A Fourth Look Into My Brochure Bag

Hello, everyone! Spring break is now upon me, and you know what that means…

The “I miss exploring/traveling/having fun bug” that prompted the creation of my previous three contributions to this series in October 2019, November 2019, and January 2020 is back!

Truly, I cannot resist this opportunity to use at least a portion of the excess time that this reprieve from classes promises to reminisce on some of my most treasured memories of the past few years–many of which are represented in my “brochure bag.”

The rest of this small surplus of time is being spent working ahead on the many assignments and projects on my figurative plate, naturally.

Anyhow, for those who have never encountered one of my posts in this series before, my “brochure bag” is a product of my self-directed task this past summer to finally (begin to) clear out the organized chaos of my room. And by clear out, I mean organize the organized chaos in a more organized way. As such, being someone who is inclined to take and keep every available map, ticket, complimentary gift, and brochure that attractions and entire destinations offer, I found myself assembling all of these items into an American Writers Museum bag that had somehow been patiently sitting dormant in my room for two full years. Consequently, when I feel the need to indulge in some good, old reminiscence, the “brochure bag” is an apt source of inspiration.

So, once again, I am here to invite you all to take a look at some of the many pieces that comprise this increasingly-overstuffed container. (For those who would like visual representations of the items discussed in this installment and in past entries, I will leave a link to my dedicated Google Photos album here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/P8A1SxLeTF2zRJro8.)

Without further ado, let us begin!


Chicago Athletic Association: Building History

To begin this installment, I will recognize the oldest piece in the bunch (only in terms of the origin of my acquisition, as will become clear), which, while just a US letter-size piece of paper, holds a special place in my heart. With a fairly high level of certainty, I can contend that I obtained this page of information pertaining to the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel while on a tour of the stunning property in August 2017, which I was able to experience following my research on the history of the building. Much to my delight, this “Building History” document offers a plethora of “quick facts,” information on the structure’s renovation, and details of each of its public facilities, all of which I found–and still see as–quite fascinating, and to build upon my enthusiasm on the matter, I did not find any particulars on this sheet or during the tour that contradicted what I had attempted to undercover about the hotel myself! Huzzah!

But, of course, I am still slightly bitter that the “boutique” Chicago Athletic Association Hotel was recently brought under a larger brand and colossal overseeing company.

These Shining Lives Ticket

Me, being nostalgic about the year 2017 for the second “Look Into My Brochure Bag” post in a row? Unfortunately, for some reason or another, this trend is already asserting its presence again in 2020. As for the piece in question, I must admit that I hold sentimentality toward this ticket for the October 12, 2017 performance of These Shining Lives, a play about women working at the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois, as a result of its connection to some of my favorite endeavors at my previous college. Specifically, I actually attended this showing at a discounted price, as part of a lovely event arranged by the institution’s Alumni Relations group, Honors Program, and the advisory committee I had just joined the previous month. Needless to say, I quite enjoyed my ability to contribute to my “Community College Event Challenge” and to be with fellow students during the evening’s panel discussion, refreshments, and play; in fact, while I do not attend the school anymore, my proximity to campus compels me to continue to support the theatre program by attending their shows this semester and further into the future.

WhereTraveler: Atlanta Maps

Next, to continue onwards with an item published for the summer and fall seasons of 2017, I must recognize a collection of maps of Atlanta, Georgia, from WhereTraveler. Based on said timeframe, I can certainly deduce the context in which I obtained this pamphlet, for I was lucky enough to enjoy a fantastic road trip to and from Florida in December of 2017 (which I documented in my blog series called “Disney Day in Review”–we love some self-promotion) and take stops in Atlanta in the process. Whether I picked up the troupe of maps on my way to Florida or back up home, I cannot be sure, but in any case, I retain my strong desire to traverse this city as a destination itself sooner rather than later. Until then, I will continue to collect maps of the area, I suppose.

Explore Chicago Collections Bookmark

Finally, to break free from my odd and frankly ridiculous attachment to mid-to-late 2017, I can move on to an object that, alongside very similar articles, has been passively sitting in my room since January 2018. This, my friends, is one of the four-or-so bookmarks that I snagged during my visit to the Research Center of the Chicago History Museum over winter break of that year (yes, not that much separated from my recurring topic of 2017). In retrospect, I will have to credit my neurotic excitement regarding my first use of a research institution of this sort for my bolstered propensity to pick up all of the free mementos available from interesting settings–hence my inexplicable decision to bring home nearly every single variant of the “Explore Chicago Collections” advertisement-based bookmark that was available in the center. Despite their lack of utility for me over the past couple of years, though, I cannot say that I regret my rash determination to collect these bookmarks, for I find their imagery to be beautiful.

Vacation To-do/Packing List

Now, to divert from my norm of selecting pieces I directly obtained from external organizations or locations, I will present you all with something that was only inspired by such entities, but that still holds a definite nostalgia factor for me. Yes, everyone, I am talking about a packing list. So glamorous, I know.

In all seriousness, I was definitely surprised to dig this piece of paper out from underneath the pile of materials in my “brochure bag,” and in turn, I immediately took to deciphering what trip with which it was associated. Ultimately, by way of such features as “porg,” “bring AFTA” (I had to look at my Goodreads account to realize that I was referencing Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms) and the two most telling notes, “planning books 2018” and “textbooks,” I soon deciphered that this to-do document hails from mid-August 2018, when I was fortunate enough to take a road trip to Walt Disney World with my family (soon before I would apply to and be accepted into the Disney College Program, funnily enough). Physically writing out remaining tasks and records of the items to bring with on travels, I would have to say, is one of the more exhilarating, yet grounding elements of the preparation process for a vacation; thus, I cannot help but look back on this list and wish to be in that exciting phase once again.

Plus, locating this page allowed me to reflect on memories related to what was, in hindsight, a highly questionable decision to read A Farewell to Arms amidst moments of potential relaxation on a fun trip.

The Newberry: Winter/Spring 2020 Adult Education Seminars

Finally, welcome to 2020, a year seemingly infiltrated by serendipitous occasions! To provide one of the most befitting examples, I happened to receive a fascinating booklet advertising the Adult Education Seminars offered by the Newberry Library, an institution with which I became slightly transfixed last semester, just around the day when I scheduled an interview for an internship at the library (for which I submitted my application the day before I made a visit for a class project). Then, a couple of weeks into this internship that I was thrilled to have been offered, I was reintroduced to the same pamphlet as part of an extensive, but curiously enjoyable project that I would undertake over my next few days there, calling for me to work with nearly every single one of the 35 pages of detailed content.

So, as one may predict, my reaction to pulling this booklet out of my “brochure bag” was constituted by a lapse right back into the intense mindset that had become associated with the piece, of which I now see a copy on my desk every day at the library.

Chicago and North Western Transportation Company 1994 Annual Report

Finally, I will leave you all with what is the actual oldest piece in the batch highlighted in this blog post: the 1994 Annual Report of the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company, which I am sure everyone has in their collection of souvenirs. In actuality, I came by this rather professional booklet at an exhibit I viewed on a Sunday afternoon in January 2020 about the railroads of Chicagoland, hosted by a small history museum in the suburbs. To be sure, my list of assignments to complete for the remainder of that day, along with my general (though largely unfounded) aversion to most activities on Sundays that are outside the realm of at-home relaxation, had led to my apprehension toward taking the time to explore the attraction; nevertheless, my museum-loving self was ultimately quite glad to have allotted time to do so. And hey–I was able to pick up a free copy of an annual report from a defunct railroad in the process, and I always appreciate novel (no pun intended) reading material!

Letting myself have fun…what a concept! Perhaps I should explore it more over spring break. Just maybe.


Well, thank you for reading this self-indulgent blog post about an assortment of items that hold sentimental value to me, which I presume to be of varying levels of interest to others. Do you maintain any collections of tickets, maps, booklets, and the like from your travels or visits to nearby attractions? If so, how do you compile them? I would love to know!

-Stephanie


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