The picture above was slightly retouched to make it more memorable as a “top of the blog” SPLASH image. There will be more from that venue loater in this post.
Host and friend Peter Pero drove seemingly casually in traffic that seemed to get more frantic as we headed to our next destination. Jane Addams, founder of Hull-House and tireless author of many books about women’s rights and better labor laws, had known Vachel Lindsay as he became a major poet in the nation and a major presence whenever he visited Chicago. I wanted to walk where he had walked and see what he had known so well.
Peter parked the car in a lot directly across from the House, and it cost us 75 cents for 30 minutes. Paying for parking in Chicago is not like smaller cities like Springfield, and alone, I would likely never have figured it out. It is a better deal, if you can find a curbside parking meter, but chances are you will have to hike a while to get where you want to go. Chicago has eliminated free parking on Sunday. If they could find a way to meter oxygen, they’d likely charge for that as well, and that’s okay. The visit was worth the quarters.
We then drove to a former previously predominantly Jewish mercantile part of the city where there is very little left of the old feel that visitors into the 60s would have breathed in as they strolled the sidewalks. A meal at the place pictured below was a MUST. I could smell the perfume of grilled onions half a block away.
Peter almost inhaled his late lunch, but that was fine. He and other long-time denizens are corpuscles in motion in the life flow of the city. He’s used to eating fast. And he has better teeth than I. After I finished about half of mine, I wrapped the rest to eat later. We continued walking through the neighborhood.
The goal of our shoe leather sortie had been a bookstore Pete remembered on East 57th Street where he had arranged some months ago with the owners to sell historic pictures of the area as part of a fund-raising effort for one of his many passions: the history of the local architecture and labor movement. The bookstore sought was still where he remembered it, but it has new owners, a new name and a new inventory, though the historic pictures are still offered for sale there. Powell’s Bookstores – www.powellschicago.com — sells closeout books and LOTS of them. The place still had that “new bookstore smell,” and everything was bright, clean and meticulously arranged. I took no pictures. I looked for aviation history, found none;, poetry, found none but almost bought the collected poems of W.H. Auden. Then I found a book that has haunted me, in a small way, since I purchased it; Poet Charles Bukowski’s first novel Post Office. It was paperback, published in England by Virgin Books — www.virginbooks.com — and cost me $4.95, a steal of a deal. More about this book will be shared in a future Honey & Quinine. We departed the fine store to return to the car.
Coming in Part 5 of Visit to a Toddlin’ Town, my visit to the point of it all, the College of Complexes, a group of good people who like to think, to engage their fertile minds in the great machinations of our times, politics, social issues, and on one special night, the jabbering of a poet from Springfield, Illinois with a guitar, a penny whistle, some books and a story to tell. Stay tuned.
Live long . . . . . . . . . . and proper.