Genealogy sure takes you back – but sometimes to a place you didn’t expect to go. Like when I was visiting Margel’s blog, “2338 W. Washington Blvd.” a few days ago. Margel’s blog caught my eye soon after I launched Family Archaeologist last November because I grew up at 4222 W. Washington Blvd. in Chicago, just about two miles west of Margel’s family home.

Margel made a loving post about her Aunt Margel, after whom she was named, and who died tragically at about the age of two. She told the amazing story about searching for and literally unearthing her aunt’s tombstone. I got to this post, which was written before I started blogging, because of a link Margel had included in her more recent post of April 5th about her mom’s birth.

Margel's Aunt Margel

Margel’s Aunt Margel

If I hadn’t clicked back to A Tale of Two Margels, I never would have seen this photo she posted there of her aunt (right).

I took one look at Aunt Margel in that cute car and wrote in the blog comments: “Do you know where this picture was taken? Because I do.”

I promised her I’d write a post about it, so be sure to read to the end to get the whole story.

My parents also grew up in Chicago, my Dad on the West Side within blocks of where I spent my childhood, and my mom further east.

Riverview—Aladdin's Castle

Riverview—Aladdin’s Castle

Riverview—Wild Mouse

Riverview—Wild Mouse

But no matter where you lived in Chicago, if you were a kid between 1904 and 1967, you’d remember our city’s most famous amusement park: Riverview. It had everything: white-knuckle roller coasters. “The Bobs” was the scariest. The Wild Mouse was designed with the wheels set back so you were sure you were going to plunge over the edge at a curve—when at the last moment…screeeeech—it made a jolting turn that knocked your stomach against your ribs.

Riverview Pair-O-Chutes


It had a freak show that freaked me out, the “Pair-o-Chutes” that took riders ever…so…slowly…up…up…up… The anticipation was a killer, because when the chutes hit the top, they burst open with a gut-wrenching jolt and you plummeted down, leaving your tummy somewhere along the way.

Aladdin’s Castle (see photo above) was a spook house with floors that seemed to give way so convincingly, I made my dad carry me through when I was about three.

Lillian Koroschetz, silhouette created at Riverview Park, summer, 1942

Lillian Koroschetz
Summer, 1942

Riverview was a great place for sweethearts: You could make out in the Tunnel of Love, hold your sweetie tight on those scary rides, or even get a pair of silhouettes cut out to commemorate your visit. Maybe my parents did all that in the summer of 1942, when they went to Riverview a few months before marrying, but I know they got the silhouettes cut out– because they were in my Mom’s scrapbook. Here they are. Really good likenesses too. I now have them hanging on my family history photo wall.

Fred Gartz, silhouette created at Riverview Amusement Park, summer 1942

Fred Gartz
Summer, 1942

And I found another photo taken at Riverview, also on my photo wall—of my Mom at age six. The photo was labelled “Lillian Koroschetz at Riverview, Aug. 17, 1924.”  Here it is:

Riverview: Lillian Koroschetz, Aug.17, 1924

Riverview: Lillian Koroschetz, Aug.17, 1924

And below is Margel’s Aunt Margel again.
Holy Cow! Aunt Margel was posed in the same little car my mom had been in! See the same backdrop, with ivy growing up the squat colonnade.

Margel's Aunt Margel

Riverview, Chicago—Margel’s Aunt Margel

The car in Aunt Margel’s photo is positioned to the left of the stairway, while my mom is photographed in front of and to the right of the stairway. No wonder I recognized Margel’s location immediately! I had been working with my mom’s  photo (and others) for scores of hours last summer.

So Margel, although your aunt’s life was cut so sadly short, we know she was treated to a wonder all children in Chicago enjoyed—a day at Riverview. And I’ll bet she had a blast!

Note: all photos of Riverview are from See the whole Tribune Riverview photo collection here and read a brief history of Riverview, where you’ll see a heart-stopping photo of the plunging “Bobs.”