Tuesday, September 15, 2015

George Boznos and Sons: The Founding and Operation of Fabled Par King Skill Golf in Morton Grove, Illinois

When we grew up in Morton Grove Illinois during the late 1950s and through the 1960s, nothing represented the grandeur and the muscular vitality of the city of Chicago more than the Prudential building. Whether we were motoring along Lake Shore Drive or driving down to the Loop via the Northwest Expressway (as the Kennedy was initially known), we would gaze up and see the broad shouldered limestone edifice standing proudly above all. 
1950's view of the Prudential building, Chicago, from the lakefront.
Broadcast News Magazine, Vol. 112,
December, 1961
Back in the day WGN TV transmitted its signal over the airwaves from an antenna on top of the Prudential building. The antenna plus its supporting tower on top of the building rose a combined total of 914 feet above ground level, making it the tallest structure by far in the City of Chicago. 
The Prudential has a storied history. For two decades, from 1934 onward, through Depression and War, construction in Chicago had ground to a half. The skyline whose towers had popped up like weeds in the 1920's became frozen in time.

With an easement to build a trestle and breakwater a short distance from shore, the Illinois Central Railroad had controlled Chicago's lakefront since the 1850's. 
From the bank of the river southward, the IC had created a massive railyard, dominated by a huge sign for Pabst beer that as it met Michigan Avenue to the east was the most ambitious bit of construction on the site.

The Prudential Building would change all of that, When it was announced in 1951, it became the first structure to be built over Illinois Central air rights, and the opening shot in the revival of major new office construction. It included new viaducts along its perimeter, and a completely new street, the one-block Stetson Avenue, named after Edward Stetson, an I.C. board president. According to a post on the Connecting the Windy City blog, the air rights deed was 85 pages long and identified 500 small, individual pieces of property.

At 42 stories and 601 feet, the Prudential would fall just four feet short of overtaking the Board of Trade as Chicago's tallest building. Designed by Naess and Murphy, it broke ground on August 12, 1952. At nearly 22 million cubic feet, it was the fifth larger building in the city. Each of its 2,617 windows were double-glazed, and designed to allow both sides to be washed from the inside.

The Prudential was a compendium of superlatives. At 1,400 feet-per-minute, it's elevators were the world's fastest, and popping ears became standard elevator car conversation for first-time visitors. The Prudential had the biggest floor-to-floor heights. It's air conditioning capacity --  3,150 tons -- also set a record. Elevator service stopped at the 40th floor, and the world's tallest escalators carried visitors to the 41st floor and its observatory, which actually bested the one at the Board of Trade to become the tallest in Chicago. The panoramic views from Stouffer's Top of the Rock restaurant immediately made it a destination dining location for tourists and locals alike.
The Prudential building hole at Par King in Morton
Grove. A putt into the central elevator shaft went up
and over the top from where the ball would drop out
onto the rear green, tracking at or near the hole. 
A putt on either side would take an indirect route 
that made even a deuce difficult. 
It was a special treat for grade school students, Brownies or Cub Scouts on a field trip or families on a weekend excursion, to whoosh aboard the high speed elevators and climb up the sparkling escalators to the Prudential building's top floor, where they could experience the observation deck's uninterrupted vistas of Chicago to its borders and beyond. 

But we in Morton Grove did not need to travel 24 miles southeast to view the modern skyscraper. We had our very own Prudential building in the village on the grounds of the Par King Skill Golf course, where it stood out as a first among equals including scale-model replicas of national monuments like Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty, and more whimsical icons such as the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, The Three Bears and Humpty Dumpty. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chick's Book -- An Autobiography By Charles Evans, Jr.

You don't need to travel to the Library of Congress to read it. It is online. It is complete. That is none other than the "Chick Evans Golf Book," immodestly subtitled "The Story of the Sporting Battles of the Greatest of all Amateur Golfers," written by Charles "Chick" Evans Jr., published in 1921. The book was written when Bobby Jones, now universally recognized as the most successful amateur golfer of all time, was still a young man and had yet to win the first of his 13 major championships.

The book confirms things we thought we knew about Chick -- he dearly loved his mom, and he thought the world of caddies and the caddie experience.

Chick paid tribute to his mom in the book's dedication.

He further recognized her prominent role by including her in the "Double Crown" photo of his cherished United States Amateur and United States Open golf trophies.

While more careful copy editing might have been in order (in the photo above, the trophies were said to be won in 1920, while the picture is copyrighted in 1917, the year after Chick won both championships), the book is a remarkable, contemporary insight into the life and times of a golf legend.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday Pictures

Saturday Pictures
August 15, 2015

It's harvest time in Montana. An early spring snow melt meant the wheat fields were planted a bit early this year. The result is a mid-August harvest. We took these pictures of farm machinery reaping the bounty in the field behind our home a few hours before the smoke from the Eustice fire washed out the scene. We are thankful for God's bounty.

The south section baled and stacked, Gallitan Range in the background,

It is a two step process. the combine reaps, threshes and winnows, cutting the stalks and separating the kernels from the leaves and stems. The stalks are left behind in rows for a baler.

To the north lies the Bridger Range above the original red barn.

To the east is the canyon leading up to Bozeman Pass, featuring "the nose" or "George Washington in repose," depending on who is describing.

Here comes the baler.

The baler passes several bales from earlier circuits.

Disgorging a completed bale.

Hay field in the Story Hills, peaking above the barn.

Here comes the combine.

There goes the combine, leaving a trail of straw behind. The winnowed grain is stored on board and periodically transferred to a waiting truck for transfer to long term storage.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Cubes Are Here, The Cubes Are Here

In February we shouted out, "The cubes are coming, the cubes are coming!" Well, they are here!

Cube Square in Huntsville is open for business and fully rented. Our in-laws are hosting an open house this weekend to introduce the cargotechture development, structured from stacked sea shipping containers, to the community.

One of their friends posted this totally cool nighttime view.

Here is the apartment layout.

Way to go Wagamons!

Related post:

The Cubes Are Coming, The Cubes Are Coming -- includes links to news videos and USA Today's feature on the development.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Garden Growth -- Squared

I suppose you could call it a kitchen garden for I pull out radishes, onions, chives, cucumbers, basil, garlic, and others to garnish a main course or perk up salads we prepare in the kitchen. We steamed broccoli straight from the garden last Friday night. One night earlier this week I grilled plank salmon, with chopped bunching onions, pressed garlic and diced basil from the garden spread on top along with lemon and pepper. Yum! The flavor, texture and freshness of our homegrown produce slays anything that can be purchased locally, even from the most chi chi stalls at the farmers markets and roadside stands. I have green peppers and tomatoes growing too; with the late start of the growing season hereabouts the first specimens will be ready for consumption next week.

Our first full summer in Bozeman the vegetable garden consisted of a few tomato plants and several green pepper plants in a flower bed next to the house, so, more than anything, we could test whether we could bring in a worthwhile warm weather crop during the truncated Montana growing season. 

Season 2, single section garden plot, July 8, 2014.
We were pleased with the results to the point that last year I forged ahead with constructing a honest to God vegetable garden in the backyard. I did not dig so much as build up the plot. 

First, to frame the plot, I interleaved one atop the other, two layers of 6 inch, by 6 inch, by 8 foot landscape timbers around the sunny, grassy area I had selected in the backyard. The border went two timbers long by one timber across, making just about 128 square feet available for planting. 

Rather than tilling soil I layered organic material on top of the grass, starting with layers of newsprint to smother the no longer wanted turf. On top of the papers I spread compost we had accumulated from organic kitchen waste (we have three black trash cans we rotate through for this purpose) and from the bottom of a yard waste debris pile. Then on top of that I layered 6 to 8 inches of grass clippings graciously supplied by a neighbor who bags his grass in the spring and de-thatches his sod. Then I watered the layers down giving them an opportunity to compact a bit. 

To transplant seedlings (e.g., tomato and pepper plants started indoors) I spaded small holes through the mulch layers and poked through the newspaper. To plant seeds the first year (e.g., broccoli and radishes) I cut away sections of newspaper and bought a few bags of top soil to layer over the seeds (this later step is not needed in subsequent years). Over the summer as much of the mulch decomposed. I supplemented it to keep control weed growth and maintain soil moisture, using grass clippings that commercial lawn crews working our neighborhood were happy to share. This spring I repeated with new layers of compost and clippings. When this process is repeated enough years the timbers will frame a highly fertile raised garden bed.

Doubled plot, August, 2015
Also this spring, I doubled down, laying a second set of timbers, and then repeated the full newsprint, compost and grass clipping layering process on this new section. Now the total plot size is about 256 square feet.

We are fortunate to have fertile soil up our end of the Gallitan valley, and by our method of building up the soil it is sure to remain so. I use no fertilizer or chemicals whatsoever on the garden. My methods don't come from a trendy book or emanate from a cause, but are about as natural and organic as you can get.

2015 cucumber and tomato crops -- click to enlarge and see
a rabbit friend, in the grass, upper left hand corner.
I dropped two crops from last year's lineup. First stricken was an item canceled for lack of interest. At the family's behest I bought acorn squash seeds, started them indoors, and then transplanted out of doors the three best specimens, resulting in a prolific acorn squash harvest. But the family lost interest after two or three squash were consumed -- the remainder went into compost bins. The second crop scratched was carrots. Our climate, soil and growing conditions are good for root crops, but our backyard rabbits (see one of the little guys above left) chewed down the tops, robbing this root crop of nourishment, and resulting in tiny fingerling carrots. We don't mind sharing with critters, but 90/10 doesn't work for us. 

Our two new crops in 2015 are the cucumbers and asparagus. We planted asparagus from seed, the result being a half dozen small bushy plants. The gardening literature cautions there will be no edible crop the first year. In view of how small our plants are we will be pleased and a bit surprised if our maiden plants survive the winter.  

Simmering home-made spaghetti sauce on top of our Jenn Air range.
While consuming slices of juicy red tomatoes fresh from the garden is something we look forward to, that doesn't need to happen for us to have a successful tomato harvest. Our primary use of garden grown tomatoes is as the basic ingredient for home grown, kitchen made spaghetti sauce. Ingredients include our very own tomatoes, peppers, onions, chives, garlic, and basil. This year we hope to also include the oregano we newly planted. 

Last year, I grew long season tomatoes and not a one of them was picking red before our first frost -- actually a hard freeze, indicated by overnight lows of 28 degrees on September 11th and 22 degrees on the 12th (see weather calendar below). But not to worry. Knowing the freeze was coming I bagged and boxed all of the green tomatoes during the daylight hours of September 11. I wrapped the tomatoes in newsprint and stored in boxes in the basement. I pulled out the about half that had ripened in 10 days for making the first batch of spaghetti sauce (we freeze what is not consumed in the first week in meal sized bags) and the other half about 10 days after that, with no more than ten percent of crop going bad along the way.

The 2014 weather calendar documents the early hard freeze we had September 11 and 12 last year. We pulled in the crops to avoid damage, and then enjoyed the two weeks of glorious Indian Summer that followed. Source: www.wunderground.com.

The lineup for the 2014 Manahattan Potato Festival.
If there is sufficient demand for new or expanded crops I will gladly add a third section to the plot next spring. I've asked for ideas. Our eldest daughter has already suggested growing potatoes, which is a splendid idea, especially considering that the Gallitan valley is a prime agricultural locale which specializes in growing seed potatoes. If you are driving through just up the road on I-90, the Manhattan Potato Festival is scheduled for August 15. Stop on by and enjoy a spud or two. I think we'll try growing some Yukon Yellows and some Reds of our own next spring.

Basil left and a couple of red onions, right.

Green peppers.

Small asparagus plants, center left, a couple of garlic stalks, right.

Bunching onions with a few broccoli leaves in the background.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Over There

Sometimes it seems you need to go a very long way to come home again. Last month our homeward bound sojourn wound its way through Sweden. Let me explain.

Roland Classon is a second cousin who hails from Helsingborg, Sweden, founded in and continuously settled since 1085. Helsingborg is a few miles across the Oresund Straight from Denmark and 15 miles due north of Copenhagen. Shakespeare's Kronberg Castle (Elsinore), the setting for Hamlet, is just across the strait. Local attractions are well documented in this YouTube video.

Roland is related by virtue of sharing great grandparents -- Carl (1852 - 1922) and Teolinda StÖdberg (1862 - 1950). My grandfather, Johan StÖdberg (John Stuberg, 1890 - 1951) was one of nine children of Carl and Teolinda born between 1886 and 1904. John followed his elder siblings, Charles and Julia, to Chicago, emigrating to the United States in 1911. He was drafted and served in the US Army as a resident alien during World War I. In 1924 he married my maternal grandmother, Elsa Rydin Stuberg, also a Swedish immigrant. Elsa worked as a domestic and retail clerk. John Stuberg was a bricklayer reputed to be a master fireplace craftsman.

Carl and Teolinda Stodberg family tree, courtesy of Roland Classon.

Cousin Roland is in the employ the Helsingbord Daily. Among his journalistic duties for the Helsingburg news outlet is publishing a blog. The topic? Genealogy. Readers of this blog know I research and write at length on family history. But I am a piker by comparison.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Saturday Pictures on Wednesday

Saturday Pictures on Wednesday
July 29, 2015
(click to enlarge)

We snapped some photos on our way back to Bozeman from Seattle. I always check out the wind farms; there are a couple east of the Cascades adjacent to I-90.  A front was coming through with gusty winds. Blades were twirling this time. 

Pasture and an out building.

Abandoned railroad trestle crossing I-90.

When we got near Deer Lodge, Montana, we looked up and sure enough there was fresh fallen snow atop the highest peak -- a sight not usually seen before September.

Fresh snowfall appeared above Anaconda as well.

And fresh white snow was across the mountain tops east of Butte.

At dusk the temperature at Homestake pass had already dropped to 44 degrees Fahrenheit, a huge contrast to the 108 degree temperature we encountered in Spokane on the way out. At home that night the low was 38. Happy to be home again.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Morton Grove Little League All Stars, 1966

We posted this just short of half-century old nostalgic photo on my personal Facebook page back in 2011. We were reminded of it the last few days when a couple of my childhood friends somehow ferreted it out from among my hundreds of pictures posted, and clicked the Like button. It occurred to me that some among the broader audience of current and former Morton Grove residents who read my blog might find the photo of interest. Now the pictured individuals will have an opportunity to turn up in search engine results.

Morton Grove north side All Stars 1966. Starting top left: Tom Brown, John Tritschler, Kevin Dohm, Grady Foster, and Scott McKay. First Row: Richie Kengott, Michael Vincini, Rick Lauson, Bobby Brown and Ricky Klaser. Not pictured, Eugene Knepper and Bob Warren.

The names are as best as I can recollect, supplemented by several corrections and fill in the blanks supplied by Facebook friends. Additional corrections and amplifications are welcome (to email me go to the link on my profile page).

In the 1960s Morton Grove Little League (ages 8 through 12) was split into north and south divisions, with teams competing exclusively within division. Towards the end of each season separate all star teams were named for north and south to compete in the single elimination tournament against other towns that led eventually to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylavania. As I recall the dividing line between north and south was Dempster Street. There were AAA, minor (blue hats) and major (green hats) leagues. When in the majors I played on the Senators in the north. Our games were played at Harrer, Mansfield, Palma Lane and National Parks. My coach was a gentleman by the name of Bob Gore, an insurance agent who lived in a home abutting National Park, down the first base line. I bought my first life insurance policy from Mr. Gore when I was sixteen years old.

My father coached a different team in the same league -- the Indians if I recall correctly. My dad used our lawn mower to create a practice field in the Forest Preserve clearing down the street from our house on Austin Avenue. Dad had the best drilled team in the league. They were repeat champions. The Senators were a perennial patsy for the Indians.  
The Bugle, July 14, 1966

The only time we played at a field with an outfield fence was in All Star games. With our sparkling white all star uniforms, professional umpiring, freshly raked and lined and mowed fields, playing in an All Star game to us felt like appearing in the big leagues. 

After initially posting this photo we happened across this Bugle article to the right when we searched using several of the players names, announcing the north -- and south --- all stars, in 1966, not 1965 as we had first assumed. Based on the article, I have made what I think will be the final corrections of the names.

I was a center fielder and pitcher who played only center field as an All Star because we were one and done. I don't recall the score other than that the game was close and low scoring. I remember shaking like a leaf as the drive rose towards me, but still catching a hard hit fly ball near the center field fence. I struggled at the plate. Our game was at Austin Park, which had a snow fence installed across the outfield special for the occasion. I wore the MG hat that signified my All Star status until it frayed around the edges. The uniforms were returned for use by the next year's team. So it was, growing up in Morton Grove in the summer of 1966.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hot To Trot To Seattle

We have been in Seattle through most of July this summer, house sitting while my sister is off to Iceland, Sweden and Denmark with her niece (my oldest daughter). Meanwhile we got a fellow looking out after our home back in Bozeman.

When we blogged about the trip over on I-90 I neglected to mention the extreme heat we encountered along the way. At the lowest point on the first day of our trip (a bridge across the Spokane River) the thermometer peaked at 108 degrees.

The next day when we passed through the massive wind turbine farm above the Columbia River Gorge east of Ellensburg I noted that, as is the norm, there was little movement. On this peak cooling and electricity consumption day, the blades turned on probably one-third of the turbines and slowly rotated at that. I would venture a guess that perhaps ten percent of the electrical generation capacity was actually being realized. As per normal, alternative and renewable energy, alternative and renewable energy, alternative and renewable energy, say it five, ten, fifteen, a hundred or a thousand times and elect someone who says that for you -- that will make it work, Okay?
F/V Northwestern of Deadliest Catch fame, docked at
its home port, Salmon Bay above Ballard locks,
Seattle, Washington.

As we crossed over the Cascades and cruised down to Seattle temperatures cooled to the mid-90s due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean. We settled in and have been in Seattle since.

You could call it my home away from home, in that Seattle is the city I've spent more time in than any other place that I have not actually settled in my sixty plus years on this earth. My first visit was 53 years previous.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Let's Play Ball!

We decided to attend the Mariner's game Sunday -- the last before the All Star break. I had not been to a professional baseball game in Seattle since 1977. First for me there was the question of the ball park because the last time I had seen the Mariners they played in the Kingdome.. They told me the Kingdome had imploded. Sure enough the video is online.

So we jumped on the Route 5 bus and took it straight down to Safeco Field.

We were fortunate to secure fourth row seats up the left field line, just behind the ball girl. Seattle Reign and Women's World Cup soccer star Megan Rapinoe threw out the ceremonial first pitch fresh from the United States championship victory over Japan last week just north of here in Vancouver, British Columbia. That would be about all the Mariners fans had to cheer until the bottom of the 9th inning.

In red and gray opposing the Mariners were the Los Angeles Angels.

Seth Smith's pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 9th was way too little, way too late for the Mariners.

The home team suffered a 10 to 3 loss in what the Mariners manager said was the "worst game of the year."

But for us it was the best because we got a renewed taste of what it meant to be in the major leagues.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Uncle Lyndon King Armstrong At Rest

Here at Along the Gradyent our blogging pace slowed considerably during June and into July. The primary cause? Our five-years young laptop started slowing down and sporadically freezing up, then self-checked into hospice and died, so the local PC repair geeks confirmed, leading to need for replacement. "No problem," we said. We went to the places that sold PCs in Bozeman, systemically checked out the machines and the interfaces to see what features could be had and how those features comported with our needs. We settled on the brand and style whose keyboard I am presently pounding.

But we learned then that Bozeman is not a place where vendors actually stock computers. It could take from five to ten days to get a machine in hand after shipping from some distant West Coast distribution center, by which time we were preparing to leave town on our segment of a low-cost multi-family midsummer's journey of musical chairs' housesitting.

"No problem," I said, "I don't need a computer immediately, I have a smart phone, that I can use that at least to search the net, navigate and receive and send emails," a bold claim which led sequentially, of course, to that four-year old hand-held devise's rapid demise. When we finally pulled up to a Best Buy in Seattle, the credit card lords hiccupped at the prospect of authorizing an expensive electronic purchase 687 miles from home.

Anyhow, I shall spare readers the remaining details except to say that our blogging output will ramp up slowly as we learn a new system (since when did icons become charms?) and we enjoy the beauty and bounty of gorgeous summer weather.

Now let's get to our presently intended blog post.

About two-thirds of the way from Bozeman to Seattle lies the city of Spokane. Laying just west of the Idaho/Washington state line, Spokane's population rose from 350 in 1880 to about 20,000 in 1890. Spurred by a rapidly growing mining sector and following a boom pattern typical of the American West, the city's population skyrocketed to 100,000  by 1910. Spokane took these last 100 years to garner its second hundred thousand citizens.

One of the 1890 migrants whose move into the city surged Spokane's population and drove its economy was my great uncle, Lyndon King Armstrong. Lyndon King Armstrong was a pharmacist, miner, engineer, publisher and trade association leader.  Lyndon set out from Bathgate, North Dakota, to the Pacific Northwest early in 1890.

Monday, June 15, 2015

On the Road to Bathgate: Great Uncle James Dyer Foster -- Teacher, Farmer, Assessor, Real Estate and Insurance Agent, and Agriculturalist

Readers of this blog know we have posted a series of stories about my ancestors, including on what I call the family's greatest generation. We wrote in depth on my grandfather Issac J. Foster (1861 - 1934) -- real estate man, rancher, farmer, civic servant, insurance agent, auctioneer and county sheriff -- and his brother George Sanderson Foster (1864 - 1946) -- Chicago lawyer, owner and developer of real estate, Democratic politician and banker. Ike and George were the two eldest of five sons born to William K. and Margaret Sanderson Foster between 1861 and 1871. 

My dad's first cousin, Etta Hoskins Meyer ,and her
husband, Phillip Meyer, opened KFYR TV in Bismarck,
North Dakota on December 19, 1953
We followed with posts about two of their brothers-in-law -- R. D. Hoskins (1860 - 1946), newspaper publisher and lawyer, first clerk of the North Dakota supreme court, and bookstore and florist proprietor, whose family went on to form a radio and TV media company in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Lyndon King Armstrong (1859 - 1942), pharmacist, engineer, miner and publisher of Spokane, Washington. Each of these men was worker, hustler, entrepreneur and pioneer to the core. Eash was a civic leader and dabbled in the political sphere.

With this post we open a chapter on the fourth son (Isaac was the first and George was the second) of William K. and Margaret Sanderson Foster. James Dyer, known as J. D., moved to the western frontier like his brothers. But J. D.'s migration hewed north, staying above the 49th parallel and maintaining a Canadian branch of the family. J. D. had the family's characteristic drive and a multitude of skills and interests. He led a fascinating and productive life. J. D.'s contributions to his community and his province were many.

Judge Jim Foster

Around the time I launched this research and blogging enterprise a few years back I learned of the existence a living second cousin not previously known to me. His name is James (Jim) Foster, grandson of J. D. Foster. James Foster resides in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Jim had a distinguished judicial career. In this video clip from last year, Jim pushes for a new Red Deer courthouse. The locality's booming population (driven by a vibrant energy economy) and resulting legal wranglings have outgrown the built-in-1982 courthouse to the point that Red Deer traffic court is now being held Mondays and Tuesdays at the Red Deer Lodge hotel. I wonder if the judges have to check out of their chambers by noon?

Lobbying for a new courthouse

Red Deer Court
Recently retired justice Jim Foster and Chris Rickards, president of the Central Alberta Bar Society say Red Deer needs a bigger courthouse. (Meghan Grant/CBC)
To properly accommodate the population, Rickards says 16 courtrooms are needed, up from the now seven.
He and recently retired Queens Bench justice Jim Foster are leading the push for a new courthouse.
Foster served as attorney general under the Lougheed government and was a judge in Red Deer for more than 20 years. He says a new building has been needed for decades.
"I understand that governments don't get around to building courthouses until there's a crisis …well, we're there and we've been there for a longtime."
Foster said 40 per cent of his time as a judge was spent on family-related matters. He said it's children who suffer the most when those issues aren't dealt with for months at a time.
"It's very damaging to children, these are little people, no voice and no vote and they're the ones most affected," explained Foster.  
In another interview, Jim Foster projected that court congestion will cause delays that violate defendants' rights to a speedy trial.