Ron Onesti: Baby it's cold outside
I'm sittin' on my couch, looking outside into my snow-peaked yard, staying home from work as Chi-town temps hit 60 below zero with the wind chill. Ninety percent of people all over the area are also stayed home Wednesday. My daughter is off school the rest of the week! But I am sure there is some internet attention-seeker half-naked diving into Lake Michigan somewhere!
When did we get so scared of the cold? I can remember a snowstorm in the late 1960s and EVERYBODY was outside! There is a picture of me somewhere on top of a snow mountain and I have my arm around the "Taylor St. and Western Ave." street signs on a light pole! We had a ball sliding down those hills on garbage can lids!
One heavy snow day, traffic was stopped and it was me and my dad in our '64 Chevy Impala. We were stuck on an exit off the Eisenhower Expressway. We were blocked in by other cars in every direction. I was only 5 years old at the time, and we were just coming home from a long day at his tailor shop.
All of a sudden, the car went dead. We are out of gas! That may have been the only time I heard my dad say "damn!"
A bunch of people were also running out of gas. A policeman came over and said somebody would be by with gas cans to clean up the mess. So we waited. It's not like we had cellphones at the time!
I started to get really cold. My little 5-year-old feet were freezing. My dad said: "Take your shoes off." I though he was crazy! But I did as he said. I took my Hush Puppies off and he proceeded to sit on my feet! To this day, my feet have never felt as warm as they did on that day.
We finally got home, and we put on the radio while my mom was getting dinner on the table. Her beef stew was our winter favorite, and was the best cure for our cold insides. I can still see those big slices of carrots and celery in that huge cast iron pot with black soot around the bottom.
The AM radio was playing and that Italian crooner Jerry Vale came on. I don't remember the song, but I will never forget that higher-pitched voice that added to the warmth of the room -- and my dad trying to take his voice up another octave to keep up with Jerry.
These days, for "inner" warmth, I play my vinyl records on an old phonograph. For old time's sake, I keep a Jerry Vale record nearby. But then I will throw on any of the early Chicago albums, from "Chicago Transit Authority" through the chocolate-candy-wrapped "Chicago X." Then, "Endless Summer" by the Beach Boys, which MUST be followed by the group's "Pet Sounds."
Add a heaping helping of Pink Floyd, a dash of Electric Light Orchestra, a pinch of the Temptations, some America "Greatest Hits" and a taste of early Beatles, and the warmth flows through my veins.
Having homemade soup, hot chocolate, s'mores and mom's meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy while in flannel jammies is as good as the warming process gets. Adding to all that the music of our lives is the warm blanket that covers it all.
I hope to see you soon at the Arcada Theatre as we host close to 100 of your favorite legendary bands in 2019. Let us bring to you the warmth of the music of your life.
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.