Thursday, July 31, 2008

City Shapes

I'm riffing on Cityscapes, I really can't think of anything better to call the post. I've been trying to keep the posts nightly, these photos being from the beginning of the Bubbly Creek camera shots, but I switched to Comcast on Monday, posted that night, and then Tuesday promptly tried to electrocute myself by touching the filament in a broken light bulb still in the socket in my closet.n For good measure, I was on a stool and my other (balancing) hand was on my old hard drive. My arm went numb to my elbow and I shorted out the power in three rooms for about 42 hours. On the plus side, my sinuses cleared pretty good, quiete possibly from my girly-scream. You've seen other photos, and how I can stand in a spot and wait for the right shot, as with the first photo. Taken at the Washington/Wells el stop, I was happily surprised that the lamps reflected on the train car. The next photo was in the alley behind the Cultural Center, I just like all the angles of white paint. The last is back up north near Belmont. I walked up the alley near Sheffield until I found a decent building with a broken window or dangling air conditioner, which I did just past School Street. All diverse shots, but I kinda like when I stick with shots of squalor and buildings that are doomed. I'll work on that....Wayne

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Ghosts Below 32nd Street

Well, I'm on DSL now. Wish my body could be on DSL, but what the hell. Just got in a while ago from up north at The Mystic Celt, the new place for the Twilight Tales readings. Here's my July entry from Storytellers Unplugged:

The Ghosts Below 32nd Street
Wayne Allen Sallee

I’m sure more than a few of you have seen THE DARK KNIGHT by now. I haven’t, but then when have I ever kept up with current events? (Catch me later tonight (the 27th) as I watch LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD on Starz. But don’t spoil it for me, I don’t want to know if McClane gets the bad guy at the end). I’m always surprised by the amount of people that don’t seem to know that both new Batman films had all the exterior shots filmed in Chicago. The Board of Trade is Wayne Enterprises. Heath Ledger is walking down a rain-slicked LaSalle Street in the poster, with the eerily blue-lit midnight el train six blocks north. People gather for hours at night just to catch a glimpse of a Bat-double leaping from a fire escape to a rooftop. I’m not saying that people from South Carolina or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula would have reason to know the city by sight, as one might know Manhattan simply by seeing Times Square, but the Chicago filming is mentioned in just about every magazine article.

One of the reasons Chicago was chosen was for our great catacombs, the Lower Wacker Drive. If you’ve seen THE BLUES BROTHERS, you know the Drive. There’s an East, West, North, and South upper and lower Wacker. Back in the 80s, the city’s sole homicide by bow and arrow occurred when a homeless man was killed while huddled by a steam vent in winter. I believe the man’s ghost still inhabits the area around that steam vent, the sub-basement of a building that houses the prestigious Wrigley Club. The city can tear down the failed factories and build hotels and high-rises, but the shadows beneath the bright lights remain rigid and unmoving.

Not that far south there are more ghosts. And the city scape above will soon change, as construction of new town homes bleed into every available space on old railroad property and crappy river front territory, the latter soon to have some mess called Bridgeport Village at a bend in the South Branch of the Chicago River, now a weeded area, the sign for Levee Street long rusted away. The South Levee District was where all of our brothels were a century ago. And not that far away, the Union Stockyards.

Sully often waxes philosophically with a view of sky blue waters, but our water is pea-green but for on St. Patrick’s Day, when a portion of it is turned a garish, radioactive kind of green. I get some of my inspiration from the South Branch, specifically where it runs beneath the Ashland Avenue Bridge, I-55, and the Orange Line elevated platform. Its called Bubbly Creek, because the methane from still decomposing carcasses from the stockyards bubble up in random blips like you see after a bottle of 7-Up has been poured into a clear glass. In the coldest winter we can have, this past one was the eighth coldest on record, Bubbly Creek never freezes over. It is mesmerizing.

I’m not one who enjoys writing at my desk, except late at night when there are the hushed sounds of traffic outside. I carry my commonplace book around with me and jot random lines down on a whim. I’ll write sections of a story while I watch the guy from the meth clinic fighting the old heroin junkie over a red milk crate in front of the Old Navy. A few weeks back, I took one of my jaunts, this time with my camera in my backpack. Rich the Nebula-winner (on my blog, everyone has gang member names, because, well, you don’t really see anyone else doing that, right?) had grown up in that neighborhood and reminded me of the Stearns Quarry around 29th and Poplar. Several of my stories involve Archer Avenue, the long diagonal which follows I-55, et al, and over the years I had actually forgotten that we had a gigantically deep yet somewhat small quarry right off Archer. Well, Not From Michigan Mike told me that the quarry was fenced in awhile back after a mugging or a murder–hey, did any of you hear that the governor has offered to send the National Guard up here to help against gang crime? Yep. It will keep our minds off the gas prices, at any rate–but I figured a quest is a quest. And no, I could not see the quarry, but I figured I’d keep wandering, take more photos, maybe come up with a new tale. One of how the Brighton Park neighborhood–one you could see in the film BACKDRAFT as the fire engine raced past the long-gone Archer Avenue Big Store and the doomed St. Bridget’s–the area I knew, was still there in pieces, some storefronts closed, others changed hands, very few turned into metallic monstrosities like the buildings up north. I even applied for a job at Windy City Silk Screening and bought a Pope t-shirt with the Polish flag on it for two dollars. Then I walked towards Bubbly Creek.

Archer Avenue rises over Ashland and so you can get a great view of the rippling waters near the top, and there’s a stairwell that will take you to street level, but separated from the waters by a fence. I interrupted a man on crutches urinating against a pillar without meaning to. The waters do not smell foul, certainly no worse than car exhaust. I stood there watching the waters, the el train beating above me towards the Loop, thinking of skeletal cows doing pavanes in the green opaque that would one day be waterfront property for vacuous town home owners. I will one day write a story of a ‘haint that has a ghastly mooing sound and a mournful cow bell that will announce its arrival.

After I’m gone, I hope to be a ghost here, walking the streets, watching the addicts fight over begging rights, most of all sitting on the Ashland bridge, watching the dancing ghosts below 32nd Street, the overhead traffic oblivious in their fervor to get to their destinations.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back To The Barrens

Well, I'm finally getting the final photos posted from my Archer Avenue trek. In a few hours, I'll be on DSL and that will keep me from getting aggravated, otherwise these would have been up a week ago. If you walk up Ashland past the el entrance, and as I did I completely by surprise encountered a man on crutches urinating against a pillar, you'll find a hill full of weeds and detritus. That's ground level for the decayed railroad spur I posted a month or so back, when I described Hobotown. The side of the abandoned factory had a huge steam pipe above the coal chute and as I got to the top of the hill, the spur in sight, an Amtrak train roared past just feet from my head. I stumbled back, recalling the steam pipe almost too late. The train still rumbling by, I again ascended, but decided to give up when the decayed spur broke away in chunks as I touched it. Next time, I might go completely around the building, but I think that brings me to the water's edge. I kinda wonder how the eye wash sink got there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's Really Behind The Looking Glass

The answer, compliment of St. Boniface Cemetery, up around Ashland and Lawrence in the Andersonville neighborhood. Alice wants you to think you're going through a glass mirror, but on the other side, there's nothing but godforsaken stone and headless girls. Who the holy hell thought this tombstone would assuage anyone's feelings towards someone's dying? Welcome to the harvest, people. And remember what the dormouse said. Eat your head.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Neville!!! Come Out, Neville!!!

I was over at Larry's on Saturday watching HANGOVER SQUARE which starred Laird Cregar and Linda Darnell. Great film, not to be confused with Chicago's real-life Bughouse Square, up there by the Newberry Library. Cregar had lost quite a bit of weight since his previous film, THE LODGER. In that film, as he portrays Jack The Ripper, an image kept nagging at me, and it came to me as I waited on my el train home. In Richard Matheson's book I AM LEGEND, Robert Neville is always taunted by Ben Cortman, the guy he car-pooled with to the factory before the vampire plague of 1976. There's a great sense of danger when he bellows out Neville's name, and it is not until very late in the book that you realize Cortman resembled Oliver Hardy (per Matheson's own words), which put a surprise to the reader (or to me, at least), who might have thought the fellow to be more foreboding. Sadly, not a single version of I AM LEGEND shows any respect for the novel, though to be honest, the novel as is could never really be told other than on the printed page. But I finally have a fact to go with my Bud Cortman, the next time I reard I AM LEGEND, I'll be thinking of Laird Cregar. The guy kept losing weight, had two heart attacks, and died when he was 31. In HANGOVER SQUARE, his costar was Linda Darnell, who I knew had been a drinker and died in a fire. Larry looked this up after the film, and it turned out she was in Glenview, up north, at a friend's joint, and fell asleep smoking. She had died the next day at Cook County Hospital with burns over 90% of her body, her age was 41. Also waiting at the el, I wondered if perhaps one of those times I was at Illinois Research having the clinical psychologists have their way with me, Darnell might have been just down the hall in the burn ward, sometimes you could peek in on the way to the bathroom. Well, anyways, these are the kind of things I think about while standing three stories up under a full moon, the smell of rain in the air, the approaching train a small light on the horizon...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rail Rider/Third Rail

Right about this time of summer, back in 1988, I had been visiting Mark Rainey when he lived in Des Plaines. When he dropped me off at the Cumberland el stop near O'Hare, I told him I would write a story starting off with Mark leaving the parking lot. Most of the story that followed was true. There was a girl near the escalator, the el stop otherwise deserted, which was to be expected at 11 PM on a Saturday, at an obscure el stop sandwiched in-between I-94 inbound and outbound lanes. If you go there now, most of the landscape I describe is still there, although the bank with the flashing time and temp has likely changed hands five times. Jerry Williamson, bless him, decided that he would run my story as "Third Rail," even though the story does not involve electrocution. He seemed to think the new title would refer to an erection. Yep. But who was I to argue? It was the first book published with my name on the back cover (instead of being one of the ...And Ten Other Weird-Weaving Authors!) and I received my copy in between the third and fourth operations on my arm in early 1989. Mort Castle, a writer finally getting recognition he deserves after way to many years, got involved with getting the story reprinted by Innovation comics (sporting a Frank Frazetta cover!) along with Robert McCammon's "Nightrunners" and a few others. It was finally called "Rail Rider" after Karl Edward Wagner changed the title back when it was reprinted in YEAR'S BEST HORROR:XV. Well, Mort contacted me today, and Checker Books is reprinting the comic and, somehow, I'm getting paid MORE this time around than I did for all the other versions combined (and I'm not subtracting the price of buying DARKER MASQUES at Borders). Still scratching my head over this one...Wayne

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Surround Me Now, Like Holy Water

Well, since I'm playing mad catch up, I thought I'd post as much as possible, but with skipping a bit between the fourth and fifth photo. In between that was when I went into The Barrens. That train going by plays a part in things. I'm walking due west on Ashland Avenue, looking north. Any other photo of the creek I have taken has been looking south from the el platform. In one photo, you can see the el at the station. The concrete pillars and roadway belong to Interstate 55, which will take you to Peoria and then St. Louis. I really do think that the sharp angles and textures came out great, I didn't crop anything here. Some great views of the bridge overlooking the creek. Look through the bridge at the abandoned factory and the broken window. What's in there? The last photo is taken from the same position as the open window one, I just pivoted west to show the direction my train will eventually come from. The Sears Tower is visible in a few of the photos, and you can even see the ozone. At least, if they come out clear on the blog. Ah, to visit the bottom of Bubbly Creek, as jagged as the angles in the photos, the rotted bones of the century-old carcasses like my own body, right hip bone jammed into my left elbow socket haphazardly, the cracked cartilage of broken bones and holes from screws and plates that never stayed put. (You can see those fellows in the photo by Martel to the right, under Hourman, who gets an hour of power from taking a Miraclo pill, just as I can maybe get sixty minutes in before I break apart into a hunched monster. Its a full moon tonight, and I used to be able to snarl like a werewolf in between keystrokes. I'm something out of a silent movie now, a dead-eyed Conrad Veidt, silent like the things beneath Bubbly Creek, surrounded by water that is hallowed and holy...Wayne

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If You Believe

Nothing on Bubbly Creek yet, folks. Not trying to drag my photo trip last week out too long, but I've had to deal with a few minor things today involving a possibly-lucrative writing job (which I cannot talk about) to anti-inflammatory pain injections in my neck and forearm (which all of you are tired of hearing about), plus a few other things like watching parts of the All-Star Game and walking my dog. Years ago, I would get myself involved with projects with a specific artist that never saw fruit, as opposed to say, ANYthing that I worked on with Greg Loudon. Anyhow. Since I might find myself entering uncharted territories in this writing venture, if I'm even deemed worthy, I thought I might post the fastest thing I ever wrote as a paying gig. Sadly the words are not to be seen anywhere but here. My other artist friend wanted to do a circular painting based on the old Man In The Moon film from the 1920s. And he wanted me to give him a three word "title" (to appear in bold at the twelve o'clock spot) and exactly sixteen words to cover the rest of the outside. Even though the painting was never done as planned, here is what I wrote, northbound on the Pulaski bus between 71st and 63rd. My artist friend told me I had hit it dead on, but, well...other projects came up. But here you go, thinking of REM's song "Man In The Moon." Wayne

a wink of an eye
and practiced hands of the new
dreaming men

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Night Interlude, Near Full Moon

Back to Bubbly Creek tomorrow. Read my novella "Lover Doll" at the new place, MYSTIC CELT, after Mort Castle fund himself double-booked. Larry Santoro and his wife Tycelia were there, Larry reading a portion of his novel-in-progress, and one of his friends, a guy named Jim was there, someone I had met in times past. Larry and I have been reading together at TwilightTales almost as often as Martin & Lewis sang on bigger stages with a drunker audience. As one can see from the first photo, there are about seventy train lines that converge in the Loop. The Celt is right off the Southport Brown Line stop and I took that ton the Red Line stop at Belmont. Surprisingly, there were 325 (I learned later) high school kids from Dallas from a church group. If their shirts had been darker blue, you'd think there'd been a Cubs game as the train pulled in. I pitched in to help give directions when a drunken guy who asked three times "So, what's on the agenda?", which kept reminding me of Dan Rather getting mugged by two guys asking "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" I pointed the way to Moody Bible Institute from the Chicago/Franklin stop because, well, I just know where stuff is. I stay on the Red Line long after the rest of us Caucasians flee at Roosevelt. Deep in my anthology, CHICAGO NOIR, a woman next to me asked where I was getting off, perhaps concerned I was on the wrong train. I told her 87th and then we talked the rest of the ride, my eyes were tired from the TT reading and I didn't mind. Some guy got on at 35th Street, opposite Sox Park, in a gold shirt and what looked like baggy conductor pants, grabbed his crotch and sang high notes. The woman, Janet, told me about her job at Cub Foods. 87th came faster than expected, and the bus came even faster. I bought some Melatonin at the CVS (to help keep the dream demons away, so far its been effective), that's where the bus route ends, and then I kept walking the half mile home, under a near full moon. Sirius close by. Not a lot of traffic then, one of those weird gaps between job shifts or bars letting out, so I just hear my footsteps and see my shadow changing shape. Back to the creek tomorrow, promise...Wayne

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Behind The Skins Of Buildings

I took the first photo because of the number on the second floor, many two- and three-flats on Archer have their street address in the granite above doorways or on walls. This part of Archer has many side streets that are longer than Hoey, but not by much, and none run intermittently across the city as certain other streets that intersect Archer will, i.e., Avers and Ridgeway. Pitney Court, Salt Street (no sign, dammit!), some streets act as markers, Quinn Street has a vacant lot where the Quinn Street Inn stood, Arch Street has the vacant lot where St. Bridget's used to be. Broad Street, Lock Street, the bus would speed by them in an eye blink. The Doghouse is gone, a tavern with cut out dogs on the angled roof. The place that sold Filbert's root beer is still there, only not it has a sign on the metal door that reads Southern Sails. You can see Kunka's Drugs in the movie BACKDRAFT, which was filmed here during the autumn of 1993. Further up was the massive Archer Avenue Big Store, which became a Zemsky's and is now a supermercado. Kunka's seemed to be closed, and I had no one nearby to ask. This style of architecture could be seen in many buildings now gone, ice cream parlors and small restaurants, the old Martin Senour paint company (on Senour Street), and a few small shops across that street (35th) in a huge building that once housed the Peterson Bowling Alley, which was on the SECOND floor. To an extent, even the long gone Brighton Theater had brick structure like Kunka's. The vacant lot by the I-55 sign was where the church had been, now there is a huge billboard attached to the next building over for a strip club in Indiana. That sign is the same one from the happy accident double exposure from the back cover of WITH WOUNDS STILL WET, the photo by HE Fassl. Times past, man. Times past.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In The Shadows Of The Interstates

I changed the title of my post at the last minutes because I realized it would make more sense tacked onto tomorrow's photos. I have added a photo of the Stearns Quarry that I found on Flickr, just to show how truly small the quarry is. On the other side of those trees is the very end of the South Branch of the Chicago River. Not Bubbly Creek, no that is still nearly a mile away at Ashland Avenue and there are photos to be seen, do not worry. Instead groove on this odd little photo with the shapes peeking above the wall of I-55, the Halsted Street exit from the el train is at the far right. The building blocking part of Sears Tower is actually on the Chicago River closer to downtown, on Lumber Street. Most people would only see certain parts of this city, as with the white building, by being on the elevated train. It is then that you can see that the east side of the building has no shore to speak of, a person could jump from a sixteen story window directly into the river. There's plenty of empty water tower bases (if that's the term?) dotting the skyline. What is kind of cool is that it was not until I scanned the photo tonight, after looking at it several times, did I notice the guy in the blue shirt at street level (possibly because my thumb would have been touching that spot). I posted a shot of the church, St. Barbara's. It doesn't have the spires of the churches in my Humboldt Park neighborhood of my youth, such as St. Stanislaus Kostka or St. Fidelus, where I attended kindergarten and first grade and learned what kind of creatures Catholic nuns could turn into if they wanted. I like the photo of the intersection of Poplar and Hoey. Hoey itself is an alley and could easily be shorter than the length of my backyard fence. The only street shorter is a cobblestone deal called Arcade Place that runs for all of 105 feet and dead-ends behind the old Chicago Bank building. I hadn't visited this corner, within feet of Archer Avenue, and I was a little surprised to see signs in Chinese as well as English this far south and west. More of my journey tomorrow as we get closer to the inevitable trip past Bubbly Creek and up into the barrens where the abandoned train spur and the factory with the broken windows (and other Fun Stuff!) lie buried in broken timber and dead leaves...Wayne

Friday, July 11, 2008

Are There Still Old Neighborhoods...?

The title for the post comes from a line I saved in my commonplace book, a question someone rhetorically asks in a letter to a paroled murderer no longer living in Chicago. The demolition along Archer Avenue shows this, as every available small building--the torn down building in question used to be tiny little Ted's Drive-In--and make something bigger, adding floors, losing parking spaces. I have omitted a few photos from earlier in my trek, when I was closer to Chinatown, but they'll find their way here soon enough. I had headed towards 29th and Poplar, walking up Halsted from Archer Avenue (maybe around 27th Street, and the site of the dull white triangle that had been Ted's since back in my college days). I then walked the opposite way because, well, its what I do. When given a decision involving doing one of two things, I'll second guess and do the wrong thing. To my credit, I got as far as the next block, Emerald Street, and realized I was headed the wrong way. Well, the quarry is gone, I knew that by walking past that guy on crutches with kids playing basketball in the park further down the way. There's this massive church, St. Barabara's, that almost engulfs the immediate skyline depending on the street, and I used that as my compass as I walked around an enclosed lot. Not From Michigan Mike had told me the place was chained up after a murder a few years back. Well, I tried to get close. My favorite photo of this bunch is the spiral staircase one, even though it speaks of the changes in the neighborhood. The aren't any old neighborhoods, to answer that guy in the story. In my day, that staircase would have been beaten-down wood, with steps that circled down the same way the metal ones do, only much steeper, like the stairs Martin Balsam falls down in the Bates house in PSYCHO. In some of these buildings, they may have the interiors gutted to make them more like lofts. At least the buildings are still called a two flat or a three flat and the exteriors haven't been modernized as they have been with about 75% of the apartments on the north side. I love the narrow passageways between the homes, as a kid we called them gangways, nowadays they are breezeways. This section of the southside is built in a cool way because of (I'm guessing) its proximity to the South Branch of the Chicago River. I couldn't get any photos that would do it justice, as many of the buildings were in shade and I knew the photos wouldn't show what I'm talking about. The homes all had lawns below street level, so that you can often see stairs leading both downward and up a dozen steps (instead of, say, three) to the front door. Kind of like an odd bi-level. You'd see five or six home facing Archer like this and then just as many with no sunken yards or no long staircases. Maybe some were built after the Chicago Fire of 1871, as the fire did spread this far south, pretty much to about 35th and Damen, which was two miles from where I was just then. Regardless of how that particular building might have changed, though, I do like the spiral staircase photo....Wayne

There Is Nothing Wrong With Your Television...

I'll get back to my photo adventure tonight, but several people brought up the old Outer Limits trading cards, Jelly Man in particular. Here's my set, though my favorite is a tie between The Thing From Mercury and the Xanthi Misfits (which were wasps with heads like Norman Fell). One day, I'll do a post on my Univeral Monsters trading card set, of which I'm missing only three out of 106. And no trading card posting would be complete without me showing myself in a 1992 trading card that Greg Loudon did for the AIDS Awareness series. If Greg could one day do a zombie card set, I don't think I'll have to do much more than just show up and make my nose bleed...Wayne

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Milk Crate Melodrama

I'm quite pleased with the quality of just about every photo I took yesterday, my adventure to the old quarry which started with the melodrama in front of the Old Navy store downtown. I'll likely use up the weekend posting most of the photos, all taken around Archer Avenue between Halsted and Ashland, many having some pretty decent geometric shapes. For starters, though, Just Hungry showed up and started a fight with Methadone Dave, the Dave whose girlfriend claims her baby is his even though he says the kid looks like its from the Philippines, over the red milk crate. Just Hungry will stay in one spot until he gets about three dollars; he's tiny enough that maybe that's enough money for his fix. I can't understand why they fought over the crate, seeing as Just Hungry never once stood on it or used it for anything at all. I sat on the ground, watching it all fall out, surprised that the little guy won out. Dave told me his story a few minutes later, said how it just wasn't worth the trouble fighting with the guy. He cut out then, I guess because he saw another street corner open up. It was at this point that I knew it was going to be a great day for taking photos, which I did, from Chinatown to Bubbly Creek....Wayne

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Dillinger Shots

An hour into my day, I watched a guy on methadone arguing with a heroin addict over a crate to beg from in front of the Old Navy downtown. There's a lot more after that, and I might just write a story to read next Monday at the Mystic Celt, the new place for the Twilight Tales readings. Photos on the next roll, the ones just developed are from the Dillinger shoot. I only took a few photos; spent more time talking cop with a guy whose dad, also a cop, was an extra in the BLUES BROTHERS film way back in August of 1979. The scene is underneath the Red Line, crossing Clark Street towards Addison. At times, I'll sit at that el stop, watching part of the Cubs game, seeing only a sliver of right and center field, but I don't care because the background noise helps me write in my commonplace book. That shot underneath the el has some cool stores just out of site. There's BOOKWORKS, and no more need be said. Years back, I bought a pb of Nelson Algren's NEVER COME MORNING. Past that is STRANGE CARGO, where you can buy Doc Marten boots, Starsky & Hutch t-shirts, and postcards of Abe Vigoda, bobble heads of everything iconic, packs of trading cards with stale bubble gum of HAPPY DAYS, T.J. HOOKER, PEEWEE'S PLAYHOUSE, and even SAVED BY THE BELL. And past that, sigh, is Wrigley Field and all the sports bars (not taverns, never call them taverns), and people walking the streets that I really don't give a damn about. Anyhow, here's 1932 Chicago. If Dillinger wasn't doomed here, I doubt anyone outside of Kansas City or Crown Point, Indiana would know of him. Like James Dean's grave. And the rumour of Jonny D.'s penis in formaldehyde...Wayne

Monday, July 7, 2008

Outside Streator

I took these photos from the car ride home from the downstate book signing. Taking the road past the railroad crossing gets you to what passes for Main Street in Streator. The Bookshelf. A Sunoco. The Majestic Theater. A tavern named Teet's and a Jupiter discount store. My Auntie Irene and Uncle Bill Pond lived to the south end of town, just this side of a sign that proclaimed the town the "biggest glass bottle cap producer in the world." Bill had operated a body shop in his garage and there were always pieces of chrome around the yard. I had a dream while staying overnight there that there was a werewolf in a willow tree above a picnic table in the yard and only I could see it. I can visualize the images to this day. When I was older, I'd walk to Main Street, maybe a mile up Otter Creek Road and a hard left when I reached a Grundy's grocery store. Main Street itself consisted of many closed stores, though not as many vacant buildings as I saw in Pekin last month. But, of course, I'm speaking of southern Illinois a decade ago. Outside of Streator, still staying on that desolate (in my photo) RR photo, you'd leave town past the grocery store and pass the Dwight Correctional Center for Women. I always found it strange that there was a Dairy Queen directly across from the prison.