As the bus left the Community Center last Wednesday, Denise told Vincent, our driver, to go all the way up to Canada. (This was the day after the election.) Vincent said he couldn’t do that, but he took us up to Antioch, as previously planned. The journey to Antioch was just what we needed, it completely took our minds off politics.
Maybe you’ve read about the little town in Texas that has adopted a Dickens theme. Well, we have one right here in Antioch — all over town, mannequins dressed in 19th-century attire, decorated the streets. We even had Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim with us. It was a bright, sunny day, not too cold, not too warm.
Denise Murray has a knack for finding unique places to visit, always keeping the price in mind. We started the day at a tea house where several flavors of tea were served with “scones.” Barbara Porch was our hostess, compliments of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. She told us that several years ago a local merchant, “Uncle Charlie,” got the idea to honor Dickens after seeing the project elsewhere. The citizens of Antioch liked the idea, and volunteers worked at the project until it developed into what you see today. More ideas and projects are in operation, and the Dickens holiday promises to grow and prosper.
The lovely 19th-century women’s apparel was hand-sewn and decorated by the talented women of Antioch; in many cases the ladies created outfits in their own homes. Mannequins were created in such a way that their arms and legs can move. Each Dickens head is a work of art having taken many hours to create. Finding volunteers to work on “Dickens” was no problem. Everyone seemed to be delighted to work on the idea. There are, of course, souvenirs galore; especially a T-shirt and with a mean face saying “Scrooge U.” A favorite is the dog Oliver who adorns shirts, coffee mugs and sweatshirts. Oliver is a copy of a favorite Antioch dog, a Bernese Mountain dog whose name actually is “Oliver.”
Denise Murray is shown in the photo with a new friend. Rosemary and Peggy joined two Victorian ladies as they went calling.
Toward the end of the day while others were getting a breath of air in the warm afternoon sun, Gunther and Karen Neumann walked up a hill, found a duck pond and walked across a lovely bridge over the pond. Bring the kids.
On Saturdays, Dickens fun is happening all around downtown. Listen to the carolers, musicians, lots of Christmas joy. If kids can spot Scrooge on Saturdays (through Dec. 17) from noon until 2, he will give them some shiny new pennies, grumbling all the time. He hates to part with a penny. The folks of Antioch have really gotten into the spirit of Dickens. For an events calendar, visit www.DickensHolidayVillage.com. From Dec. 1 through 25 there is a scavenger hunt. One lucky winner will win a special prize!
You probably already knew that Charles Dickens had a ne’er-do-well brother who lived in Chicago. He is buried in an unmarked grace at Graceland Cemetery.
Christmas Craft Fairs are all over the place. There’s another at Ascension School in the gym, 822 S. Clarence, from 10 until 1 on Dec. 3. And remember the one at the 19th Century Club, 178 Forest. That’s on Dec. 17 from 10:30 until 1:30. That one has cookies, tea and photos with Santa. The Park District of Forest Park has a Craft Fair in the park building on Nov. 19. The party is from 10 until 4, so come and join your friends, pick up some Christmas gems and contribute to our park.
The memorial Mass for Zeno Jacquat is being celebrated on Nov. 26 at St. Edmund, 11 am. Zeno will never be forgotten.
The Symphony of Oak Park-River Forest will be heard on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m., Vivaldi, Nielsen, 4th Symphony. That’s at Dominican University, River Forest. Plenty of free parking.
Happy birthday to Gina Orlando, Olinda Fink, Jaime Cook, Brandon Paugh, Roberta James, Karen McGrath, Gina Barger, William Shremsher, Ariel Smith, Daryl Latall, Brian Hawkins, Meagan Ryann, Emmie Whitebone, May Bill (#96!), Jessica Marafatso, Patrick Rice, Michael Branda, and Maddie McKay.
Happy anniversary to Augie and Tracy Aleksy.
Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life’s other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side of Chicago in a great neighborhood when it was a great time to be young.