I had originally posted this on December 2, 2005. My follow up to this post is posted over at My Mind's Eye. I didn't anticipate the problems I had attempted to post a slide show to this blog so I decided to create some space to do so. I did have a post to bring attention to my Flickr photoset on Christmas Eve but then I decided to do something even more special and I ultimately deleted that post. In any event at my slideshow over at My Mind's Eye. I hope you enjoy it.
On the day after Thankgiving I went to the House of Kicks. It was just a short walk from my home and it was starting to get dark but I decided to take a little walk away from my home around the neighborhood. I was going to take some pictures along the way unfortunately my camera didn't have any juice when I pulled it out.
I decided to take a walk there because I had heard through the grapevine that they were sold and closed indefinitely. The man who owned the place was Ed Gardner. Honestly when I worked there I had no idea who he was or his impact on the community and his other business interests. I'll get back to Mr. Gardner in a second, but as I understand it he sold it because he may have gotten a good offer for the property.
Ed Gardner apparently has been around a while. He once owned Soft Sheen which is now known as Soft Sheen-Carson after he sold it to a French company. He got lucky in the 1960s selling hair care products specifically for black Americans. He was once a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools even went to school at what is now Chicago State University. When he made more money selling Soft Sheen (btw, Soft Sheen Carson still has their headquarters on the south side of Chicago) he then decided to open up House of Kicks. In addition to that there is a foundation on the same lot as House of Kicks called Black on Black Love.
While on the one hand, I didn't really like my time at House of Kicks. Although it was a small company but there didn't seem to be a lot of structure there too. I only worked there for a month and I had nothing but complaints (and I hate people who complain it was unfortunate that I was doing what I hate). Thankfully my one year out of school was just about up and I had much better challenges to attend to. On the other hand it just has to be a loss for the community, Mr. Gardner had created a place where families could stay in the community and have some fun. They could play games, have fun on the rides, and eat some food. They could even have a birthday party there.
So I got to even thinking about some of the people who worked there. They may not have had the most stable jobs. In fact some of them probably could have found better if they had wanted too. Some of them may have had the age and experience and weren't there because they need the extra income. One of these workers were a friend of mine from high school. I wonder where he is today now that House of Kicks appears to be no more. Most of the workers there were still in high school with plans on going to college. Some may have wanted to be big shots out there in corporate America.
In any case I walked to House of Kicks and the place probably should have been jumping when I got there. The parking lot was desolate of any automobiles. I kind of just stayed outside of the lot a little bit and I saw the big sign for CB Richard Ellis. Then I decided to go to the door and I saw a sign that said House of Kicks going out of business effective September 19, 2005. The skeeball games and even the little prize area was dismantled when I looked though the windows. But it seems some of the rides including my least favorite ride to operate, The Roller Coaster, was still there. I looked around a little more as I walked toward the offices of Black on Black Love on the Cottage Grove side. There was plenty of equipment still there, but no one was there to ride them nor operate them.
It was a little sad. This is the one place that the communities on the far South Side could use. Too bad that it was sold and closed down. I hope the future owners can do a better job of running the place and hopefully they can keep it open and make money in the process.
You can find it on the CB Richard Ellis website. And if I am able to go back, I plan to take some pictures of the place.