11/6/2013 3:33:00 PM
You’d be hard pressed to see anybody who is in a band wearing leather pants today, but in the early-mid eighties, they were a sign of coolness. While I only moved up as far as parachute pants, I would often browse the isles at Cherryvale’s Merry Go Round.
Should I get the black or red? I often asked myself the question. What color of bandanas would go with this? There was always a friendly, helpful and, did I mention friendly salesgirl standing by to help. I think they all worked on commission, because most were downright touchy/feely. That is, unless you told them upon walking in that you had no money.
Merry Go Round did quite well following fads to make serious cash in the 70s and 80s until the nineties rolled along. They must not have stocked any Luke Perry apparel. One by one the stores closed until the ...
Testors (Paint. Models and More)
10/16/2013 3:46:00 PM
Usually I write about the found memories of stuff that isn’t around anymore. Going through my junk drawer one day I found an old bottle of Testors paint and realized it would be just the right color to do some touch-up on my car. I guess at the time I didn’t realize that Testors is still around and still on Blackhawk Park Blvd. in Rockford.
The paint bottles, glue, and cement tubes still look the same. Yes, they’re on the web now and have some modern craft and air-brush kits, but you can still buy the latest hot-rod model and put it together using all stuff with the name Testors stamped on it.
I can still feel the sting of my index finger after the kickback from attempting to start my Testors-Gas powered airplane. Before crazy or super glue, Dad would steal a few drops of Testors cement for minor ...
Jaycees Haunted House
10/2/2013 11:35:00 AM
Today there's haunted barns, trails and some defunct box stores. I used to get my screams in (or tight squeezes from girls) at abandoned old residences. There was nothing high-tech about it, except for some black or strobe lights and a bit of fog and screams on cassette. I truly remember being scared at some point.
Maybe building codes , permits and insurance restrictions were looser in the '70s, but these haunted houses would be in actual old houses that looked like they could be haunted. Sometimes the steps or floor would be a little on the soft side. Random sections of the floor would be covered with cardboard, carpet or old street signs.
The costumes were scary and many areas were pitch black. I remember walking into a wall or two and when you least expected it, something or somebody would touch or even grab you. I think I ...
9/11/2013 6:00:00 AM
I stumbled across “Empire Records” on cable awhile back. It seemed familiar to me: A record store with posters plastered all over the place. Employees were singing to the latest cult hit blasted through the store much to the chagrin of the old people in the classical section. The place I remembered was Appletree Records at Edgebrook.
I was there for many album signing parties and midnight sales when a new release came out. All that stuff was exciting. There seemed to be an event every week.
The people who worked there actually knew about the music they were selling. They were passionate about the music! They wore the garb of the time and spoke “the speak”. I remember a girl named Kristen even had an Alternative show on WYBR called “Don’t Blink”.
Sadly, you can’t compare record stores today to Appletree, ‘cause there aren’t any. The closest thing would ...
On The Waterfront
8/28/2013 6:00:00 AM
It began as a street party with a Michael Jackson impersonator and went on to become Illinois largest music festival. I made it to every On The Waterfront during its 29-year run, and now there's a huge blank spot on my August/September calendar that was once filled with the letters OTWF.
I saw Cheap Trick there and then saw them again. The same goes for Alice Cooper. I witnessed a inspiring gig from blues legend Albert Collins just months before his death. I got a hi-five from Def Leppard singer Joe Elliot and listened to Steve Miller yell at members of his band during a sound check. I could go on for ten more pages about the music on every stage on both sides of the Rock.
For years, my first stop was on the northwest side of the Jefferson Street Bridge for a pork chop sandwich (or two). Just ...
(Encore) The AMC Pacer
8/14/2013 6:00:00 AM
When WCEE Channel 23 became WIFR in 1977, they signed on a new modern looking Action News. I still can remember the intro to the news cast. (see it here). All to the tune of “Classical Gas”, there was the shot of the control room, a helicopter (which I don’t believe they ever owned) and reporters with cameramen scurrying around in a shiny AMC PACER.Yep, I believe they had a fleet of them.
The AMC Pacer was first introduced in 1975 and produced in Kenosha’s assembly plant. The company introduced it as “the first wide small car”. It did look like a bloated Gremlin. Car and Driver called it “the flying fishbowl”, and I often wondered how many carp from the Kishwaukee could swim around if a Pacer were to be filled like an aquarium. Check out the first commercial.
In high school, my friend Benny had one with ...
(Encore) The Belford
7/24/2013 6:00:00 AM
It sounds like a cliché from an old teen movie, but it’s true: I spent many a Friday or Saturday night in the trunk of somebody’s car keeping a warm case of Old Milwaukee company while cruising through the entrance to the Belford Drive Inn. I believe the theatre eventually caught on to my tricks and started charging by the carload.
For a few years, The Belford on East State (at the site of Showplace 16) was the social center of my universe. We all gathered, roamed between the two screens and occasionally even watched the movie. Friendships were formed, girls were met only to leave with the rich guy or football player and occasionally there would be a tussle between two social subgroups and/or High Schools.
All trouble al The Belford was diffused by one of the twin ushers. In fact, sometimes mortal enemies would bond over the question, ...
Don's Hobbie's and Toys (Encore)
7/10/2013 6:00:00 AM
Without hesitation, whether it was a Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo, model rocket or those “Click-click” thingies, Don’s Hobbies and Toys was the place to go first. The whole family could pull up in the Vista Cruiser and there would be something for everybody except dad, who would take that time to stop off at the liquor store for another case of Falstaff in returnable bottles.
The Rockford Plaza location was actually the first place I discovered all the true magic that is a “live radio remote broadcast”. Doug McDuff was there with WRRR and it looked like he was actually playing music on those 15 inch turntables. But I digress.
I can remember buying one of those little gas-powered airplanes there and having the hardest time getting it going. After nearly spraining my finger from the winding, winding and the springing back of the propeller, I convinced Mom to drive me ...
The Mary Burger
6/26/2013 6:00:00 AM
Mary’s Kitchen was a little restaurant on South Main around the area where Klehm Arboretum now sits today. To walk inside the little house, was to experience your grandma’s basement that she thoughtfully decorated in the ‘70s with plastic flowers and velvet portraits included. It was a sight to behold.
I told myself I wouldn’t write this around meal time. Excuse me while I salivate. The Mary Burger was much taller than your mouth opened at its widest. It had the fattest patty you’ve ever seen, a very large tomato slice, an eighth of ahead of lettuce and what appeared to be a quarter cup of mayo smeared on the bun. You could hardly close the Styrofoam to go container. In the ‘90s, my workplace would send me to put up an order of ten or so. Triple-bagging was required to make it from the counter to the car without ...
Tubin' The Kish
6/12/2013 6:00:00 AM
Usually on the day after the last day of school my group of buds would plan our first voyage of the summer. No navigation maps were required; and lifeboats? I guess you could say we were already in them. The only provisions required: beverages, snacks, sun block and some music.
On a hot summer day the mighty Kishwaukee resembled the river inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It was nice a mud. There was just enough current to push our tractor tire inner tubes along at a knot or so. The destination for our cruise was wherever the other car was parked. We usually put in at Cherry Valley and took out at Atwood Park in New Milford. There was no timetable because nobody wore a watch.
When our system was finally perfected, we had a separate raft for the cooler and boom box. Chaos would ensue if that got away ...