As a lifelong Chicagoan, Mayor Daley has always been part of my life. And by Mayor Daley, I mean both Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley. As a boy I lived under the reign of Richard Da First. In Back of the Yards, everyone knew Mayor Daley because his name always appeared on some of our neighborhood programs and in daily conversation. At Holy Cross, the Lithuanian nuns told us how Mayor Daley went to mass every day and therefore a good Catholic and Chicagoan. Mayor Daley was a man of mythic proportions.
When Mayor Richard J. Daley died in 1976, I, along with many of my family and friends, were in shock. Mayor Daley was the only man we had known as The Mayor of Chicago. The last time I had such a feeling was when President Kennedy was assassinated. There was a period of alienation for Chicagoans during the interregnum until the next Mayor Daley was elected.
All true Chicagoans rejoiced when Richard M. Daley was elected mayor. The present Mayor Daley (Richard Da Second) is always highly criticized and panned for his politics and poor diction (like father, like son), but he always gets reelected, in part because of his father’s fame and reputation as good Chicagoan.
My life has crossed paths with the Daley family on many occasions. And I’m extremely thankful for that connection. Even when I’m not thinking about the Daleys, they remind me of their existence in some surprising way. Of course, there are all the signs at the Chicago airports to which Mayor Daley welcomes you. Then when I least expect it, I see another reminder somewhere totally unexpected. Once, when I was studying at the Saint Xavier University Library, I went to admire a stained glass window. I then noticed a small plaque that dedicated this window to Joseph Daley, father of Richard J. Daley who donated the window.
By good fortune, I was assigned to guard the home of Eleanor “Sis” Daley, the widow of Richard J. Daley, when I was a police officer. No police officer wanted to work the detail because it was perhaps the most boring assignment on the job, so as the rookie, I was assigned to sit it front of the house. I was attending UIC and I used to study while in the unmarked car. No one complained because I was always alert and awake and actually guarding the house. Sis once asked me if I was bored out there, so I told her I was going to school and the guard duty allowed me to catch up on my reading. When I finally graduated, somehow I made it into the Chicago Sun-Times for a Chicago profile. Sis saw my profile and asked me to come into her house. She told me that she was proud of me. She said that her husband wanted to build a university in Chicago for students just like me and that was why UIC existed. She said that UIC was Mayor Daley greatest source of pride!
I thought it was a momentous occasion when Mayor Richard J. Daley’s writings went to the UIC library and the library was named after him. Yet another way that Mayor Daley impacted my life!