How are your childhood memories holding up these days? Mine are taking a beating! No, not just because I'm getting older and less inclined to remember things from 30+ years ago, but also because the places with which I associate my memories are vanishing.
Yesterday's announcement that Kiddieland would be closing down soon made me awfully sad. Kiddieland seemed magical to me when I was growing up. It was inexpensive and close to home, and yet almost as exciting as our annual vacation in the Wisconsin Dells - and that was pretty darned fun. When I began taking graduate level classes at Dominican University in River Forest a few years ago, one thing that made the long commute bearable was a glimpse of the multi-colored, glittering lights of this childhood wonderland. My siblings and I have many a tale to tell about happy nights at Kiddieland.
Did you have a favorite ride or attraction? Those cool dune buggies with the horns that really worked? The tiny little cars you pumped with your hands, using a circular wheel? The tractors? The miniature Ferris wheel? Were you one of those lucky kids who had a birthday party at Kiddieland, complete with transportation in a fire engine? Feel free to post your comments and memories below.
Without getting too personal, my high school just shut its doors after 43 years (the school opened the year I was born and shut during the year of my 25th reunion - NOT that I'm taking it personally!). While I attended high school, I lived very near to the abandoned "Adventureland" amusement park, and currently live close to the eerily silent "Santa's Village" complex. In today's paper, I read a story that must have shocked many a resident of Des Plaines - Sim's bowling alley will shut down in the next few weeks, another victim of foreclosure during tough economic times. My parents often reminisce about days at Riverview, and the many elegant ballrooms, stores and theatres in early 20th century Chicago - many of them gone.
You can't escape what some call "progress," but how do you share the memories and relive these simpler pleasures that brought you joy? You may enjoy perusing a series of books called "Images of America," many of which cover subjects specific to Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. For example, there are volumes on: Chicago's State Street Christmas parade, Riverview Amusement Park, various ethnic groups such as Czechs and Italians, Route 66, and suburbs such as Glenview and Palatine. To find these volumes, just go to our Catalog and search "images of America." The "Voices of America" series has similar titles.
The Internet is another place to relive your favorite childhood memories and meet up with like-minded people. For example, the sad news about Kiddieland made me curious to see how some of the old rides are holding up - and sure enough, there's a Flickr photo sharing group just for pictures of the park! Visit it here, it will make you smile.
Looking for something livelier than photographs? You will be amazed by The Museum of Classic Chicago Television, aka "Fuzzy Memories." If you remember the 7 year plus waiting list to get on Bozo, if you remember the old "Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom," "Empire Carpet" commercials, Svengoolie or the simple fact that it was "North West Federal Savings time, 63 hours a week!" you have to check out the Fuzzy Memories of this online museum. You'll also find video snippets from locally aired national shows, like "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert," which kept me up WAY too late on many weekends, and what can best be described as local oddities, like the "Starbeat Presents What's Happening" jingle! The archives at this site are constantly growing and there is always something new to make you laugh out loud and transport you to days gone by.
Need help locating information on your childhood haunts and memories? Just ask as the Reference Desk, we're always happy to help. Oh, and if anybody out there knows - what' s going to happen to The Depot pizzeria once Sim's closes? I LOVE that pizza!!!! Thanks to Web site Mildred's House of Signage for the beautiful photo of the Kiddieland sign.