Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Day Chicagoland Citizens' Smiles Ended.

A brief history about the competition between the Chicago Herald-Examiner and the Chicago Tribune newspapers:

The Chicago Herald-Examiner was William Randolph Hearst's Chicago newspaper. Its reporters were among the most aggressive and creative in the city. The paper was founded as the "Chicago Morning American" in 1902, and was renamed the "Chicago Examiner" in 1907. After a merger caused in part by circulation wars with the Tribune Company, the paper was combined with the Chicago Record-Herald and became the "Chicago Herald-Examiner." The paper was never highly profitable, but it vied with the Tribune as leader in the city’s morning circulation. The rivalry with the Tribune became increasingly unsuccessful in the 1930s. After additional mergers, the paper was sold to the Tribune Company in 1956.

After WWI, the Chicago Herald-Examiner was Chicago's only other major daily morning newspaper, second only to McCormick-Patterson's Chicago Tribune. The Tribune Company faced formidable competition from Hearst. In the early 1920s, the Tribune Company owned only three U.S. newspapers. Hearst, on the other hand, spanned the country with an empire consisting of twenty daily papers, eleven Sunday papers and a Sunday supplement. 

The circulation wars between the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Herald-Examiner grew heated and sometimes even violent as gangs hired by each of the circulation departments ambushed their rival's trucks and  pressured news agents into displaying only their own company's newspaper.

There were personal and political dimensions to this rivalry as well. The Chicago Herald-Examiner supported the democrats, the Chicago Tribune had a long history of supporting the Republican Party. Moreover, Hearst, who aspired unsuccessfully to be the mayor of New York City, governor of New York, and the president of the United States had contributed through attacks in his paper, to the demise of Robert McCormick's own political career.

Increasingly outlandish publicity stunts bounced circulation up and down and back and forth between the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Herald-Examiner. One of the most expensive promotions occurred during the 1921 Christmas season.

So, with the background covered, here is the story:

On December 4, 1921, the United States government ordered Chicago area citizens to stop smiling. It said so on the front page of the morning paper.
The saga began in late October of 1921 when the Chicago Herald-Examiner published an article about eccentric millionaire Harry Phillips. He was passing out money to complete strangers, just to see them smile.

The Chicago Herald-Examiner was the Hearst-owned morning daily. The paper was trying to overtake the Chicago Tribune, and the Phillips story was just the sort of stunt that Hearst often used.

Then the Chicago Herald-Examiner reported that Phillips had left town. But never fear—Hearst’s paper would carry on the philanthropy. Each weekday copy of the Chicago Herald-Examiner would now contain a Smile Coupon with a different serial number. On Sunday there would be a raffle, with a $1,000 grandprize. That would keep Chicago smiling!
The drawing took place on November 13. The $1,000 winner was a Sears clerk—and sure enough, she smiled. So the Chicago Herald-Examiner announced it was putting $25,000 into a pot, to be paid out in $1,000 daily raffles.

At first, the Chicago Tribune took no notice of its rival’s stunt. But during the first weeks of the Smile campaign, the Hearst paper’s circulation jumped 25% to 500,000, about the same as the Chicago Tribune. And on Thanksgiving Day, the Chicago Herald-Examiner increased its pot to $100,000, with $3,000 in daily prizes.
So now the Chicago Tribune launched its own giveaway. With Christmas approaching, the paper would start printing Cheer Checks. And the Chicago Tribune‘s program would be bigger and better. The World’s Greatest Newspaper would be distributing $200,000—$5,000 each day.

Now the whole city was caught up in the frenzy. News dealers reported people buying armloads of papers, ripping out the coupons, and tossing the rest into the street. Fights broke out among customers trying to purchase papers. The daily prizes went to $6,000, then $7,000. The special Sunday drawing reached $20,000.
By December 4, the circulation of each paper was over 1,000,000. On that day, both the Chicago Herald-Examiner and the Chicago Tribune received telegrams from the U.S. Postmaster General accusing them of holding lotteries and shut the whole thing down.

From then on, people would have to find their own reasons to smile.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

The First National Bank of Englewood offers a new way to save in 1910.

We’re always being told to save more money. But this time, did a Chicago bank go too far?

The First National Bank of Englewood was located at 347-349 West 63rd Street in Chicago. In 1910 the neighborhood was upper-middle-class, and booming. The bank was doing fine. But like any smart business, officials at First Englewood knew they could do better.
First National Bank of Englewood, 347-349 West 63rd Street, Chicago, Illinois
The bank began publishing a small monthly magazine called Savings. It was distributed free in the community, and had the usual tips on how to save money. All pretty bland and innocent. Then, in the December 1909 issue, readers were treated to the following advice from the fine folks at First Englewood:
“One woman’s method of saving money—or perhaps we should say one of a woman’s methods of saving money—is to go through her husband’s pockets every night while he gently slumbers. All the loose change she finds she deposits in our bank at interest.”
Now a month had passed. During that time, the bank had added 500 new depositors. The head cashier said there was only one way to explain this—the wives of Englewood had been inspired by the article, and were filching coin from their sleeping mates.

Strange as it might seem, some men thought First Englewood’s savings campaign was unethical. The editor of Savings didn’t agree. The bank was merely helping the community become more thrifty. “For the last ten years we have made a close study of the people of Englewood,” he said. “At last we have the combination.”
As for the wives, many said they’d taken advantage of Christmas celebrations to acquire some of hubby’s cash. This had caused some excitement for one lady on Normal Avenue.

“The first time I tried separating my husband from his money, he came to me all out of breath and said that thieves had entered the house,” the woman recalled. “I said nothing until he rushed for the telephone to inform the police. Then I asked him to wait a minute and maybe I might explain.”

With that, the woman fetched her copy of Savings and pointed to the appropriate paragraph. Her husband laughed. All was well again on Normal Avenue.

The First National Bank of Englewood continued building its business in the years ahead, thriving along with the community. During the 1930s the bank became involved in a long dispute with the federal government. It closed in 1941.

by John R. Schmidt

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Chicagoan Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), the "Queen of Gospel" was the most celebrated Gospel singer in the world.

She was born on October 26, 1911, as Mahala Jackson and nicknamed "Halie." Jackson grew up in the Black Pearl section of the Carrollton neighborhood of uptown New Orleans. 

In 1927, at the age of 16, Mahalia Jackson moved to Chicago, Illinois, in the midst of the Great Migration.

In 1929, Jackson met the composer Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the Father of Gospel Music. He gave her musical advice, and in the mid-1930s they began a 14-year association of touring, with Jackson singing Dorsey's songs in church programs and at conventions. His "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" became her signature song.

In 1930 or 1931 she added the "i" to her name, changing it from Mahala to Mahalia, so people would pronounce her name properly.

Jackson liked to practice her singing at night while she cooked and cleaned her flat. The landlord complained about the noise, so Jackson saved her money and bought her own apartment building. That didn’t work, either—now her tenants were saying she was too loud.
"I sing God's music because it makes me feel free," Jackson once said about her choice of gospel, adding, "It gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues."
In 1950, Jackson became the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall when Joe Bostic produced the Negro Gospel and Religious Music Festival. She started touring Europe in 1952 and was hailed by critics as the "world's greatest gospel singer". In Paris she was called the "Angel of Peace," and throughout the continent she sang to capacity audiences. The tour, however, had to be cut short due to exhaustion.
In 1956 Jackson decided the only solution was to buy a house for herself. Driving around the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, she stopped at a number of homes with “For Sale” signs out front. At each one, she was told that the property had just been sold.

Chatham was an all-white area. Though restrictive covenants had been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court, that didn’t seem to matter. “The attention I had been getting from white people for my singing had sort of confused me,” Jackson wrote later. “They still didn’t want me as their neighbor.”

Jackson then went to a real estate agent. A white surgeon had a house on the market at 84th and Indiana. When told the identity of the prospective buyer, the surgeon said he was “proud to sell my house to Mahalia Jackson.”

The news of Jackson’s purchase at 8358 South Indiana Avenue in Chicago (Historical Marker outside the house) sent the neighborhood into a frenzy.
Mahalia Jackson's House at 8358 South Indiana Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
A local Catholic priest who tried to calm things was ignored. Protest meetings were held. Jackson received hostile phone calls at all hours of the night, threatening to dynamite the house.

The situation didn’t improve when she moved in. Rifle bullets were fired through her window. A police guard was posted, and remained in front of the house for nearly a year. “I hadn’t intended to start a crusade,” Jackson recalled. “All I wanted was a quiet, pretty home to live in.”

Early in 1958 Edward R. Murrow brought his Person-to-Person interview program to Jackson’s home. Jackson used the occasion to invite the local kids over for ice cream and cake, and a chance to appear on TV. When many of the children show up, Jackson thought she was finally being accepted.

A cynic once described integration as “the time between the first black family moving in, and the last white family moving out.” Jackson’s neighborhood followed that course. Scared by panic-peddling realtors and afflicted by their own prejudice, all the whites eventually cleared out.

At the March on Washington in 1963, Jackson sang in front of 250,000 people "How I Got Over" and "I Been 'Buked and I Been Scorned." Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech there. She also sang "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at his funeral after he was assassinated in 1968.

“The white people swore we would ruin it,” Jackson wrote about the neighborhood in her 1966 autobiography. “They said it would be a slum overnight. But it hasn’t changed. The grass is still green. The lawns are as neat as ever. Children still whiz up and down on their bikes.” So it was in 1966. And so it still is today.


Mahalia Jackson sings Amazing Grace.

She was described by entertainer Harry Belafonte as "the single most powerful black woman in the United States." She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds"—million-sellers.

She ended her career in 1971 and devoted much of her time and energy to helping others. She established the Mahalia Jackson Scholarship Foundation for young people who wanted to attend college. For her efforts in helping international understanding, she received the Silver Dove Award. Chicago remained her home until the end.

She opened a beauty parlor and a florist shop with her earnings, while also investing in real estate ($100,000 a year at her peak).

Jackson died on January 27, 1972, at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Illinois, of heart failure and diabetes complications.

Two cities paid tribute: Chicago and New Orleans. Beginning in Chicago, outside the Greater Salem Baptist Church, 50,000 people filed silently past her mahogany, glass-topped coffin in final tribute to the queen of gospel song. The next day, as many people who could—6,000 or more—filled every seat and stood along the walls of the city's public concert hall, the Arie Crown Theater of McCormick Place, for a two-hour funeral service. Her pastor, Rev. Leon Jenkins, Mayor Richard J. Daley and Mrs. Coretta Scott King eulogized her during the Chicago funeral as "a friend – proud, black and beautiful". Sammy Davis Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald paid their respects. Joseph H. Jackson, president of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., delivered the eulogy at the Chicago funeral. Aretha Franklin closed the Chicago rites with a moving rendition of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."

Three days later, a thousand miles away, the scene repeated itself: again the long lines, again the silent tribute, again the thousands filling the great hall of the Rivergate Convention Center in downtown New Orleans this time.

Mahalia Jackson was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 1967 in the area of The Performing Arts.

Mahalia Jackson won Grammy Awards in 1961, 1962, 1972 and 1976. Jackson was posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor artists whose recordings are at least twenty-five years old and have "qualitative or historical significance," in 1947, 1956 and 1958. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Biography of Charles Gates Dawes from Evanston, Illinois. He was a Lawyer, Businessman, Banker, Politician, Government Employee, WWI Brigadier General, V.P. of the U.S., and Ambassador to Great Britain.

"Once upon a time, there were two brothers. One of them went to sea. The other became Vice President of the United States. Neither of them was ever heard from again.”

That was an old vaudeville joke, and it always got a laugh. It was true enough. Charles G. Dawes was our 30th (1925-1929) Vice President, and he lived in Illinois. But unless you’re from Evanston, you probably never heard of the guy.


Charles Gates Dawes
Dawes was born in Ohio in 1865, became a lawyer, and practiced in Nebraska for awhile. Dawes' prominent positions in business caught the attention of Republican party leaders. They asked Dawes to manage the Illinois portion of William McKinley's bid for the Presidency of the United State in 1896. Following McKinley's election, Dawes was rewarded for his efforts by being named Comptroller of the Currency, United States Department of the Treasury. Serving in that position from 1898 to 1901, he collected more than $25 million from banks that had failed during the Panic of 1893, and also changed banking practices to try to prevent a similar event in the future.

In October 1901, Dawes left the Department of the Treasury in order to pursue a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. He thought that, with the help of the McKinley Administration, he could win it. McKinley was assassinated and his successor, President Theodore Roosevelt, preferred Dawes's opponent. In 1902, following this unsuccessful attempt at legislative office, Dawes declared that he was done with politics. He organized the Central Trust Company of Illinois, where he served as its president until 1921.

In 1909 he bought this house at 225 Greenwood Street in Evanston, Illinois. The Dawes House was designated a national Historic Landmark in 1976. It is now owned by the Evanston History Center (formerly known as the Evanston Historical Society).
During the First World War, Dawes was commissioned major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel of the 17th Engineers. In October 1918 he was promoted to brigadier general. From August 1917 to August 1919, Dawes served in France during World War I as chairman of the general purchasing board for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), as a member representing the AEF on the Military Board of Allied Supply, and, after the war, as a member of the Liquidation Commission of the United States War Department. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal and the French Croix de Guerre in recognition of his service. He returned to the United States on board the SS Leviathan in August 1919.

In February 1921, the U.S. Senate held hearings on war expenditures. During heated testimony, Dawes burst out, "Hell and Maria, we weren't trying to keep a set of books over there, we were trying to win a war!" He was later known as "Hell and Maria Dawes" (although he always insisted the expression was "Helen Maria")

Dawes resigned from the Army in 1919 and became a member of the American Legion. He supported Frank Lowden at the 1920 Republican National Convention, but the presidential nomination went to Warren G. Harding. When the Bureau of the Budget was created, he was appointed in 1921 by President Harding as its first director. Hoover appointed him to the Allied Reparations Commission in 1923.

After the war, Dawes went to work in the Harding Administration. He was Budget Director, and was later put in charge of German reparations payments. Because they had lost the war, Germany had to pay billions of dollars to the victorious allies.

For his work on the Dawes Plan[1], a program to enable Germany to restore and stabilize its economy, Dawes shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. The negotiations on reparations broke down. Dawes's plan was replaced with the Young Plan, which reduced the total amount of reparations and called for the removal of occupying forces.

By 1924 Calvin Coolidge was President and running for re-election. He wanted a running mate from the pivotal swing-state of Illinois. The Republican Convention gave the spot to ex-Governor Frank Lowden. He turned it down. Then Dawes got the nod. He delivered his acceptance speech from the porch of the house in Evanston, Illinois.

The Coolidge-Dawes ticket won a landslide victory.
TIME Magazine Cover: Charles G. Dawes - June 11, 1928
After that, the two men didn’t get along. It didn’t help matters when the Vice President missed a crucial tie-breaking vote, and one of the President’s cabinet nominees was rejected. Dawes was back at his hotel at the time, taking a nap.

Dawes was never seriously considered as a presidential candidate. He was later Ambassador to Great Britain, then returned to banking. 

He died in 1951 and is buried in Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Chicago.

Dawes stipulated in his will that the house become a historical museum. It has been the home of the Evanston History Center since 1960, and it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


[1] The Dawes Plan, an arrangement for Germany’s payment of reparations after WWI. On the initiative of the British and U.S. governments, a committee of experts, presided over by an American financier, Charles G. Dawes, produced a report on the question of German reparations for presumed liability for World War I. The report was accepted by the Allies and by Germany on Aug. 16, 1924. No attempt was made to determine the total amount of reparations to be paid, but payments were to begin at 1,000,000,000 gold marks in the first year and rise to 2,500,000,000 by 1928. The plan provided for the reorganization of the Reichsbank and for an initial loan of 800,000,000 marks to Germany. The Dawes Plan seemed to work so well that by 1929 it was believed that the stringent controls over Germany could be removed and total reparations fixed. This was done by the Young Plan. 


Tobacco aficionados might be interested to learn that Dawes designed and popularized the Dawes Pipe.

Chicago Tribune Publisher Joseph Medill’s Last Words.

Joseph Medill served as editor-in-chief for the Chicago Tribune for forty-four years.

Joseph Medill
In 1864, Joseph Medill left the Tribune editorship for political activity, which occupied him for the next ten years. He was appointed by President Grant to the first Civil Service Commission. In 1870, he was elected as a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional convention. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Medill was elected mayor of Chicago as candidate of the temporary "Fireproof Reform Party[1]," serving for two years until 1873. As mayor, Medill gained more power for the mayor's office, he created Chicago's first public library, enforced blue laws, and reformed the police and fire departments.

On March 16, 1899 Medill knew he was dying. The custom of his day was to take down the last words of prominent people. (When Groucho Marx was dying, he let out one last quip: “This is no way to live!”) That explains Medill’s actions on this day.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Medill called his attending physician over to his bedside. Then he told the doctor: “My last words shall be–‘What is the news?'” After that, Medill spoke no more. Within ten minutes he was dead.

Medill's last words was printed in the Saturday March 25, 1899 Chicago Tribune. In fact, the entire page 13 was titled "Joseph Medill. Opinions of the Press Concerning Him."

Now that’s what you call dedication to your craft. As Medill was approaching his death, he’s thinking about what will be catchy in the next day’s paper. Notice that he announces “My last words shall be...” Old Joe wanted to make sure the doctor knew what was coming after that, and would remember the words, and would pass them on. He remained a newsman until the very end.

Today you’ll find Joseph Medill’s last words quoted in numerous places. Just like he wanted them to be. Medill is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

[1] The disaster of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and the fact that it was widely blamed on the cheap wooden buildings that enabled working-class families to afford homeownership in large numbers, prompted the organization of a Fireproof Reform Party led by Joseph Medill, the Republican editor of the Chicago Tribune. Medill and his party were dedicated to the passage of a fire limit ordinance that would ban wood construction in Chicago. This effort failed, but the reformers were defeated in 1873 because of another disastrous policy: they renewed the temperance effort by enforcing Sunday closing of taverns. A pro-liquor People's Party, led by the North Side German Republican Anton Hesing (publisher of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung ), won control of the city council and elected Harvey Colvin as mayor.

The Life and Times of Chicagoan Billy Caldwell.

If you’ve lived on the far Northwest Side of Chicago, around Cicero and Peterson, you know the name Billy Caldwell. There’s Billy Caldwell Woods, Billy Caldwell Reserve (see map below), Billy Caldwell Golf Course, Billy Caldwell Post of the American Legion. And of course, Caldwell Avenue.
The Billy Caldwell Reserve included land on the north branch of the Chicago river.
The Chicago neighborhood called "Sauganash," in the Forest Glen community, was named for Billy Caldwell’s Potawatomi name.

Billy Caldwell is a figure of legend, but was a real person. Untangling his story has kept historians busy for nearly two hundred years.

William Caldwell Jr. was born near Fort Niagara, in upper New York, on March 17, 1780. He was the natural son of a British army officer and a Mohawk princess (woman of high order in a tribe). There’s some evidence that Billy’s first name was actually Thomas.

The boy didn’t have much standing in the society of his time—he was both a bastard and a “half breed.”  Billy was raised by the Mohawks, then spent some time in his father’s household. At 17 he moved out on his own.

Caldwell apprenticed himself into the fur trade. By 1803 he was chief clerk in the Forsythe-Kinzie firm’s new post at the mouth of the Chicagou River. About this time he married into the Pottawattamie tribe. His in-laws called him “Sauganash,” which translates as “Englishmen.”

In 1812 the Pottawattamie attacked the American garrison at Fort Dearborn. The story goes that Caldwell arrived on the scene just after the battle and saved the lives of the John Kinzie family. That’s the traditional account of what had happened. Historians have been unable to verify it.

Caldwell fought on the British side in the War of 1812. Afterward he lived in Canada. When several business ventures failed, he moved back to Chicago.

In Chicago, Caldwell worked in the Indian trade, as a merchant, and as an appraiser. He made friends among the settlement’s leaders. Because of his tribal connections and his fluency in several languages, he smoothed relations between the Americans and the native peoples.

In 1828 the U.S. government recognized Caldwell’s work by building Chicago’s first frame house for him, it was near what is now Chicago Avenue and State Street. The next year he was appointed chief of the Pottawattamie. The Pottawattamie knew that the Americans were going to force them out of the area. They wanted to get the best deal possible. Even though Chief Caldwell was Mohawk—and only on his mother’s side—they thought he could help them in treaty negotiations. So they accepted him as chief.

In 1830 the Pottawattamie started signing off their land. Chief Caldwell became a hero among the American settlers. Chicago’s first hotel was named the "Sauganash" in his honor. The U.S. government awarded him a 1600-acre tract of land northwest of the city, known as the Billy Caldwell Reserve. He lived there with his Pottawattamie band for three years.

By the 1833 Treaty of Chicago, the Pottawattamie gave up the last of their land. At 51, Chief Caldwell was an old man for the time. Now that the native peoples were leaving, there was no need for his unique services, and no reason for him to stay in Chicago. He sold his reserve and left with his adopted tribe.
He’d lived a life on the margins, bouncing around among at least three different worlds, never fully part of any of them. 

Billy brought the Pottawattamie to Iowa, settled along the Missouri River, and he lived in what became Council Bluffs, Iowa where he spent his final years. He died there on September 27, 1841 and is burried in the Saint Joseph Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Chicagoan Frank Billings, a giant of American medicine and Dean of Rush Medical College was a body-snatcher.

Frank Billings, born in Wisconsin on April 2,1854, was one of the giants of American medicine. In 1881, he received his medical degree from Northwestern University. He continued his medical studies in Vienna, Paris, and London, 1885-1886, before returning to Chicago. Billings was an attending physician at Mercy Hospital, 1890-1898; St. Luke’s Hospital, 1890-1906; Cook County Hospital, 1890-1901;  and Presbyterian Hospital, 1898-1920. He served as Dean of Rush Medical College, 1900-1920. He introduced residents and the clerkship system to Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Frank Billings, circa 1905
Billings served as president of the Chicago Medical Society, 1891; the American Medical Association, 1902-1903; the Association of American Physicians, 1906; the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, 1907; and the Institute of Medicine, 1922. He was an advocate for better medical care and a dedicated educator. He was instrumental in securing funds for fellowships and the construction of many buildings, including the Rawson Laboratory of Medicine and Surgery on the Rush Medical College campus and the Albert Merritt Billings Hospital at the University of Chicago. Billings’s contributions to medical literature include writings on topics such as anemia, pneumococcic infections, and heart disease.


A portrait of Dr. Frank Billings, dean of faculty at Rush Medical College, and Dr. Wilbur Post, physician and professor of Medicine at Rush Medical College, wearing scholarly robes, standing in front of a building in Chicago, Illinois. 1927
He was the longtime dean of Rush Medical College during its affiliation with the University of Chicago. (Contrary to common belief, the university’s Billings Hospital is named for A.M. Billings, no relation).

Billings knew all of Chicago’s prominent families. One of his acquaintances was young Ernest Poole, later a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist. Poole delighted in re-telling a story of Dr. Frank’s medical school days.

The laws of the time made it difficult to get cadavers for classroom instruction. Medical students sometimes solved the problem by digging up fresh corpses from the county Potter’s Field. One night Billings and two Northwestern classmates set out in a wagon to retrieve the mortal remains of a murderer who’d recently been hanged. On the way they came upon a brightly-lit tavern.

Parked outside the tavern was a wagon belonging to Rush Medical College. A figure wrapped in blankets was propped up in the driver’s seat. The Rush students had gotten to the murderers cadaver first. Now they were inside the tavern celebrating.

Billings and his two friends transferred the body to their own wagon. Just then the tavern door opened.  Telling his colleagues to get away, Billings quickly wrapped himself in the blankets. He climbed into the Rush wagon and assumed the dead man’s place.

One by one, the Rush students staggered out of the tavern. The first man got into the wagon and checked the corpse. “Hey fellas,” he shouted, “this stiff don’t feel as cold as he ought to be!”

“And neither would you be, if you were burning in hell like I am!” Billings announced in a spooky voice.

The terrified Rush student tumbled out of the wagon. With that, Billings grabbed the reins and drove off in the Rush wagon, laughing all the way.

Billings died of a gastric hemorrhage on September 20, 1932. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The "Father Time" Clock at the Jewelers Building, 35 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois.

The "Father Time" Clock at 35 East Wacker Drive in Chicago is located at the Jeweler's Building which faces the Chicago River.
If you visit the northeast corner of the building, the clock at first glance looks like the Marshall Field's clocks. That is, until you notice the creepy guy who looks like death. He is really supposed to be Father Time.
At night the clock is outlined in dark red lights which makes it look even creepier.

The clock was a gift from the Elgin Watch Company. Father Time was their logo. They had an office in the building.

ABOUT THE JEWELERS BUILDING
Aside from the fact that it's a beautiful building with a fancy dome on top of it, it has a very cool history. Construction started in 1925 and was completed in 1927.
Formerly the Pure Oil Building and North American Life Insurance Building, 35 East Wacker was listed in 1978 as a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, and was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 9, 1994.
The best part of this 40 story building is the dome at the top. Right now it's a private conference room and showroom for architect Helmut Jahn (he designed that awesome terminal at O'Hare with the moving lights sculpture in the moving sidewalk corridor). It used to be a restaurant (speakeasy) called the Stratosphere Lounge access to the 40th-floor cupola was by an ornate birdcage elevator. Al Capone was a regular and, it was rumored, the owner. 
Since this was originally a jewelers building, it had many different security features. One of them was a really extreme version of a parking garage. Since jewelers would carry their merchandise around with them, they were often in danger of being mugged. So, to make sure no one was attacked on the walk between the car and the office, jeweler's just drove their car straight into the building! For its first 14 years, the building had a car lift that served the first 23 floors and facilitated safe transfers for jewelry merchants. The car elevator would bring you to the floor you worked on and then drop your car off on one of the parking levels.

Movies love this building. It's the Gotham City Courthouse in "Batman Begins," and in one scene Batman sits on one of the turrets. In the movie "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" there's a giant robot battle on top of the building.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Berry’s Candy Factory in a former church at State and Adams Streets, Chicago.

Berry’s Candy Factory and shop, during a strike, in a former church at State and Adams Streets, Chicago, (1903). The painted advertising on the front of the church building reads: "How Good, Berry's Candies."

Founder John Berry had three candy shop locations. His slogan: “Berry’s Candy Must be Good - Made in a Church.” A second store was at Washington and Sangamon Streets. the third location is unknown.

The State Street location was so popular, they once served over 11,000 customers (from their 3 stores) in a single day. The church building was razed shortly after this photo was shot. 


Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

A WWI Army Recruiting Station Set Up in Grant Park, Chicago. June 19,1916

Men are lined up outside an Army recruiting station set up in Grant Park, Chicago. June 19, 1916

An Army recruiting station set up in Grant Park in the Loop community area of Chicago. June 19, 1916

Never Built Adler and Sullivan Architectural Drawing for South Michigan Blvd., Chicago. 1894

An 1894 Adler and Sullivan architectural drawing for an apartment building at 1008 South Michigan Boulevard, Chicago. It was never built.
Preliminary sketch.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Anna Carlo-Blasi, “Queen of Little Italy," campaigned for better sanitation to fight cholera.

Informal full-length portrait of Annie Carlo-Blasi standing on a sidewalk facing census taker Philip D'Andrea, who is holding papers, with a man and several small children standing in a grocery store entrance and women standing on the sidewalk behind Blasi in Chicago, Illinois. Carlo-Blasi's nickname: Queen of Little Italy. 1914
Anna Carlo-Blasi, “Queen of Little Italy," born Luiga Anna Chiarello, who migrated to Chicago in 1887. Carlo-Blasi, a popular midwife, used her political connections to campaign for better sanitation in an attempt to fight the cholera that was killing many of the newborns she delivered. When she died of a ruptured gall bladder on January 19, 1920, her funeral was one of the largest the city had known at that time.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The History of the Lakeside Club at 3138-3140 South Indiana Avenue, Chicago.

THE LAKESIDE CLUB
The Lakeside Club was organized in 1884 as a Jewish social club for young men living south of Twenty-Second Street. The club initially occupied a pair of houses at the corner of Wabash Avenue and Thirtieth Street, but as membership grew, the necessity of a larger facility became apparent.
Architect L. B. Dixon was commissioned to design a building to cost $40,000 and a double lot was secured on the 3100 block of South Indiana Avenue.

The club officially opened on December 31, 1887 with an elaborate New Year’s Eve banquet and ball. The Chicago Tribune covered the festivities:
“The Lakeside Club opened its new club-building last night with much pomp and festivity. There was a grand banquet, a little speech-making, a full dress ball, a splendid orchestra, an abundance of pretty girls, plenty of wine, plenty of flowers, and everything else that man or woman could desire for a New-Year’s Eve jollification.”
The journalist covering the event apparently felt compelled to explain why a Jewish club would choose to hold their opening activities on a Saturday. He went on to note:
“A Hebrew club that has a ball and banquet Saturday evening may be presumed to not be particularly observant of the Jewish Sabbath. The fact is, 99 percent of the members of the Hebrew clubs do not belong to the orthodox Jewish synagogues. The great bulk of them belong to independent Hebrew congregations – congregations that worship Sunday and observe Sunday in a general way as the Sabbath, and that have thrown aside all the old trammels of Jewish ceremonialism and identified themselves with methods and forms in keeping with modern times and customs.”
The building was constructed of pressed brick with brownstone and terra cotta trim, set above a basement faced in rusticated stone. The Tribune article described the interior:
“The finish, furnishings, and decorations are exceedingly pretentious. The interior work is mostly in antique oak. The large front room to the left is the ladies’ parlor, furnished with modern French art furniture and a grand piano. The front room on the right is the library and reading-room. Between these rooms and the dancing-hall in the rear are the reception and cloak rooms. The portiere at the end opens into the assembly-hall, with a dancing floor 47’ x 94’. The hall has a series of high arched trestles of antique oak pattern.
The general design is Gothic; and, with the clusters of gasoliers and hundreds of lights, the place is strikingly brilliant. The basement comprises the billiard-room, with three tables, a bowling alley, a small dining-room, barroom, kitchen, carving room, and the main dining-room. The second floor has half a dozen or so card and recreation rooms. The third floor is used for storerooms and servants’ quarters.”
The clubhouse was the scene of many prominent social events in the Jewish community, including the 50th anniversary of the Kehilath Anshe Ma’ariv (KAM) congregation in 1897. Their iconic synagogue building, designed by Adler and Sullivan, stood just 1-1/2 blocks to the south.

UNITY HALL
The building is best known for its second owner/occupant, the Peoples Movement Club, founded in 1917 by Oscar Stanton De Priest.
De Priest was the first African-American to be elected to the Chicago City Council, serving as alderman of the 2nd Ward from 1915 to 1917. The Peoples Movement Club was organized to give voice to the African-American community politically, and it became one of the best organized political groups in Chicago’s Black Metropolis neighborhood.

In 1928, when Republican congressman Martin B. Madden died, Mayor Thompson chose De Priest to replace him on the ballot, and he went on to serve three consecutive terms in the U.S. Congress representing the 1st Congressional District covering the Loop and part of the South Side. De Priest was the first African-American elected to Congress from a northern state, and the first in the 20th century.

After the Peoples Movement Club left the building, it became the political headquarters for William L. Dawson. Dawson, like De Priest, served as alderman of the 2nd Ward, and then served in the U.S. House for 27 years until his death in 1970. From the mid-1950s onward, the building was occupied by various churches, and it slowly deteriorated from deferred maintenance.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, and was designated a Chicago landmark on September 9, 1998, one of nine buildings included in the Black Metropolis-Bronzeville Historic District.

RECENT HISTORY
By 2012, the building was sitting vacant and for sale, the upper windows boarded up, and scaffolding erected across the façade.
Although protected from demolition as a city landmark, there was widespread concern that the deferred maintenance and exposure to the elements could cause its demolition by neglect.

The small congregation that owned the building had moved out due to building code violations and could not afford the repairs needed. That year, Preservation Chicago listed the building as one of their “7 Most Threatened Buildings” in the city.

Recently, an extensive restoration has returned the exterior of the building to its original 1880s appearance. The interior has been dramatically transformed into modern student housing, a successful example of historic preservation and adaptive reuse.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Kalo Shop was the "leading maker" of the Arts and Crafts silver movement in Chicago.

In many respects the Kalo Shop was the single most important American handwrought silversmith. The Kalo Shop produced the widest range of classic handmade holloware, jewelry, and flatware for nearly 70 years, and was a critical influence in the Arts & Crafts movement.

The Kalo shop and affiliated Kalo Arts and Crafts Community House, a training school and workshop noted for silver and jewelery in nearby Park Ridge, Illinois, were founded in 1900 by a group of six young women who had trained at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Thirty-two year old Clara Pauline Barck (1868-1965) was the group's leader and most notable member. The other founders were: Bertha Hall, Rose Dolese, Grace Gerow, Ruth Raymond, and Bessie McNeal.

The Kalo company name was taken from a Greek word meaning "to make beautiful."

In addition to pyrography (the art or technique of decorating wood or leather by burning a design on the surface) and leatherwork, Barck initially sold textiles, copper items, baskets, and jewelry. In 1905, Barck married George Welles, a coal merchant and amateur silversmith.


In 1907 she bought a house to serve as the workshop for the Kalo Arts Crafts Community in Park Ridge.
The Kalo Shop metalsmiths, jewelers, designers and crafts workers seated in front of the Kalo Arts Crafts at 255 North NW Highway in Park Ridge, Illinois. circa 1910
When Clara and George divorced in 1914 and the Shop moved to Chicago at 222 South Michigan Avenue, George convinced her to focus exclusively on the handwrought copper and silver items for which it is best known. In 1912 Kalo opened a branch store in New York that lasted only until 1916 because of war constraints.
Kalo Shop, 152 East Ontario Street, Chicago. circa 1924
In 1959, Barck transferred the shop to four of the craftsmen; Robert Bower, Daniel Pederson, Arne Myhre, and Yngve Olsson. Barck hired women designers almost exclusively, although the immigrant Scandinavian craftsmen were male. At its peak, Kalo employed 25 silversmiths.

After Barck retired, the Shop continued making copies of the early pieces, adding a few modernist items and some in the Danish taste.  Many of its forms are classics, and very collectible, reflecting Welles' motto:  "Beautiful, Useful, Enduring." Kalo closed in 1970 due to the difficulty of finding young people willing to apprentice as silversmiths.

In the summer 1992 issue of American Silversmith, Bower, the last, surviving Kalo silversmith, explained to an interviewer that, "We ran out of silversmiths. In the last year we lost our three top silversmiths; men who could not be replaced. It was difficult trying to find men willing to learn silversmithing and it took years to train them."

Today, Kalo pieces bring high prices at auction and belong to the collections of major museums.
Large early Kalo coffee urn from the shop's Park Ridge studio.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Frederick W. Job, Attorney and Secretary of the Chicago Employer's Association.

The Frederick W. Job (pronounced Joe-b) residence at 4575 South Oakenwald Avenue, Chicago was built in 1897 by Pond & Pond Architects. Mr. Job was an Attorney and Secretary of the Chicago Employer's Association and the Chairman of Arbitration for the State of Illinois. His office was in the Marquette Building at 56 West Adams Street, Chicago.
Frederick W. Job residence at 4575 South Oakenwald Avenue, Chicago 

From the July-December 1902 book; "The World To-Day" a monthly record of human progress.


Frederick W. Job
A splendid success was achieved during the first week in June for the policy of conciliation by the settlement of two dangerous strikes in Chicago. Teamsters employed by the large packers to deliver meats to local markets struck for an increase in wages and other substantial benefits. Efforts on the part of the packers to supply the city with meat by sending out their wagons in long caravans furnished with a strong police guard led to terrible street riots, extending for miles through the heart of the city and resulting in the killing of a few persons and the serious injury of many. In the meantime members of the arbitration committee of the National Civic Federation and Mr. Frederick W. Job, chairman of the Illinois Board of Arbitration, used their best endeavors to secure a peaceful settlement of the bloody war. Mr. Job, by patient endeavor, first succeeded in bringing together representatives of the department store managers of the city and of the drivers of their delivery wagons, who had struck in a body because two of their number had been discharged for refusing to haul meats from the packing houses during the teamsters' strike.

This meeting led to an agreement between drivers and employers, arrived at by mutual concessions, and the drivers returned to work. Mr. Job then turned his attention to the greater strike of the stockyards teamsters. After a long day of rioting and bloodshed in the principal streets of the city, a night of negotiation, made possible by the tact and address of the chairman of the arbitration board, who had brought together representatives of the packers and of the Teamsters' union, resulted in a harmonious settlement of the strike. The intense relief of the community, which for some days had been on the verge of a meat famine and which had seen the streets turned into battlefields, expressed itself in enthusiastic praise of the policy of conciliation invoked with such skill by Chairman Job. Seldom has a more impressive lesson Teamsters’ Strike in Chicago been given of the superiority of reason over sullen non-intercourse on one side and brute violence on the other.


Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.