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.
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….
….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….