemetery.

Continue reading “Terri – When the Dead Gained Power”

The Golden Age of All Night Radio

I invite you to flash back to the 1950’s through the 1970’s , a time well before the internet, Facebook, Twitter, and media streaming.

frankPicture yourself driving down the road late at night when between 11:05 PM to 5:30AM, Franklyn MacCormack, and his memorable All Night Meister Brau Showcase would waft through your car radio. He could effortlessly  put you to sleep while you were at home or behind the wheel. MacCormack smoothly  interspersed romantic on-air poetry readings with great music from years past.

Please read on and actually hear his voice. There are just some people we cannot forget or throw away Continue reading “The Golden Age of All Night Radio”


images7GUI8QAVWooden cemetery markers are mostly gone these days, but a few can still be found. Why wood? I n the early days it was simply the norm, inexpensive and easily made, but not long lasting or impressive as a 70 foot marble obelisk or mausoleum.

Back in the day there were thousands of these simple wood grave markers in our cemeteries. They largely predated marble and limestone monuments designed and cut by professional cutters.rosehill-cemetery10

Most families could not afford a work of art and marked their graves with either a wood slab or cross.

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I was most curious to learn more about Mr. and Mrs Joseph Maier and why their graves were marked with wood. You might well be surprised to know about their interesting background! Continue reading “THE BAIERS – BURIED UNDER A WOOD GRAVE MARKER”


81962878_2543761639056088_4571878440461926400_nI invite you to meet someone you should know. Meet Tony (Rosario) Manno, the owner of “Tony’s Pump Room”, (not to be confused with the real Pump Room in the Ambassador East Hotel). He was born Ventimiglia di Sicilia, Palermo, Sicilia, Italy on January 8 1894

82576128_2543760295722889_852299525035917312_oBeginning 1953 or earlier, Tony sold hot dogs from his  white hot dog cart, an icon and fixture on Chicago’s North side. He and his cart moved around from time to time, selling at various intersections, He was often found at the corner of  Addison or Waveland and Lake Shore Drive, but sometimes at the corner of Addison and Ashland , sometimes on Southport, other times at Addison and Sheridan, or Irving Park and Sheridan. His Pump Room was mentioned more than once in the Chicago Tribune as the best place to find a real Chicago dog.hklkjkjlkjk


I know people, including my friend Franny, who swears  “The best hot dogs I ever had were from Tony’s Pump Room”. You had the choice of either the Vienna or Oscar Mayer frankfurter. Most of us would tell Tony “everything on”.

 We don’t know a whole lot about Tony yet, when he died, or where he is buried, but we fondly remember him for being a champion of the “Chicago hot dog”.

But all is not well in Chicago, because our beloved hot dog sparks a fierce debate between the two types of Chicagoan’s, those who choose ketchup on their hot dog or those who defend the traditional yellow mustard.

Hot-dog-manufacturer-faces-53k-OSHA-fine_wrbm_large Read on and take your side. Continue reading “KETCHUP OR MUSTARD?”