It’s not that I don’t see the buildings that used to be Pizza Huts, or the potholes. I do. But every town has its areas that need a little love.
“Let’s go count the beaches,” I said, eager to show off Kenosha to family who were visiting for just a few hours, from southern California. When I was a teenager, we used to call it “scooping the loop,” driving aimlessly along the lake shore, from one end of town to the other.
My sister-in-law and her husband and my son and I piled into their rental car. We headed for Second Avenue, to check out Southport Park, which was having some work done.
I have memories of wading in a sandy lagoon, back when the concession stand was operational.
Southport is also where my grandmother took me after I worked in her yard one childhood Saturday. She paid me a dollar, which I lost while playing in the park. So, Grandma told me to say a prayer to Saint Anthony. A little while later, the crumpled bill turned up on the floorboard of her Rambler.
Moving back home, I sometimes feel like that missing dollar, after it was found again.
Continuing our drive north, my family and I passed the lake-facing mansions built by city founders and the Kemper Center. I pointed out that the last building in the complex is called Ambrose Hall and is reportedly haunted by the ghosts of unhappy nuns.
“No relation,” I said.
We cruised slowly past beach number two, Eichelman Park, and the gardens where newlyweds take photos in the summer.
“Where are the boats?” my sun-dwelling family ask as they notice the empty marina. Then it dawns on them that the water freezes here. Within a few weeks, the docks would begin to fill up with spring arrivals.
We curved around the harbor to Simmons Island. There, we stopped and got out for a closer look at the waves. Just for a second, though. A ridiculously cold wind chased us, laughing, back to the car.
Kennedy Drive took us past Kennedy Park and then to the more rustic Alford Park with tall grasses. My guests were impressed by the extent of the Kenosha coastline.
We turned around at Carthage College and headed back through downtown. As we circled Library Square, I mentioned a historical marker on Seventh Avenue.
My brother-in-law is a huge movie buff and couldn’t get over this find. He suddenly parked the car in such a hurry that he forgot the keys in it.
Fighting the wind, we all ran over to the blue, two-story house with white trim and read the sign, “Birthplace of Orson Wells, Actor and Director, May 8, 1915-Oct 1, 1985.”
That was a pretty good capper, but I had one more stop in mind for this mini Kenosha tour — Morellis’ Deli-Catering on 75th Street.
We cracked ourselves up, and amused the cashier, as we carried away our little white box of Italian pastry.
“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli,” we said.
Amy Ambrose writes this column monthly and can be reached at email@example.com