Mystery: The Suitcase in the Cemetery

This is the true and amazing story of an old, non-descript suitcase,  forgotten for many years in a dusty storage area of a cemetery. It was almost discarded. Inside was a treasure trove of family pictures, genealogy and precious memories . Who did it belong to? How was it forgotten in a cemetery of all places? How old is it? Could someone figure out who’s it was? Would a family member be thrilled to have it once again?

There was a high school diploma, letters, papers,  priceless photographs, and clues of a life well lived. There was even a handmade needlepoint! Continue reading “Mystery: The Suitcase in the Cemetery”

Win a $5000 Savings Bond!

To a kid, it was Chicago’s own“Field of dreams”.

 It was a miniature version of a big league ballpark just like Comiskey or Wrigley Field. It was complete with lights for night games, a public address system, grandstands seating over 2400 northside fans, concessions, an electric outfield scoreboard, an announcer’s booth and more.

It was Thillen’s Stadium at 6404 North Kedzie Avenue, the generous gift of Mel G. Thillens I1914-1993) and his company, the Thillens Armored Car Check Cashing Company.truck

facility-stadiumdevonkedzie It was a place where some 17,000 kids could play Little League baseball every year at no cost.

 

And the deal was, if you could hit the sign of armored truck on top of the outfield scoreboard, you would win the $5000 savings bond. Three talented little leaguers did just that, hitting a baseball 300 feet. The place made kids feel that they were big league players at Wrigley or Comiskey. Continue reading “Win a $5000 Savings Bond!”

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”

The Battered Helmet

Born in Chicago 12 May 1905, he was Nellie O’Boyle’s son, He began his career in the 1928 Chicago Fire Department candidate class.   He served in the Navy in World War II, He was decorated for heroism during a three-day battle against a fire on a tanker loaded with aviation fuel. . he then served just shy of 50 years with the Chicago Fire Department.

He proudly wore a battered helmet, who in a 1971 interview  said “I wouldn’t trade it for a solid gold one. I have worn that helmet since it was given to me the first day I entered the fire academy as a recruit. It was my good luck charm.”

He invented a most innovative piece of fire fighting apparatus, the snorkel.

Continue reading “The Battered Helmet”

The Rest of Paul Aurandt’s Story

He was a larger than life American with much to say. His words went near and far every day until his death in 2009.  His voice now silent, he is entombed in a modest family mausoleum in Section 49 of Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park.

Born Tulsa Oklahoma in 1918 to Harry Harrison Aurandt,  a policeman killed .  Paul found his calling early in Tulsa, and later moved to Chicago to continue his craft. In addition to his chosen profession, he was an avid pilot. . He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, but neither defines his talent that we know.

He woke every morning at 3:30AM in his River Forest home, followed the same daily routine, and then drove to downtown Chicago to his work. There he spoke to all of us in the heartland, serving  enduring family values and the old-fashioned plain talk we once heard around the dinner table. Continue reading “The Rest of Paul Aurandt’s Story”

The “Empty Mausoleum” wired for Electricity

On the main road at section “O” of German Waldheim /Forest Home Cemetery sits a huge but unoccupied mausoleum. It was even wired for electricity, supposedly for interior lighting and even future outdoor lighting. Go figure!

The so called “Empty Mausoleum” was originally built and owned by Ernst Johann Lehmann, who established Chicago’s successful Fair department store in 1875. Continue reading “The “Empty Mausoleum” wired for Electricity”