After four days in the Chicago suburbs, we have become aware that this city Baha'i temple is a tightly joined patchwork of very different communities. We spent much of our time visiting relatives for our genealogy project; they in turn introduced us, sometimes unconsciously, to the culture of their neighborhoods. It was a great treat!
We saw the fifteen-room house where a family had lived for forty-seven years; now too big for one person, it had in its day sheltered a large family and is now still sturdy and attractive. We traveled broad boulevards and old brick streets which twisted and crept around corners and into multiple dead ends. We got stuck in traffic more than once, and were properly terrified by drivers who hurtle up the opposite side of the road (fortunately free of traffic) or climb over curbs and road dividers to make illegal U-turns.
We ate wonderful Chicago hot dogs in little shops and, with our Original McDonald's relatives, Chinese food, terrific sandwiches and desserts that melted in our mouths. We drove across the city itself, under the El and up along the North Shore past unbelievably ostentatious houses and the delicate filigree of the Temple at the U.S. Headquarters of the Baha'i faith.
The day before we left we were hunting a lunchtime sandwich in Des Plaines; turning a corner we found the original McDonald's, now a museum. Of course we had to take pictures, especially since the classic cars in the parking lot reminded us of our first family Ford.
On our way to Madison we quickly left the city traffic and followed Wisconsin's rolling, corn-covered hills. Our highway took us through lots of little towns, each with its own slogan: The City Of Milk Day; The Corn Festival Town. In Janesville (City Of Parks) we stopped for a stroll through the Rotary Rotary Garden, Janesville International Garden, a beautiful, well-established set of gardens of many themes. We walked through the Reception Garden, where weddings are held, into the Scottish Garden and past displays of flowers, first purple, then yellow, then white, then blue. We circled a large lake with shoreside ducks, and ambled through the Japanese plantings. Many of the displays have been adopted by individuals or families who are responsible for their maintenance, an excellent idea for making scarce funds go as far as possible.
We think that our fellow sightseers were divided between locals and travelers who, like us, had found this garden in a tourist guide. The Janesville Rotary Club has provided a lovely attraction for its town.
We're planning to visit a library in Madison which advertises a large collection of genealogy and local history; still planning to understand the great clutch of relatives in LaFayette County, WI and neighboring Jo Daviess County, IL.