Sunday, May 15, 2011


Anyone who knows me knows I love Chicago. I was raised there, went to school there, my parents, grandpapers, uncles and aunts are buried there. I would go back in a minute if my husband would just say the word, but he loves Florida, so here we stay. And, truthfully, I don't think I could take the fast pace any longer. Florida has definitely calmed me down and mellowed me out. But I miss being a Chicagoan.

Before today's Mega Theme Parks, there was Riverview Park in Chicago, Date Opened: 1904, Date Closed: 1967. This was where we went as kids - here and Kiddieland. We may have dreamed of Disney but we all went to Riverview. It was located at Western and Belmont Ave 's, (from Western Ave. to the Chicago River; from Belmont to Lane Tech High School , the high school my husband attended, which still remains. I went to St. Scholastica Academy for Girls. SSA girls drooled over Lane boys - and I got one.)

This was the "Silver Flash"... a small train traveling on a wooden track trellis. No safety belts or padding, just a "grab bar" ....and you did!!!

Note: not even a fence between the River and the Park grounds.

From the top of the "Shoot the Chutes"... a twenty foot wooden boat that went down a forty foot high slide into a small lake! Again, just a grab bar for safety.

This was the ride up on the "Pair-O-Chutes"... the seat was a single plank of wood with chains to keep you in place. You rose 65 feet in the air and then dropped until the chute filled and brought you down to the ground. To this day, the single scariest ride I ever went on.

I remember vividly going on this ride with my mom and when we reached the bottom she discovered someone had stolen her wallet. She had no money to call my dad to pick us up and I was about ten years old. We panicked. Wonderful people helped us that day. Chicago was a huge group of small communities, there was no big city mentality then.

A walk along the midway... the "Flying Turns" in the background. The roller coaster car went free rolling in an open topped chute. Again, gravity was your safety harness.

The Merry-Go-Round (my favorite still) is the only ride that still exists. It now is at Six-Flags in Atlanta , Georgia .

Aladdin's Castle (Fun House). Anyone from Chicago who remembers Riverview has this face in their head, for good or for bad, as the symbol of our old park. I never, never went into Alladin's Castle - tooo spooky.

You Might Be From Chicago If:

1. The 'living room' is called the 'front room'.
2. You don't pronounce the 's' at the end of Illinois . And, you become irate at people who do.
3. You measure distance in minutes (especially 'from the city'). And you swear everything is pretty much 1/2 hour away.
4. You have no problem spelling or pronouncing ' Des Plaines '.
5. You go to visit friends, or family, down south and laugh when they complain about the traffic.

6. You understand that no person from Chicago can be a Cub fan AND a White Sox fan.
7. It's 'Kitty corner' not 'Katty corner'.
8. You know the difference between The Loop and Downtown
9. You eat your pizza in squares, not triangles, and you never refer to it as 'pie'.
10. You own celery salt.

11. You understand that the primary is the official local election.
12. You have drunk green beer on St. Paddy's Day.
13. Stores don't have sacks, they have bags.
14. You end your sentences with an unnecessary preposition. Example: 'Where's my coat at?' or 'Can I go with?' My English teacher had fits with this one.
15. Your idea of a great tenderloin is when the meat is twice as big as the bun, 'everything' is on it and a slice of dill pickle is on the side.

16. You carry jumper cables in your car.
17. You drink 'pop', not soda.
18.. You understand that I-290, I-90, I-94, and I-294 are all different roads.
19. You know the names of the interstates: Steve nson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Dan Ryan, and the Eden's.
20. You call the interstates 'expressways'.

21. You refer to anything South of I-80 as 'Southern or Central Illinois '.
22. You refer to Lake Michigan as 'The Lake '.
23. You refer to Chicago as 'The City'.
24. 'The Super Bowl' refers to one specific game in January 1986..
25. You have two favorite football teams: The Bears, and anyone who beats the Packers.

26. You buy the 'Trib', not the 'Tribune' or the 'Times', not the 'Sun Times'.
27. You know that despite being on the lake, there is no such place as the Waterfront.
28. You think 45 degrees is great weather to wash your car.
29. You picnic or ride your bike in the 'forest preserve'..
30. You cried when Bozo was canceled on WGN.

31. You know what goes on a Chicago style hot dog.
32. You know what Chicago Style Pizza REALLY is.
33. You know why they call Chicago 'The Windy City '.
34. You understand what 'lake-effect' means.
35. You know the difference between Amtrak and Metra, and know which station they end up at.

37. You have ridden the 'L'.
38. You think your next door neighbor is a cousin toTony Soprano.
39. You can distinguish between the following area codes: 847, 630, 773, 708, 312, & 815.
40. You have, at some time in your life, used your furniture...or a friend's body, to guard your parking spot in winter.

41. You respond to the question 'Where are you from?' with a 'side'. Example: 'Westside,' 'Southside or 'North Side.
42. You know the phone number to 'Empire Carpet'!
43. You know what a 'garache key' is!

Da Bears


LucyParker said...

Great Chicago memories, Karen! I was on Bozo's circus, did the pingpong in a bucket game. Did you ever get a Cuddly Duddly from the Trib for subscription renewal? He came in a big box that looked like a Buckingham Palace guard house. I feel my anglophilia started then.

Chicago never leaves you. Thanks for this!

LucyParker said...

You just made me remember this - listening to Larry Lujack on WLS late at night, transistor radio earbud in my ear. I can still smell the plastic and burning transistors of that little radio. Oh, yeah.

Karen Wasylowski said...

Everyone loved Larry Lujack! Remember Dick Biondi - he may be before your time. I workd at CBS radio for a while and remember seeing him sitting there in the middle of the room on a straight back chair looking so out of place(way after he had left Chicago air) and waiting for an interview.

Debbie Brown said...

My hubby grew up in Chicago. He'll be wanting to see this. I'd love to visit there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I have only lived in Chicago since 2002, but I can answer yes and laugh to just about all of those identifiers. And I DO own celery salt. It might be my favorite seasoning :). Great on a hot dog. Great in tuna salad sandwiches :). I had no idea there was an amusement park at Western & Belmont. Pretty sure that's a strip mall now. How neat!

And I've always thought it was funny that Illinois = Illinoy but Des Plaines = Dez Plainz. Haha!