As we’ve written about in the past, one of the wonderful advantages of owning one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s American System-Built Homes is becoming part of a network of stewards who are interested not only in their own home but in the ASBH project as a whole. Over the past five years of ownership of the Meier house, we’ve had the privilege of spending time with many ASBH stewards in their homes. We meet to share stories and compare notes, to break bread and break down history and, of course, to give tours of our homes.
Our long commute between Chicago and Iowa takes us past and through a number of towns that contain their own treasured “American houses.” On a recent drive, we pulled off the highway into Kenosha, Wisconsin to find the birthplace of the legendary filmmaker, theatrical titan, and actor Orson Welles.
Welles was born in this house, located in Kenosha’s pretty Library District, in 1915. He wasn’t a Kenosha resident for long, relocating to Chicago at age 4 upon his parents’ separation. After an affluent, nomadic childhood marred by his parents’ untimely deaths, he finally found a true “home” at the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois, where his prodigious talents were nurtured and his illustrious career launched.
Thereafter, Welles would express conflicted feelings about his hometown of Kenosha, at once calling it “vital and charming” and then saying it was “a terrible place.” Our brief tour through downtown Kenosha (including a delightful ride on a vintage trolley) revealed a vibrant if faded city outshone by its sparkling lakefront.
Welles’ Citizen Kane famously opens with its aged, dying protagonist gasping out his final word, “Rosebud” – a remembrance, we learn at the film’s end, of (spoiler alert!) his beloved childhood sled. I’ve not read that Welles, on his own deathbed in 1985, muttered anything at all related to Kenosha, Wisconsin or this still-lovely house, but who knows. Perhaps in his own mind at the end, he was picturing an innocent, wintry scene outside of this very house, and himself a happy young boy, but he expired just as he was about to say…
Speaking of the romance of train travel, here’s a chance to experience the glory days of riding the rails. Over three dates in October, you can board a mid-century style Pullman train in either Chicago or Madison and experience rail travel the way it was meant to be – stylish and romantic. The $199 “diamond class” fare includes a chef prepared made to order meal and beverages (including spirits!). There’s also a $99 standard class fare, with snacks and beverages available for purchase.
Having traveled with the masses on a standard Amtrak train, which felt akin to riding a Greyhound bus, I’d love to try out this first class train experience. The website shows passengers dressed in their finest. Let’s hope that encourages folks to ditch the flip flops and shorty shorts in favor of more tasteful attire.
Check out the Travel Pullman site for more information on riding the Varsity line.
Image: Travel Pullman
We’ve just returned from a two-day, seven state road trip in a rented U-Haul box truck. While not as torturous as I was anticipating, the drive was certainly no easy feat. There was road construction, bad food and dirty rest stops – not to mention the mind numbing hours watching the white lines zipping down the middle of the highway. I picked up some lessons along our cross country road trip and, since I’m not ready to write about anything else right now, I’m going to share them with you.