Granny Clampett Visits the Big City

imageWarning. Hillbilly alert!

Despite having married a man from Chicago, and despite making numerous trips over the past 22 years to the Windy City to visit this man’s mother, I have only been to downtown Chicago once — on a business trip.

We visited her once again last week, and elected this time to venture into the city. I truly felt like Granny Clampett — from the moment we boarded the train until we set our feet back down in suburban Mokena six hours later.

It’s not like I live in Podunk, North Dakota. I live in a major metropolitan area, after all. Denver might not have two baseball teams, commuter trains, an El, and subways, but we do have Casa Bonita and the Coors Brewery.

Nevertheless, I felt like a hillbilly all the same. I think Bill wanted to walk half a block behind me as I gawked up at the tall buildings and pointed my camera at something about every 10 seconds.image

We boarded at the train station nearest his mom’s house, in a southernmost suburban middle- to upper-class community in the morning. As we headed towards the city, we passed through industrial areas, areas with huge houses, and areas that seemed shockingly poor as we neared downtown. We went past Bill’s high school, were very close to the house in which he spent his formative years, sailed past Comiskey Park (now, sadly, called U.S. Cellular Field), and as we neared the city, I spotted Sears Tower (which, again sadly, has the new name of Willis Tower. Hmpfff.) and began to get very excited.

We disembarked the train, and the first thing I noticed was that Bill became a Chicagoan almost immediately. By that I mean he began to walk fast and told me I had to do the same thing.

“You’ll get run down if you don’t,” he maintained. It was rush hour, so he might have been right. I walked fast.

As we walked, he would point out landmarks and buildings in which he had worked. After the first three or four buildings, I asked him, “How many jobs have you had?” Seriously, he pointed out building after building. I had no idea!

The city is remarkable, but one of my favorite things was seeing all of the interesting signage and restaurants we passed. Who knew that the Weber Grill company, which is of course located in Chicago, actually has a restaurant? Apparently all of their food is cooked on Weber grills.


And Harry Carey, of Chicago Cubs fame, has several restaurants in the Chicago area. Their landmark restaurant is downtown with the cutest signage ever….


I found this story of Bill’s to be absolutely amazing. He pointed out this famous restaurant…..image


….and told me when he was a lawyer at a big-time downtown law firm, he used to eat lunch at what they called the Men’s Stand-up Grill. Seriously, men only! Can you imagine? And they would literally eat their hamburgers standing up at a table. Serves them right for not allowing women!

Our trip downtown actually had an express purpose, about which I will write tomorrow. Here’s a hint….






6 thoughts on “Granny Clampett Visits the Big City

  1. Thanks so much for this post. A friend and I are going to Chicago for the first time the end of October. I appreciate all the info. Looks like you are having a great time!

  2. I suggest taking the boat architecture tour if you have the time. We did that with Adam and it was wonderful! Also, at Eatily, have you ever seen cheese so big in your life? I took a photo of the bleu cheese. Last, the “Ghostbusters” looking building with the blue light on top right across from Grant Park is where our oldest son Adam Henry Knudsen lives. (He’s in California this weekend, though, otherwise I’d have him meet you.) Beside having great stories of his Nana (Clare) who doted on him as the first born and lectured me a lot about “first born” stuff, we would also visit Elmer and Leona whenever we were in Columbus for band or baseball and he remembers all of Elmer’s stories. 🙂

  3. When Beckie and I were in NYC we asked our concierge about an architectural tour . We were told that wasn’t one. I love the old ornate buildings nestled in with the modern ones. I was just like you, Kris. I would stop and gawk! I love looking back on all of the pics I took.

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