Greetings one and all,
This past week-end I had the rare opportunity to travel to Waukegan, Illinois. This is Mr. Bradbury's first home town, before he moved to Arizona. "Dandelion Wine" (I think) is a mixture of both his childhood homes. I found the public library, and asked the extremely helpful gentleman at the reference desk how I could find Mr Bradbury's childhood home. I was surprised that he didn't get this question all the time. We found the address in an old registry of the town under Leonard & Ethel Bradbury (his parents). I drove by the home and took a couple of pictures. It was a typical, small-town, two-story house. Rather unimpressive. Fairly near to the "down-town" area of Waukegan. A few blocks to the west of it is a rather deep ravine running thorugh it. Made me wonder if this is where the Lonely One wandered. I don't want to post the address out of respect to the family living there now.
I returned home, bursting with the news of having found my favourite author's birth-place, and was met with lukewarm enthusiasm. So I thought I'd register and post the news here, where people may appreciate it more.
Waukegan is a nice place. A typical small mid-western town. There are quiet neighborhoods with lots of trees (some older homes), busy roads with rows of shops (somewhat run-down looking), and a few tall buildings in the down-town area. There is a harbour, and a place on the north east side that was like a railyard, but I hesitate to call it that. Some traces of the buildings of the '20's and '30's are still there. The library was new.
Not much else to say here. Just thought you'd be interested.
Well, you came to the right place. Welcome home old friend. We're always glad to have well-behaved new visitors and you should have a look around, get aquainted with us. We all share more than a common "interest". While it's not quite obsession, it's more than interest. Love, perhaps?
It's a very cool story you have. A few of us here have made the journey to Waukegan, myself not included however. Was Waukegan your destination or were you just passing thru? How far did you travel?
In DANDELION WINE isn't there mention of a building with a clock? Was it still there?
I'd love to run around and get grastains in Waukegan. But, for now I'll have to settle for Sacramento grasstains and make believe.
Ah, but you are welcome enthusiastically here. Parents listed in an old registry, eh? Wow! That in itself is something. Should at least have a photo of that!! Yeah, things have changed a lot in Waukegan, and you can still buy a nighty fine house very inexpensively.
You can check out some photos I took of Waukegan a while back at:
Follow the ''Bradbury'' link to Waukegan photos/ tour.
Again, a Hearty Welcome to YOU!
His mother's name was Esther. Don't know if they lived at more than one address in Waukegan. What year was the registry?
Mr Grass Stains,
I don't recall seeing a clock anywhere, like in a square or on a courthouse or anything. But then, I was mostly driving (keeping eyes ont he road mostly) in a strange town, and didn't go everywhere.
I was actually up there on business in Zion, but stayed in a hotel in Waukegan. I don't expect the opportunity to come along very often.
I liked the photos. Incidentally, the pictures of the group going down into what looks like a heavily wooded area . . . was that THE Ravine? And if it was, was it part of a park, with a little "rotunda" monument visible from the street? I think it may have been washington Park, but not sure about the name.
Yes, that's The Ravine. Actually, it was a tour that day, and those girls are re-enacting a scene from Dandelion Wine, along with some of the other fellows in the other photos. There used to be a lengthy commentary about the tour online,but it somehow got erased!
The Ravine, as you see it, comes right out from the Ray Bradbury park. I don't recall a monument, but I do remember a prominent sign denoting the park.
Alas, the old courthouse, with the clock, is gone. There's supposed to be a statue of Jack Benny with a clock in his stomach, but I haven't seen it.
I don't recall exactly what type of registry it was. It didn't seem to be a census, but rather listed the owners of all the properites in Waukegan. We checked 3 different ones from 1920, 1925, and 1928. The two earlier ones had a different street address than the one from 1928. When I found the house, the difference made sense because it was on a corner of both streets mentioned. The legal address of the house must have changed. The owners were listed as Leonard Spaulding Bradbury and I thought it was Ethel, but could have been Esther. I didn't write the names down, only the addresses. (And lazy as I am, I didn't double-check the names before writing the post above.)
Unfortunately, I didn't notice there even was a Bradbury Park, else I would have gone there.
It's Ms. Dandelion. If the house on the corner was 620 Washington, that's the grandparents' house and the parents' house was 11 St. James. The addresses have been on here before (I think the grandparents' is West and the parents' South, but again, too lazy to look, anyhow, it's obviously the corner of Washington and St. James,) and were featured in the "Bradbury tour" of Waukegan Nard mentioned.
There is an interesting story about the ravine bridge. The city was going to replace the missing bridge with a cement structure. A horrified Bradbury fan who was also a carpenter hurried down and built a wooden bridge to prevent sacrilege. He caught hell for building on city property, but it was well worth it. The bridge is now part of Bradbury Park.
I'll never forget (a few years before actually going to Waukegan) mentioning to a friend I wanted to go, and him saying, "To Waukegan, Illinois, birthplace of Ray Bradbury. And from the back of the room comes a voice saying, 'Who cares?'" But I went anyway, and put together a photo album for Mr. Bradbury in which he was most interested. It contains a picture of the burial registry which is the very one mentioned in the poem "Their Names In Dust, Their Dates in Grass."
[This message has been edited by dandelion (edited 11-10-2004).]
Man, I haven't been to Waukegan in probably over 30 years. I had an aunt who used to live there. I can remember my parents going down there in the 60s on "oleo runs;" selling margarine was illegal in WI at the time! So, that's what I think of right off the bat when someone mentions Waukegan.
Okay, Ms. Dandelion, now you've got me wondering if I got a picture of the grandparent's house, or the parents. And I'll have to work from memory here, so bear with me. In the 1920 and 1925 registry, I saw an address (which had some numbers that didn't look like an address) but part of it said "h11 S. St James". This had the names I mentioned before, Leonard and (I guess it was really) Ester. In the 1928 registry, the address changed, but the names didn't. It became . . . and since the cat is out of the bag now I guess I can post it . . . "619 W Washington". I knew where Washington was, it's a four-lane street just south of the library. I drove until I found 619 . . . (not 620, by the way) . . . but it was one street south of Washington, on S. St. James, right on a corner. Large tree out front, chain-link fence, long front porch that spanned the front of the house. I figured the 619 house was the same as the h11 address (which at the time didn't look like an address to me), house was the same, but the address legally changed. Perhaps that was a bad assumption?
Oh no, don't tell me I had an opportunity to go to Waukegan and took a picture of the wrong house!? Danelion, can you or someone else here confirm if I saw the grandparent's or the parent's house on what meagre information I've given? I am certain the house number was 619, and it was one street south of Washington, on St. James.
And now that I think about it, I'm not 100% sure it was 1 street south. More like 85% sure. Washington doesn't show in my photo.
The address, and the fact that it was two stories, confirms it was the grandparents' house. The parents' house, where Ray lived, was on St. James and is at most a story and a half--not a full two stories. If you photographed it from the right angle, you got the famous stained glass windows featured in "The Man Upstairs."
I totally live in Waukegan if anyone is interested in knowing more about the town.
A couple of facts and opinions: Waukegan has about 90,000 people. Like many midwestern cities it used to be a bustling industrial city, but now it's run-down. It's not really that great of a place anymore. The shops aren't so great. Many of them don't stay in business for too long.
The Jack Benny monument was recently placed downtown, but I'm not familiar with a clock in his belly. Maybe I haven't noticed it. As far as I know, there are no prominent clocks in Waukegan.
The ravine is an attraction at several parks. Probably the biggest park is Bowen park, which is on Sheridan Avenue. However, it runs through several parks.
I don't really know what I wanted to accomplish in this post. I think I was just excited to see my hometown show up.
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