December 20, 2020


Occasionally I’ll browse old yearbooks online. Usually I’m looking at the architecture of the 1930s and 1940s era education buildings, often in their Art Deco glory. I also like seeing the cultural differences between what was then and what was now. So much segregation. Disheartening.

I was browsing a random 1958 yearbook and noticed that one of the classmates in many of the photos had a full beard. In 1958 I believe this was very unusual. Clean shaven was the name of the game at that time in U.S. history and I’m curious as to why this young man decided to sport a full beard in high school long before the hippie movement. What was his deal? What were his aspirations?

This young man, we’ll call him Bill, is clean shaven in his senior portrait, so either mom or dad, or both, said, “you’re going to look respectable in your senior class photo, young man!”. Or perhaps he just decided to shave that day. But in all the other photos of Bill in this yearbook, and in the preceding year as well, he was sporting a full beard.

Looking at his senior portrait, Bill was a striking young man. According to his bio, he was also quite involved in school activities. He was well rounded, participating in both sporting and non-sporting activities.

I’m curious as to what motivated this rebellion exhibited by a full beard. Did he live the rest of his life as a rebellious type? Having graduated in 1958, he’s probably 80 years old by now.

Oh, and the clocks in this school were made by International Business Machines, commonly known as IBM.

Edit (10 minutes later): So I decided to Google this man and see if there’s anything online about him. I found his obituary dated 2017. The photo shown in the obit confirmed it was indeed the same man. He was very active in his community, served in the Marines, and had a lovely, thriving family. As some would say, he came from and raised good stock. He had a beard when he died as well. His might have not been the rebel I imagined him to be, but he lived a good, solid, productive life. RIP.

Holiday Train.

The Kennedy Expressway in Chicago takes thousands of cars to and from O’Hare (and points west of the city) on a daily basis. Along the median of much of this expressway is the ‘L’ Blue Line. I get why the city built the ‘L’ tracks in the median of the expressway, but it makes for a cold experience in the winter when waiting for your train.

When we come home from a ride on the prairie I always coming in from O’Hare. Using other methods of entering the city and then trying to get to our condo on the north side is a challenge, especially with the never ending construction at the Jane Byrne Interchange near the loop.

Tonight as we made our way eastbound on the Kennedy (folks from elsewhere know it as “Interstate 90”), the CTA Holiday Train was traveling along the Blue Line ‘L’ tracks in the median. This explained why the overhead electronic sign said “MONTROSE 7 MIN” instead of the usual “MONTROSE 5 MIN”. Folks were slowing down to see Santa.

I have no issue with this.

Because of the pandemic there are no passengers drinking hot cocoa on the Holiday Train (which my husband and I call the “Jingle Train” when it passes by our condo on the Brown Line) nor is anyone visiting with Santa. The CTA has purposely not published the schedule because they don’t want crowds gathering to see the festivities. But it was an extra special treat to see the Jingle Train on the Blue Line on our way home from our ride.

A piece of merriment to keep us in the spirit. Happy Holidays!