Not only did my recent trip to Long Grove result in the successful conclusion of my quest for Marmite, but also the addition of many more pictures for the photo files. I tried to remember all the things I was supposed to look out for and came up with a few doors that I thought might merit a spot on Norm’s Thursday Doors.
This week, Tina’s choice of What A Treat as the theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge sparked a trip down Memory Lane and prompted me to re-visit and re-capture the glory days of a once-popular tourist destination.
There was a time when we considered spending the day at Long Grove’s historic shopping district a treat. On busy days and especially when there was a Festival in progress you would be lucky, despite the myriad parking lots, to find a space to leave your car. Yesterday it was almost empty.
It was here that we came to buy perfumed soaps and chocolate-dipped strawberries, to eat ice cream in the summer and drink hot apple cider in the Fall. We would browse for hours through antique shops, boutiques and novelty stores.
It was here, too, that I came to find the sort of foods that I missed so much from home; Spotted Dick, Bovril, Oxos, oxtail and Mulligatawny soups (before the ban on imports that contained beef because of mad cow disease and other import restrictions more or less drove them out of business.) Here I stocked up on Christmas puddings, mince pies and Twiglets, and got recent news of home from the proprietor who made frequent visits back across the Pond.
To be fair, the decline in Long Grove’s fortunes began long before Covid arrived, but it certainly didn’t help matters. Remembering the good old days, it was very sad to see all the places that had closed down and so many of the beautiful old buildings falling into disrepair.
Gone is the magical place where you could find all manner of plush toys, much to the kids’ delight, and gone too, the store that sold the best Christmas decorations. No more, the shop that sold every kind of kitchen accessory known to man and, as far as I could tell, even the old apple press (the core of the annual Apple Festival) is no longer functioning.
The old covered bridge is still standing but only just. They had only recently reopened it after having it renovated because of damage caused by an accident involving a delivery truck, when the very next day it was hit by a chartered bus. What are the odds!
But it’s not all gloom and doom. There are still some businesses that are hanging on and people are working very hard to make a go of it. Restaurants and wine bars seem to be the glue that is holding Long Grove together these days, despite the limitations set by the pandemic.
And on the bright side, there is still a touch of whimsy, despite a general feeling of doubt about the future of the place.
I did my bit to help the economy with the purchase of a jar of Marmite (what a treat!) and various other items at Paddy’s on The Square, with a promise to return in a week or so. It may not be how we remember it but, if you are in the area, I urge you to stop by the historic shopping district of Long Grove and sample some of the treats that are still available. Who knows! Despite all adversity there may yet be a chance for the revival of Long Grove’s glory days.
This week, our guest host, Biasini the horse, has chosen Communication as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This was an interesting theme with many connotations; so many ways to communicate our thoughts and feelings.
Can you hear me now? Probably not. I saw this pay phone at our local gas station and, figuring it was something that would soon be a thing of the past, I took a picture for posterity. Mobile phones have almost completely replaced this old-fashioned mode of communication and a good thing too. It was a miracle if you could find one that hadn’t been vandalized and was still in working order.
The best way to communicate with the crowd, when even a voice on a loudspeaker can’t be heard, is by means of the electronic signboard seen here at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Back in the day when there was no such thing as radio communication between ships, flags were the means of issuing orders, declaring a vessel’s country of origin and also its intentions. These flags were hoisted at the Tall Ships Festival at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Sadly, another form of communication that seems to be going the way of the dodo is the newspaper. Our household cancelled the daily newspaper many years ago in a cost-cutting purge that saw the abandonment of many such unnecessary luxuries, but I missed scanning the news from this crisply tangible source, missed filling in the ridiculously easy crosswords and mourned the loss of connection with the community. It’s just not the same, reading the ‘police blotter’ online.
Some years ago, I photographed a protest that had been prominent in our local news. I rarely take pictures of people and when I do, they are usually candid, unposed shots that don’t normally turn out that well. I don’t feel comfortable in this situation but I summoned up my courage and engaged the protesters in conversation, asking them about their cause and obtaining permission to take their pictures. I explained that I was writing a piece for my blog about the town itself and had just happened to come upon the protest by chance. Many of those present that day were quite happy to pose for pictures but many weren’t and of course, I respected their wishes, but I found it rather ironic that people who were willing to communicate their displeasure with their current working conditions by standing at the roadside, brandishing placards and screaming at passing motorists, were not willing to express their obviously deeply-held views on a more personal level. This communicated to me that they either mistrusted my motives or were afraid of possible reprisals. Fair enough.
Finally, with a nod to Anne Leueen and her horse, Biasini, here is a shot that I captured at Arlington Race Track a couple of years ago of my granddaughter, who loves horses, making contact with one of the outrider’s mounts, a communication of kindred spirits.