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!

Happy Birthday, Dad!


Today is my dad’s birthday. If he had a Facebook page, I’d be uploading this photo to it. He was born 3/19/1931. I miss the old fart. He would have been 84. He died 6/7/2008. These numbers just came to me out of the blue, I have no idea how or why I have them memorized, but there they are.

His nickname was “Bozzo”, misspelled just that way. Because of the way his hair stuck out on both sides when he woke up in the morning. Such a clown.

I just finished an audiobook called “AsapScience: Answers to the world’s weirdest questions, most persistent rumors, and unexplained phenomena”. Wow, that title got me right away. It was a fairly short book though – only a couple hours long. One of the things explained in it is why time seems to go faster the older we get. The days and the summers of our childhood seemed to last forever, and now, being over 50, everything just zips by so fast it’s crazy. I think, as a result of this, most of the memories I have of my father are from my childhood.

The Hong Kong Flu nearly killed him when I was a kid.

He used to by me electronic toys, or buy one for him and one for myself so I could learn how to use it and show him how to. Plenty of visits to Chester’s Electronics and Radio Shack were made, and I once bought a “build-it-yourself computer”. The rest, as they say, is history. He put the bugs in my head and they shaped my life.

He was a hoarder. Rummage sales and flea markets were his favorite excursions, and he just HAD to come back with something every time. He was a CB’er and a scanner enthusiast, always listening to both, and he really enjoyed the early days of cell phones, when nothing was digital and with the right type of scanner you could constantly eavesdrop of dozens of personal phone conversations at any given time. Ah, those were the days.

He lived the American Dream: He built a large family (7 children), worked 40 years to retirement, and had a long happy marriage. I think ALL of those things are amazing accomplishments. These days, any one of those seems next to impossible.

Anyway, nice job dad. You did great. I wish I had told you sooner.  Here’s some photos.

Software scams, Baitware, Phishing…

It seems like nearly EVERYTHING you install these days comes with a catch.  You need to be careful not to do an “Automatic” or “Full” install of anything, because they means “go ahead, install everything”, or “go ahead and install whatever you want”, and that will almost always get you in trouble.  Even totally legitimate applications and the big-name software makers will do this now, which makes it very annoying all the way around, and actually ends up getting me more side work….Cleaning up users’ PCs when they slow way down or start getting uncontrollable popups.  This is not a good thing.  Sure, I could always use the work, but I’d rather not have to clean up after these program vomit their garbage all over a customer’s hard drive.  Users have enough problems without adding all this mess, and it only causes them more frustration, sometimes ending with them hating Windows or their computer manufacturer for giving them all of these headaches. Make sure to get a file recovery software to keep all your documents safe.

If you’re careful though, with each and every install and mouse click, you can minimize your chances of having these problems.  It’s the same with the web and junk e-mail.  Be careful what you click one and don’t believe everything you read.  Scams are everywhere.  Anything that ever makes someone a little profit is exploited as much as possible.

Make sure you have an antivirus installed.  But even if you do, these days that’s not enough.  Malware is not considered a virus, so clicking something bad on the web or simply visiting a bad website will often result in malware being installed on your PC.  You need to either run a malware scanner regularly or install one that constantly monitors your PC and catches them immediately.  The latter is usually only available as a paid service, however, usually as a “pro” or “advanced” version of a standard malware scanner.  Keep in mind that all of these, as well, are also used to scam users.  Some malware and viruses appear as popup notices explaining that you’re PC is infected with many bad malware programs or viruses and offer to fix it for you, sometimes for a fee.  This usually results in an even worse infection on your PC, or nothing at all, as they are usually only there to inject themselves deeper into your system, or worse yet, to scam you out of your credit card information, giving you nothing in return as they sell your information to make their money.

Personally, I use Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes Antimalware.  As of Windows 8, Security Essentials is built in, which is a great step forward.  Many will insist this is only “basic” protection and users need a much better application, or suite, to protect them…usually for a price, of course.  This may very well be.  Just be careful and make absolutely sure you’re choosing a legitimate solution and not just another elaborate scam.  As I said, those are what I use, and I rarely have issues.  They’re both free, though Malwarebytes does have a “pro” version that monitors your PC live just like an antivirus program, and supposedly catches malware before it infects your PC.  I haven’t tried it though, so I can’t say how effective it is or isn’t.

Kenosha House Explosion

12:00am – We were just getting into bed tonight, turned out the lights, then saw a bright flash in the window and the house shook with a BOOM! Turned on the scanner right away and at first they thought it was a transformer that exploded. A few minutes later they began getting calls of a house that exploded at 2115 55th Street. That was corrected shortly after to 2113 55th Street. And as the information kept coming in, it sounds like approximately 10 houses were heavily damaged as well as 2 commercial buildings, according to police. I heard one of the officers first on the scene say on the radio that “chance of anyone inside the house surviving, ZERO.” I’ll keep updating this post as I hear more.

12:04am – Mt. Carmel is open as a shelter right now for those forced from their homes. In the scanner chat, “User342767” says “Heard they left the stove on. If anyone was inside there’s no way they made it”.

12:09am – We Energies is on the scene now. People are also reporting heaving smell of gas at Johnny Midnight’s.

The very first early 911 calls that came in stated a house had exploded, half of it had collapsed, and a woman was trapped in a bedroom. No further information was given about that, and it quickly changed when they arrived on-scene stating the house was fully engulfed and totally destroyed, with no chance of anyone inside surviving. My guess is, the half-house that collapsed probably WAS the initial address–2115–because I doubt any calls ever came from the actual house that exploded.

12:29am – They’re reviewing the original calls now – first call was from 2113 55th Street, and said “a MOTHER was trapped in a bedroom.”

5510 23rd Ave – Large piece of plywood about 40 feet up in a tree – they’re concerned it may fall and injure someone.

12:41am – They’re reporting the media is now on-scene. They’re looking for a PIO.

Kenosha resident Michelle Pulera said she was sitting in her chair watching TV when she heard what she thought might have been an explosion. When she went outside to investigate the noise, other neighbors were also outside looking for signs of smoke. “A neighbor and I were walking to 60 Street, Pulera who lives on 37th Avenue, said. “We thought it might have been a gas station.”

1:11am – Engine 3 is leaving the scene, fire is out. I’m heading off to bed, thanks for visiting. There’s supposed to be live Chopper 4 video here, but I’ll be darned if I can find it. G’night. Oh yeah, I posted a Google Streetview shot of the house here, if you want to see what the neighborhood looked like before the explosion.

5:15am – Live News report on TMJ4 – There was no one in the house at the time of the explosion, it was being renovated. There were also no injuries as a result of the explosion, which is amazing after listening to all the chaos on the scanner last night! The investigation continues today as they try to determine the cause of the explosion and assess all of the surrounding damaged buildings.

Yard work and steaks

I spent a few hours working on the yard yesterday evening. I know, that doesn’t sound like me, and you’re right, it’s not. But I needed some time away from the technology, even if only for a few hours. So I grabbed my laptop and portable police scanner and headed out back… Just kidding… No laptop, no scanner, just me and the weeds (and two obnoxious Chihuahuas trying to bark a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower into giving up).

The yard was a bit out of hand. I realized this the other day when I came home from work and found some weeds over 3 feet tall crawling up the side of the house! I swear they popped up overnight, I hadn’t even noticed them before this, and I walk just inches from where they were growing every time I come and go from the house. I managed to rip most of them out by the roots, but some broke off, so I know they’ll be back soon. Time for a chemistry experiment I guess.

I mowed the lawn, then pulled weeds for awhile, and cleaned the back yard. Kevin helped out too, which was nice. After that, we practiced riding his bike for a bit. He seems to be underdeveloped in this area. He’s 6 years old and can’t ride yet. I don’t think he really “gets” it yet, and he’s still trying to grasp the whole pedaling and balancing concepts. But I explained how much more we’ll be able to do–ride to stores and buy toys, ride to McDonalds, ride to the park, and all over the place–and that seemed to help him put forth more effort. He asked if he could get a bag or basket for his bike to hold the stuff we buy, and I explained that first we need to learn to ride, then we’ll work on that stuff.

While I worked in the yard, Sandy cooked an awesome steak dinner on the grill. I can’t remember the kind of steak she said it was (it’s the CRS kicking in again, I’m afraid), but it had string wrapped around it. It was awesome though, very good steak! She also cooked me up an awesome “garbage plate” for a breakfast over the weekend. I told her to write down the recipe because it was very good, but she said she just threw some things together, and didn’t really remember. (she’s probably picking up my CRS through osmosis)

Anyway, I work with all sorts of weird and hazardous chemicals at work all day, and I’ve spilled my share on my hands and have had to scrub them off several times a day. They always look clean when I’m done though. But after working in the yard pulling weeds last night, I can STILL see black dirt embedded in areas of my palms and fingers! How can simple dirt possibly be harder to clean off than the chemicals and indicators from work?!? I was certain that an Iodine stain would be more stubborn to come off than our backyard dirt… I guess I was wrong. Even after all my testing and washing several times at work today I can still see the dirt. That’ll teach me. I’d better stick to repairing and building computers, it’s a lot less damaging to the body parts.

Kenosha Police Scanner

There’s an awesome feature on KenoshaOnline.net that I recently discovered. It’s a Live Kenosha Police Scanner! It scans all of Kenosha’s Police and Fire frequencies live, and whenever anything happens you hear it all, right in your browser–anywhere in the world!

I’ve been a scanner enthusiast since I was a kid, but have been having trouble with my old 200-channel Bearcat portable lately–memory problems, and battery won’t hold a charge any more. So it was quite a treat to find this little gem. It’s cool–nice and clear, with all the important channels covered. I even created a new tab for that url and re-saved my home tabs in firefox so every time i start my browser now I get the police calls. It’s been really exciting the last couple days especially, with the storms there’s been a ton of activity on it!

It doesn’t take up much bandwidth at all, since it doesn’t talk all the time, only when there is activity on the scanner. So even dialup users can enjoy it a great deal. Even if I’m doing something else on the computer I’ll actually minimize my browser now–so I can continue to monitor the police calls.

Kenosha-area users should definitely check it out! You can get hooked real easy, and you’ll soon find yourself asking “What’s a 10-50?? What’s a 10-56??” This should help.

The Flood of 2004

Well, Geekette gave it a good name today. This entry’s title says it all. The headline on the front page of the Kenosha News today reads “Floodgates Have Opened – Kenosha County executive declares a state of emergency.”

Yeah, there’s some water out there. I had a computer job in Illinois today, and I was a little concerned this morning about the best route to take to get there. I chose to take Highway 50 to 45, and 45 South into Illinois. I got lucky and didn’t hit any flooded roads except this one, which I drove through without a hitch.

The trip back was another story though. I chose a slightly different route for my return trip, and ended up having to backtrack about 5 miles when I got here. I’m listening to the scanner calls right now, and they removed the barricades from that very intersection not more than 15 minutes ago, and now there’s a pickup truck stuck in it. The utility workers at the intersection reported that he was continuously bumping a barricade further and further down the roadway, probably goofing around, when his truck fell into a ditch. Brilliant. They’re going to check him for a possible DWI now.

Geekette posted some great pics too, from right outside her door. I love the basketball court pic!

Walgreens Overcharges

Walgreens recently paid the state over $22,000 to settle accusations that checkout scanner errors overcharged customers, state officials said. Half of the 28 Walgreens stores tested by state agents failed the state standards, which require an error rate of 2% or less. The Walgreens stores tested had an overall error rate of 5.5%. They said the average overcharge was $2.40 and the average undercharge was $1.28. State law requires stores to issue refunds for overcharges.

So my question is, “Does the state law require stores to issue refunds for overcharges when the CUSTOMER catches them, or ALL the time?” There’s no way it can be all the time though, since cash-paying customers don’t leave a paper trail. So overcharges found after the customer leaves the store go unclaimed, obviously. And I highly doubt anyone follows up on the other paper-trail-generating credit card and check users when an overcharge is made either.

But I do find it very enlightening that even an error rate of 2% is ACCEPTABLE! Why should ANY overcharge be acceptable?!?! So if I spend $100 in a Walgreens–or any other Wisconsin store for that matter–and they charge me $102, that’s just fine with the state. It’s ok to rip me off “a little” I guess. Well, fine. Then I guess I can fudge my tax return by 2% too then, right? Good! Because I owe the state quite a bit this year, that’ll help me out a lot!

On the other side

Well, I’m over the hill.  Or so they say.  That’s all I’ve been hearing all day long.  Over the hill over the hill over the hill.   Everyone got a kick out of picking on me though, so I’m glad they had fun with it.  Pretty tricky how they managed to coax me out of my cubicle for a so-called “broken scanner” just so they could sneak in the enourmous “40” balloons… and even more interesting is trying to get all those balloons stuffed into the back of a PT Cruiser to take them home… I had to pick up Kevin in the Neon…he wouldn’t fit in the cruiser with the balloons!