The Beast in the Basement

Anyone who is really old like me and/or lived in the Chicago area might well remember going to the Hub Roller Rink on Harlem Avenue in Norridge. What made roller skating so very special there was the genius of Leon Berry playing the mighty pipe organ way up above our heads. imagesTM4I2BM4But even more interesting was that he built a full sized pipe organ in the basement of his house. Read on!

Leon Clay Berry was born  July 2 1914 in Burnsville, Dallas, Alabama to Paul Burns Berry and Anna Ida Kramer. He began playing the organ in church back in Selma, Alabama. In the Chicago area , after military service, he worked at Hammond Organ for a time,  he played in barrooms, The Trianon Ballroom on Cottage Grove at 62nd, the Arcadia Roller Rink at Broadway and Montrose, and most famously the Hub at 4510 N. Harlem. After his time at the Hub, he played at the Orbit Roller Rink in Palatine for a time. 2501125812_fa53ab79d8_zHe cut several great LP albums including my favorite “Beast in the Basement.  But wait there is the “Beast”!    Read on

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The Architecture of Death

 

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I invite you to appreciate the awesome art of  cemetery entrance gates. These are not just  the simple wrought iron gates, but  ornate massive structures with towers, belfrys, rooms and more.

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German Waldheim Cemetery – Forest Park, Illinois

 

 

They are much more than  keeping people out of the cemetery after closing. During daylight hours they welcome the visitor and establish the character of the cemetery grounds. They create a sense of arrival for the funeral procession, a proper sendoff for the deceased if you will.

I think they speak to us. A massive cemetery gate seems to be a metaphor, a  powerful symbol illustrating our journey from our earthly life into the hereafter, and  even into the presence of God. Theology aside, the architects certainly had a broad canvas to create a strong and powerful focal point at the entrance to the cemetery.  The imposing beauty  welcomed the mourner or visitor alike. Many are no longer with us so let’s look at these amazing works of art.

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Mt. Olive Cemetery, Chicago

 

 

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Flying with the Angels

5175874_1057451358The first was Len, born on February 15, 1927, loving son of Frank and Bronislawa “Bertha”. A native of Chicago, he graduated from Lane Technical High School.  He was a World War II veteran.and drove a CTA bus for a time.  He became a Chicago Police officer on September 21, 1953. In 1954, he was the first patrolman in the United States to use the now famous radar gun and the first to write a speeding ticket having used a radar device.

best irvinThe second was Irv, born on May 5, 1919,  loving son of Irwin and Magdalena, He like Len, was also a native of Chicago,  a graduate of Lane Technical and a World War II veteran before joining the Chicago Police Department in 1948.

.Unless you are a Chicago-born  senior citizen like myself,  you may not have heard or remember  them, but please continue reading. Discover what they really did for Chicago, and celebrate their lives. See why I decided to honor them together in this post.  Continue reading “Flying with the Angels”