“Chicago, Wisconsin” or Maybe The First Cell Tower

Have you stopped at a historical marker?

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The Welcome to Illinois Historical Marker.Dear Nathaniel Pope, Thank you.

I remembered hearing something about the history of Illinois, maybe back in college, and how there was a time that Chicago was almost part of Wisconsin because they were going to put the state line of Illinois at the bottom of Lake Michigan. Gone would be the north shore, the Illinois/Wisconsin border would be almost along I-80, and instead of Chicago being known as a city of gangsters and blowhard politicians it might be the cheese capital of the world.

Thankfully Nathaniel Pope proposed an amendment during the Debate on Statehood that shifted the border north to where it is now and instead of “Chicago, Wisconsin” we have “Chicago, Illinois,” where years ago the “Millionaire’s Special” would make its way from Chicago to Lake Geneva, WI, so that the wealthy could easily get from the hustle and bustle of the big city to their giant estates on Lake Geneva.

I was recently reminded of the history of Illinois when I stopped at a historical marker. On a trip to the land of cheese there was a sign along the side of the road announcing that a historical marker was ahead. On a tight time-schedule for our vacation, a mental note was made to stop at said marker on the way home, but throughout the weekend I couldn’t help but wonder about the marker. I remembered glancing at it as we drove by noticing it was a large sign and behind it was a cell tower. I wondered about the significance of the marker thinking it might be announcing a location of a giant battle for Wisconsin/Illinois supremacy. Maybe it was the sight that a famous cow was born? Who knows, maybe that cell tower was the first one in Illinois? Finding out the significance would have to wait as a relaxing weekend was waiting, and also finding another historical marker noting the location of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in Lake Geneva, and it’s elite “Millionaire’s Special.”
With the weekend over and on the ride back to civilization, there it was, the beckoning historical marker. A quick pit-stop, a quick photo, and a little disappointment I must say as this wasn’t the site of a battle, nor the site that someone famous was born, nor announcing that cell phone service had come to the northern counties of Illinois, but here, on the side of the road, was a marker welcoming people to Illinois, giving a little bit of history, and it isn’t even located on the border but about three miles south in front of a cell tower. It was, however, a seeming popular historical marker as you could see the worn out grass as people would park and walk up to the sign, thereby finding out that Allen Pinkerton wasn’t born in that spot, but he did live in nearby Dundee, and founded a detective agency in 1850, and was Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard for a time. Luckily for Pinkerton his legacy wasn’t destroyed as he wasn’t guarding Lincoln when he was assassinated, and in fact, Pinkerton foiled an earlier plot to kill Lincoln.

A historical marker for the Millionaire's Special.I guess I was hoping for a little more excitement with my historical marker stop, but alas, it did remind me how lucky we are in Chicago that Nathaniel Pope was a badass because “Chicago, Wisconsin” doesn’t seem to roll off of the tongue as nicely. Stopping at the marker also made me wonder “Have you stopped to look at a historical marker?”

That’s it for this one! L8R!!






A Mighty Tasty Fish Fry

Have you been to a Friday Fish Fry?

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Friday Fish Fry at Freddie's West End at Lake ComoIt’s been a long time since I’ve had a good fish fry. I’ve been trying to remember when it might have been, but I hate to think it was before my Mom died over five years ago and it would have been from Slovak Home back in Lorain, the staple of the Friday Fish Fry in my youth and in my older years whenever I would make it home to visit and Mom wanted fish fry. For years I would think about trying to find one near me in Illinois. Usually it came down to seeing a sign advertising a fish fry during the week, but then when Friday would come I would forget about it until after dinner saying “Oh yea. I wanted a fish fry.”

Low and behold I found myself in the other land of the Friday Fish Fry, Wisconsin. A brief 4th of July weekend getaway and I’m at Lake Como, the other lake by Lake Geneva, staying at a little house right near the water. My wife, in charge of finding things to do and food to eat, during her first batch of searches, came up with going to Popeye’s, a local touristy stop that had an all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry. It sounded like a plan, but luckily I needed a nap on Friday afternoon and she did a little more snooping around.

No Bull Shit!As Google-searching luck would have it she stumbled across an article of great fish frys and it pointed her to this place called Freddy’s West End. Turns out the place was a few minute drive where we were staying, and even though it wasn’t “all-you-can-eat” it sounded like a destination.

Kind of off of the beaten path unless you are familiar with the area around Lake Como, Freddy’s is a local bar at its best with a pool table, some video gaming machines, hanging bags of chips and pretzels, and a neon sign on the wall that says “No bull shit.” It just looks like an awesome, local place to grab a beer at the end of the day, and I’m told that during the week that’s all it is. Forget the food – stop in for a beer. Switch to Friday, though, and it’s time to move the pool table out of the way for Mary Lynn’s Old Fashioned Fish Fry time with your choice of Walleye Pike, Lake Perch, Blue Gill for the fish side, and some other staples like shrimp or chicken tenders. Served with the proverbial slice of rye bread, a really good coleslaw, and a choice of homemade potato pancakes, french fries, or baby baked potatoes, (I opted for the potato pancakes – they were a good choice), Freddy’s had a fish fry that was fantastic and everything you want a fish fry to be. It wasn’t all-you-can-eat, but for $11 they give you a giant portion of fish, fried to perfection with a batter that isn’t overly greasy and just crunchy enough to remind me of home, and dare I say, this fish fry was even better than Slovak Home.

I suppose my quest for a good fish fry near my house still goes on, but if you want a really tasty fish fry I highly recommend pointing your GPS towards Freddy’s West End by Lake Como in Wisconsin, and of course Slovak Home in Lorain, Ohio. Having lived around the Great Lakes all of my life the Friday Fish Fry has always been a staple, but it makes me wonder: Have you been to a Friday Fish Fry?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!