Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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The First Labor Day Parade

THE FIRST LABOR DAY PARADE New York, NY—The huge procession began with 400 members of Bricklayers Union No. 6, all dressed in white aprons. They were followed by a band and then the members of the Manufacturing Jewelers union. The jewelers marched four abreast, wearing derby hats and dark suits with buttonhole bouquets. They all carried canes resting on their shoulders (similar to the way infantry officers carry swords when on parade.) As the day went on, the parade included contingents from the Manufacturing Shoemakers Union No. 1 (wearing blue badges), and an especially well-received...

Electric Boots

Saw Rocketman on opening day May 31st. It was touching, but maybe because we are old and listened to Elton John from the beginning. Jan, pregnant with our daughter, Rebecca, and I were at Elton’s concert at Chicago Stadium in late 1974. In the movie, Elton describes this time as the worst of his addictions and despair.  Because we knew a roadie, we sat behind the stage and were backstage when it ended. While the audience was yelling for more, Elton ran past us and jumped into an idling limo....

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

On the first of January we began a drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico, our home, to DesPlaines, Illinois. The purpose was to deliver a car to our daughter, Rebecca. With two kids now in school and son-in-law, David, Barbara’s Chief Operating Officer, dealing with all of our stores, they needed a second vehicle and we found a great cheap one being abandoned by an old (I mean old) friend. It was a surprise for our kids. On the way, Jan and I stopped in Dodge City, Kansas, visited the State capital in Topeka,...

The Distant Rumblings of the Sexual Revolution

As the years went by, Barbara's became well known in Chicago and beyond. That led us down many interesting and, often, peculiar roads.One day in February 1971 I got a call from someone at Kingston Mines. Kingston was one of the small playhouses that had sprung up on the near north side of Chicago sometime in 1968. The 300 seat theater was housed in a converted trolley barn at 2356 North Lincoln. The front of the theater had a small cafe and I was asked if we could set up a display of books...

Give the Lady What She Wants

I grew up in the 40s war years at the Jane Addams Homes public project on the near west side of Chicago. Four nearby places dominate my memory - Hull House, Maxwell Street Market, the Maxwell Street Market12th Street Store, and Marshall Field's on State Street. The first was where I learned to play the violin, the next was where I became dizzy with the smells of simmering Polish sausages most Sundays, and the last two were where my mother would shop while I came down with shopper's legs fatigue.  As a kid, the redeeming feature of Field’s was...

Barbara’s C2

The original Barbara's at 1434 Wells Street in Old Town was in an ancient three-story with two apartments above the store. When I came to Barbara's in the late 60s, we expanded to the second floor, built a steep and precarious staircase in the middle of the store to get to it, and used the new space for a little more book store and an office.  Our daughter Rebecca was born in 1975.  She lay in a crib in a side room of the upstairs office while her mother Jan...

Barbara’s 1968

I bought Barbara's Bookstore from Barbara Siegel Markowitz - exactly fifty years ago. Or maybe it was 1967.My law partner, David Baylor, asked me to be his campaign manager that year. He was running as the anointed Democrat against incumbent RepublicanDonald Rumsfeld - yes, Rumsfeld - in the Illinois 13th congressional district. I did it and succeeded in maneuvering Dave to a 73% to 27% loss. 1968 was the year that Robert Kennedy was assassinated; the year of riots in Chicago, DC, Baltimore, Wilmington, Kansas City, Detroit and some 31 other...