Stockholm Inn – Rockford’s Best Kept Secret

Ok, it’s not much of a secret, but I love their Swedish pancakes so much I had to share. This is definitely a local delicacy. I’ve never seen Swedish pancakes on a menu outside the Rockford, Illinois area. Stockholm Inn is located in a strip mall at 2420 Charles Street if you’re ever in the area.

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Unsolved Mysteries was Terrifying

This program is about unsolved mysteries. Whenever possible, the actual family members and police officials have participated in re-creating the events. What you are about to see is not a news broadcast.

From 1987 to 1997, Unsolved Mysteries was the scariest thing on television. My parents wouldn’t let me watch it as a kid, so I had to sneak over to a friend’s house after dinner on Wednesday evenings. The format was simple. Each episode featured interviews and reenactments about two or three mysteries involving missing persons, lost loves, unsolved murders, alternative history, and occasionally something supernatural. My favorite episodes featured ghost stories, of course, particularly Chicago’s Resurrection Mary.

It aired on NBC from 1987 to 1997 before being canceled due to declining popularity. CBS picked it up from 1997 to 1999, Lifetime from 2001 to 2002, and Spike TV from 2008 to 2010. None of these continuations had the raw, spine-tingling impact of the original. The show was interactive–featuring a tip line where viewers could call in with information on the cases. Sometimes these tips helped solve the mystery.

Robert Stack (1919-2003), from Los Angeles, California, hosted the show from 1987 until 2002, when he fell ill. Stack was a veteran actor of more than 40 feature films and numerous TV shows with a characteristically deep voice. Stack’s voice, together with the show’s theme music, were genuinely terrifying. To this day, there’s nothing like it on television. What happened? Actor Dennis Farina took over as host on Spike TV, but it just wasn’t the same.

Boomer’s Tap in Des Plaines, Illinois

Boomer’s Tap in Des Plaines, Illinois served as a neighborhood bar at 1000 E. Prairie Avenue for nearly a century, except during Prohibition. According to the Chicago Tribune, efforts to shut it down began after a customer was arrested in November 1999 for trying to sell cocaine to an undercover cop. The Baumhart family of Arlington Heights ran Boomer’s Tap for 50 years. I think it was torn down in early 2002. I passed it plenty of times when I was in high school, but it closed before I turned 21. Does anyone remember this place?

Reclaiming the ‘Spirit’ of Halloween

halloweenIs Halloween an evil holiday? Is it secretly pagan? Is Halloween too dangerous for children to celebrate? These are all questions that, sadly enough, many parents ask themselves every year. When I was a kid (way, way back in the 1980s), I can remember trick or treating with my older sister (when I was very young) and then when I was older, with a group of friends. We trick or treated at dusk, or when it was dark, and then afterwards we joined our parents for a Halloween party at a neighbor’s house. Nearly every home was decorated in some way for the holiday.

Years later, when I was in college, I joined my then girlfriend for Halloween at her parent’s house in a small town in central Illinois. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Parents actually drove their kids from house to house and walked them to each door (the few that came). The idea seemed to be “hurry up and get away” from your neighbors as fast as possible. As we drove through town, we saw very few homes decorated for the holiday. Where was the sense of community I had experiences as a child? As I’ve gotten older, particularly in the last several years, Halloween seems to have turned into just another excuse for twenty-somethings to dress in “sexy” costumes and get drunk. What happened to my favorite holiday?

Scott Richert, editor of Chronicles Magazine and the About.com Catholicism expert, has written a series of enlightening articles about Catholicism and Halloween, why Christians should celebrate the holiday, and where a lot of misconceptions about Halloween come from. These articles will be interesting to secular-minded readers as well. I’ll summarize them below, but you can read all three at these links: “Halloween, Jack Chick, and Anti-Catholicism,” “Why the Devil Hates Halloween,” and “Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?

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