Saturday, April 19, 2014

41 Years Ago Today... It Was 1973

And there I was at the tender age of 21 and deep into student teaching at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, and set to graduate from Northern Illinois at the end of May. I was still driving the infamous "Ramblin' Wreck" 1963 Rambler station wagon, which had finally started after shutting down for the DeKalb winter. It wouldn't be long before I bought my first new car, a 1973 Ford Pinto, manual transmission. Anyway, Chicago's WXRT, 93.1 FM, is going back to 1973 for the next two and a half hours, streaming live at www.wxrt.com. So, if you're getting ready to go to your local mom and pop record store for Record Store Day (I still say it should be called National Record Store Day) , give it a listen. Last several songs played: I CAN'T STAND THE RAIN-- Ann Peebles ROSALITA-- Bruce Springsteen LET'S GET IT ON-- Marvin Gaye FAT MAN IN THE BATHTUB-- Little Feat SAIL ON SAILOR-- Beach Boys DEAR ABBY-- John Prine DYERMAKER-- Led Zeppelin Lots of Memories. --Cooter

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Illinois Governors-- Part 5: John Stelle

#8. JOHN STELLE, who served as governor for just three months after the death of Governor Henry Horner in 1940 (so that's where the Henry Horner Woods in Cook County gets its name), appointed a new state purchasing agent, GEORGE EDWARD DAY, who bought loads of paint from a Springfield merchant. Turns out that merchanmt was none other than himself. // This insider dealing, though, had a lasting public benefit. Illinois used Day's paint to became only the second state to put yellow lines in the middle of its roads to denote no-passing lanes. No mention of whether Day got in trouble for his "deal." //// Making the Best of a Bad Situation. --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Illinois Governors-- Part 4: Adlai Stevenson II-- "Big Jim" Thompson

6. ADLAI STEVENSON II was an Illinois governor and two-time Democratic nominee for president and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He was also the inspiration for Peter Sellers' character of President Merkin Muffley in "Dr. Strangelove." Muffley is the mild-mannered rational "egghead" who says: "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the war room." OK, now, I'm going to have to watch the movie. //// #7. Serving from 1977-1991, Republican JAMES THOMPSON is easily Illinois' longest-serving governor. But "Big Jim's" (he is quite tall) impact on Illinois goes beyond that. In 1972-1973, as U.S. attorney, he successfully prosecuted Democrat former Gov. Otto Kerner for bribery. In 1975, still the U.S. attorney, he successfully petitioned for leniency for Kerner in part because of his ill-health. Later, as a private attorney, he would make the same plea on behalf of imprisoned former Republican Gov. George Ryan, who had served as Thompson's lieutenant governor. //// Depends Upon Which Side of the Toast Your Butter's On. --Cooter

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Illinois Governors-- Part 3: Edward Coles-- Jphn Peter Altgeld

4. EDWARD COLES, although well-connected and educated, wasn't much of a politician. he was socially awkward anda mediocre orator. Worst of all, he spoke his mind. But, some scholars consider him Illinois' greatest governor because he prevented the state from becoming a slave state (although born in Virginia). As the second governor, in 1824, he rallied the forces to stop a legislative-ordered referendum to rewrite the constitution to allow slavery. He even used his own money to help stop it. //// Fewer than a third of Illinois' governors were born in the state-- only 13 of 41. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until WILLIAM STRATTON'S inauguration in 1953 that Illinois overtook Kentucky as birthplace of state governors. And, two governors were born overseas: JOHN PETER ALTGELD was born in Germany and SAM SHAPIRO was born in Estonia. //// NIU's Altgeld Hall Was Named After Him. --DaCoot

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Illinois Governors-- Part 2: Blago-- $177,412

2. Former Governor ROD BLAGOJEVICH's legal name is not Milorad, but it almost was. His father wanted to give him this traditional Serbian name, which means "happy worker." But, his mother vetoed it and wanted the more American name Rod. //// 3. $177,412. That is what the Illinois currently gets. Early governors received $1,000 as set in the 1818 constitution. The salary ranks 4th highest for state governors, but less than the mayor of Chicago, heads of Metra and Chicago Public Schools or members of the state supreme court. //// Good Money If You Can Get It. --Cooter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Illinois Governors-- Part 1: "Drunken Dick"

From the March 16, 2014, Chicago Tribune by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer. //// I really look forward to seeing these articles every so often in the Tribune (wish it was every Sunday). In this past primary, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn faced but one opponent in a who-cares race as there was no doubt he would win it. However, there were four vying for the Republican nod in a rather vicious contest. All Illinois elections have been vicious lately. If the accusations are believed, everyone should be going to jail (also something Illinois governors are good at) instead of running for office. //// Well, our researchers par excellens, Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer, dug a little deeper and came up with some interesting stuff. //// 1. The first Governor RICHARD YATES (there were two Governor Richard Yates) earned his name "DRUNKEN DICK." At his inauguration night in 1861, the intoxicated politician kept president-elect Lincoln and other dignataries waiting for half an hour, then stumbled down the aisle into a chair. The House clerk read his speech for him. //// Vote for "Drunken Dick." He'll Wobble, Bit Won't Fal;l Down. --DaCoot

First Civil Rights Sit-In in Chicago, Not Greensboro

From the February 23, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Chicago Flashback: Birth of the sit-in" by Ron Grossman. //// It took place in May 1842, when a group of young Chicagoans, both black and white refused to take no when they went into the Jack Spratt Coffee House on East 47th Street. This place was wwell-known for its refusal to serve blacks policy. //// At the time, the United States was deeply involved in fighting World War II to save democracy abroad, all the while when blacks were denied equal rights at home by Southern laws and Northern customs. //// James Farmer was an organizer of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and 27 others decided to test their pacifist commitment at Jack Spratt's. Sure enough, the whites were served, but the blacks weren't. //// The management offered to let the blacks eat in the basement. When the police arrived, they refused to arrest the blacks, saying they hadn't broken any Illinois laws. //// Jack Spratt quietly dropped its anti-black policies after that. //// It was 18 years later that the group of college students in Greensboro, NC, had their much more famous sit-in. //// But, the First Was in Chicago.

Siome More Chicago Innovations-- Part 10: Automated Conveyor (Dis)Assembly Lines

1. AUTOMATED CONVEYOR (DIS)ASSEMBLY LINES-- Chicago's Union Stockyards became huge because of the development of refrigerated train cars that enabled meat processed here to be transported elsewhere quickly with minimum spoilage. //// Another major factor was that owners figured out how to maximaize output to those train cars by speeding up the processing of cattle and hogs through automated conveyors. //// This process was reduced to 13 steps with workers doing the same action, such as hanging the carcasses on hooks. //// Among those impressed with this process at the Union Stockyards was a Henry Ford and we know what he did with it. //// Definitely a Lot of Innovations Out of Chicago. --Cooter

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some More Chicago Innovations-- Part 9: McDonald's

Ray Kroc didn't invent fast food. He didn't even invent the McDonald's hamburger. He was a salesman of milk shake mixers who saw what the McDonald brothers were doing in California and saw the potential to make it work on a broader scale through rigorous consistency, marketing and franchising. The McDonald's story is almost as well known as the global brand. //// And, the first Ray Kroc McDonald's was in Des Plaines, Illinois, and a rebuilt store from that era is still at the site, but you have to buy your McDonald's across the street. //// --DaCoot

Some More Chicago Innovations-- Part 8: Soap Operas

SOAP OPERAS: Chicago Tribune broadcast cousin WGN-AM's sales manager wanted a program that could sell products to women homemakers in the 1930s. //// So, Irna Phillips created the first soap opera, "Painted Dreams." Dubbed the Queen of Soaps, she would go on to develop radio and TV daytime dramas that defined the genre: "Guiding Light," "The Road of Life, "Young Dr. Malone," "As the World Turns" and Love Is a Many Splendored Thing." //// --Cooter

Monday, April 14, 2014

Some More Chicago Innovations-- Part 7: Playboy

4. PLAYBOY was funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hugh heffner's mother and the magazine launched in 1953, catching the front edge of the sexual revolution, bringing nudity and adult content to mainstream pop culture. In the tradition of predecessor magazines like Esquire, it introduced readers to many of the 20th century's best writers. //// Grew into a multi-media empire, including those Playboy Clubs. //// Just Read It For the Articles and Funnies, You Know. --Cooter

More Illinois World War I Medal of Honor Winners

From Illinois Chronicles. //// With the centennial of World War I's beginning fast-approaching (in August for the rest of the world, not until 1917 for the United States), it is interesting to note Illinois recipients of the Medal of Honor. Saturday, I wrote about Harold E. Goetttler of Chicago who died trying to deliver supplies by air to the famed Lost Battalion of the Argonne Forest on October 6, 1918. //// Other winners: John J. Kelly of Chicago; Weedon E. Osborne of Chicago; Thomas A. Pope of Chicago and Fred E. Smith of Rockford. ////

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chicago's WW I Medal of Honor Pilot: Harold E. Goettler

From Illinois Chronicles. //// He received his Medal of Honor posthumously after trying to fly supplies into a unit that was cut off in the Argonne Forest (the famed Lost Battalion of the 77th Division) on October 6, 1918. On his first attempt he was under heavy German fire and was unhappy with the accuracy of his drop. //// He flew lower on his second attemp and was hit by machine gun fire and killed instantly. //// His body was returned to Chicago and buried at Graceland Cemetery. ////

Some More Chicago Innovations-- Part 6: Shopping Centers

SHAOPPING CENTERS: Chicago was at the forefront of the City Beautiful movement that made setting aside land for public use a priority. But, another land use became even more influential: the mall. //// Other cities claim to have the first urban shopping center, but the NRHP deemed it to be Lake Forest's Market Square, which opened in 1916. //// An early version of what became the typical indoor mall, the Lake View Store, opened in the U.S. Steel company town of Morgan Park, Minnesota. But, this mall was designed by the Chicago architectural firm Dean & Dean. //// Of course, one of the very early modern indoor malls, Randhurst. opened in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, in Chicago's Northwest Suburbs in the mid-1960s. That was a big hangout for all the local high schoolers, including those of us from dear old Palatine High School. //// Jus' Hangin' Out at the Mall. --Cooter

Friday, April 11, 2014

Some More Chicago Innovations-- Part 5: Portable Radios

#6. PORTABLE RADIOS: Broadcasting became the dominant mass media of the 20th century and helping to set the stage was Chicago area's Zenith which introduced what is considered to be the first modern potable radio in 1924. (Remember those huge old radios that cameout first?) //// Later Zenith introduced the first pay-TV service in 1947, FM stereo broadcasting (authorized by the FCC in 1961) and the first wireless TV remore control in 1955. //// Thank You Zenith, Especially for the REMOTE!! --Cooter