World’s Largest Five and Ten

                              The Largest Variety Store in the World.

My hotel in East Aurora, New York was near the downtown, so once I got settled, I decided to explore. Didn’t take me long to realize that a good part of the central block was ALL one company.
Named Vidl*r’s 5 & 10, the store has been there since 1930.
The story goes that back then Robert Vidl*r’s mother-in-law did not like driving the entire way to Buffalo just to get some thread. Being a kind son-in-law, Robert decided to open a variety store right there in town. The Depression was very much happening and most people didn’t think the store would be open more than eight weeks.
Surprise!
The store continued to expand and in the 60’s and 70’s, a series of homey commercials with sons Bob and Ed made the destination even more popular.
Today Vidl*r’s is run by a third generation of the Vidle*r family. The main part of the store has the same wood floors and counters as it did back in 1930, but the store is now 20 times larger than it was then.
Vidl*r’s is in four connected buildings and has two floors. You can browse through 75,000 products and that takes awhile. On the roof is a giant-size “Bob Vidl*r” more commonly known as Vidl*r on the Roof.
I did walk through the store … I can’t remember if I bought anything – if I did, it might’ve been a Mallow Cup. (I was by myself, in a rental car, so didn’t want to cart too much stuff around.) A lot of what they have is trinkety dime store stuff, but it’s interesting and I guess busloads of tourists come to see it … because it is, after all —-

                              The Largest Variety Store in the World.

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Courage in a Cupcake

DSC_1020Another new restaurant!

The Courageous Bakery and Cafe. Yes, the name has a meaning.  About seven years ago, a young women was diagnosed with cancer and a benefit was held to help her with medical bills. Her sister baked 250 cupcakes for the benefit and everyone liked them. That was the beginning – first of a cupcake food truck and now also two brick and mortar restaurants.

But they don’t just have cupcakes – they also serve breakfasts and lunches. Friend Kris and I stopped in for lunch. Both of us had quiche and both of us thought it was great. I had a salad with mine and Kris had roasted potatoes which she said were good.

And of added interest – the owners were featured on Cupcake Wars – so when we decided to get a cupcake – a got the pink velvet, a runner up on the TV show. The cupcake was made with cocoa and cream cheese and while heavy (which normally I wouldn’t like), this was moist and delicious.

So just a fun stop on the lunches of life.

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So many choices!

 

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And my personal Cupcake Wars cupcake!

Graue Mill

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What do you do when the week has been hot and humid and suddenly you have a beautiful, breezy day before you?

You put aside the deadlines that are ticking and get in the car and head out for an adventure.

I had read about Graue Mill, but had not seen it and wasn’t sure what it was all about (other than a mill). Not super close, but not miles away, I went to discover a new place. (After all, I had done well with the Lizzadro Museum and the American Writers Museum – what could go wrong?)

The Graue Mill and Museum is in a park in Oak Brook. The mill is the only working water grist mill in the United States, in Illinois or maybe it’s one of only two in Illinois. Wait, the only working grist mill in the Chicago area. (Sorry, that’s what I’ve read in different places – so not sure what’s what  not being super up on working mills.)- However, their brochure does say that they are  listed on the Illinois HIstoric Mechanical Engineering Landmarks, the only gristmill so designated on a national or local level.  So I do know that.

The mill was opened in 1852 by Frederik Graue, using water from nearby Salt Creek. One of the draws of the museum is that you can see the milling process in the process of milling … however, I did not see that. I’m sure it’s because I was there on a weekday and not that many people were around.. I did get an explanation of how it works. And I could’ve bought a bag of cornmeal or flour, but wasn’t sure I’d use it right away, so I didn’t. But it’s kind of great that you can.

The tour starts on the third floor where a lady explained the making-yarn-from-wool process which was very detailed and very interesting. I’ve seen demonstrations like this many times before, but she’s been doing it since 1992 (or something) and knew a lot of unique, informative details that I hadn’t heard before.

On the second floor, another lady showed me the loom which again, I’ve seen before, but the detail was interesting.

The basement of the building was an Underground Railroad stop.  Hideaways would stay at the mill until it was safe, then they would leave by boat down the creek – a tributary on the Des Plaines River – and eventually make it to the Great Lakes and cross to safety in Canada.

Visting the mill costs a few dollars. The grounds are pretty and contain a bridge to get across the creek and to the other side of the road to Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center. For somewhere to go on a beautiful afternoon – I would recommend it.

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The mill on a couldn’t-be-more-beautiful summer morning.

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Carding the wool

 

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The loom.
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Me – showing how they “ironed” ruffles into material.

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A very cool alphabet game.

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