My Blog’s Birthday

I had just lost my part-time job writing about interesting and useful websites but I wasn’t  ready to let it go. I figured I’d  start my own blog, continue writing about new websites and how they extend our reach into a virtual world, where everything is more accessible, more convenient and just more. My first blogpost was about a brand-new Google application, Wave, so new it hadn’t been released to the public. A couple posts later I wrote about Foursquare, another relatively new application.

I thought Google Wave had great potential. I didn’t think Foursquare did. Google Wave is history. Foursquare is doing just fine, thank you. It’s a good thing my blog led me away from writing about the future of interactive Internet websites.

I ended up looking in the opposite direction through an accidental encounter with a collection of photographs of former Chicago synagogues on Flickr. Monumental buildings, clearly at the centers of enormous communities, looked so permanent but were symbols of the transience of Chicago neighborhoods. This was, I realized, my own story.

I didn’t decide right then and there to spend the next year researching the history of Hollywood Park, the North Side neighborhood where I grew up during the 1960s, but week by week I got in deeper and deeper. Between what I hadn’t understood as a child and what I never knew, there’s a lot to discover about one square mile of Chicago.

What’s made this so rewarding is hearing from you in the comments and in emails and making new acquaintances. The contributions of readers have been so amazing.  Thanks for chasing the past with me.

11 Responses to My Blog’s Birthday

  1. Bonnie McGrath November 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    happy birthday!!! i’m a year and a half. we should celebrate together sometime!!

  2. Frances Archer November 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Let’s have cake. Thanks always.

  3. Danny November 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    Definitely one of my favorite blogs. Mazel tov, Frances, and keep these fascinating posts coming!

  4. Frances Archer November 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    Thanks Danny. You gave me a little push you know.

  5. Chris Hancock November 23, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    Happy Birthday to Me & My Shadow..Great Blog!

  6. Frances Archer November 23, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    Chris, thank you, and happy thanksgiving. Hope all is well with you.

  7. Neal Goldberg November 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Dear Francis,

    I’d like to say that this is my fiftieth anniversary of something having to do with Hollywood Park, but my family had already moved away fifty-two years ago.

    But thanks for the wonderful memories and especially all of your hard work. It is much appreciated.

    By the way, I have a vague memory of a knife sharpener going down the alley behind our apartment building with his horse-drawn wagon. I wonder if anyone else does.

  8. Frances Archer November 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    Thanks Neal. I think I remember the knife sharpener as well. I was just talking to someone last week about all the different door to door vendors we remember. The fuller brush man, encyclopedias, vacuum cleaners … What else?

  9. Dave Gudewicz November 25, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    Thanks for all your wonderful writing. Much appreciated, even though I was born and raised in that other country – the south side.

    Found this place via, another good place to hang one’s hat.

  10. Frances Archer November 25, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Thanks Dave. We moved from 67th and Ridgeland when I was two. Both my parents were working at Michael Reese, then they both found jobs on the North Side. Coincidentally we ran into our next door from Ridgeland about 50 years after we moved. When my father was in a nursing home, a woman recognized my family’s name immediately though no one had recognized each other from appearance alone for several weeks. Happy Thanksgiving.

  11. Sharon Ruble Kvistad March 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    @Neal–yes I remember the knife sharpener and also the produce truck that would stop behind our building -not sure if it was horse drawn or motorized-I also remember playing kick the can, SPUD and other games in the alley-we never came in until it was dark outside!!

    Thanks for all your hard work on this page–it has stirred up so many memories that I thought were gone but have resurfaced after all these years

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