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Thursday, July 14, 2016


       Need a relaxing getaway?  Chicago may be your kind of place. The pizza is superb and most murders take place on the bad side of town.
  My college friends, Mike and Christy, took me in for a couple of days.  (Francesca had flown back to Miami to get more mangos. She'll re-join the tour soon). 
The Jones's live on the good side, a couple of miles north  in Evanston.  

    No AC's are needed with cool air blowing in from Lake Michigan. 

 I loved riding in Evanston's
designated bike lanes. 
 Maybe Miami will have them in twenty years.

    We did all the un-Chicago stuff like  reminiscing, playing tennis, and attempting to win $540 million in the lottery. I'm not a gambler but Mike has spent his life promoting that sort of thing (he ran the Illinois lottery for years).
We didn't win but what the heck, I was hangin' with Mr. Lottery. I gave it a shot even though my chances of winning were the same whether I bought a ticket or not.

   When we got home Christy was pulling one of her famous pies out of the oven.  Was it delicious, my favorite, key lime. That, with a shot of original Czech herbal brew, Becherovka, hit the spot.

      Buzzing on Bech we took headed along the lake shore. Mike insisted that we visit his neighborhood's treasure, the Baha'i Temple. Using pre-cast concrete, it took 50 years to build. 
The Baha'i faith was started 140 years ago by an Persian fellow who's name may have inspired the Gene Vincent song, "Bebop a Lula" (His name, 'Baha' u'LLah' doesn't quite inspire visions of rock n' roll for me).  
It seems like a pretty good religion as it promotes peace, world unity, and the production of inspiring concrete domes.

     Thus inspired, I set my sails for Western Illinois. My mom spent her early years there until
my grandparents heard how great Miami was.  

They packed up their Model T with kids, a dog, a few chickens and headed south. Once they arrived they got blown away by The Great Hurricane of 1926.  It's a wonder they didn't head north again.


    Everyone in Illinois stayed safe except for my cousins,  Henry and Robert Hawk.  Both brothers died in the Civil War. I visited Henry's grave with my cousin, Joe Besse.  I had visited Robert's in Chattanooga earlier. Joe's grandfather was born before that war and he still remembers his stories.  
   He and his son, Mark, farm 1700 acres of corn and soy beans. They have an intimate knowledge of the earth and an obvious love of tractors.

   Joe's $12,000 lawn mower is almost as big as one. When I drove it its 36 HP engine nearly gave me whiplash.  

   Wacky weed grows next to the hog shed.  No big deal here.  Locals farmed it long ago to make rope.
It was great to be on the farm again, a place of simplicity, loving relatives, and childhood wonderment. When I have more time I'll tell you about my cowgirl cousin, Brenda, and her family's

enduring love of Buicks (Said Cousin Joe eying the photo below, "Them old ones had big teeth!").

   That's Joe with his wife, Millie, in the middle. Millie died a couple of years ago. They were married 65 years.

Gotta go.
It's time to cross the Mississippi.

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