The University of Illinois has had a bell tower with 15 bells since 1920. It is part of Altgeld Hall on the north west corner of the central quad. The chimes weigh over seven and a half tons with the largest bell weighing in at one and a half ton and measures five feet across. There is a Seth Thomas clock that mechanically enables the chime to automatically strike the hours and quarter hour to the tune of the Westminster Chime. This runs continuously day and night.
There is also a clavier or keyboard used to play many types of music from the alma mater to Christmas, to star wars themes etc. It is fun to hear the mini concerts during the lunch hour. Sue Wood is the current chime master. She oversees students from a variety of disciplines who play the clavier each day. The clavier keys are connected to cables that strike the bells when a handle is pushed down about four inches. The longest cable runs 68.5 feet.
My colleagues and I took one of the last tours of the “performing room,” the place where the clavier is located along with a practice keyboard, music and chairs for visitors. We were also allowed to climb the tower to see the bells. I had done the same at Notre Dame in France, these were much smaller.
Summer has many “food seasons.” For example, in early summer there is strawberry season. By mid summer tomatoes are coming into their own along with cucumbers. Late in the summer is sweet corn season. In each of the “food seasons” there are celebrations in some communities focused on the harvest of a particular food. The annual Urbana (Illinois) Sweet Corn Festival is one such venue that draws people in from all around central Illinois and then some. If you love sweet corn this is the place to be.
The machinery is right out of the history books. A steam tractor supplies energy. A cornhusker takes on the tedious work of cleaning thousands of ears of corn.
What you get is hot buttered sweet corn that is out of this world.
This is real butter. Even if you are on a diet, one ear of corn is worth following off the wagon.
How Sweet It Is!
But the festival is more than corn. There are street concerts, food trucks and activities for children. The Urbana Sweet Corn Festival has something for everyone. If you are in the area next August, you may want to add this to your calendar for a fun weekend.
What could be more fun on a beautiful summer evening than an exciting Cubs game at Wrigley Field? The temperatures were in the low 80’s and high 70’s with a light breeze as the sun slowly set over the Chicago skyline. People were getting off at Addison Avenue, walking from neighbor hoods and parked cars. Vendors were selling their wears in the streets and sidewalks and bars like Murphy’s were packed with early arrivers to the game.
The Mariners started out with a home run and a run batted in for each of the first three innings. At the top of the 4th, the Cubs were down 6 to 0, a tough hole to begin the first third of the game. Ironically the Mariners walked two cubs in the 4th and Rizzo struck out with three men on base. At the Bottom of the 9th the Mariners were leading 6 to 3 when the Cubs came to bat. No way could they pull this off, right! Wrong. The Cubs went on to win the game at the bottom of the 12th with a score of 7 to 6.
This was a fun event for family, grandparents and their grandchildren, young and old couples, and friends getting together for a good time. It happens all over the US every spring, summer and fall.
What do you do in Chicago when the weather is great and you only have an hour? Take a walk. Chicago has many parks throughout the city of various sizes and uses. There is usually someone using basket ball courts, playground equipment, listening to concerts, skate boarding, or walking among the flowers and trees. My wife and I had some time to kill while waiting to meet some friends so we drove to Grant Park from our hotel, found reasonable parking and hoofed it for an hour. Our first sight was Buckingham Fountain.
It was in full operation and beautiful. From this vantage point, we could see various views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Everything looked fresh and clean. The sky was blue, temperature in the 70’s with the sun peering out among a few clouds.
At about 10:00 am we decided to walk along the lake so we crossed Lake Shore Drive to the sidewalk surrounding the lake by the Chicago Yacht Club basin. A few sailboats large motor boats were heading out to the lake. Pedestrian traffic at this hour on Sunday morning was light. We passed a tour group on cycles and a few bicyclists. We didn’t have time to make it to the beech, but the day before we drove along Lake Shore and saw hundreds of people enjoying the beautiful weather at the beach near North Avenue.
We enjoyed our brief walk in Chicago on a beautiful Sunday morning. Next time we will plan to take more time to enjoy Chicago’s beautiful park system.