THIS CRAZY DAY IN 1971

Weekly Compilation - October 8-10, 1971

Greetings dear readers, you’re correct, this is not a new chapter of Steve’s story. Remember I said I would post two daily items on Twitter and Facebook—THIS CRAZY DAY IN 1972, and MIKE ROYKO 50 YEARS AGO TODAY. Many of you, it turns out, are not so crazy about social media. I hear you. So every week, I will compile these items into one post, and they will end up in your email box, to do with as you wish. If you read, I hope you’ll enjoy.

Let’s dive into 1972. Well, it’s actually 1971 until we reach Jan. 1. For this post, we begin on the date of this site’s Grand Opening, October 8. These are probably longer than future posts will end up being, on average. Maybe I’m trying to impress you all.

October 8, 1971

Chicago Sun-Times: Old Stock Exchange building dies on a historic day

“Today, the 8th of October, marks the centennial observation of the Great Chicago Fire of 1872. It also marks the death knell for the old Chicago Stock Exchange,” wrote Sun-Times architecture critic Rob Cuscaden.

The fire destroyed hundreds of buildings but gave birth to a new Chicago architecture, wrote Cuscaden. “Ironically, then, on this date, the wrecker’s ball moves in to destroy…one of the most magnificent of all those…structures, Adler & Sullivan’s Old Chicago Stock Exchange.”

The destruction of the Stock Exchange would go on well into 1972, and Steve and his family would read about it in the paper—the Daily News, since that’s the paper they got. For the few who aren’t aware, the Stock Exchange’s trading floor was reconstructed inside the Art Institute of Chicago. Its entry arch stands outside the Art Institute on the corner of Monroe and Columbus Drive.

Bonus thread: I was downtown later that day and naturally stopped to take pictures of the arch on the 50th anniversary, if not of its actual first day of demolition, then the 50th anniversary of Rob Cuscaden’s article about it.

I love that the Stock Exchange arch is outside where we can all see it easily. But I worry about it too, standing there all by itself, all night, all winter. Sometimes, it looks lonely.

As I posted the pictures on Twitter, I couldn’t help but think what better pictures of the arch must be on Lynn Becker’s marvelous architecture blog. I couldn’t research the whole thing but here is a great Lynn Becker retrospective on Louis Sullivan.

Re the arch, Lynn says: “The great entrance arch was also saved and erected within a charming park at Monroe and Columbus, where you could actually walk through it until 2009, when with the construction of Renzo Piano’s Modern Wing, the Stock Exchange arch was left like a garden gnome, stranded and inaccessible in the middle of a ditch-like flowerbed.”

Well said. I obviously could not describe it that well either. Thank you, Lynn Becker, for the fantastic civic treasure that is your blog.

October 9, 1971

Chicago Sun-Times: 1,500 AT CITY’S FIRE CENTENNIAL DINNER

Exactly 100 years after the Great Chicago Fire, the city’s 1971 glitterati including Mayor Richard J. Daley gathered to celebrate in the Conrad Hilton ballroom, decorated on the level of prom in the high school gym.

One long wall was covered with a dark curtain hung with big block white letters proclaiming “1871 Centennial of the Chicago Fire 1971” and “OUT OF THE FLAMES, CAME A GREAT CITY.” I’d love to include the picture but that might be copyright infringement. Oh, the clothes.

Veteran Chicago journalist Michael Miner, then a young eager Sun-Times reporter who had literally just gotten to town one year earlier, was apparently unimpressed with the entertainment. His lede: “Chicago celebrated its greatest catastrophe Friday night with a dinner and an incendiary motif prevailed in everything but the speeches.” Ouch!

The unfiery speeches included Mayor Daley, meriting only a one-sentence quote no doubt mumbled: "Today's magnificent city" is a "testament to the indomitable spirit of courage and determination that is symbolized in the words 'I will' and the phrase 'Make no little plans.'"

Before Daley came “an antiphonal historical voyage to the holocaust and its resurgent aftermath” by Field Enterprises vice president and editorial director Emmett Dedmon and Herman Kogan, editor of the Sun-Times Showcase section (father of @rickkogan). Field Ent. owned the S-T.

Two mysteries here.

Mystery One: Why did young eager reporter Michael Miner think it wise to--well, maybe not insult but certainly not praise—a presentation by his company’s vice president and his much senior and respected colleague Herman Kogan? Young Michael Miner who had JUST gotten to town?

Mystery Two: Young reporter Michael Miner used the term “antiphonal” in a cursory daily news story! I don’t mind admitting I looked it up. How does a newspaper outside The New York Times in any year let the word “antiphonal” into a basic news story?

I had to find out, so I called Mike up.

“I do remember it!” Mike exclaimed. “Daley coming in, the mayor, the first Daley—sort of sweeping in with his entourage and what a big deal it was. I was still pretty new to the city. I came in June of 1970. This was my first whiff of what an aura and authority the man had. And how deferential everyone else seemed to feel in his presence. This was pretty late in the game for him. He had just been re-elected earlier that year, and it was still every bit his city.”

Answer, Mystery One: Why did you call your boss and Herman Kogan boring? “Well, I guess you could read that into it,” said Mike. “I have no memory of that. But of course, that presupposes it was boring.” What else could it mean, to say everything was incendiary except the speeches? Mike politely declined to comment further.

Answer, Mystery Two: How and why did you use the word “antiphonal”? “I don’t know,” said Mike, audibly shaking his head. “I don’t even know how to pronounce it. I was full of pretensions back then. I thought a good six dollar word like that would impress people.”

Mike thought further and asked, “Was that the next day’s story?” Yes—the event took place Friday night, for the Saturday morning paper. “Which means that the whole thing was written in a hurry,” he explained.

“If I had time to think about it, ‘antiphonal' wouldn’t have made the cut," he said. But a copy editor left it in, I pointed out. “I was the late man, I worked until four AM. Maybe I had a chance after everyone went home to put that word back in after it was taken out by some sensible pro.”

Bonus: Besides reading Mike Miner’s terrific oeuvre online at the Chicago Reader, you can also read fellow venerable Reader staffer Steve Bogira’s spiffy short profile on Mike from the 10/13/2011 Reader here.

Take-away Steve Bogira quote I much admire, so incise and spot on: “He has the wit and skill of the fabled Mike Royko, but is more cerebral. He does lack Royko’s switchblade: he’s willing to offend, but his hating instinct is underdeveloped.”

October 9-10, 1971

Chicago Daily News weekend edition: Margo: Rent-a-nude shop clicks

Unfortunately, the quality of the microfilm for this date was so poor, I can’t post a decent picture of Margo’s column heading. Hopefully I will be able to rectify this in the future.

Margo was a regular Daily News columnist whose work ran farther inside the paper, across from “Bee Line, Fastest line in town.” More on Bee Line in days to come.

Margo was a cool, sassy young chick who wrote about cool, sassy young stuff. All the teenage girls Steve knew loved Margo, especially Debbie, the eighth grade “lunch girl” who monitored Steve’s fifth grade classroom during lunch period in 1971-72 at St. Anthony of Padua school, 11533 S. Prairie.

Debbie’s love of Margo will figure heavily in Chapter 8: Paul Siciliano. Debbie thought Margo’s column picture looked a lot like Gloria Steinem.

This day, Margo wrote about Weird Harold’s dirty bookstore. Harold had decided to get into nude photography and "made space available in the back room of his place of business so that art lovers and camera buffs, alike, can now take their own nude pictures. With live models.”

It’s interesting that Margo never gave the name or address of Weird Harold’s dirty bookstore. She didn’t even mention a general area of the city where a reader might look for Weird Harold.

When Steve told his best friend Paul Siciliano about Margo’s column, Paul rushed right over to see it. And it drove him crazy that there was no hint of where to find Weird Harold. As you can imagine, Steve’s seven older brothers felt exactly the same way.

But as it turns out the answer is 541 S. Wabash. By 2007, when Weird Harold died, he rated an obituary in the Tribune. The bookstore had closed in 1975, per the obituary by Trevor Jensen,“after city inspectors found numerous code violations in the building that housed his store.”

Now, what about Margo? Steve would have been shocked to learn that Margo was the only daughter of advice columnist Ann Landers. Mind, Steve didn’t read Ann Landers because Ann Landers ran in the Sun-Times, and Steve’s family read the Daily News. (Ann Landers moved to the Trib in 1987.) But still, Steve would have been shocked, because Margo was so cool, young and sassy, none of her young readers imagined she had any mother at all.

Margo resisted following in her mother’s footsteps, according to Rick Kogan’s April 1, 2001 article “Women of Letters” about Margo and her cousin, daughter and successor of Dear Abby, Jeanne Phillips: “Wanting a different kind of life, she stumbled into a literary career that has been summarized by Jim Hoge, the former Chicago Sun-Times publisher who has known Howard for more than 30 years: ‘Writing is something Margo does when she's not married.’”

But years later, Margo (@Margoandhow) wrote the Dear Prudence column for Slate for eight years, according to her Wikipedia page.

Margo was sorely missed when she left the pages of the Chicago Daily News.

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