Thursday, July 4, 2013


The typical visitor to Chicago would drive right by Bridgeport. It's not a place that ordinarily attracts visitors as they parachute in. It's a place where people actually live, actually work, and actually live their lives.

It's a neighborhood with a long history - perhaps dating back before the incorporation of Chicago itself. The lots are long and narrow - about 30 feet wide - and the homes are mainly row houses. They're well kept. Judging by the asking prices for real estate in the neighborhood,  it would appear to have become a desirable place to live.

 Kissy Missy and I felt perfectly safe walking through the neighborhood during daylight hours, and even after dark. That sense of security in a residential area is something I've grown used to in small-town Michigan, but not anything I'd ever felt in a large Michigan city.

Even the back alleys were clean.  Perhaps that's a remnant of the days when the Daleys ruled Chicago. The Daley family came from Bridgeport.

Bridgeport once was one of the areas most resistant to racial integration, and it's still got that reputation. That's changed, obviously, as seen in the faces of the riders of the No. 62 CTA bus that serves the neighborhood. 

In fact, Bridgeport is seen as Chicago's most diverse neighborhood. It's a place I wouldn't mind living.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kissy Missy loves Chicago

There was business to take care of in Chicago, of course, but that didn't stop us from exploring. Kissy Missy completely fell in love with Union Station. I fell in love with the lighting from the huge, translucent skylight above the Great Hall. 

A trip to Chicago isn't complete without a trip to the Chicago Skydeck. Kissy Missy actually stepped onto The Ledge. She didn't look down. I apologize; my video failed. There was shrieking. It was entertaining.

She also was a little worried as she noticed the massive thunderstorm approaching from the west. Just because we literally were in the highest place around, 103 stories above Chicago, a severe thunderstorm headed our way, she got a little doubtful.  What could possibly go wrong?

"Point that thing somewhere else."

A trip anywhere isn't complete without sampling the local cuisine. I think her favorite place (we went there twice) was Lou Mitchell's on Jackson Street. She's enjoying the roast beef over noodles; I had a fluffy omelet with Michigan apples. Make sure you get your Milk Duds or doughnut hole if you go there. 


Timothy O'Toole's in Streeterville is one of the coolest sports bars I've ever been in. The selection of hard ciders, like this California pear cider, really enticed Kissy Missy.

And the bloody Mary on the sidewalk on Michigan Avenue wasn't bad, either.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Benedictine Bed and Breakfast

A group of Benedictine monks operates an extremely nice bed and breakfast in Chicago. We stayed there, and it put us in the middle of a diverse and highly interesting neighborhood in the city.

 The bed and breakfast itself is the first floor of a row house, and includes a living room, two bedrooms and a fully stocked kitchen. Calling it a bed and breakfast is not quite accurate; you get to cook your own meals, but everything works and the monks supply ample amounts of food.  It's a lot like visiting grandma's house in the city.

The presence of the monks in the city is a fairly recent phenomenon; their history is here. The physical center of the monastery is the former Immaculate Conception church, which was closed by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1989. It has been repurposed into a place that mixes the ancient and the stunningly modern, all for the glory of God.

Kissy Missy and I had the opportunity to attend Sunday Mass at what is called the Monastery of the Holy Cross. The liturgy is a beautiful, ethereal mix of the ancient and the recent, done with Gregorian chant. The worship space itself, alive and reverberant, becomes a part of it all. In the midst of the city, it is a sound straight from the Middle Ages, alive still in the 21st century. 

St. Francis keeps watch over the garden, which includes strawberries and gooseberries. The Monastery of the Holy Cross is at 3111 S. Aberdeen, Chicago. Reservations are necessary; the monks take PayPal.