My Gift to Leftist Environmentalists

I Grumpa Joe of Grumpa Joe’s Place, Frankfort, Illinois being of unsound mind and a horrible memory, revoke all rights to the following idea.

I bequeath to all elite liberal environmentalists who profess to save the planet from destruction by global warming caused by man-made carbon dioxide emission, and who profess to save the USA by withholding exploration and drilling for oil anywhere within the boundaries of the Continental United States in the hopes that said lack of drilling will drive the price of gasoline to ten dollars a gallon, the following patentable concept for a transportation appliance powered by a multitude of energy sources.

I forgo all rights, monies, and residual earnings that may accrue from the sale of these devices.

I also deem that profits generated from this invention be placed into trust for the sole purpose of funding the Obama Golden Parachute.

Diverse Energy Powered Personal Transportation Appliance

DPO Vehicle Specs

Estimated weight 24,000 pounds

Mileage Range

Gas Power-40 miles

Battery- 40 miles

Solar- add 5 miles

Wind- add 10 miles

Lithium Generator- add 101,000 miles

Pedals, 60 miles

Cost

Standard —$100,000.00

With optional Lithium Di-Sulfide Generator and fuel–$1,000,000,000,000.00

With optional rubber tired steel wheels-$110,000.00

Place your orders with Grumpa Joe at grumpajoesplace.com

The ‘AV’ or Main Street America

High school gave me a freedom to explore.  Classes ended at 1:50 p.m. and basketball practice didn’t begin until 3:30,  that gave me an hour to walk up to Michigan Avenue.  It is a brisk five minute walk from the school, and up the hill to the “Av.”

The “Av,” short for Michigan Avenue, formed the central business district for the Roseland, and surrounding neighborhoods.  The “Av” and “Main Street America,” were one and the same. Walking down MIchigan Avenue between 103rd St and 115th St was the same as walking down the Main Street of Lowell ,Indiana, or Morris, Illinois. Small businesses covered both sides of the street from 107th to 115th.  There were clothing stores, shoe shops, a shoe maker, drugstores, Gately’s People Store, Walgreen’s, a small bike shop, barber shops, photo studio, and more.  Anything needed for life could be found on the “Ave”. There were restaurants, taverns, Dentists, and Doctors mixed in between and above the stores.  At the top of the hill on the corner of 111th and Michigan stood the Mocambo Night Club.

One of my favorite places was the soda fountain at Walgreen’s.  After a day in class, a coke hit the spot.  Mom shopped at Gately’s whenever she needed a special dress. Gately’s ran a bakery and food shop on the lower level.  One of their specialties was the French doughnut.  These were made on the automated donut machine.  I could watch that thing for hours.

The machine consisted of an ovular trough filled with hot cooking oil.  The start point was a dough dispenser, which plopped a ring of raw dough into the oil. The plop cooked in the oil as it moved around the oval.   A new plop followed as soon as the first was out of the way.  Once the plop reached the halfway point, a submerged basket lifted up and flipped it so the uncooked side was in the oil.  The half cooked donut continued to the end where it was again lifted and flipped out of the oil onto a tray as a fully cooked donut.  A worker arranged the finished donuts on the tray. She gave a final touch by sprinkling them with either powdered sugar, dipping them in chocolate frosting, or into plain sugar. When completed, she traded the full tray for an empty, and moved the full tray to the display case.  The process never stopped moving. Today, if you go to a Krispy Kreme donut shop you will see the same donut maker amazing people the same way it amazed me fifty-five years ago. It is also the same machine that amused me  in Hillman’s basement sixty-five years ago.

The Cianci Photo Studio was on the west side of the Ave between  at 113th.  They always featured examples of their work in the window.  High School graduation pictures were among their specialties.  When I graduated Mendel I had my studio picture taken there too.  My ugly face was one of the pictures they put into the window.  That was great from a girl chasing point of view, but I took a lot of flack from the guys.

I often visited the bike shop to look for parts to customize my bike.  There was something about the smell of the shop that turned me on.  The shop was not one of the modern sterile bright show rooms of today.  It was more like an old hardware store where the aisles and walls are stacked with shelves loaded with parts.  The difference being a hardware store didn’t have bikes squeezed into every inch of available floor space.

The owner of the shop was a gray haired man who wore an apron. His hands were black with dirt and grease.  The looked liked my hands when I cleaned my chain or rear wheel with a strong solvent.  The dirty grease gets into every pore and every fingerprint.  It was at this shop that I bought an eleven-tooth cog for my rear wheel.  A classmate from Roseland introduced me to the mechanical advantage offered by sprockets. He told me that putting a smaller sprocket on the back wheel would make the bike faster.  What he taught is correct but that “faster” also requires more torque.  Torque is required to turn the crank.  The force exerted on the pedal transmitted through the crank arm is torque.  The smaller gear required more torque, and since the crank arm is a fixed length, the force has to increase.  I found myself standing on the pedal to get enough force converted to torque to pull the chain that turned the small sprocket.

Once I got the bike moving with this sprocket, pumping continued to be harder. This extra effort got me to thinking that a bike really needs many sprockets on the back wheel. For starting from a dead stop or for climbing hills, a large rear sprocket is needed. Once you gain speed the sprocket can be smaller.  A multiple speed bike, what a novel idea(1952).

In 1972,  I bought a bike for my wife at the Schwinn shop in Evergreen Park.  I bought her a ladies model 5 speed, exactly what I had invented in 1952.  I told the shop owner that if Schwinn was smart they would add the multiple speed rear wheel onto a fat -tired cruiser.  The guy told me it was a dumb idea and that no one would buy it.

A hardtail mountain bike.

Image via Wikipedia

Two years later a kid name Gary Fisher from California put a 5 speed wheel on a cruiser and started riding it up a mountain just so he could have the thrill of coasting down at high speed.  The mountain-bike caught on, and a fad began which pumped new life into a failing bike industry.  The new sport of mountain biking became a rage.  Schwinn finally woke up in the late seventies and sold a crude mountain bike.

The Av was a major commercial area until the late sixties.  By then, shopping malls displaced Main Street.  On the Southwest side of Chicago, Evergreen Plaza became the new hot spot for shopping. One by one, the businesses on the Av closed. The street became quiet, and the storefronts boarded.

The Thief Got Away With the Crime

Photo from myoldpostcards' photostream


During one of my jobs in high school I served as a soda jerk at the Woodlawn Café.  The owner, Joe Fejes let me work evenings.  My job was to make shakes, malts, sundaes, ice cream sodas, pour coffee, and serve pie. Near closing time, I cleaned the fountain and took out the trash.

On this particular night I drove Dad’s green Buick to work. This Buick was the newest car he ever owned even though it was ten years old when he bought it. The nineteen thirty-nine Buick became his favorite.

Woodlawn Cafe sat on the corner of Ninety-fifth Street and Woodlawn Avenue, less than a mile from home. On this dark, cool October night I got permission to drive to work. I wasn’t old enough for a license, but I was driving around the neighborhood on special occasions.  I parked the Buick on Woodlawn next to the restaurant, right in front of the back door.

The Buick had a defect which we tolerated.  The ignition did not work with the key.  All we had to do was turn the knob on the key port, and the starter jumped to life. We continued to stick the key into the switch as a security measure and as a place to keep it while driving.

That evening, business was normal.  It was never super busy at night, but a steady stream of customers came in for coffee and pie, or an ice cream soda.  I also filled some orders for banana splits and sundaes.

At eight p.m. it was time to take the garbage out to the alley.  I opened the door fully expecting to see the Buick standing there, but  it was gone!  My heart jumped into my throat.  Where was it?  I ran to the alley and to the parking lot around the other side of the building, but there was no car.

I rushed into the building and told Mrs. Fejes what happened.  She told me to call the police to report it stolen.  I ran home to make the call.  How would I tell Mom and Dad that someone stole the car?

I fumbled through the phone book to find the number for the Burnside Police Department and dialed. It seemed like forever before I got an answer.  The officer asked me a lot of questions about the car to get a description.  One thing they asked which I couldn’t answer was the license plate number.  I had to get Dad to find the number in his papers.  The police said they would keep their eyes open for it, but until I called them back with the number they couldn’t do much.

At nine o’clock, Mrs. Fejes called us from the restaurant. She saw a car like ours parked by the back door of the restaurant.  I ran all the way back there to check, and sure enough the Buick stood  right where I had originally left it.  I drove it home and parked it in the garage. Early the next morning, before I left for school, two detectives came to the front door. They were following up on the stolen car report.  I told them the story, and showed them the car in the garage before they closed out their report.

I never did find out who took it or why. The only story that makes sense to me is that someone who knew the about the quirky ignition switch took the car for a joy ride and quietly brought it back. They may have enjoyed the ride, but I sure as hell didn’t have any joy that night.

Let Me Back In

This toon is wishful thinking on my part. Wouldn’t it be nice if “we the people” could do something so simple as to lock the man out of the People’s House?

My mother had a way of  dealing with me when I came home later than she approved.  My lovely beautiful mother waited for me just inside, and as I sneakily opened the door to quietly let myself in she hauled off and whacked me in the face.  Then, I listened to her complaints about my behavior in a tone of voice that let the neighbors know I was home. It never changed my behavior, but it made her feel better about herself as a mother.

When I watched the video of Obama going from door to door on the West Wing of the White House trying to get in, I laughed my big butt off. The locked doors didn’t seem to bother him in the least. He kept on whistling and going from door to door until he found one that opened.

Why was he so happy that he whistled on his way to work? Was it because the money he will spend on the new Libyan war fits into his goal to take down the economy? Or did he whistle  because his collusion with a man named Lerner from the SEIU is planning to bring down JP Morgan Chase and Wall Street?  Is it because the US Court system is giving recognition to Sharia Law in decisions? Could it be because he told Hugo and the Brazilians that we want to be dependent on them for our oil? I know, it is because the ACLU is making big strides in its goal to turn America into a communist state.

In my fantasy, I am the one who waits inside that door to let him have the whack on the side of the head the next time he sneaks in from a week of debauchery with foreign leaders.

He is certainly transforming America into the socialist state of his daddy’s dreams.

Dancing on Wheels

Boys rollerskating. "i took a lot of pann...

Image via Wikipedia

SWANK

“There will be a skating party this Thursday night at the “Swank Roller Rink”, came the announcement over the P.A. during Mr. Mills’ class.

What is a skating Party? I wondered to myself. I had to find out. During the lunch break, my friends told me about roller skating.  It seems I was living in a cocoon all by myself.  Most of the kids knew of the Swank Roller Rink, they knew where it was, and they had been there before.  I never heard of indoor roller skating before.

The rink was at 111th and Western.  It was one bus ride down 111th to get there from Roseland.  Many of the boys who attended Mendel lived in Roseland.  I made up my mind to go just to find out what it was all about.  For me, the trip to 111th & Western Avenue seemed like the end of the world.  After all, Western Avenue was the West border of the city.  From my house the total distance was seven miles and three streetcars.  It took me an hour to get there with waiting and all.

The cost to get into the party was 50 cents, plus skate rental.  When I arrived, a big crowd of kids were already there. The girls surprised me the most, I didn’t expect that.  It was a mob scene with kids lined up to rent skates; others were already skating on the big open floor.  They skated in a big circle around the outside walls of the ring.

I got my shoe skates and sat on a bench to put them on.  For a long while, I just sat there afraid to get up.  Finally, one of my buddies saw me and coaxed me to stand up and try.  Whenever I clamped my steel wheel skates to my shoes, I was stable, and when I had my ice skates on I was great, but these shoe skates were different.  Shoe skates had wide wooden wheels and the rink floor was super smooth.  The combination just looked too slippery.

I sat there watching other kids like me get up and fall on their asses.  Others were walking on the skates, holding onto the rails or whatever was near by.  It was hard to look ‘cool’ when your legs were slipping out from under you and you were on your backside every few steps.

I finally got up enough nerve to get out into the action.  At first, I stayed around the edges to be close to a grab point.  The good skaters stayed away from the outside, so it seemed safer there.  It wasn’t too long before I felt comfortable and was skating with ease.  Then I noticed some of my buddies going around backwards.  They could switch back and forth from forward to backward and look good doing it.  Where was I all these years while these guys were skating at the Swank?

A whistle blew and the music stopped.  “Clear the Floor” came the announcement.  Thank God, I thought, “couples only”.  Bunches of couples stayed on the floor.  I was amazed at their ability.  Some of the girls wore short skating skirts.  The organist, who sat in one corner of the room, played a waltz.  The lights dimmed and the couples got to have fun.  I never saw so many talented people gliding around in total synchronization to the music.  It was impressed by the beauty of it al.  At the same time, I was thinking that I’d never be able to do that.

The dancers flowed around the floor to the music.  Guys moving forward, girls backward with spins that ended in a side-by-side swinging glide.  It was fun just watching.  Soon the music ended and the lights came up and the “All Skate” announcement came.

The traffic on the floor during an all skate was thick.  Some were skating backward, couples were dancing, some were racing and then there were guys like me all holding on for dear life trying not to fall down and get run over.  The idea of falling down and getting my hands run over by skaters kept me concentrating on my balance.  Skaters did fall, but when that happened a safety marshal blew his whistle and skated to where you were to help you up.  At least three of these guys skated in the center of the oval waiting for an accident to happen.  They also made sure that skaters weren’t doing things to make it unsafe for others.  Just like a cop in a squad car, the Marshal came to get you if you were skating too fast, playing tag, weaving, or just being a jerk.  It was their job to keep things fun, without injury.

I really enjoyed the dances and looked forward to the chance to sit and watch.  The fox trot was a cool dance, as was the jitterbug.  By the end of the night I was wishing that I could dance and look cool too, not to mention having a girl partner to skate with.

At 10:00 the party ended and the rush to get out began.  The trip home took longer because the street cars didn’t run as often that late.  I’d get home around 11:30; Mom waiting for me, and Dad snored away.

The next day, at school, everyone had a great time talking about each other’s ungraceful falls and their awkward attempts to make contact with girls.

Mendel scheduled skating parties twice a year, but announcements for parties sponsored by other schools came often.

Burning Gas to See the Sights-Yellowstone

In my last travel post, I wrote about our time in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, This story is about our time in Yellowstone National Park.

**************************************************************************************************************************************************

Yellowstone National Park is a magnificent place. It sits in the Northwest corner of Wyoming, a state that is mostly flat. Driving through Eastern Wyoming is dull. Except for the occasional pronghorn antelope, one sees only empty rolling flatlands encircled by barbed wire. Eventually the Wind River Mountains appear on the horizon, and the geography changes.

We drove north out of Jackson Hole and passed the snowless Grand Tetons for the last time.   Yellowstone Park is next to the Grand Tetons and is a short hundred mile drive.

Our original plan was to stay in Old Faithful Inn and to spend a few days looking at all the weird and wonderful geophysical thermal anomalies that comprise Yellowstone. The plan evolved into a one day drive through with lunch at Old Faithful Inn. As I explained in an earlier post, getting a room at Old Faithful on very short notice is the same as winning the Mega-Lottery.

We chose to tour Old Faithful Inn because it is a magnificent structure made entirely of logs harvested from the park. It is one hundred and seven years old, and a National treasure. It is also the centerpiece of Yellowstone Park.

Old Faithful Geyser is a few steps away from the front door of the Inn. When the Inn was constructed, most people traveled to the park to see the geyser. They still do. In the old days, they came by train and continued by way of a yellow bus to the inn.

The main lobby of the Inn is several stories high. There are two giant fireplaces to take a chill out of a weary traveler’s bones. All the stone is from the park. The main architecture of the building was pre-planned as most buildings are. The details of the interior could only have been done by an artist using material gathered from the Park on site as the structure went up. Only Walt Disney could have envisioned the railings, and the gussets that make up the guard rails and sconces in the lobby.

We timed our lunch around the geyser. Ever since discovery of the park by John Colter a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the geysers has been spouting off on a cycle of about one hour. Of course it was spouting off longer than that, but it wasn’t until 1806 that Colter recorded the discovery.

Peggy and I watched two cycles of the geyser and toured the shops in between. The sun was getting low and we had to move on. I deliberately took a longer drive out of the park to give us a view of the many geysers, and boiling mud fields, and paint pots as we could see. We got lucky and sighted a small herd of buffalo and some elk too. I also got to hear an elk bay for a mate; the scariest noise I’d ever heard.

Our Yellowstone journey ended as we passed through the West Entrance. It was amazing to see how quickly the forest was regenerating itself from the fire a few years earlier.

Here are some of the pictures from this segment of the trip.

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Still In Shock

The latest offering of my Steppenwolf Theater subscription is a play titled “Sex With Strangers.” I am still in shock over this play. First of all, it is very current. The characters and the content of the play is now. I thought I was hip, but after viewing this story I am not sure.

Sex With Strangers has two characters: Ethan and Olivia. He is twenty four, she is thirty something. Ethan is a Blogger who writes about his sexual conquests. He has writen a book about the one hundred or more sexual different encounters he has within a single  year. While he is writing, he blogs about his encounters. Olivia is a serious novelist who has no knowledge of the internet and of Blogging for fame.

I had serious problems with the story within the first act. The play opens with Olivia reading a book while sitting in a modestly outfitted home. There is a knock on the door. She ignores it. The knock turns into a pounding and shouting. A man’s voice is shouting let me in. This is where  I have a problem. She goes to the door and lets the guy, a complete stranger, in.

They talk to each other like they know each other, but in fact, are complete strangers. The place turns out to be in Michigan during the winter. Olivia is there to write. Ethan went there to do the same. He is totally disappointed however, because there is no internet service. He is suddenly lost. No phone, no computer connection, he is stuck with Olivia and the old fashioned method of communicating via conversation.

Within the first act and only after a short time of getting to know each other two complete strangers have sex. The only thing they have in common is that they write. The sex scene is portrayed by the set going dark. In the first half of the play before before the intermission, the lights go dark four times.

Although I was totally shocked by the content and the culture portrayed by these characters, this play was totally enjoyable, and understandable.

Stephen Louis Grush who played Ethan only had one flaw. He was tattooed over much of his body. The ‘toos, although current and contemporary, left me wondering about the guys sexuality. He also resembled a man I knew on my job. I kept seeing Chris not Ethan.

Olivia played by Sally Murphy was totally hot.  I only hope she has mopre sense in real life than her character had.

Both actors gave very convincing performances. All in all, this story was among the very best I have seen at Steppenwolf.

Five stars * * * * *

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