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My Blog

Company Picnics

Good morning to all....looks like it may begin to be a nice day, but they are predicting rain.  I hope that I can get things that need to get done outside done before the rain comes.  Yesterday was spent learning about hidden history of Chicago.  I love learning the unknown treasures that seem to be lurking around every corner.  Just like I stated the other day with the theaters...things are right there under our noses....we just need to look.  In fact, I laughed to find out there are these massive statues in a park down by the lake that are just long legs walking to represent the blind walking we do.  Just goes to show you, I am not the only one who feels we are all rushing around trying to get somewhere....but miss everything else along the way. 
Today I thought about summertime and thing that we would do in the past.  One thing I recalled was Company picnics. Now through the years company picnics used to be a big thing.  It came to mind when I had passed the forest preserve right near my house..  It was a weekday and was loaded with people and there were canopies and all.  Made me remember the days when I went with my mom to her company picnics.  I am sure that my daughters will never forget them as well.  My mom worked for Beecham Cosmetics, a company that made perfume and cologne products better known by the name Jovan.  My mother was very fortunate in her job, she had a position that allowed her to meet with such pretty famous people like Diane Von Firstenburg and Kenny Rogers.  Her job was making sure that the products that were to be manufactured had the right containers, colors, prints, etc.  She traveled all over the place for her company and she was very good at what she did. 
Anyway, her company would rent out Holiday Park out in Volo Illinois for their company picnic.  You only needed to show up for the day...nothing else was needed.  They were allowed so many tickets for their families and all were treated to a fantastic day of water, foods, drinks, games and prizes.
One particular year, when we showed up, it was typical to secure one of the picnic table down closer to the water.  Only it mean we had to go down a slight little incline.  That morning, there was a bit of dew on the ground yet since it was so early in the morning...and my mother...the pin perfect person she always thought she needed to be....had on a pair of white pants.  Well, need I say, the dampness of the ground did her in.  Swoop....there she went, down the incline on her bottom side.  She was all stained and horrified.  My daughters were laughing hysterically, My mother was trying to get her self up.  I hurried and set down the bags of towels and tablecloths and dashed to help her up.  Now, even though she brought a bathing suit along, I think only so the girls would thing that she MIGHT go in the water with them, although I knew that was never going to happen in a public place and especially with people she worked with.  So, there we were, her pristine white pants a mess and no change of clothes.  We went into the bathroom.  I made her take off her pants and put on her suit while I scrubbed and scrubbed to remove the now elaborately stained pair of white pants.  Problem now was we had a pair of clean white pants that were soaking wet.  She was horrified that her co-workers would see her in a bathing suit....So I got the girls to go down to the table and get me one of the large beach towels to wrap around her waist.  We got her down to the table to sit and I found a spot near us that I could hang her pants in the sun to dry.   Abut an hour or so later she was back into her pants, and no one was the wiser...but we still laugh about it till this day.  Who wears white pants to a picnic? 
Now once the trauma was over with, there was tons of fun to be had.  They had food to serve all day long.  They hired companies that set up huge BBQ's grilling ribs, brats, Italian sausages, hot dogs and hamburgers., Large vats over fires that were filled with butter for dipping ears of corns. Every type of side dish and salad imaginable. Trays and trays of coffee cakes, watermelon, desserts.  Bars were set up for pop and beer that flowed all day long.  There were huge tents set up where people could go inside to play Bingo.  All the rides, carousels were free.  There were strolling clowns making animals balloons for the kids.  there were sack races, egg tosses, water balloon tosses.  There were gifts for the employees that got handed out along with awards.  They spared nothing.  The employees were valued and treated with their families for their jobs well done.  I spent quite a bit of time in the water with my daughters playing with the beach ball and just floating around hanging on the inner tubes, only getting them out to reapply suntan lotion so they wouldn't burn.  By the end of the day, all were happy and tired.  We would gather together our things.  We went home with so much more than we had come with....between  Mom's awards, gifts, prizes won at bingo and the kids games...they also let the employees take home any of the uneaten foods.    Year after year, picnic after picnic, it was always a special day to look forward to. Her company wasn't the only one that did company picnics, many company's did this.  Today with the economy they way it has been, they are barely making ends meet.  I am sorry for everyone that those days are long gone.  But at least  ours always ended on a happy note.
I think back on a time in Chicago when a company picnic did not end up that way.  It was during the early 1900's when in downtown Chicago, an Electric company had a company picnic and it ended up known as the Eastland disaster.  If you have never heard of it, you may want to read up on it.  They hired a boat to take their employees across the Chicago river to an island for festivities.  Fireworks went off and everyone ran to one side of the boat and it capsized.  So many souls were lost that day.  The dead were held in the building where Harpo Studios stands today.  If you go down there they have markers memorializing the victims and the disaster.  One time in history, a picnic didn't end so well. 
So maybe this summer...it may not be a company picnic, but pack up a picnic basket with your favorite foods, perhaps invite some friends or neighbors, go down to the forest preserves or to your favorite beach.  Play games, have fun, enjoy the day, take pictures, make memories....and at the end of the day, when your basket of goodies is empty, fill it up with all the memories shared and get home safely. 

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