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Dave's Unusual Hometown Naperville Tour

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SHAW_CEMETERY[1].jpg Alan Shaw, president-founder Folk Era Records whistlin' in the graveyard with his long neck Wildwood five-string banjo.


THIS is my way to get your thrill in Naperville:
(Between 1969-73 I sometimes attended Naperville Central High School. My parents still live in the subdivision along the Du Page River that was known as West Gate.)

9 AM.-- Rise and shine at Folk Era Records, 705 S. Washington St. [(630)- 637-2303,], (and the Rediscover Music Catalogue) the largest independent folk music label in the Chicago area---and the only record label in America to rent its office and warehouse space in a cemetery.
They should be doing the Grateful Dead reissues.
Folk Era (The Kingston Trio, John Stewart, Paul Robeson, Chad Mitchell Trio, etc.) is in the Naperville Cemetery, 750 S. Washington St.

11 AM--Goodwill Industries Store, 530 Fort Hill Dr. [take Jefferson west from downtown; (630) 357-6258]
I've found great vinyl like Marty Robbins. There's the obligatory Herb Alpert LPs and tons of kitchenware. Not a bad selection of hardcover books. When my brother Doug visits from Nashville he updates his vintage wardrobe from the threads of Naperville rich people......


LUNCH-----Grandma Sally's Waffle and Pancake House, 450 E. Ogden Ave. (630) 355-7771.
There's living history here. Leo Kuefler who is in the War Memorial Statue in downtown Naperville goes to Grandma Sally's every day for breakfast and dinner at 5 p.m. Kuefler was drafted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and received a Purple Heart and Silver Star award (for saving his patrol during battle). Buy him early dinner. Grandma Sally's is the corner diner vibe that used to exist in downtown Naperville.
Bonus points. Kuefler, Naperville Central Class of '36 is in the Naperville Central High School Hall of Fame -just like me. He's done a lot more.

1 PM----Millennium Carillon in Moser Tower, Rotary Hill across from Naperville Central High School, 440 W. Aurora Ave.

First up, what is a carillon?
It is a musical instrument composed of 23 bells played from a keyboard using fists and feet. The Millennium Carillon is a 72-bronze bell instrument. An automated system plays up to 100 songs. The carillon was built in 2000 and named after Harold and Margaret Moser, who donated $1 million to the project. Harold Moser was a major Naperville real estate developer.
The Millennium Carillon is 160 feet to the top making it taller than the Statue of Liberty. There's 253 steel stairs to the top--an elevator goes half way. I walked all the way to the top for this story. During a clear day in late November, the Chicago skyline could be seen from the top of the carillon.
"We're considered a Grand Carillon" said Fred Gusel, Supt. of Recreation for the Naperville Park District during an uplifting walking tour of the carillon. "We're the fourth largest in North America." There's also carillions at Botanical Gardens and University of Chicago. This June the Intenational Carilloiner Guild will have its week long conference in Naperville.

The Millennium Carillon visitor center is open May through November. The tower hosts a family oriented New Year's celebration at 7 p.m. Dec. 31. There will be countdowns at 8 and 11 p.m. All festivities take place at the base of the carillon. Refreshments served. Free admission.[(630) 848-5000]

3 PM---The Judd Kendall V.F.W. Post 3873, 908 W. Jackson [two blocks west of Centennial Beach; (630) 355-7664]
Built in 1961 the upstairs of this cool brick hideway is open to the public during eight weeks of Lent when they serve up a Friday Night Fish Fry. The lower level is a private "canteen" with a card room and office space. The upstairs hall can be rented for events and there's a superb view of the Du Page River and the Naperville Riverwalk. My Class of '73 has had reunions here, although I've never attended.
Check out the red, white and blue mailbox near the driveway where anyone can drop off a torn or tattered flags. The veterans then properly dispose of the flags. The hall is named after Lt. Oliver "Judd" Kendall, who was killed in France during World War I.

11-30-09 Hein Naperville 12[1].jpg A Fine VFW Hall (Sun-Times photo by Rich Hein)

ANY TIME---Centennial Beach, 320 W. Jackson (630) 848-5000; the historic 15-foot deep quarry is closed from Labor Day through Memorial Day, but a stroll down the adjacent riverwalk can be romantic any time of the year. Centennial Beach opened in 1932. It has picnic space, a food stand and there's beach toys for kids to play with in the sand. It is a Naperville treasure.
I blew off the summer of '69 here listening to WLS and WCFL play the Stones' "Honky Tonk Women," the Archies "Sugar Sugar," Creedence Clearwater Revival and other stuff until I came of age and discovered...

6 PM--.......The Lantern, 8 W. Chicago (630) 355-7099. A Naperville classic. The bar remains in the same Naperville Feldott family that opened it in 1966. Timeless traditions include free popcorn, superb chili and sports (on 14 televsion sets). Its where I had my first beer. Somehow it has the same randy smell as it did in 1973.

FREE TIME--The Homeless Guy (Scott Huber, last seen near the downtown parking garage). I think this guy is just a publicity seeker.
He's run for mayor and he's had his own blog. When I was in high school in Naperville (1969-73) we had "Pickles," who was also homeless and more authentic than Huber. But Pickles was called a "bum." Once in a while my friend Steve Lord (now a reporter for the Aurora Beacon-News) and I would buy Pickles a bottle of muskatel wine to get him through the winter.

Happy Holidays.

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2 Comments

What a blast Trolleying with an old Napervillian! Lunch at the Lantern on Saturdays are full of old timers! Let me know when you're back in the hood! Ding! Ding!

Thanks for outing us on the muscatel for Pickles.

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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This page contains a single entry by David Hoekstra published on December 11, 2009 2:19 PM.

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