September 7-10: A Vacation in Palm Springs
June 28 - July 12: Two Weeks in Brazil
Return to Index for 1980

August 14-18, 1980:
My Mom, Jennifer, and Ted Visit Chicago

In August, my mother came to visit, and brought Ted and Jennifer Barbour, my nephew and niece. This was the first time they had been to a big city, and it was only the second time that my mother had been there- the first was in 1974, on the trip during which my father died.

I was looking forward to having my family here for three days. Fortunately, I had enough space to put them all. I gave my Mom the master bedroom, of course, and I gave Ted and Jennifer the guest room. I slept on the convertible sofa in the living room.

There were a number of things I wanted to show them in Chicago- including my condo and the beach nearby. I thought we should go up in at least one of Chicago's tallest buildings, so we chose the tallest of them all- the Sears Tower. (I thought taking them up in the Hancock Center would be overkill, and it wouldn't be as tall anyway.)

I also thought we might visit the Brookfield Zoo out in the suburbs. I have only been there one time myself, and was pretty sure that at least the kids would enjoy going through it; there is nothing comparable in North Carolina.

As it turned out, when my cousin Bill Stelle found out that his favorite aunt Olga was coming, he certainly wanted to see her (and the rest of us, of course). We tried to find a good time to go out to Glenview so Mom could see Abie as well, but it was a busy weekend for them, and going out to his house in Glenview wasn't convenient. So, on the same day we went to the Sears Tower we stopped in at his office on North Wacker Drive; Bill is an Account Executive with Merrill-Lynch. My cousin got a chance to visit with my Mom when we all went out for lunch together, and Ted and Jennifer got a chance to meet their first cousin once removed. (Because Judy and I were late children, and Bill was an early one, Judy and Bill are first cousins, but her kids are a different generation than Bill Stelle.)

My family flew in on Thursday evening, and they departed on Monday afternoon. We did a lot while they were here, and I have the pictures to prove it. Without worrying too much about which day we made which visit, let's just look at all of them.


A Visit to Brookfield Zoo

When I moved to Chicago, I kept my car, although I really don't use it very much. I liked the feeling of independence it gave me, although finding parking on the street was always tricky until I moved to Eugenie Square and got a parking space in the garage. I use it mostly to go back and forth to the airport and for the occasional trip like this one out into the burbs.

The Brookfield Zoo, also known as the Chicago Zoological Park,is located out in Brookfield, a western suburb of Chicago. It is a big zoo, housing around 450 species of animals in an area of 216 acres. It opened on July 1, 1934, and quickly gained international recognition for using moats and ditches instead of cages to separate animals from visitors and from other animals. (Judy and I were first exposed to this type of zoo when we went to visit the Detroit Zoo as children.)

The zoo was also the first in America to exhibit giant pandas (in the 1930s), one of which has been taxidermied and put on display in Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. In 1960, Brookfield Zoo built the nation's first fully indoor dolphin exhibit. The Brookfield Zoo is owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District and managed by the Chicago Zoological Society. The society sponsors numerous research and conservation efforts globally.

In 1919, Edith Rockefeller McCormick donated land she had received from her father as a wedding gift to the Cook County Forest Preserve District for development as a zoological garden. The district added 98 acres (and in 1921, the Chicago Zoological Society was established. Serious construction begam in 1926; after a slowdown during the Great Depression, the zoo opened on July 1, 1934. The zoo was an immediate sensation; 4,000,000 people visited in its first two years.

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We took some pictures during our visit to the zoo, and I thought that rather than put them all right on this page, I would create a slideshow of them that you can move through at your leisure.

You will find this slideshow at right. You can move from one picture to the next by clicking on the little "backward" and "forward" arrows in the lower corners of each slide. In the upper left corner of each slide is an index that will tell you where you are in the sequence of slides.

Enjoy having a look at the pictures from our visit to the Brookfield Zoo!

There is a mini-railroad that carries visitors around the outer perimeter of the park from the North Gate to the Seven Seas Dolphin Habitat, and we took a ride. The Brookfield Zoo is also known for its majestic fountain named after the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. On some days, the fountain's spouting water can reach up to 60 feet high.


At the Sears Tower

I wanted to make sure that Ted and Jennifer got to the top of the world's tallest building, so one morning we made a trip down to the Sears Tower, located in the southwest corner of Chicago's Loop.

At left is an aerial view of my area of Chicago; everthing we did, save for the zoo, we did in this area. Below is the gang outside the Sears Tower at the Jackson Blvd. entrance to the Skydeck.

The Sears Tower, is a 108-story, 1,450-foot skyscraper which, at its completion in 1973, surpassed the World Trade Center towers in New York to become the tallest building in the world, a title it has held ever since. (I might note that the Sears Tower, later renamed the Willis Tower, would not lose its status until 1998; as late as 2008 it was the 4th-tallest building in the world. Beginning in 2010, however, a building boom in the Middle East and the Orient dropped it to 16th place, as of 2017. It remained the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until 2014 and the completion of a new building at the World Trade Center site.

The Sears Tower observation deck, called the Skydeck, opened on June 22, 1974. Located on the 103rd floor of the tower, it is 1,353 feet (high and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Chicago. Tourists can experience how the building sways on a windy day. They can see far over the plains of Illinois and across Lake Michigan to Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin on a clear day.

In my picture at left, taken from the northeast corner of the Skydeck, you can see much of downtown Chicago's north side. The Hancock Center is at the extreme right on Michigan Avenue (the Miracle Mile). As you move left in the picture, you can see the highrise apartments, condominiums, and cooperatives of Lake Shore Drive- the aptly named "Gold Coast". Continuing to move left, you can see the south end of Lincoln Park, which stretches 10 miles up the lakeshore. If you continue left, you will see a short, bright white building; this is a small condominium just south of me on LaSalle Street. Eugenie Square is just behind that short white building. As I am on the south side of my building, 36 floors up, you can see that I have an excellent view of all of downtown- including the Sears Tower.

The Sears Tower is considered the seminal achievement of its architect Fazlur Kahn. More than one million people visit its observation deck each year, making it one of Chicago's most popular tourist destinations. The building was constructed pretty much at the high point of the fortunes of its owner, Sears Corporation. Beginning not long after our visit, Sears began to face stiff competition in each and every one of its merchandise lines, as consumers moved to big-box stores and specialty stores. Sears eventually moved its downsized operations to the suburbs and sold the building; United Airlines is now one of its largest tenants.

Another good picture from taken from the Skydeck is at right. It shows the east portion of the Chicago Loop- the area where I used to work. You can't see Continental Bank, but you can see the headquarters of its rival- the First National Bank of Chicago. It is the sloped-sided building at right. Behind it in the background is the Standard Oil Building, Chicago's second tallest structure. You can see that Chicago is still building, as a new office tower is going up just to the left of First National; I understand that this building will be partially-occupied by components of FNB.

A bit later, when we visit the Hancock Center, you will probably wonder why, at 83 floors, the Standard Oil Building is taller than the Hancock Center, with has 100 floors. The reason is that about fifty of the Hancock Center's floors are residential, and the ceiling height of those floors is a few feet less than for the office floors; the Hancock Center ended up being one foot shorter than its downtown rival. The other two pictures from the Sears Tower (of Jennifer and myself) should have had the flash:



Bill Stelle's Office at Merrill-Lynch

As I said above, we decided to work in a trip to my cousin Bill's office a few blocks north of the Sears Tower. I thought we might have lunch, but he had meetings to attend so we just visited in his office for a while. I should have taken a picture of he and Mom; they spent most of our visit talking to each other, while I shepherded Jennifer and Ted, whom Bill got to meet for the first time. I did take a couple of "staged" pictures of the kids in Bill's high-pressure office environment:

Ted did so well in that trainee position, that they moved him directly into Bill's position, and gave him all of Bill's accounts, his desk, his papers and his computer quotation machine.

Not to be outdone, Jennifer thought that she would give being a broker a try, and is shown here desperately trying to find some stock that relates to horses to sell to one of Bill's customers.


The Loop and the Hancock Center

We did a few other things in downtown Chicago, although we didn't do them all on the same day. No matter, I'll put the pictures for all three of them here. I wanted to show my visitors why Chicago's downtown is called "The Loop", I wanted them to see Chicago's most famous public work of art, and I wanted them to see the view from the top of the Hancock Center. We did the first two after leaving Bill's office, and we visited the Hancock Center a day later.

The Chicago Picasso (often just "The Picasso") is an untitled monumental sculpture the famous artist. The sculpture, dedicated on August 15, 1967, in Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop, is 50 feet tall and weighs 150 tons. The Cubist sculpture was the first such major public artwork in Downtown Chicago, and has become a well-known landmark.

It is known for its inviting jungle gym-like characteristics. Visitors to Daley Plaza can often be seen climbing on and sliding down its base. The sculpture was commissioned by the architects of the Richard J. Daley Center in 1963. Picasso completed a model of the sculpture in 1965, and approved a final model of the sculpture in 1966; charitable foundations paid the $350,000 cost. Picasso himself was offered payment of $100,000 but refused, stating that he wanted to make his work a gift.

The sculpture was initially met with controversy. Before the Picasso sculpture, public sculptural artwork in Chicago was mainly of historical figures. One derisive Chicago City Council alderman, John Hoellen, immediately proposed replacing it with a statue of Ernie Banks, and Chicago publicist and science fiction writer Algis Budrys erected a giant pickle on the proposed site. There was speculation on the subject, which ranged from a bird, or aardvark to Picasso's pet Afghan Hound, a baboon head, or the Egyptian deity Anubis.

Newspaper columnist Mike Royko, covering the unveiling of the sculpture, wrote:

             "Interesting design, I’m sure. But the fact is, it has a long stupid face and looks like some giant insect that is about to eat a smaller, weaker insect."             

Royko did credit Picasso with understanding the soul of Chicago:

             "Its eyes are like the eyes of every slum owner who made a buck off the small and weak. And of every building inspector who took a wad from a slum owner to make it all possible.... You’d think he’d been riding the L all his life."             

But all the carping notwithstanding, folks go out of their way to walk by the sculpture or have their pictures taken with it. Although Picasso never explained what the sculpture was intended to represent, it may have been inspired by a French woman, Lydia Corbett, who posed for Picasso in 1954. Then 19 years old and living in Vallauris, France, Corbett had first met Picasso when she and her boyfriend delivered some chairs to the artist's studio. Picasso was struck by her high ponytail and long neck. "He made many portraits of her. At the time, most people thought he was drawing the actress Brigitte Bardot. But in fact, he was inspired by [Corbett]," Picasso's grandson Olivier Widmaier Picasso told a Chicago newspaper.

I didn't want Ted or Jennifer to miss another iconic Chicago landmark, so I paid 45 cents for each of us and we took a short ride on "The L" around the Chicago Loop.

The Chicago "L" (short for "elevated") is the rapid transit system serving the city of Chicago and some of its surrounding suburbs; it is operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) (no relationship to the Band). It is the second largest rapid transit system in the United States in terms of total route length, at 102.8 miles, and the second busiest as well; New York City holds first place in each category.

Many non-Chicago-residents (and actually a lot of people in the city, too) think that the "L" refers only to the circle of tracks in downtown Chicago- perhaps because the downtown core takes it's nickname from that "loop" of train lines. But the term actually refers to the entire network. It is one of only five rapid transit systems in the United States to operate 24-hours a day on at least part of its network. The oldest sections of the Chicago "L" started operations in 1892, making it the second oldest rapid transit system in the Americas, after New York City's elevated lines.

The "L" has been credited with fostering the growth of Chicago's dense city core that is one of the city's distinguishing features. The "L" consists of eight rapid transit lines laid out in a spoke–hub distribution paradigm focusing transit towards the Loop. Although the "L" gained its name because large parts of the system are elevated, portions of the network are also in subway tunnels, at grade level, or open cut. Upwards of a half-million people use the system each day. We actually rode the "L" around the Loop and then north towards my condo.

A day later I took my three visitors over to the Hancock Center, where we went up to the observation deck to see the view.

The 100-story John Hancock Center is 1,128-feet high- the second tallest building in the world when it topped out in 1968 (the Empire State Building was the tallest) Today, it's the third-tallest in Chicago and sixth-tallest in the United States.

The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums, and contains the highest residence in the world. The building was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building.

From the 95th floor restaurant, diners can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The 94th floor observation deck competes with the one in the Sears Tower, with its 360° view of the city, up to four states, and a distance of over 80 miles. It actually offers a much better view of the Chicago lakeshore than does the Sears Tower; from the north side of the observation floor, where Ted is standing in the picture at left, you can see all the way up the shore of Lake Michigan; on an extremely clear day, you can see Milwaukee.

Although we didn't get to see it, the 44th-floor sky lobby (where residents arrive from their private elevator banks from the ground, and where they transfer to the residential elevators serving the 50 residential floors, features America's highest indoor swimming pool.

I took one other picture up here on the 94th floor, but it did not turn out as well as I had hoped. I really need to get in the habit of using the flash for indoor shots.

The weather was much hazier than it was when we went to the Sears Tower, but I wanted to take a picture of my northside neighborhood. My building is only 16 blocks north of the center of town, so I am very close-in. I wish this had been a clearer picture; I have had to add a little arrow pointing to my building.


The Parkview and My Neighborhood

Of course, we spent a fair amount of time around the condo (I wanted to introduce Ted and Jennifer to in-city, high-rise living) and also to some of the things to do right around my condo. Of course, it being summer, the pool was an attraction.

Mom doesn't go in the water much, but she likes to sit in the sun and try to get a tan. Here she is with the two kids behind her. It was a weekday, and the pool was not crowded.

Steve Goldberg happened by on the way out to the travel agency, so I had him take this picture of me and my house guests.

In honor of my family's visit to Chicago, I went down to Treasure Island and got a chocolate cake, and one evening after dinner we decorated it and had it for dessert. Here is a picture of my mom and the kids in the kitchen with the cake.

Of course, we went out into the neighborhood around the condo, which for the kids meant going across the street to Lincoln Park.

Here are Ted and Jennifer at the temporary entrance to my high-rise. The main entrance was closed because we were reconstructing the lobby and the area right outside where people have to wait for the bus.

This was taken across the street in Lincoln Park, along the lake shore, and shows Ted and Jennifer with the Hancock Building in the background. The day was a nice one, and we had gone out for a walk, leaving mother to relax in the apartment.

We walked around Lincoln Park for a while, although we didn't go as far as the Zoo or the Arboretum (and of course we'd been to the Brookfield Zoo already).

Mom was happy by the pool, but the kids were restless after playing in the pool for a while, so we left Mom to read and the three of us went over to the lake. To get to the lake from my building, you just have to cross one street, and then you can walk through the park to an overpass that takes pedestrians over Lake Shore Drive. Here are the two kids going up and over this pedestrian walkway.

Wandering through Lincoln Park and then over to the beach reminded me very much of the summers we spent in Muskegon, and what Judy and I would do with Mom or Aunt Marguerite on those summer days. We would either go out to Muskegon State Park, near Aunt Marguerite's, or we would go to Elks Park.

Either way, we would do the same thing that Jennifer and Ted would be doing today (with me in the role of the adult, I guess)- going to the beach on the other side of Lakeshore Drive. (Muskegon is on the other side of the lake, but somewhat north of Chicago; it is more directly east from Milwaukee.) It made me think that it would have been nice as Ted and Jennifer were growing up to have had them visit me for a week every Summer, so I could spoil them a bit. But while the kids seemed to enjoy their visit this year, I suspect that it won't be many more years before they will want to stay home and hang out with their own friends- rather than visit an uncle in Chicago. But they seemed to like the city a lot, so maybe I should push Judy to let me bring them up here more frequently. Anyway, we got over Lakeshore Drive to the beach where Ted and Jennifer could go in the water.

As you can see, even though it is a beautiful day, there aren't many people at the lake on this August day, so the kids had the whole thing to themselves. Here they are standing beside one of the lifeguard towers that the city puts out in the Spring and Summer.

Here they are playing in the lake. Pictures like this bring back many memories that I have of when I was the same age and we were going to Muskegon every Summer.

All good things must come to an end, and the visit of Mom and the kids was no exception. On Monday afternoon, I took them out to O'Hare for their Eastern Airlines trip back to Charlotte. Their visit was a very pleasant one, and I look forward to the next time.


You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

September 7-10: A Vacation in Palm Springs
June 28 - July 12: Two Weeks in Brazil
Return to Index for 1980