Old Kenosha

This week’s Happenings magazine has a section called “It’s Your Hometown Memories”.  It includes a lot of old Kenosha photos and businesses from way back when.  It’s pretty surprising to know some of them have survived for so long!  I thought it would be interesting to list some of them along with a few of my related memories of them.  Unfortunately I can’t include photos from the magazine due to legal reasons, but I’ll try to describe anything I found interesting in them as best I can.

Brat Stop started up in 1958 as a tiny little place that looked like a drive-in restaurant.  It was located on Highway 41 long before I-94 even existed.  I saw Oceans at Brat Stop with Hans D long ago.

Javelin Restaurant was located on the corner of 22nd Avenue and 60th Street, was started in the 1980’s when AMC was the big manufacturing giant in Kenosha, and was obviously named after the AMC Javelin.  I don’t recall ever going to this restaurant, but it was fairly close to our family’s home, which was 6611 20th Avenue, very close to uptown Kenosha.  It was owned by Vasilios (Bill) Anastopoulos, who apparently later moved on to build the successful Anastos Motors car dealership in Kenosha.  I’ve watched this high-traffic corner location change hands many times over the years

Bernacci’s Drug Store was located uptown where Fire Station #3 is today, at 63rd Street and 22nd Avenue.  This business wasn’t mentioned in Happenings at all, I just remembered it when I was thinking about Javelin Restaurant (those darned “member berries” again…)  I remember, as a kid, the huge fire that occurred there, burning the store to the ground.  Since it was only a couple blocks from home, my friends and I all ran and biked there and watch the firefighting & chaos as it unfolded.  My attempts to find more information about Bernacci’s on the web have failed.  Am I spelling it wrong, maybe?

The Music Center, now located on Green Bay Road, opened up in the 1940’s.  I had no idea it had been around so long.  Where it was originally located, I have no idea.

Happenings Magazine has been around for 40 years – since 1977.  It’s a free local magazine we usually pick up at local restaurants and gas stations.  It is currently located in the old American Brass Administration Building, 1420 63rd Street.  Gotta include a little self-promotion in their own magazine, so there it is.  It’s funny how the entire section is mostly ads (as the magazine always is), but a lot of the ad content for each business contains their historical significance, and Most pages of ads “interconnect” with each other and the photos in the pages near them, making it more like one big article you’re reading.  Nice work, I enjoyed it.

Chester Electronics was located next to the train tracks on 60th Street, and I remember going there many times with my dad (both of us were gadget geeks) as a kid, buying CBs, police scanners, crystals–one crystal was need for each scanner frequency you wanted to listen to, so they had to be hand-made (or tuned) for that frequency.  This took a week or two after ordering, then you could come in and pick up that crystal and install it in your scanner.  This was way before today’s scanners, which provide entire bands and you just electronically tune in (or scan entire bands) to listen to them.  Chester’s eventually moved to it’s current location, where National Foods once was–7709 Sheridan Road.  Chester Minkowski is the owner.  I’m not sure what year it opened, or whether Chester is still alive, as that information wasn’t included.  Oh, and do you want to see the worst website ever?  Check it out: http://chesterelectronics.com/

Lou Perrine’s gas station (aka “One Stop Shop”) has been around for 62 years – Since 1954.  It is now located on 52nd Street and Sheridan Road.  I noticed a YouTube logo next to this one, so out of curiosity I had to check.  Very nice!  It contains video ads, as expected, and they’re interesting… I had no idea they even did home delivery…$5 delivery charge, but they insist on NO TIPS!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jppVnBhbVik

Thomas B. Jeffery Company was founded in 1902.  It evolved into Nash Motors in 1916, American Motors in 1954, and Chrysler in 1987.  Later it was reduced to just the Chrysler Engine Plant.  It closed in October 2010 and was demolished in 2013.  I worked there for 5 years–1985 to 1989–as a Security Guard.  Looking back on it, those were some interesting and fun times, I must say.  I was hired at $4.50/hr and worked my way up to the maximun $6.50/hr by the time I left.  I was hired after a bunch of restructuring of the Security department and mass-layoffs of the “old guard” who were still unionized and paid much more money as a result.  The restructuring ended up with most of those guard either quitting or retiring and the wages being more than cut in half.  I wasn’t looked upon very favorably by most for taking the job, but for me I had just graduated from Tech College and had been looking for work, and figured any job is better than no job.  I was surprised it lasted as long as it did.  I was looking for PC Tech work (and doing side PC work) pretty much the entire 5 years…though not very aggressively.  I was laid off during another of the many cutbacks they did in those days leading up to the final closing.

Guttormsen’s Recreation Center, now located on Green Bay Road and 52nd Street, began in 1919 on 6th Avenue downtown, where the KVNA building now stands, across the street to the North of the Municipal Building.  As a kid I remember a friend working there as a pinsetter.  And I also remember “someone” obtaining a large quantity of soap and dumping it into the large Municipal Fountain located on 6th Avenue one evening, and watching as the fountain overflowed with soap suds!

The Elk’s Club, located at 5706 8th Avenue, is now The Heritage House, and is a historic Kenosha building.  I don’t think this one was was even mentioned in the Happenings section, but I just remembered it now, having worked at the Elk’s Club as a dishwasher for two years, part-time, while I was in high school.  Here’s the history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosha_Elks_Club

I think that’s about half of the section so far.  I’m finding it pretty interesting myself.  I’ll probably post the other half soon, if time permits.  Thanks for visiting!

All Hallow’s Eve

It’s coming up fast.  Trick-or-Treating…haunting season is upon us.  I’ve watched a few scary movies–including Stephen King’s IT–to get in the mood, and remind me of what all the creepy clown crap is about.  Silliness is all.  At least it’s a distraction from this presidential election mess… now THAT is scary!

Kevin stopped trick-or-treating a couple years ago, so we have no more kids to walk through the neighborhood begging for candy.  Kinda sad, actually.  I really enjoy seeing everyone in costumes, out walking around, having a good time.  Especially Christmas Lane in Kenosha.

These days, with no more kids to take out trick-or-treating 🙁 I like to take Socks out, in-costume, and walk through Christmas Lane during trick-or-treating, just to enjoy seeing the costumes and decorations all around.  Since we live only a few blocks from there now, it’s an easy walk for us.  So that’s what Socks and I will be doing this year, on Halloween, 5pm-6pm.  Trick-or-treating is 4-6, but I get off work at 4, so I can’t get there until 5pm.  It’s sad it’s only 2 hours now.  I remember it being a much longer period of time most other years, going well into the night.  But with all of the safety concerns with kids out in the dark, they probably feel it’s much safer this way.  But I just don’t see why they can’t have it start a few hours earlier, so it’s longer, and still have it end at 6pm, when it starts getting dark… Maybe there’s not enough people home from work to hand out candy if it was earlier…?

Tired. Literally.

Last week was very busy. Wednesday, on my way to work I had a blowout. My right front tire blew as I was driving to work. I was in Kenosha county, so at least the tow wasn’t too bad. I couldn’t get the trunk open to get to the spare and the jack (darn it, I was SO looking forward to changing a tire, too!) so I called my insurance company’s roadside assistance hotline. They give you the option to locate you via GPS, so I went that route. As it turned out, they pinpointed me on the wrong road, sending the tow truck somewhere else. But the towing service call me back and I provided them with a mailbox number nearby, then they were able to find me.

My car was fixed by late that evening, and only took that long because they found other issues that also needed tending to, so I opted to have those done as well, as long as it was already in the shop. I ended up with new 4 new tires, new brakes, and some other undercarriage equipment that’s apparently important, but I don’t even know the terms or what they do. All I know is that my car rides much smoother and I no longer have “slicks” that sqeal when I turn corners, even at slow speeds. Nice and quiet.

Then, late Saturday evening, as I was leaving the house, I notice I had a FLAT TIRE! A brand new tire, and it’s almost completely flat. It looked like it still had SOME air in it, so I drove to the gas station a few blocks away and filled it up, then ran my errands and came back home. Sunday morning I checked it again and it was flat, this time completely. Ah, good times. I found a small electric air compressor in the garage–I think it was from my dad’s estate–it worked nicely, plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car. Once I started the car, the pump came on, and the tire was filled in a few minutes. The garage opened in a couple hours, so I figured it would still have enough air in it to get me to the garage by the time they opened. The garage found a two-inch sheetmetal screw embedded in the tire and showed it to me. Man, was it sharp! That car went fine on it’s original tires for 7 years with no problems at all (they were pretty bald though), then when I get new ones, within 3 days I run over a screw and puncture one! That’s my luck I guess. The shop just said “Yeah, that’s about how it goes.” Arrgh. It was covered though, so no big deal. Maybe I should have asked if I could have the four quarters back that I used to fill the tire back up…

Checking in

Today I finished reading/listening to Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” for the third time.  I can’t get enough of this stuff.  I think it’s all the nostalgia.  Though the story takes place in the future, the book focuses on everything from the 80’s that I loved.  The games, the movies, and everything else.  From the videogame Joust & Pac-Man to the movies “WarGames” and “Monty Python & The Holy Grail”, it’s all there.

I’ve been playing Ingress lately, as usual, which is a blast, but unfortunately since any details I post here are fully public, and I hate to provide any “intel” that could (and always is) used against our faction, I can’t say much about my gameplay.  Suffice it to say that I’m a member of the Resistance (Blue) faction.  There are two factions in Ingress — The Enlightened (Green) and The Resistance (Blue).   We “battle” for controlling areas of the real world using GPS and Google Maps by aquiring “portals”, which are usually landmarks,  works of art, murals, statues, or other “places of interest” in the real world. Resist Greens are nicknamed “toads” or “frogs” and Blues are nicknamed “smurfs”.  You aquire portals for your team by finding them on your Ingress “scanner” when you travel (preferably by walking) to them, attacking them if they’re owned by the opposite faction, and taking control of them for your team.

In our area (Kenosha) we are currently overrun, a.k.a “infested” with toads.  Since I am a smurf, this provides a lot of options for attacks without having to travel far.  There are hundreds of portals in Kenosha alone, not to mention the thousands all around the world.  If there’s a landmark that isn’t a portal yet, you can submit it, and after it’s accepted (usually within a few weeks), the landmark then becomes a portal you can use in the game.  So anyway, it’s very fun, but we could use more smurfs (BLUE).  If you have an Android phone (soon it’ll be released for iPhone as well), please consider joining The Resistance and joining in on the fun.  We could really use your help.  And, if you join our faction, I’ll be glad to help you level up as quickly as possible, so you can help us “Keep Kenosha Blue”, instead of being covered in green toad slime, as it is now.

All things geek

No apologies this time. If it seems like I haven’t been posting much, it’s only because I’ve been posting elsewhere. There are also many things that I post, that I simply CAN’T post here, because it’s too public. I frequently play Ingress with a group of Resistance members in this area, and a lot of what we discuss is considered “intel”, which helps us in our battle against the area “Enlightened”, which is our opposing team. The game is currently played on Android devices and uses Google Maps and your GPS. It is played worldwide, and is becoming quite popular. Next month its coming out of “beta” status, and will be open to everyone, no longer requiring an invitation from other players. Anyone can download the app and become an agent for The Resistance (blue–aka “smurfs”) or The Resistance (green–aka frogs or toads) and join in the fight to control the world. If you should get the urge, I strongly suggest you join the Resistance. We could really use your help. If you do “go blue”, I can help. Seek me out. Training, gear, advice, whatever you need–even the occasional “ride-along” if you’re local to the Kenosha area, we can group-attack the slimy toads and keep the Kenosha-area’s skies shining bright and blue, instead of smog-filled green.

Sorry, I tend to get carried away once I start talking Ingress. Back to my posts: Most of the time, I post on G+. I’m not a big Facebook fan these days, so I use G+ instead, whenever I want to post something public. I know it doesn’t reach as many people, but it’s still public nonetheless. I’m not actively seeking to extend my readership at this time, so I figure what the heck. There are some valid reasons I like G+ over Facebook, and some day soon the tides are going to change in G+’s favor, so I’m just getting a jump on it.

Christmas is rapidly approaching, as well as Thanksgiving! At least we managed to get Kevin off wanting a X-Box One or PS4 for this year… Wow, those new consoles are a bit pricey, but that’s normal for something brand new I guess. I think we’ll wait and see how things shake out, the prices drop once or twice, and see who’s system turns out becoming the most popular and has the best titles and innovation. It’s going to be a cool battle to watch. They certainly aren’t going to get my $60-per-game any time soon unless they start offering “combo” games that run on their new system as well as their old system! This is probably a good idea too… If old-console users then start accumulating titles that contain both versions of their games, they’re probably going to think harder about the need to buy the new version.

Kevin and I went to Sam’s Club yesterday to pick up a few things, and we found that they had a couple very cool “retro” gaming consoles! For about $50 you can get an Atari Flashback 4, which is a slimmed down, tiny version of the Atari 2600, with 75 of it’s best games built in. Or for about the same price you can get a Sega Genesis Classic Console which has 80 games built-in. Or even a “Genesis Portable” for a little more, which gives you the same games, but in a hand-held portable format. Today’s kids probably wouldn’t stick to either of these things for more than a few minutes per game, I’m guessing, before getting bored. These are probably geared more toward “old schoolers” or “old farts” who grew up with them, and want to relive their youth in their second childhood. Which is probably why I got so excited when I saw them. Think it through, Jim, think it through: I would probably play my favorites first, maybe burn a few hours working into them, come back a few more times, then get bored myself and there it sits. I’d occasionally come back when I longed for some flashbacks to “the good old days”, but mostly it’d sit, probably in the living room attached to the TV, collecting dust, just like I do most of the time, when I’m not working or playing Ingress. Geez, just saying the word “Ingress” is like the dog in the movie “Up” when he sees a “SQUIRREL!” Nothing else matters at that moment, and focus is instantly switched. I almost did it again.