8.53am, Saturday 16th April, Eggsperience Pancakes & Cafe, North Dearborn St, Chicago Downtown, Illinois
Morning folks, and it’s time for an egg breakfast! It’s been a very big week since leaving New York City on Tuesday morning – four flights – touching down in Des Moines IA, St Louis MO, and Chicago IL. And we’ve done well……won a huge list of hearts and palates in Iowa and very much looking forward to being back in pork and corn central come August 2017, and did much the same across the last couple of days in Chicago and its outlying centres of La Grange and the North Shore. But now it’s down to our last event today – an in store consumer tasting from 2 – 6pm at Mainstreet Wines. Unfortunately I’ll have to leave a bit early with my bags at 4.30pm as I have the evening flight down to Dallas, but I’ll talk my face off to and pour our wines for anyone who comes in the store whilst I’m there. Thanks a huge amount to Mainstreet for the opportunity to talk to their wine loving clients, and to my Negociants USA colleague Anthony, who will be ‘finishing off my shift’ whilst I zip off in a taxi to the airport. Fortunately for us, Anthony is Australian, so has exactly the right accent and wine knowledge to ably do the job.
So, scrambled eggs with cheese, one piece of maple wood smoked bacon – will be leaving the hash browns and the rest of the bacon – and I’ll be set up for the day! Thanks Eggsperience Cafe!
So before I sign off, just a quick note for the folks who have been following the adventures of our ‘Indiana Jones horticulturalist’ family ancestor Fred Caley Smith. Fred was here in Chicago in October 1893 for the last week of the World’s Fair exhibition, and because the town was absolutely bursting with people from all over the world – attending, exhibiting and working the World’s Fair, Fred had to stay in a lodging house, and from his letters the address was 226 West 53rd Street. On the map, this is a short walk from Washington Park, which was connected to Jackson Park by the ‘Midway Plaisance’……all still there as parklands today. So yesterday afternoon, I headed off on the public transit to see if the building was still there, to do another ‘in the footsteps of Fred Caley Smith’ moment. After the success of similar ‘investigative treks’ in London, New York and Edinburgh…..it’s been really interesting to see parts of those cities very much as they were, and to be able to be in the same old hotel bar – exactly the same, or a 998 year old cathedral also very much unchanged – and travel in the footsteps of someone doing much the same thing for the family business Yalumba – 120 years down the track.
Well, sooner or later, I had to run into a brick wall….literally! Only this time it was a concrete wall…..the bed for the Amtrak railway line heading south out of Chicago for Louisiana, carrying the train made famous in the Woody Guthrie song ‘the City Of New Orleans’. Here’s my trek in pictures, they pretty much tell the story….
On to the Chicago ‘L’ subway system
South of the city, the closest stop to West 53rd street is Garfield, right in the middle of the main interstate freeways
On to the local streets, you realise that the World’s Fair was set up a long way south of the Chicago downton
But I find West 53rd Street, and already I’m disappointed, as you can see the whole area is very modern roadway and kerbing, and there’s some sort of car yard behind chain fence…….I suspect the whole area was demolished years ago to allow for the Intersate to go in…..
Sure enough, it’s become a dead end, and that’s the railroad bed
And the car lot behind the chain fence? Is the dumping ground for Wrecked Chicago Police Department vehicles of all shapes and sizes
The old Schulze Baking Company building on the other side of the tracks, was built in 1914, so after the World’s Fair, and Fred’s visit. And it was about now that the words of that Jim Croce song popped in to my head….
“On the South Side of Chicago, in the baddest part of town…..and if you go down there, you better just beware, of a man named Leroy Brown. Bad Bad Leroy Brown, baddest man in the whole damn town, badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog”
So thinking it was a good idea to head back to the city, I hopped back on the train, and left the Washington Park – Midway – Jackson Park visit for the next trip…….and a rental car. I’ll dig up Fred’s fabulous notes on what it was like to be there at the time, and we’ll see what’s left of the enormous pavilions and gardens of the day.
But for now….it’s off to the Post Office, finish packing, Mainstreet Wines, and see you later Chicago.