Monday, May 21, 2018

Believe It or Not --- in Illinois Politics!

If anything in Illinois history fits the “believe it or not” category, this is it. Richard J. Daley–future Democrat boss, future Chicago mayor, future father of a future Chicago mayor–was elected to his first political office... as a Republican on November 3, 1936.

The election was for the Illinois House of Representatives from the 9th district. In 1936 the state was divided into 51 legislative districts. Each district sent three reps to the state House.

The Republican and Democratic parties had a cozy arrangement back then. In each of those 51 districts, the Democrats would run only two candidates, and the Republicans would run only two. That way, whichever party wound up in the minority would get at least one-third of the total seats.

The 9th district was the area around Bridgeport, heavily Democrat. David Shanahan had held the “Republican” seat without much effort since 1894. Fifteen days before the 1936 election, Shanahan died.
David Shanahan Statue
It was too late to print new ballots. Shanahan’s name would stay. So the Republicans named Robert E. Rogers as their replacement candidate, and organized a write-in campaign.

With Shanahan dead, the Democrat leadership felt free to mount their own write-in campaign for the Republican slot. Their candidate was Cook County Treasurer Joe Gill’s 34-year-old private secretary. That was Richard Joseph Daley.
Richard J. Daley, 1936
The Republicans screamed that the “gentlemen’s agreement” was being violated. But there wasn’t much they could do about it.

On November 3, 1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt won a second term in a landslide. The Democrats were triumphant almost everywhere.

Buried among the returns were the write-in results from the Illinois 9th. Daley outpaced Rogers, 8539 to 3321. The Tribune noted that even though he’d run as a Republican, “it is understood that Daley will caucus with the Democrats.”

When the House convened the next January, the Democrats offered a resolution asking that Daley be seated on their side of the aisle. The Republicans were still angry about how they had been out-maneuvered.

“I don’t care about the resolution,” the Republican leader declared. “I want to know where Representative Daley wants to sit. Where do you want to sit, Representative Daley?”

The rookie rep pointed to the Democrat side of the chamber and softly said, “There.” Then he walked over to join his new colleagues and never looked back.

By J.R. Schmidt 
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The Original Chicago Thin Crust Pizza at Home Run Inn.

In 1923, the original Home Run Inn location opened as a small tavern on Chicago’s South Side.
Founded by Mary and Vincent Grittani, the tavern received its’ name one fateful day when a baseball from the neighborhood park smashed through one of the tavern’s windows, a home run for some young slugger on the sandlot.
In 1947, Mary Grittani and her son-in-law, Nick Perrino, formed a partnership and together developed the recipe for their pizza, and still used today, best known for saucy thin crust pies.
Since then, hundreds of pizzerias have popped up all over the city and suburbs.
Frozen Home Run Inn pizzas are available at retailers throughout the nation.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Artist John Singer Sargent in Chicago's Gilded Age.

John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) was the most sought-after portraitist of his generation on both sides of the Atlantic, creating powerful, vibrant likenesses of his models. Best known for his portraits, Sargent nevertheless excelled in a variety of genres, including landscapes, watercolors, and murals.

Born in Florence to American parents, he lived his life abroad, traveling the world in search of his subjects and working professionally for more than 50 years. A truly cosmopolitan artist, Sargent’s Chicago story has yet to be told. The first major exhibition of the painter’s work at the museum in over 30 years, John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age presents the full range of Sargent’s talents, tracing his Chicago connections while also illuminating the city’s vibrant art scene at the turn of the 20th century.

Sargent first showed at the Art Institute—at the time located at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street—in 1890, the year Chicago officially became the nation’s “second city” in terms of population. Among his paintings on view was La Carmencita, a striking portrait of a Spanish dancer that is at once old and new—a tribute to Old Master painting that is also an Impressionist exploration of color and brushwork. The composition drew crowds of visitors to the museum, helping to put Chicago on the map as a recognized center for contemporary art and culture.
Madame X, John Singer Sargent
Summer Women, John Singer Sargent
Miss Elsie Palmer, John Singer Sargent (1890)
This dramatic early showing was followed by many more Chicago exhibitions. Between 1888 and 1925, Sargent’s paintings were included in more than 20 public displays in the city, among them the Inter-State Industrial Exposition, the World’s Columbian Exposition, exhibitions at the Arts Club of Chicago, and the Art Institute’s American Annuals.
Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy, John Singer Sargent watercolor
In a Levantine Port, John Singer Sargent watercolor (1905-6)
The artist’s presence in Chicago owed much to local businessman Charles Deering, who built an important collection of his work over a lifetime of friendship. Other Art Institute supporters such as Martin A. Ryerson, Annie Swan Coburn, and Robert Allerton helped establish a Sargent legacy for the city.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.