The Headless Horseman of Long Grove

The Headless Horseman (Greg Abshire) joins Aaron and Angie Underwood at the Ghost Walk after-party on October 27th.

The Headless Horseman (Greg Abshire) joins Aaron and Angie Underwood at the Ghost Walk after-party on October 27th.

One of the three people pictured above is actually a sheriff, but it isn’t the one wearing the badge. Yes, strange things happen in Long Grove on Halloween, as witnessed during the Fifth Annual Ghost Walk last Friday night, sponsored by the Long Grove Historical Society. The event was a great success and one featured highlight was a menacing visit to the farmhouse by the Headless Horseman, aka Lake County Sheriff’s officer Greg Abshire.

LILG-GhostWalk-7787

Many other community volunteers pitched in on this cold night to bring thrills and chills to over 330 residents and visitors to our historic downtown. One survivor of my 6:00 pm tour group just happened to be a journalism student who was so taken with the experience that she wrote a fantastic story of her journey through haunted Long Grove. Click here to read Natalie Bober’s article published today on the Chicago Tribune website:    Ghost Walk/Chicago Tribune Website  Natalie says it better than I ever could!

Happy Halloween!!

A few of the many Long Grove spooks and spirits who volunteered to make the Ghost Walk come alive!

A few of the many Long Grove spooks and spirits who volunteered to make the Ghost Walk come alive!

The Ghosts Are Gathering

Historical Society volunteers Doug & Jane Primack help me prepare to scare some young residents during the 2016 Ghost Walk.

Historical Society volunteers Doug & Jane Primack help me prepare to scare some young residents during the 2016 Ghost Walk.

Rumor has it, strange sounds have been heard coming from the woods behind the new Brewery. Claims have been made of something lurking behind the farmhouse. And is the new Dance Studio really haunted? Come find out on Friday, October 27th, at the Long Grove Historical Society’s 5th Annual Ghost Walk.

Each year the event has been getting bigger and better, and this year will not disappoint! A true village collaboration showcasing our community “spirit,” the Ghost Walk will feature skits involving community groups and businesses such as:

  • Long Grove Community Church
  • In Motion Dance
  • Long Grove Performing Arts Academy
  • Fred Astaire Dance Studio
  • Buffalo Creek Brewing
  • Long Grove Lions Club
  • Scout & Forge
  • Country House of Long Grove
  • Epilogue
  • Long Grove Arts & Music Council
  • Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association
  • Volunteer resident mischief-makers
  • And of course, the Long Grove Historical Society

The event is family friendly and tours run 6:00 pm thru 9:30 pm, rain or shine. Guides will escort you on a one hour haunted walk through our historic downtown. Advance registration is required along with a donation of $10/adults and $5/children, ages K-8th grade. Reservations can be made online only at LongGroveHistory.org. Due to high demand, this event sells out by mid-October so please make your reservations today!

Polly Pureheart Prevails

The back porch of our Historical Society farmhouse will serve as a stage for the upcoming production of "Polly Pureheart Prevails."

The back porch of our Historical Society farmhouse will serve as a stage for the upcoming production of “Polly Pureheart Prevails.”

Last summer a new festival debuted in Long Grove, known as Vintage Days. The entire event was a huge success, pairing old-fashioned fun with community group volunteerism to produce a hometown festival put on by locals, for locals. Right now, organizations such as the Long Grove Community Church, Long Grove Performing Arts Academy, Long Grove Historical Society, Long Grove Arts & Music Council, and the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association have partnered together to plan a weekend full of family friendly entertainment and shopping, August 19th and 20th. Over 40 antique, vintage, upcycled, and/or reclaimed dealers will have unique items for sale on the Robert Parker Coffin Road street market in front of the covered bridge. The bridge crossing will be open to pedestrians, bikes, and vintage tractor traffic only, so it will be the perfect opportunity to come linger under our iconic bridge, which is poised to be listed on the National Register. Admission and parking are free, as well as the live music, historic tractor rides, ice cream social on Saturday at the church, and penny carnival on Sunday at the farmhouse.

A couple of new activities this year include the Pop-Up Car Show and two entertaining dramatic presentations at our farmhouse “back porch” stage. The car show will feature registered VIP parking for classic cars in the Stemple parking lot. On Saturday at 4:00, our farmhouse stage will host “A Salute to Old Glory,” as narrator Mike Dvorak takes audience volunteers back to 1814 to tell the story of the Star-Spangled Banner, followed by “Old Glory in Barnwood,” a presentation by artist Marie Roth featuring stories and selections from her celebrated collection of historic flag recreations.  On Sunday, trade in your pennies (if you don’t have any, we will give you some!) for a chance at old-timey games and nifty prizes at the Penny Carnival from noon till 2:00, then stay for a wacky 1-act melodrama, “Polly Pureheart Prevails,” presented by the summer session theater students of the Long Grove Performing Arts Academy. Showtime for the half-hour performance is 2:00. Cap off the day by attending the 4:00 Arts & Music Council concert on Towner Green featuring the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. And don’t forget–all of this is free of charge! Visit longgrove.org for a full listing of all the weekend activities.

Plan to bring the kids and grandkids to downtown Long Grove Saturday and Sunday, August 19th and 20th, for one last blast of summertime memories before school kicks into gear once more. Vintage Days will be rocking and rolling fun for the entire family–be there or be square!

Big Shoes to Fill

Incoming Long Grove Historical Society President Angie Underwood pokes fun at outgoing Historical Society President (and spouse) Aaron Underwood.

Incoming Long Grove Historical Society President Angie Underwood pokes fun at outgoing Historical Society President (and spouse) Aaron Underwood.

Each year at this time, the Long Grove Historical Society holds an annual meeting. It provides a nice opportunity to gather and celebrate the accomplishments of the past twelve months, thank the retiring officers, start brainstorming for the year ahead, and install the new executive board members. Last fall when I announced my retirement from the Village Board, and talk was floated that perhaps I would consider coming back to serve as President of the Historical Society again, the current President (my loving husband) quipped that, “well, I don’t know, she’d have some awfully big shoes to fill.”  Admittedly, he was joking, but the rest of the women in the room lost no time in setting him straight. So I could not resist the opportunity to prove to everyone at the annual meeting that yes, in fact I can fill his shoes, and in 4 inch heels no less!

Teasing aside, the Historical Society has enjoyed a very successful year under Aaron’s leadership with the October Ghostwalk event in the downtown getting even bigger and better, and it will be a hard act to follow. The partnership between the Historical Society, Downtown Merchants, and the Long Grove Community Church has now grown beyond the Ghostwalk to include collaborating on activities for Vintage Days and advocating for the preservation of our one-lane historic covered bridge. Look for all of these activities to continue into the remainder of 2017 and 2018, with some new ideas thrown in for good measure. I am very enthused to be working with our new and returning Historical Society board members to preserve, share, and celebrate our unique Long Grove history. We hope that you will join with us!

An Unforgettable Experience

Being interviewed live by anchor Jeff  on Fox Business News in February, 2014.

Being interviewed live by anchor Jeff Flock on Fox Business News in February, 2014.

Now that I am winding down to my last few weeks in office, friends have been inquiring about what experiences I will remember most from my time as Village President. One memory that is forever burned into my brain is the referendum in Spring of 2014, when the residents were asked if they wanted to authorize a tax to pay for repairs to our thoroughfare roads in Long Grove. As it turned out, they didn’t. But the weeks leading up to election day and the month or so following were truly unforgettable. And the resulting experience of being interviewed, live, on a national network news channel stands out as a highlight. Here’s how it happened:

The 2014 referendum question had received quite a large amount of media attention, with a featured article appearing on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, and additional coverage by the Daily Herald and Crain’s Chicago Business. I was interviewed live on the radio by several local stations, including NPR. All of this caught the eye of FOX Business News, who came to Long Grove on a very snowy President’s Day in February of 2014. Throughout the day, as the snowflakes drifted down into a white-out blizzard, I was interviewed live for four separate segments, at different locations in the Village. The first spot was filmed in front of the covered bridge, but the subsequent three interviews were filmed live while I was driving the news team’s truck over our Long Grove roads, simultaneously answering questions, during an escalating snowstorm. I will never forget the reality TV challenge of giving articulate answers to the reporter’s questions while driving an unfamiliar truck as I pumped the brakes to stop skidding onto Route 53 and knowing that this was being broadcast live. I think I surprised everyone–staff, news crew, and myself–that I was able to pull this whole thing off and get everyone and the truck back to Village Hall in one piece. When it was all said and done I was dubbed “a real trouper” and I will say that it was a true lesson in grace under pressure!

The Full Moon Effect

Photo of the September 27th, 2015 "Orange Moon" Lunar Eclipse taken in Long Grove by Aaron Underwood

Photo of the September 27th, 2015 “Orange Moon” Lunar Eclipse taken in Long Grove by Aaron Underwood

Tonight I am fortunate to be sitting outside on my patio in Arizona, basking in the glow of a brightly illuminated full moon and listening to the coyotes howl. According to my husband’s quick google search, coyotes are more active during a full moon because it provides better hunting conditions, so more activity leads to more howling. I have often wondered if the full moon also causes changes in human behavior? According to our Village Staff, they think there is a correlation.

Psychology Today reports that in a University of New Orleans study, 81% of mental health professionals believe that lunar cycles affect human behavior. In his 1978 best seller, “How the Moon Affects You,” psychiatrist Arnold Lieber argued that because our human bodies are 65% water, the moon has an effect on us similar to its pull on the ocean’s tides. Everything from increases in violent crime and psychotic behavior to stock market fluctuations has been blamed on the fully illuminated moon. And while these superstitions are widely held by the general population and some professionals, scientists who have investigated the connection have come up empty handed. University of Sydney researchers have found no link to the moon’s cycle in two separate studies, and a University of Saskatchewan review of over 100 studies of lunar cycles and behavior found nothing to suggest that humans are affected by the Earth’s moon.

No doubt our ancestors used the moon for both a calendar and a night-light. A bright moon has been shown to disrupt sleep, and this can lead to more irritability. Could this be why our Village staff report getting more complaints during a full moon? Many of the more numerous complaints this time of year deal with animals:  raccoons nesting and having babies in attics, neighbors feeding the raccoons, skunks acting “crazy” and possibly rabid, dead deer on private property mysteriously moving themselves into the right of way overnight, deer breaking their legs because of leaping over untrimmed tree stumps. These are but a few of the actual phone calls received at Village Hall during a recent full moon. I know for certain that the coyotes are acting up tonight in Tucson. Maybe the wildlife in Long Grove is feeling a bit “luney” tonight as well?

 

Girls about Town

When I need to meet with the Mayor of Kildeer, Nandia Black, we do it in style--over high tea!

When I need to meet with the Mayor of Kildeer, Nandia Black, we do it in style–over high tea!

At a recent municipal gathering, I spent some time talking with my friend Nandia Black, the Mayor of our neighboring village of Kildeer. Nandia mentioned that she had not visited some of the newer shops and restaurants in Long Grove, so I offered to personally introduce her to some of my favorite places. Last week, we spent a delightful afternoon together as only two female “heads of state” can do; politics peppered with earl grey and scones, issues amid antiques, strong women supporting each other while simultaneously shopping. Our meeting started with a lovely lunch at High Tea with Gerri, complete with hats and a glass of champagne. In my book, it never hurts to extend a little genteel diplomacy!

Join us on our joyful journey, as chronicled in the following photos:

After lunch we worked off the calories shopping at some of our newer stores. We are pictured here at Epilogue, checking out the beautiful artistic gifts and jewelry.

After lunch we worked off the calories shopping at some of our newer stores. We are pictured here at Epilogue, checking out the beautiful artistic gifts and jewelry.

In between shopping for unique vintage treasures at Two Fancie Gals and Scout and Forge, we stopped to visit with Randy Towner at Mel's and lent some support to his local sentiments.

In between shopping for unique vintage treasures at Two Fancie Gals and Scout and Forge, we stopped to visit with Randy Towner at Mel’s and lent some support to his local sentiments.

After introducing Nandia to the staff at the Information Center, we could not resist a photo op with the cute Valentine teddy bear currently residing at our crossroads.

After introducing Nandia to the staff at the Information Center, we could not resist a photo op with the cute Valentine teddy bear currently residing at our crossroads. Our next stop was at How Impressive, where we were dazzled by the array of personalized gifts available.

What better way to cap off our day than by relaxing and enjoying the friendly ambiance at the Chatterbox.

What better way to cap off our day than by relaxing and enjoying the friendly ambiance at The Chatterbox. Next up, Nandia promises to take me on a tour of her favorite new places in Kildeer. I’ve had so much fun today, I’m even reconsidering building that wall….

Of Mice and Men

Historical Society member Georgia Cawley teaches her grandson Miles how to work the antique mousetrap.

Historical Society member Georgia Cawley teaches her grandson Miles how to work the antique mousetrap.

Today I have invited a guest to write a post for my blog–none other than Aaron Underwood, President of the Long Grove Historical Society. Aaron writes a regular column on Long Grove history for our local lifestyle magazine, and this favorite artifact of mine was the subject of a recent article.  Wait, I mean the mousetrap pictured above is a favorite artifact–but I guess the author is a valuable treasure too! Anyway, enjoy the following story which recently appeared in Long Grove Living:

Of Mice and Men

One of the joys of living in Long Grove is being in such close proximity to a variety of living creatures. Unfortunately, all those majestic animals are far outnumbered by those little pesky ones, such as the humble field mouse. When seasons change, it seems our local mice prefer the sanctuary of our homes rather than the acres of open space where they belong. The earliest settlers of Long Grove fought the battle to rid their homes of mice just like we do. One of the favorite artifacts in our restored 1840’s farmhouse, is a wire mousetrap. We think it dates to the late 1800’s and likely was sold out of one of Long Grove’s general stores.

The trap is laid with bait in the center and lures mice through a levered flap that is angled such that the mouse can “nose through” to enter, but can’t raise the flap to exit. The trap works as good today as it ever did. If evolution ever decides to bless the mouse with opposable thumbs, the effectiveness of this trap will go astray. Come to think of it, mice with upgraded thumbs might doom all of us.

The classic wooden mouse “snap” trap that you find sold in Long Grove today was invented in 1898. Given the extremely fertile “mouse friendly” environment we live in, perhaps it’s not surprising that the classic “snap” trap was invented in Illinois, about 150 miles from Long Grove. It was noteworthy in that it didn’t rely on gravity, but rather was spring powered. Called the “Little Nipper”, the design remains virtually unchanged today.

Recently a brewery in Chicago received much publicity for the feral cats they use to patrol their grain stores. Our own Long Grove Village Hall occasionally does this as well. When I moved here almost twenty years ago, we employed a cat named Drexler, and he was succeeded by another feline affectionately known as Drexler II. Like many roles in our community, these stray cats are unpaid volunteers. The role of Village mouse catcher is currently unfilled and available for the stray looking for some community service. To apply, simply show up at Village Hall looking hungry, meow a lot, and get to work. Not to take issue with anyone who may have reserved the name Drexler III for any new recruit, but might we dub the new mouse antagonist “Little Nipper” instead?

— Aaron Underwood, President, Long Grove Historical Society

Zombies, Wolves, & One Seriously Scary Doll

Long Grove merchants and residents worked together to create this display of hand-carved jack-o-lanterns welcoming those brave enough to experience Red Riding Hood's haunted trail.

Long Grove merchants and residents worked together to create this display of hand carved jack-o-lanterns welcoming those brave enough to experience Red Riding Hood’s haunted trail.

Reading the title of this post might cause you to ask, “What do these three things have to do with Long Grove?” On the Historical Society’s October 28th Ghost Walk, not only could you find zombies, wolves, and an evil doll residing in our village, but the Ghost of Cuba Road materialized as well to scare the nearly 300 children and parents who participated. The Halloween fun kicked off Friday afternoon with Trick-or-Treating in the historic downtown shops. It was delightful to see so many cutely costumed kiddos as I was purchasing embellishments to add to my own witch getup for later that evening.

Serving as a tour guide, it was my job to safely navigate families of willing “victims” through our haunted historic district. The route took us past the line of scarecrows on Towner Green, some of which were not quite dead. The zombie dancers at In-Motion returned again this year to entertain, as did crazy Jake Eisler and his stick of dynamite. Good thing Jake was a die-hard Cubs fan, coming back from the grave to listen to the world series game and give us updates on the score! The Long Grove Community Church welcomed us in for a tour of their 1800’s cemetery, featuring the real-life tombstone of one past Long Grovian named Fredriche Krueger. Yes, “Freddy Krueger” was indeed lurking about, as well as many other spirits of the past. A trip back to the safety of the village involved crossing our haunted covered bridge, and a journey through Red Riding Hood’s spooky, wolf infested woods. The tour concluded this year with perhaps the most spine-tingling story of the evening, as Mike Dvorack used sound and light effects to tell the tale of “Arabella” the seemingly sweet yet secretly sinister doll. One father of a 5 year old confided in me that his daughter would probably now be sleeping in Mom & Dad’s bed for the next night or two! Having fun scaring the children….accomplished.

Here’s hoping that your Halloween is equally thrilling and chilling!

Attending the 2016 Ghost Walk are Long Grove residents (L to R): Doug and Jane Primack, Ellie, Jennifer and Collin Russell, Angie Underwood and Georgia Cawley.

Attending the 2016 Ghost Walk are Long Grove residents (L to R): Doug and Jane Primack, Ellie, Jennifer and Collin Russell, Angie Underwood and Georgia Cawley.

Mel’s Gas Info-Station

Long Grove resident Randy Towner, carrying on the family gas station at the crossroads, Mel's.

Randy Towner helps carry on his father’s business, Mel’s Marathon Mini Mart, at the crossroads in downtown Long Grove.

Every small town has a “hub” from which all real information flows. In my central Illinois hometown, circa 1970’s, it was the local diner, Kathy’s Kitchen. The grain elevator was another hotspot for local news, and I got to witness this firsthand during the summers when I worked for my Dad, who managed the elevator, and my cousin Rita, who managed the office help. Farmers would come in every day to “check the grain prices” but I suspected another reason they stayed and visited with each other so long was the desire to “check the latest chatter” going on around town.

In Long Grove, the undisputed central source of information is Mel’s, our crossroads gas station. Originally owned by long-time residents Mel and Dee Towner, the station is built on family property that dates back to the 1920’s and includes the open area now known as Towner Green. The station is currently managed by Mel’s sons Randy and Wendall, who run a mini mart in addition to the traditional gas pumps. Nothing much happens in Long Grove that Randy has not caught wind of almost immediately. When I truly want to find out what is going on in town, I go fill the car up, or better yet…send my husband to find out the latest report. Aaron loves to come home and inform the Village President what information hasn’t yet made it to Village Hall. And if I ever feel the need to verify the advance intelligence, it always checks out.

It helps that Mel’s also provides a tow truck for use in emergencies, so communications with the Lake County Sheriff officers are frequent. Case in point:  recently a local youth drove a car into a neighborhood pond, and one of my Trustees happened by the scene as the rescue was in process and phoned me. I felt like I had some breaking-news information to tell my husband as he walked in the door, only to have him fill me in with even more details gleaned as he was getting gas for the lawnmower.

The Towner family has long held a role in helping our community prosper. Mel Towner served 44 years as a volunteer fire fighter, and Dee Towner’s father donated the land to build our first fire department. The gas station today is a touchstone to our roots as a rural community. If a business in the historic downtown is closing, or a new store opening up, 9 times out of 10 I will hear the news from Randy first. I think it is great that we have a hometown merchant who provides a place to check in and take the pulse of the community; a place where you can experience both a friendly greeting and some local flavor. Mel’s is located at the heart of our crossroads and is in a variety of ways the center of what keeps many of us in Long Grove connected.