Chicago and Illinois residents awoke this morning to a new set of Chicago ordinances. Mayor Daley called an early morning secret meeting of the Chicago City Council. New city ordinances were enacted under the cover of night, surprisingly reminiscent of the Miegs Field Airport closing. The new Chicago ordinances take effect immediately.
All reporters are hereby prohibited from using the words “clout” and “bribes” in the same sentence with the name of Da Mayor or any council member.
Parking ticket books will be issued to all Chicagoans who purchase a Chicago city sticker.
Richard J. Daley is now formally recognized as one of Chicago’s founding fathers.
Illinois is now officially a suburb of the city of Chicago.
Lawsuits against the city of Chicago will immediately be dismissed if not filed by an attorney with Machine clout.
Four-day school week will become the law for teachers. Students will continue to attend school five days per week.
Old police motto of “To Serve and Protect” on police cruisers will be replaced with “To Curb and Collect.”
O’Hare Airport passengers are now officially Chicago citizens and must pay property taxes while at O’Hare.
Lake Michigan is now Lake Chicago.
St. Patrick’s Day will only be celebrated on March 17.
Days of the week beginning with the letter “R” or “D” are now parking meter holidays.
Alternate Leap Days will be designated “The City that Works” Day, whereupon all city workers must work a full day.
Yesterday’s problems will be deferred to future generations.
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!
So after I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, I read some of the ancillary material in the end of the Norton Critical Edition that added to my understanding of the novel. I read an interesting statement from Wages and Family Budgets in the Chicago Stockyards District: “The Lithuanians, Poles, and Slovaks will work for wages which would seem small to the average American workingman. The standards of living of these workers are comparatively low and over half of them are boarders without families to support, so they can easily underbid Americans Germans, and Bohemians.” In the novel, we see Jurgis and many other Lithuanians working for low wages that take away jobs from Americans. And they live under deplorable conditions. Well, this accurately describes today’s immigrants, regardless of their origin.
I also read a very interesting book that researched the places described in The Jungle: Upton Sinclair: The Lithuanian Jungle by Giedrius Subacius, whom I actually met since he is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This book simply enthralled me because I remembered the areas Subacius describes. When I met him, I had not yet read his book. He described how he went and spoke to people from Back of the Yards. The book has recent pictures of the neighborhood and some from the archives for places that no longer exist. After speaking to him, I tried checking out the book from the UIC Richard J. Daley Library, but it was constantly checked out. I finally checked it out over the summer when no one was using it for class. This book is a must-read for any Chicago history buff.
I really love Chicago and I love theater. So if there’s a play about Chicago, I will go see it. And that’s why I went to see Hizzoner, Daley the First at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St, Chicago, IL 60655. Yes, gentle reader, there are theaters on the south side! I was lucky enough to get tickets because they sold fast and all the dates were sold out almost immediately.
Hizzoner was written by Neil Giuntoli who also stars as Richard the First very convincingly. Neil is a talented writer and actor who captures the persona of Daley very accurately. So much so, that some of the audience members began speaking to him at times as if he were the actual Mayor Daley. Of Neil responded as if he were the actual Mayor Daley. And he was quite witty, too.
Growing up, Mayor Richard J. Daley was the only Chicago Mayor that I knew. Da Mare would show up to some of our park district events and we got to see him in person occasionally. So when he died, I was a bit shocked.
As an added bonus to seeing the play on the south side, I met some of my previous acquaintances. For example, I had gone to the birthday party of a Chicago police officer the night before and I met a couple the play who was also at the party. I also met my former 18th Ward Alderman Thomas Murphy who is now a judge. I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered me because I only met him a few times. For Halloween, I would take my sons to Trick or Treat at his ward office, which was right next door to his law office. Once he told me, “Go next door. They have better candy there.” And when we went next door, he was there, too, passing out candy.