x Bio website

    I was born in Berkeley, California on September 30, 1949. I am now 50 years old and started this trip from my home town, in my native state, in the sesquicentennial year of the California Gold Rush of 1849.
    I was the fourth of four children. That's right; the baby of the family.
    We moved from California to Pennsylvania when I was six, but I remember believing that I was one of the '49ers' that people talked about. It was one of my first links to history.
    I lived the second six years of my life in Middletown, Pennsylvania, known now for Three Mile Island, but when we lived there, Three Mile Island was where people had their little summer shacks where they fished for bass. Now the bass have three heads.

2nd Grade - Middletown Christian Day School, Middletown, Pa.
(I still like flannel shirts)

    When I was going into junior high school, we moved to Chula Vista, California, just south of San Diego. We saw the lights of Tijuana and the Pacific Ocean from our home. I loved it there. I spent a lot of time in the Pacific Ocean, and I still yearn for the ocean; it never leaves your blood. I attended Hilltop Junior High School and then graduated from HilltopHigh School in 1967.
    I went to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois where I met my first wife, Rose. I graduated with a bachelors degree in history and a secondary teaching certificate in 1972, convinced of one thing; I would NEVER teach.
    But I loved soccer and set my sites on coaching it at the college level, and worked toward a Master's degree in Physical Education from NorthernIllinois University in 1979. I coached at three colleges (Collegeof DuPage, Lewis University andAuroraUniversity) over the course of seven years between 1978 and 1986. I finally realized just how much I hated recruiting, and it was then that I finally turned to my real calling, the teaching of history.
    Our daughter Ruth was born in 1980 and Alyce followed in 1982. Their births were the two happiest moments of my life. Alyce graduated (Class of 2000) from at Wheaton North High School and will attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan this fall; and Ruth will be a junior at Wheaton College.
    where she is majoring in political science. My first history teaching job was at Wheaton Christian Grammar School, where I taught U.S. History and P.E. for two wonderful years. Then our divorce came. The Christian community has never dealt very well with divorce, so despite strong support from people inside the school, I felt it would be better to leave. I resigned in July of 1989.
    I was hired that August at Downers Grove North High School. It was a blessing in many ways, the most important of which is that I met my wife, Lois, there. We were both hired the same day. We both teach social studies. Lois teaches World Studies to freshmen and a hellacious AP European History class to juniors and seniors. I teach U.S. History, Modern World History and Sociology. I used to coach soccer.
    We live in Naperville, about 25 miles west of Chicago. When Lois was born, Naperville was a community of about 20,000. Now it's 120,000. They project 150,000 by 2010. The city council is owned by the developers. In 1998 Naperville was chosen by some group or other as the best place to raise a child in America. As far as we can tell, there's just as much teen drinking and drug use here as any place else; I guess our kids just don't LOOK like they're using. But... it's a great place to own a Jeep Cherokee.
    Someday, we're moving West. More honesty. (Note: When I returned from my trip in August, 1999 a letter from the Naperville city manager was waiting for me. He ripped me for making the above statements about Naperville, and questioned my ability and integrity as an educator. My answer to him is simple: it's BECAUSE I am a high school educator that I know these things about kids in this community, and it bothers me that Naperville, like almost every other American community, talks the tough talk against substance abuse, but doesn't really follow through. In fairness, however, communities simply reflect the values of their citizens, meaning... We're in trouble, folks.)

   Below are links to some of my interests:

Radio programs/music links:

    -Tom and Ray know everything there is to know about cars - with a sense of humor to boot.

Car Talk

    -Garrison Keillor has run this wonderful radio show for more than 20 years now. He's America's pre-eminent storyteller. We went to see it in Chicago at the Auditorium Theater when Ruth and Alyce were little.

Prairie Home Companion

    -Milt runs the most eclectic, intelligent radio interview show you'll ever hear. He's a Chicago treasure, on WGN, one of the oldest radio stations in the nation. Usually 8 p.m. weeknights when the Cubs aren't playing.

Milt Rosenberg's Extension 720

    -I've always enjoyed the classy way that Karl Haas has presented music to his listeners. There's something very old-fashioned and good about it.

Karl Haas  (Adventures in Good Music)

    -The classic cowboy group of all time. I first heard them from the tape deck of a pickup truck at the campsite next to ours one night in eastern Montana. Rich and melodious sound. I know these songs are sappy and sung by fake cowboys, but they say something about the American spirit. NEVER confuse cowboy songs with country and western!

Sons of the Pioneers

    -This page is dedicated to Roy Rogers, the 'king of the cowboys'. He wasn't a real cowboy either. I remember watching his TV show in the early 60's and thinking it was really phony. My respect grew in later years, when I understand his values and the importance of what he was trying to say on the new medium of television. He was a sweet man with a sweet voice.

Alan's 'Happy Trails' page

    -Wanamaker's Department Store in Philadelphia. My dad took me there when I was about eight, and I'll never forget both seeing and hearing the world's largest pipe organ. No pipe organ in the world sounds like it. It's a world treasure. Will the corporations that now control the store continue to understand this?

Friends of the Wanamaker Organ

    -The world's best. What can you say? I've had the privilege of hearing them at Orchestra Hall (now 'Symphony Center') a number of times. Unforgettable experiences. Symphony orchestras represent everything great about great civilizations. When you hear one tune up, that's all civilization compressed. They are dying in one American city after another. Message?

Chicago Symphony Orchestra home page

Chicago history:
     -Here's the excellent Chicago Historical Society. Lots of great Chicago links to one of the greatest cities in the world. We feel fortunate to be so close to it. What a resource!

Chicago Historical Society

    -When Chicago burned in 1871, it was clear it was too dynamic a location to not be rebuilt. The world's greatest architects salivated at the opportunity to work with a blank slate. And that's why Chicago was and still is one of the most architecturally vibrant cities in the world. Here's a tour:

Chicago architecture

    -Lois and I can take you on a mean tour of Chicago. Whaddya want? Capone? Stock yards? Pullman? Prairie Avenue? Graceland Cemetery? Sears? Montgomery Ward? The Biograph? The Rookery? The Lexington? The Coliseum? Here's some links.

Chicago history

    -Lois and I broke into the abandoned Lexington Hotel (Capone's headquarters) in 1994 with a video camera on a quest to find Capone's suite and to find the secret passageways that supposedly laced the place. We took our video camera. It was a great adventure. We did find Capone's suite. We have plaster, tile and wallpaper from it. Most importantly, we have the videotape; the only videotape I've seen from inside the Lexington. And here's the definitive word: there are NO secret passages. We found 6-ft. wide passages between the walls of all the bathrooms, but these are just plumbing access from an era when square footage was cheap. We also found Geraldo's comical 'Capone's vault' in the basement. Any doofus could have seen that was nothing.
    In 1997 Mayor Daley had the Lexington torn down. It had National Historic Landmark status. It was also a Chicago Historic Landmark. Nice to be mayor, huh? I thought about dressing like Capone, sneaking up into his suite, calling the press, and putting a curse on the mayor from the 5th floor. But I didn't. It went quietly.
    I looked for a picture on the web. Couldn't find one.

    -Here's a pretty good Al Capone biography. Mayor Daley is doing everything within his power to eliminate the connection between Capone and Chicago. I don't think he should be glorified, by any means, but he IS a major part of our history. Let's learn from him.


    -I take my sociology class to Graceland every semester. It's where the richest of the rich in Chicago's history are buried. The cemetery is a microcosm of Chicago society at the turn of the last century. Marshall Field, Potter Palmer, George Pullman, Cyrus McCormick, etc. etc. etc.

Graceland Cemetery

    -Chicago's best ghost(ess). We've been out looking for her several times. Haven't found her. Yet.

Resurrection Mary

Soccer links:

     -The world organizing body of soccer, responsible for the World Cup and all international play.

FIFA home page

    -This is the organization behind the 1998 U.S. World Cup performance in France. Ouch.

United States Soccer Federation home page

    -Because you'll never get the information in your newspaper, on TV or radio:

ESPN SportZone Soccer

    -For the record, I told all my friends BEFORE the '98 Cup to keep their eye on this kid. If not for the pathetic behavior of David Beckham, England may well have advanced to the Final. It would have been 1958 and 17-year-old Pele all over again. We were watching a legend grow from game to game.  He scored one of the best goals in Cup history against Argentina, yes? Not bad for 18 years of age. So...look out for England and Michael in 2002!

Michael Owen links

    -My alma mater. I learned about excellence in athletics by playing with a bunch of guys who felt they had to win because those who came before them had won. It wasn't pressure, it was respect; they just didn't want to disappoint their mentors. I played in 1970-71. We were in the process of winning our fifth and sixth Mideast championships; as far as we could go at that time. Wheaton won a Division III national championship in 1984 and again in 1997. In 1998 they set an all-time NCAA record for consecutive wins (but didn't win another championship). I think they've got motivation for 1999.

Wheaton College Men's Soccer

    -Formerly the greatest female player in the world; currently one first-class person.

Michelle Akers' home page

    -A slew of other links to the only true WORLD sport. Have fun.

soccer links

A little bike stuff:

    - The first rails-to-trails conversion in the U.S. I've been over almost all of it. What a great idea.

Illinois Prairie Path home page

    -The national organization for changing abandoned railroad right-of-ways to useful trails.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

    -The bike shop I patronize in Naperville. Very helpful and knowledgeable people. I am NOT a bike gear-head.

Performance Bike in Naperville

    -Adventure Cycling (formerly BikeCentennial) has been the leader in transcontinental bicycle touring. I'm a member. If you're considering a trip, they are an excellent resource.

Adventure Cycling

    Growing up in San Diego, this was my love. No board, no equipment. Just you with nature. I developed my respect for the power of nature in the ocean. I still love to bodysurf. No feeling like it.
Here's a web site that describes the sport.

bodysurfing home page

    -The Wedge in Newport Beach is the world's best bodysurfing site. Incoming waves bounce off the jetty and create a powerful, well, wedge. You catch that wave at the peak of the wedge, you can get just hammered. Or have an awesome ride. This site includes pictures from my era. These pictures cannot show the force behind these waves.

Dan Starr's Wedge pics.

    -And some more bodysurfing pictures.

bodysurfing pics

Corporate Greed:

  -I hesitate to give him credit because of his blind loyalty to Clinton. BUT... he has done some brilliant stuff ("Roger and Me", "TV Nation", "Downsize This". And a new show coming up in '99 on Bravo. Here's his page:

Michael Moore

   -A couple of other 'corporate greed' sites:

The Industrial Religion
The Corporate Machines

   -NO, I DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE!!!! But if you've never read what Ted had to say, it is worth reading. This version has an interesting foreword by a free zine editor.

Unabomber Manifesto


    -Find me a better high school library and more helpful librarians ANYwhere in the nation. They're the best!!

North High library

    -We had the 'Five Foot Shelf of Books' in our home. I was always intrigued with them, but didn't read that many as a boy. They are on my bookshelf now.

Harvard Classics

    U.S. History
    -What kind of U.S. History teacher would I be if I didn't include these addresses? Write!!!!! Get involved!!!!!!!!!!! It's a democratic federal republic!

U.S. Constitution
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
White House
Supreme Court

     -They were here first. Remember? Lisa Mitten, a librarian at University of Pittsburgh, keeps this Native American links page updated nicely.

Native American

    -It's the great napkin ring of American history: everything prior leads into it, everything since leads out of it.

Civil War

    -And I live in the Land of Lincoln, after all (even though my own school, to its everlasting shame, does not acknowledge Lincoln's Birthday as a holiday). Compare Abe and Bill. Sad, huh?

Abraham Lincoln

    -I don't think it was Lee Harvey Oswald by himself, no matter what the Warren Commission or Gerald Posner say. Do you? Thanks to Cheryl Overfield for this excellent links site.

JFK links

    Modern World History
    -Now compare Bill and Jimmy. Sorry, no contest. People have the gall to make light of Jimmy for his participation in Habitat for Humanity ("he should be doing something more significant as an ex-President"). If you're not familiar with the Carter Center, take a look at something significant. Good reference for my Modern World History students.

The Carter Center

    -An outstanding organization. Also a good reference in Modern World History.

Human Rights Watch

    -I use Robert Kaplan's seminal 1994 "Atlantic Monthly" article as a base for my Modern World History class. It's not a rosy outlook, but it is powerful. It has helped shape my world view of the 21st century. At the end of 1998 the United Nations declared Sierra Leone the worst nation to live in. You heard it first from Kaplan. Here's a transcript of the article.

"The Coming Anarchy"

     -More "Atlantic Monthly" reading. Some of their greatest foreign policy articles, plus links to many international agencies.

Atlantic Monthly archive

    -I also spend a great deal of time in Modern World teaching the forgotten continent.

Africa and Middle East

     -I'm of Scots-Irish descent. Lois and I traveled to Northern Ireland this past summer. My cousin Stephen showed us the best and the worst of this wonderful island. Here's a good way to stay in touch with the fascinating and tragic politics of this wee land.

Irish News

    -I use George Ritzer's essay, "The McDonaldization of Society", in my sociology classes. If you haven't read it, here's just one page on 'McDonaldization'. Take heed, America.


    -I also use this book, written in 1997 by two boys from the south side of Chicago. It's gripping. Many of my west suburban students believe the south side is inhabited by sub-humans. I try to show them it's a sub-human place...inhabited by humans. These boys are wonderful.

Our America

    -This is Robert Kaplan's most recent book. He has traveled all over the world, writing his unique observations. Now he travels the United States. Awesome book. Not the Reader's Digest version of America.

"An Empire Wilderness"


    -Chuck Woodbury roams the West in his RV, just observing and talking with people. He makes a living at this, turning his roaming into a very entertaining newspaper. Wish I'd thought of it first. He captures a certain spirit of the West with humor and whimsy. I will be looking for jack-a-lopes wherever I go this summer.

'Out West'

    -This is for us older folk. If you traveled the 2-lanes with your family any time between the 30's and late 50's, you'll enjoy this site immensely. They track down what's left today of what was on the roadsides then. More than you might think. What bad taste we had!

Roadside America


Monty Python links
(still the best)

    -Ever try to figure out the difference between the Baby Boomers and GenX? Not to oversimplify or anything, but just compare these two comic strips on ANY given day. Go ahead, I challenge you. If you don't find Dave (GenX) to be unbelievably superficial and Doonesbury (BabyBoom) to be saying something socially conscientious, I'll be surprised. The home page layout says it all.


    -The athletic organization for Illinois high school sports. Headed by an excellent man, Dave Fry. I've refereed four state championship soccer games for them. Reffing is like symphony conducting; the musicians are the focus. Keep the music playing and get out of the way.

Illinois High School Association

    -And finally. Want a romantic place to stay? It's not 4 star (so forget it if you drive a Cherokee), but it is LOADED with character. We love it.
Nordic Inn