Summer In The City
By: Chris Darkes - July 25, 2015
Category : Shoe Factory Road, Writing
Over the 4th of July weekend, I was able to make it back to my hometown of Chicago. There’s something about the midwest in the summer that makes it extra special. My sister was throwing a party for her son, who just turned 1. I was grateful to spend some time with my sister, who I usually only get to see in a rush during family parties. We took her son around a good three miles in the stroller enjoying the neighborhood’s restored Victorians and stopped at an excellent spot called Hole In The Wall Custard, which is truly that. It can’t be more than 4 ft. wide.
I also had a chance to visit some of my other friends, too. One who recently moved up to Crystal Lake (not to be confused with Friday the 13th.) On the drive up there, I remembered heading that direction quite a bit during my summers in high school and college. One of my friend’s parents owned a lakehouse up in Twin Lakes, which is probably worthy of its own post. But as I made my way towards Crystal Lake, I recalled a place I drove by many moons ago. That road was Cuba Road. It seemed fitting. Me being back to visit my family and rediscovering one of the top ten creepiest roads in Illlinois, on what was possibly the perfect setting.
The daylight had burned off and was starting to turn to that classic gray sky usually reserved for October. For some reason, Chicago and many of the suburbs had been experiencing cooler than usual temperatures. I’m talking about 65 degrees, which is unheard of in the summertime. The humidity was, however, very typical. Thick moisture that you could feel as you began to breathe in. The sky — thick fluffy clouds that loomed over. I had been running a little late, so I decided against turning down that road to see where it lead. It did pique my curiosity though. Similar to Shoe Factory Road, the site is home to some of the most awesome tales. It’s virtually talked about in every list you read of haunted roads in Illinois. I even mentioned it in my list of creepy roads. For those of you who don’t know the backstory, let’s take a drive…
Cuba Road is located just east of Old Barrington road, about 20 minutes north of Shoe Factory Road. The main attraction is called White Cemetery, a small cemetery that dates back as far as the 1820’s. The place has been well documented among various paranormal specialists, and curious thrill seekers alike. Police reports filed explained that while driving on Cuba Road, passersby stated they saw someone staring at them from inside the cemetery, and then vanished at will. The main fence that keeps people from crossing into the cemetery after hours, has been documented several times stating hazy human-like figures keep a watchful eye throughout the trees, as well as stand against the fence.
There is an adjacent road that connects to it called, Rainbow Road that has its own backstory. Some bizarre events, like the guy who wanted the road cut off completely from his farmland. Located on this road, is anotherspooky spot that has people seeing an old house which hasn’t been there for almost a century. The story goes that the old house burned under mysterious circumstances. People that don’t even know about the legend have seen it on their drive past. It’s only after people research the area that the random house in the middle of nowhere has been absent for close to a 100 years. Author Ursula Bielski of “More Chicago Haunts” claims that the specific areas of Barrington and Lake Zurich used to be home to some of the most powerful gangsters during the Prohibition Era. They would visit the towns to relax and cause a little trouble. The mobster’s secrets may be the source of strangeness this concentrated area produces.
I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to take that same way home, but one of these times I want to say that I did. That’s still on my bucket list. With the fog too thick to explore, and the rain slamming on the road, my late night adventure was extinguished. Another place I got to visit, was to see my college roommate in Naperville. I hadn’t been down there in some time, so I decided to visit him on his home turf.
We met up at the Lou Malnati’s in the beautiful downtown area. When I imagine what the main strip of Shoe Factory Road’s fictional town of Old Orchard would look like in brick and mortar, it is identical to that of downtown Naperville The storefront windows. The eclectic people from all walks of life. A riverwalk.
It has a lot of unique features going for it. Even the Lou’s we ate at was a converted firestation.
I was a little bummed as I never made my way to Naperville’s acclaimed Ribfest they have every July. I think the last time I had been there was around 2006. My friend was telling me, with all the people now discovering it through social media in recent years, the place has been a zoo. Since I visited him the last day of Ribfest, I could vouch for that. We ended the day up with taking a walk around the riverwalk and catching up on life. As a big fan of Dick Tracy, I thought it was awesome they have a few statues scattered across the riverwalk dedicated to Dick Locher, a Naperville resident, who illustrated and later wrote strips of the Dick Tracy comic for the Chicago Tribune.
All in all it was a great trip, and was happy to see some people I hadn’t in awhile. For those of you I didn’t see, hopefully I’ll get to next time I’m home!