Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Signs of Spring

Began a gorgeous morning with the tail end of In Old Chicago. 20th Century Fox's attempt to out-disaster MGM's hit San Francisco is a fictional account of the events leading up to the devastating fire that destroyed most of Chicago in 1871. The O'Leary brothers are quite an opposite pair - Dion (Tyrone Power) runs a fancy saloon, courts a singer (Alice Faye), and bribes every official in town, while Jack (Don Ameche) is a lawyer out to clean up "the Patch," the slums where they grew up and their mother (Alice Brady) still lives and works. There's soap opera a-plenty. Brady disapproves of Faye's performing job while Dion essentially buys the mayoral election for Jack, which angers his brother to no end. There's also Gill Stratton (Brian Donlevy), the corrupt politician who ran against Jack and lost, to contend with. Who runs the Patch becomes a moot point when it's burning down, and Dion discovers just how important his family is when they're all running for their lives in one of the worst disasters old Chicago ever knew...

Alice Brady won the Oscar for her performance as the strong-willed Mrs. O'Leary, but the real stars of the film, even today, are the amazing fire special effects that comprise the final 20 minutes of the film. Those are real miniatures burning, real cows stampeding, and real buildings blowing to smithereens, and it still looks impressive. This was Fox's big blockbuster for 1938, and despite all the melodrama, it's still pretty easy to see why. Faye, Ameche, and Power worked so well together, they were paired up again in the following year's Alexander's Ragtime Band, which would be an even bigger hit.

By the time I finished the Biography episode on Don Ameche, it was too late to hit the gym, my original plan for today. It may have been a good thing. It was so beautiful by 11:30, I threw on a sweater and went for a walk. Not surprisingly, given the unusually warm weather we've had all winter, there's already signs of spring in the neighborhood. I saw a garden filled with the first crocuses of the year as I headed down Manor.

Did a quick volunteering session at the Oaklyn Library. The kindergarten kids were just heading out as I was heading in. I was able to organize the DVDs and pull Dr. Seuss books for the next theme in the children's area, but I couldn't do a lot of shelving. There were some people who looked like they were preparing to repair or redo the shelves that held the picture books. I decided to just let them do their job and headed out.

Made a quick stop at WaWa for milk, then at Doria's Deli for paper muffin cup liners (their prices on muffin liners is far better than any chain store). I was dismayed to hear Mrs. Doria say that she's contemplating closing the store. They aren't getting nearly enough business to stay open anymore. She's hoping that a new coffee shop that might be opening next-door and a new mayor might be more receptive to Oaklyn's faltering downtown businesses. They apparently want to keep traffic down...but how can you have a downtown without traffic?

I headed home for episodes of Sailor Moon and an omelet with winter vegetables for lunch. Headed out to work after I finished. Work was quiet for most of the night. It was steady during rush hour, but otherwise, I shelved candy and helped the other cashiers stock the registers with brown paper bags.

There's quite a bit of remodeling going on right now, too. In addition to all the rearranging and the bathrooms being redone, the tile floor in the back room is being completely replaced, which means it's a mess there now. Thank goodness they seem to have gotten the message and put up larger signs indicating that the bathrooms are unisex until the remodeling ends.

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