Welcome to the second edition of my reliving the 15-year anniversary of my cross-country road trip through sharing stories from the journal I kept during the trip. Today’s entry takes a look at the second half of the Chicago portion of the adventure. The first part of this blog post where I look at my life as a 22 year-old through the lens of Kevin Arnold and The Wonder Years could be either the best or worst text I ever wrote. I’m leaning towards the latter, but I’ll let you decide.
Wednesday, July 18, 1997
Our first major stop was at the National Broadcast Museum. I more-or-less followed my brother here because this was not on my places to go list. However, my brother encouraged me to go plus it was free. The museum itself was very interactive with classic radio shows for the most part. I liked going through Jack Benny’s vault and hearing a George Burns-Gracie Allen bit. However, I was mostly unfamiliar with many of the classic names and shows (like the Goldbergs). Upstairs, we went into the TV archives just to see what they had. I thought they would have a lot more but it was mostly a few sitcom episodes and Chicago programs. I decided that I wanted to watch the final episode of The Wonder Years. My brother thought I was being silly but this was one of my favorite shows and I didn’t remember seeing the last episode. Watching The Wonder Years final show really made me think about my past and future. (Sean's note: Am I getting deep here?)
I have graduated from college and I’m 22. At this point in my life, I am an adult. My childhood is over and I’m not sure if I like that. I have always seen Kevin Arnold as me during his junior high and high school years. (Really?) But in that last episode, at the very end, (Spoiler alert if you don’t want to know how the final episode of a show that’s been off the air for 20 years ends) he starts describing the lives of his family and friends. Winnie goes away to Paris for 8 years, his father dies 2 years later, and Kevin is married with a son. Don’t get me wrong. I’m really looking forward to San Diego and the rest of my life because I feel the best is ahead. (Cliché alert.) But leaving childhood and my dependency on my parents is tough. I guess in some sense, this road trip marks the end of one stage of my life and the beginning of the next stage. I’m trying to make the most of this trip because I’m not sure if I’ll have this chance again. Hopefully, I will with my wife and kids but that is not in the foreseeable future. Going back to The Wonder Years, Kevin realized that this was his last summer with his family and close friends. I knew a part of Kevin is in me for the trip (again, really?), and the youthfulness will stay with me forever.
What the heck was this last paragraph? (Unless some website that gives away best blog awards thinks this is awesome.) Let’s move ahead to other aspects of Chicago.
Anyway, I’m not even close to Wednesday evening. During the afternoon, we wondered around Chicago (seeing Bulls championship memorabilia everywhere) and went to the Sears Tower. Unfortunately, it was a little foggy about 5-10 miles outside the city, so we couldn’t see much past the city and some of Lake Michigan.
We ate dinner at a 50s style restaurant called Ed Debevics. The waiters and waitresses are purposely mean to you and the atmosphere really resembles an old soda shop. Our waitress was named Jewels because she wore a lot of jewelry around her neck. She was also cute and gave us hugs goodbye. I forgot to mention that when we were walking around downtown, we found a Celebration on State Street. It reminded me of the Three Rivers Arts Festival with the art and food stands.
One note about this was my brother said to me, “I could use a drink.” (My handwriting looks like I wrote Danish, but drink probably makes a lot more sense.) He was thirsty because we were walking a lot. A guy in front of us told him that there was a great deal for a 22 oz. beer just down the block. In addition, he was drunk (probably by having several of the 22 oz. beers) and told my brother that he reminded him of his 16 year-old son. (For some reason, this was very funny at the time. Doesn’t seem as funny now.)
My journal then goes into a description of seeing Shear Madness which was very cool at the time. Now that Shear Madness plays several hundred shows a year at DC’s Kennedy Center since at least 2001, it’s not as cool. Next stop: St. Louis!
Plus, you can click here for more on the 1997 Road Trip.