Saturday, November 21, 2015

On the Road to Bathgate: Great-Great-Uncle George Pringle Sanderson -- Blacksmith, Locksmith and Safecracker, Part 3.

George Pringle Sanderson,
Councillor refers to his service
as an Edmonton alderman.
Welcome to Part 3 of our three part series on George Pringle Sanderson, 1850-1940. Part 1 focused on George's early years. Part 2 reviewed his blacksmith years. Here we recount reports of his locksmith career and the extraordinary tales that accompany it.

George was born in Eastern Canada and moved west across the Canadian prairies, ultimately to Edmonton, Alberta, nee North West territory. From 1878 into the early 1900's George's principal occupation was blacksmith. But with the proliferation of steam powered locomotion and massive growth in the use of internal combustion engines, demands for shod workhorses and oxen were waning. George turned to the locksmith profession to maintain body and soul.

Metalworking and fabrication skills learned at the forge facilitated George's transition into the locksmith trade. In the beginning George was more or less a traditional locksmith. He copied keys, serviced locking mechanisms, fabricated locks and hasps, reset tumblers and adjusted combinations. But his locksmithing skills evolved further with the proliferation of safes that ensued after the establishment of the province of Alberta in 1905.

George P. Sanderson was long-living proof of the adage about the man who builds a better mousetrap. Right up to his departure from this life in 1939, at any hour of night or day, Edmonton's finest would beat a path to George's door, seeking help opening a blaky safe -- or a safe whose owner was balky about opening. 
George said his talent was no secret; it was a gift, a special present from Santa Claus for being born on Christmas Day -- which occurred in 1850 at Carleton Place, Ontario.
We know, of course, that George Pringle Sanderson was actually born on Christmas Eve. But he wasn't the sort of a fellow to let a day or two get in the way of a good story -- and there are good stories aplenty about George and his safecracking escapades.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

On the Road to Bathgate: Great-Great-Uncle George Pringle Sanderson -- Blacksmith, Locksmith and Safecracker, Part 2

George Pringle Sanderson, 1850-1940.
Welcome to Part 2 of the three part series on George Pringle Sanderson. George was my great grandmother Margaret Sanderson Foster's (1840-1871) youngest brother. 

To summarize from Part 1:
George Sanderson was born December 24, 1850 in Carleton Place, Ontario. He moved to Winnipeg in 1877 to work as a blacksmith before moving further west, to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan by ox cart. He came to Edmonton in 1881 by buckboard. He became the settlement's second blacksmith and first locksmith. He returned temporarily to Winnipeg in 1883 to marry Julia Simpson, with whom he had four children.
Uncle George was a true pioneer. When he ventured across the Canadian prairies to Edmonton (established by Hudson Bay Company as Fort Edmonton, a trading post) the fledgling community's population was a couple of hundred residents, compared to near 900,000 today.

Edmonton's early days are celebrated in vignettes at reconstructed Fort Edmonton Park, which is operated much in the style of Colonial Williamsburg down in Tidewater Virginia.
One of Edmonton's premier attractions, the Park represents four distinct time periods, exploring Edmonton's development from a fur trade post in the vast Northwest, to a booming metropolitan centre after the First World War. The park features over 75 structures, many of which are the originals. Costumed interpreters operate the site and live the way of the past. Exploring each building, each room, and talking to the 'inhabitants' makes for an extremely enjoyable recreational visit. This attraction can be viewed in a few hours or may take many return visits to appreciate the sense of the past.
Blacksmiths were critical to the local economy in frontier Edmonton.
Before the horseless carriage age, the most essential persons in the community were the blacksmith and carriage maker. In their shops horses and oxen were shod, iron tires reset on wooden wheels, wagons and carriages made, and a great deal of wrought iron work such as hinges, hasps, and tools were fashioned. Today, the shops with their blazing forge, bellows and anvils, with the many tools, the noise and the smells would be a fascinating place.

An establishment in 1885 Edmonton combined both essential trades under one roof. George Sanderson and Edward Looby worked as partners for a number of years providing those services without which much of the community could not have survived. George P. Sanderson left Ontario in 1877 with the intention of settling in Winnipeg. After working four years as a blacksmith there, he and his friend and new partner Edward Looby, headed further west by ox cart. They arrived in Edmonton in October, 1881, and at once proceeded to set up a combined blacksmith and carriage making business.
We know George Pringle Sanderson had a blacksmith and carriage business. But what does that imply? Did he work out of a stall, a stable, a studio or something more? What was the scope of his business? What did it look like? How are we to know? Certainly no living person has personal recollection of George's enterprise, and stories passed along through oral family lore would suffer the ills of fading memory and fractured communication. 

But look see here, can you believe it? We got it! An 1883 photo of that very blacksmith shop, including mustachioed, towering George pictured out front wearing his leather work apron (affording protection from glowing hot iron rods and fiery embers) in the foreground. It will be recalled that uncle George's occupation was listed as joiner in the 1871 Census of Canada. In the construction of the shop, George obviously had put his carpentry skills to good work.

Title: George Sanderson's blacksmith shop, Edmonton, Alberta. Date: 1883
Remarks: Located at corner of Jasper Avenue and Namayo Avenue, (97th Street).

L-R: John Kelly, engineer and machinist; John Blair, carpenter; James Wright, printer at "Bulletin"; John Looby, blacksmith and partner, Sanderson and Looby; John Brown, on horse, merchant; George P. Sanderson; Charles Stewart, stage driver.

L-R on balcony: Mrs. G. P. Sanderson; Lizzie Kelly; Kat Kelly. John Brown's store, extreme left.
Subject(s): Edmonton, Alberta - Buildings / Log cabins and buildings / Edmonton, Alberta - Personalities / Blacksmiths and blacksmithing / Work clothes

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Barack Obama's Shared Values

Barack Obama said yesterday in a televised statement in response to the Paris terrorist attacks,
..... this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share."
No way, no how. That's not the world we live in. Obama either needs to clam up or he needs to learn to speak for himself.

Despite intersections here and there, and appearances of commonality, there are very different value systems at work. This is a story that reveals two sets of values, one set that I share and the other which I do not.

I once had a friend from Pakistan. We worked together at the Postal Service. Let's call my friend Mahmud, because, well, that was his name. 

About 1.5 million refugees escaped Viet Nam by boat.
It is unknown how man tens of thousands perished in the effot.

Mahmud was urbane, stylish, sophisticated and world traveled. He had a Ph.D in economics from an Ivy League school.

Reflecting family influence, Mahmud's career aspirations were more in business than academics. Mahmud had a gorgeous, intelligent, friendly and sparkling young wife, and two of the cutest little kids you would ever see.

We worked together in a part of the Postal Service that produced product cost and revenue data, and used, among other things, econometric analysis to analyze the data and produce forecasts. Mahmud and I were reformed minded. We both wanted the Postal Service to scotch its simplistic (and in our view, misleading) unweighted labor productivity metric in favor of an advanced weighted measure. We were determined to produce an alternative replacement productivity model on our own, in our spare time.

To help, we wrangled authority to hire a temporary employee -- she was an ESL Vietnamese refugee right off the boat -- to transcribe, organize and, at our direction, crunch reams of data that we had accumulated in hard copy over the years, so we could analyze it and establish baseline multi-factor productivity trends. 
Our hire and her family were sponsored by a local Presbyterian church.

Our refugee hire worked her tail off, so when a suitable vacancy opened we got her hired on to a full-time permanent job with its full panoply of benefits. I remember, years later, how proud she was when she tracked me down to brag on her daughter who had been admitted to Duke Medical School and thank us for taking her on when she despaired for her future. I said, no need to thank anyone, you earned it.

Anyhow, the partnership with Mahmud was one I enjoyed, where I could offer him insights and understanding of the data we were using, and counsel on how to wind his way through the bureaucracy, the regulatory system and the political climate (in those days, where merit still counted for something, one could actually do all that). And Mahmud could offer me on-the-job, one-on-one graduate school level training in matters statistical and econometric. While our planned approach proved to be too unwieldy to implement, we were part of a movement that was ultimately successful, and led to the Postal Service adopting a measuring called Total Factor Productivity (which was subject matter of a earlier post).

After a few years with the Postal Service, Mahmud was restless and impatient. He wanted a bigger stage and a more important position, so he moved on first to a consulting firm, and then to a very large corporation headquartered in New Jersey that we all know of, and most of us have been customers of at one time or another. Mahmud was a chief of one sort or another in that company's strategic planning department, came to wear thousand dollar suits, and was known to take us out to lunch on his expense account when business beckoned him to Washington, DC.

After not hearing from Mahmud for a year or two, one peaceful Sunday morning I was at home. The phone rang. "Hi," the caller said "This is Mahmud, how are you doing?" "Fine," I said and we talked back and forth about work situations and old friends for a few minutes. Then Mahmud said, "Grady, I wanted to ask you a question because of your legal background." "Ok," I said. Mahmud asked "Is it against the law in the United States to assault your wife?" "It sure is!" I responded.

To think, I had vouched for the man when he applied for citizenship.

That was the last time I talked to Mahmud and conversed about our way less than universal values. I understand he left the country to evade prosecution.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

We Salute Our Veterans

On this Veteran's Day, 2015, we solemnly salute all the military men and women who have served our country bravely and selflessly in the name of freedom, for there is no more precious commodity on this earth than liberty.

Today we single out for particular acknowledgement several of our forebearers who served in the United States Army during World War I, protecting us and our families and our allies from tyranny and aggression. 

The three men are Fosters of my father's generation, each of whom hailed from the tiny town of Bathgate, North Dakota, and sailed across the roiling waters of the North Atlantic to France, where they served on the blood stained battlefields on the Western Front. 

Let's start with uncle Lyndon R. Foster.
Fourth Infantry Division
Distinctive Unit Insignia
World War I was violently fought. Lyn was in the U.S. Army, Fourth Infantry Division, deployed to the western front, serving side-by-side with French and British troops. His division participated in the St. Mihiel offensive and the Muese Argonee offensives, phases 1 and 2. Elements of the division were gassed by German troops. The Fourth Division's authorized strength was 32,000. During World War I it suffered 2,611 killed in action, and 9,895 wounded. Records suggest that actual division strength was as little as 23,000 (13,000 regulars and 10,000 draftees) translating into a casualty rate of 54 percent, more than half of those who served.
Williston (N.D.) Graphic, February 15, 1917
Lyn enlisted on January 29, 1917 in Williston, North Dakota (currently the epicenter of the Bakken oil boom). He was sent to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and served in Battery A, 16th field artillery to discharge. He was overseas from May 10, 1918 to March 24, 1919. Engagements were Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse Argonne and defensive sectors were Vesle (Champagne), Sommedieu (Lorraine). He was discharged at Camp Dodge, Iowa on April 16, 1919, as a private with a surgeon's certificate of disability, 15 percent. He was single at the time.

Lyndon's service, along with that of two of his cousins, was honored in the post-war publication "Pembina County North Dakota in the World War."  
Private Lyndon R. Foster.

4. Private LYNDEN (sic) R. FOSTER, Bathgate, son of Mr. and Mrs. I. J. Foster, born Sept. 26th 1897. Enlisted in the service Jan. 29th, 1917, and served with Battery A., 16th F. A., 4th Division, in France.

Corporal Robert S. Foster.

5. Corporal ROBERT S. FOSTER, Bathgate, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Foster, born April 7th, 1895. Enlisted n the service Oct. 27th, 1917. Made Corporal Dec. 1st 1917, in Co. C., 164 Regiment, 41st Division, and served with them in France.

Corporal William C. Foster.

6. Corporal WM. C. FOSTER, Bathgate, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Foster, born April 4th, 1899. Entered the service July 1st, 1915, and was made a Corporal July 10th 1917. Served in France with Co. C., 164th Infantry, 41st Division.

Lyndon was my father's brother. Robert and William were near neighbors and first cousins to dad and Lyndon (second cousins, once removed to myself). After deployment to France, their 164th Infantry Regiment (which was an activated unit of the North Dakota National Guard) was fragmented to serve up replacement personnel to other divisions, so the war record of individual soldiers in the unit is difficult to trace. 
The 164th Regiment lost 278 men in the war. One hundred seventy-six died in battle, 62 died of wounds, and the remainder succumbed to disease.
That's the simple history for the 164th. The thinly populated rural county of Pembina lost 32 men and women who served on behalf of God and country in World War I.

Uncle Lyn, cousins William and Robert, on behalf of all your descendants, thank you for your service to our country. We remember. We shall never forget.

Next year we shall honor an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Following are supporting documents that surfaced in preparation of this post.


Pembina County North Dakota in the World War, from
North Dakota State University, Digital Horizons.

Robert Sanderson Foster's World War I Draft Registration Card.

The service records of these three young men were published in ROSTER of the Men and Women who served in the Army or Naval Service (including the Marine Corps) of the United States or its Allies from the STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA in the World War, 1917-1918. Following are those entries plus the cover and the dedication page. The book was published by their uncle R. D. Hoskins, who collaborated with the author and the Bismarck Tribune, which had the state printing contract.

Roster of the Men and Women who served in the Army or Naval Service (including the Marine Corps) of the United States or its Allies from the State of North Dakota in the World War, 1917-1918 Volume 2 Flagg to Lark

NameRobert Sanderson Foster 
Army #: 85,764
Registrant: yes, Pembina county
Birth Place: Bathgate, N. Dak.
Birth Date: 07 Apr 1895
Occupation: student
Comment: enlisted in Company C, 1st Infantry, North Dakota National Guard, at Grafton, on Aug. 27, 1917; served in Company C, 1st Infantry, North Dakota National Guard (Company C, 164th Infantry), to discharge. Grade: Corporal, Dec. 1, 1917; overseas from Dec. 15, 1917, to Feb. 26, 1919. Discharged at Camp Dodge, Iowa, on March 11, 1919, as a Corporal.

NameLyndon R. Foster
Army #: 564,651
Registrant: no, enlisted prior
Birth Place: Bathgate, N. Dak.
Birth Date: 26 Sep 1897
Parent's Origin: of Canadian-American parents
Occupation: plumber
Comment: enlisted at Williston on Jan. 29, 1917; sent to Jefferson Barracks, Mo.; served in Battery A, 16th Field Artillery, to discharge; overseas from May 10, 1918, to March 24, 1919. Engagements: Offensives: Aisne-Marne; St. Mihiel; Meuse-Argonne. Defensive Sectors: Vesle (Champagne); Sommedieu (Lorraine). Discharged at Camp Dodge, Iowa, on April 16, 1919, as a Private, Surgeon's Certificate of Disability, 15%.

NameWilliam Carrick Foster 
Army #: 85,751
Registrant: no, enlisted prior
Birth Place: Bathgate, N. Dak.
Birth Date: 04 Apr 1897
Parent's Origin: of American parents
Occupation: farmer
Comment: enlisted in Company C, 1st Infantry, North Dakota National Guard, at Grafton, on July 1, 1915; called into federal service on June 19, 1916, for Mexican border duty and served there until discharge; discharged from federal service at Fort Snelling, Minn., on Feb. 14, 1917, and resumed National Guard status; called into federal service, World War, on July 15, 1917; served in Company C, 1st Infantry, North Dakota National Guard (Company C, 164th Infantry), to discharge. Grade: Corporal, June 1, 1917; overseas from Dec. 15, 1917, to Feb. 26, 1919. Discharged at Camp Dodge. Iowa, on March 11, 1919, as a Corporal.

Bismarck Tribune, November 14, 1932.

Uncle Lyndon R. Foster's National Homes for Volunteer Disabled Veterans record.

Predecessor of the VA.

World War I dramatically increased the population of the National Home branches, though this new population had different needs.  The World War I veterans were primarily younger men who needed short term medical care or help with psychiatric problems. After World War I, women veterans entered the National Home branches in low numbers. 

Uncle Lyn spent two months recovering in the national home from March through May of 1922.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday Pictures on Sunday

Looking at the ominous hot and dry winter El Nino forecasts, we had been kind of hoping for a couple more weeks of golf, but it is looking more and more like it just wasn't meant to be. In fact, if we don't get a break this will be the earliest closing we've had since moving to the Treasure State. It sure is pretty all around though.

There is plenty of pre-season activity at Bridger Bowl. Who needs a lift?

Friday, November 6, 2015

On the Road to Bathgate: Great-Great-Uncle George Pringle Sanderson -- Blacksmith, Locksmith and Safecracker, Part 1.

By blood on the paternal side of the family we are descendants of Fosters and Sandersons in my grandfather's line, and Armstrongs and Hollenbecks in my grandmother's line. Previously, I wrote multiple times at length about the Fosters, and posted several times about the Armstrongs (see the end of this post for a complete list of posts), but have reported little on the Sandersons and Hollenbecks. That is not for lack of material. Today's post begins to fill in the gaps via a look back at a notable ancestor in the Foster/Sanderson line. This is the first of three posts we will publish this fortnight on George Pringle Sanderson.

The Foster/Sanderson line has had quite a collection of Georges. My father was George (George W. Foster, 1909-1999). Dad had an uncle George (George Sanderson Foster, 1864-1946). Dad's uncle George also had an uncle George (George Pringle Sanderson, 1850-1940) who is the topic of this post. And that uncle George was the son of yet a fourth George (George Sanderson, 1808-1903). 

The four generations of Georges had lengthy lifetimes, averaging eighty-nine years, collectively spanning the Napoleanic rule of Europe, Joseph Smith's founding of Mormonism, Marx and Engel's publication of the Communist Manifesto, the prosecution of the American Civil War, the inventions of the telephone (Bell), the phonograph (Edison) and the electric light bulb (Edison), the invention of the airship (Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin) and the airplane (Wright brothers), the invention of plastic (Baekeland), World War I, the rise and fall of the Third Reich (see Adolph Hitler), a worldwide Great Depression, the launching of man into space (Yuri Gagarin), near eradication of infectious diseases such as polio (Jonas Salk), smallpox and typhoid, and the invention of the internet (see Al Gore). Yep, they lived through a lot.

The third of the four Georges, George Pringle Sanderson, was born to George Sanderson and Mary Clark Sanderson at Kemptville, Ontario, Canada on 24 December 1850. He passed from this mortal world at Edmonton, Alberta on 27 October 1940. In between George Pringle Sanderson was carpenter, fire chief, alderman, blacksmith, carriage and bicycle maker, gunsmith, locksmith and safecracker. Here is his story.

Biographical Summary.

Most of the time when researching an ancestor, I have been fortunate to come across a summation already written that encapsulates his or her life. Often that is an obituary. Less commonly it is an article, a chapter, a passage in a book, or a synopsis that was written in consequence of that's relative's position or notoriety in life.  It was writings of the latter genre that jumped to the top of the search engine results when I researched George Pringle Sanderson. George's biographical sketch appeared straight away on the Project Gutenberg site.


George Pringle Sanderson.jpg
George Pringle Sanderson
Alderman on the Edmonton Town Council
In office
January 3, 1893 – January 2, 1894
In office
July 1896 – December 14, 1896
Personal details
BornDecember 24, 1850
Carleton Place, Ontario
DiedOctober 27, 1940 (aged 89)
Spouse(s)Julia Simpson (4 children)
ProfessionBlacksmith, locksmith

George Pringle Sanderson (December 24, 1850 – October 27, 1940)[1] was a politician in AlbertaCanada and a municipal councillor in Edmonton.


George Sanderson was born December 24, 1850 in Carleton Place, Ontario. He moved to Winnipeg in 1877 to work as a blacksmith before moving further west, to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan by ox cart. He came to Edmonton in 1881 by buckboard. He became the settlement's second blacksmith and first locksmith. He returned temporarily to Winnipeg in 1883 to marry Julia Simpson, with whom he had four children.
He became Edmonton's first fire chief in 1892, the same year as he ran in Edmonton's first election for town council. He failed to become alderman, finishing in a tie for eighth of fourteen candidates (the top six were elected). He was more successful in 1893, when he finished fifth of nine candidates, but was defeated in his 1894 re-election bid, finishing eighth of nine candidates.
In 1896, alderman Isaac Cowie resigned, and Sanderson was appointed by Council to take his place. He did not seek re-election in the next election. His last foray into public life took place in 1905, when he finished last of ten candidates in a bid to return as an alderman.
George Pringle Sanderson died in October 1940. He was buried on October 30, 1940.


    Tuesday, November 3, 2015

    Reaching the Top

    The local Bridger Bowl ski area isn't scheduled to open until December 11. 

    PHONE 911
    Season Passes now on sale.

    But the weatherman doesn't follow a published schedule. Early season snows are pelting northern Rocky Mountain ranges throughout Montana. 

    Screenshot of southwestern Montana, Doppler radar, Tuesday November 3, 2015.

    And backcountry skiers and snowboarders won't be held to a schedule either. Two intrepid snowboarders hiked 3 miles and 2,700 vertical feet to the ridge above Bridger Bowl yesterday afternoon. 

    Download from Bridger Bowl webcam, north view, November 2, 2015.
    We hope they had a good run down. With more snow expected throughout today and overnight into Wednesday, we expect there will be more than a few additional hearty souls climbing the eastern face of the Bridger range for a pre-season run in early winter 2015/16.


    The cloud cover has lifted to the point where we can see the accumulation of snow over the last four days, disturbed only by the tracks laid by subsequent backcountry enthusiasts.

    And while we are at it, here is the south view from November 6. We live about 15 miles out towards the horizon.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    Sunday, October 18, 2015

    Market Forces At Work

    The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

    In Montana the minimum wage is $8.05 an hour.

    We saw this sign outside the Wheat Drive McDonalds the other day.

    Businesses throughout town have similar signs up, with starting wages of $10.00 an hour and up.

    Inside McDonalds is this recruitment sign.

    EUA refers to English Under the Arches, an on-the-clock English instruction program. Get a high school diploma. Learn the language. Free clothes. Subsidized food. Earn your way up. Looks like a stepladder to me. Elect a Democrat. Put an end to the madness.

    Saturday, October 17, 2015

    Saturday Pictures

    We took a road trip today, motoring south past Big Sky and West Yellowstone and then through Yellowstone National Park, into Grand Teton National Park, and then across the Tetons to Idaho, returning to Bozeman via Island Park and Ennis. Here are a few things we saw along the way.

    Four miles north of West Yellowstone we spied a cow moose and her two maturing calves munching aquatic flora in the Madison River. There are moose in Montana for sure, but they tend to be solitary and are seldom seen. A person actually has a better chance of seeing a bear, so it was a banner day, especially for Teresa who had not previously seen a Montana moose.

    In Idaho we saw plowed potato fields and cut hay fields and a cemetery or two. For posterity's sake, here a few photos.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015

    There's a Bear in the B Wing

    Actually they call it long hall.

    I dropped my daughter off at Bozeman High School at 7:25 a.m. this morning for a period "0" class. She was joined by an uninvited guest at 7:30 am.

    Video by Leon Uebelhoer, foreign exchange student from Germany
    Posted by KBZK TV on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

    Just for the record, this being Montana, there was no lock down, classes went on as scheduled and the school was not evacuated -- not even an announcement over the PA. We understand that that the school deans and the principal banded together to escort the fellow out of the building where it was last seen crossing 11th Avenue into a homeowner's back yard. 

    FYI, the man in the background is the principal -- their duties are a bit different in Montana.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    George Boznos and Sons: The Founding and Operation of Fabled Par King Skill Golf in Morton Grove, Illinois

    When we grew up in Morton Grove Illinois during the late 1950s and through the 1960s, nothing represented the grandeur and the muscular vitality of the city of Chicago more than the Prudential building. Whether we were motoring along Lake Shore Drive or driving down to the Loop via the Northwest Expressway (as the Kennedy was initially known), we would gaze up and see the broad shouldered limestone edifice standing proudly above all. 
    1950's view of the Prudential building, Chicago, from the lakefront.
    Broadcast News Magazine, Vol. 112,
    December, 1961
    Back in the day WGN TV transmitted its signal over the airwaves from an antenna on top of the Prudential building. The antenna plus its supporting tower on top of the building rose a combined total of 914 feet above ground level, making it the tallest structure by far in the City of Chicago. 
    The Prudential has a storied history. For two decades, from 1934 onward, through Depression and War, construction in Chicago had ground to a half. The skyline whose towers had popped up like weeds in the 1920's became frozen in time.

    With an easement to build a trestle and breakwater a short distance from shore, the Illinois Central Railroad had controlled Chicago's lakefront since the 1850's. 
    From the bank of the river southward, the IC had created a massive railyard, dominated by a huge sign for Pabst beer that as it met Michigan Avenue to the east was the most ambitious bit of construction on the site.

    The Prudential Building would change all of that, When it was announced in 1951, it became the first structure to be built over Illinois Central air rights, and the opening shot in the revival of major new office construction. It included new viaducts along its perimeter, and a completely new street, the one-block Stetson Avenue, named after Edward Stetson, an I.C. board president. According to a post on the Connecting the Windy City blog, the air rights deed was 85 pages long and identified 500 small, individual pieces of property.

    At 42 stories and 601 feet, the Prudential would fall just four feet short of overtaking the Board of Trade as Chicago's tallest building. Designed by Naess and Murphy, it broke ground on August 12, 1952. At nearly 22 million cubic feet, it was the fifth larger building in the city. Each of its 2,617 windows were double-glazed, and designed to allow both sides to be washed from the inside.

    The Prudential was a compendium of superlatives. At 1,400 feet-per-minute, it's elevators were the world's fastest, and popping ears became standard elevator car conversation for first-time visitors. The Prudential had the biggest floor-to-floor heights. It's air conditioning capacity --  3,150 tons -- also set a record. Elevator service stopped at the 40th floor, and the world's tallest escalators carried visitors to the 41st floor and its observatory, which actually bested the one at the Board of Trade to become the tallest in Chicago. The panoramic views from Stouffer's Top of the Rock restaurant immediately made it a destination dining location for tourists and locals alike.
    The Prudential building hole at Par King in Morton
    Grove. A putt into the central elevator shaft went up
    and over the top from where the ball would drop out
    onto the rear green, tracking at or near the hole. 
    A putt on either side would take an indirect route 
    that made even a deuce difficult. 
    It was a special treat for grade school students, Brownies or Cub Scouts on a field trip or families on a weekend excursion, to whoosh aboard the high speed elevators and climb up the sparkling escalators to the Prudential building's top floor, where they could experience the observation deck's uninterrupted vistas of Chicago to its borders and beyond. 

    But we in Morton Grove did not need to travel 24 miles southeast to view the modern skyscraper. We had our very own Prudential building in the village on the grounds of the Par King Skill Golf course, where it stood out as a first among equals including scale-model replicas of national monuments like Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty, and more whimsical icons such as the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, The Three Bears and Humpty Dumpty. 

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Chick's Book -- An Autobiography By Charles Evans, Jr.

    You don't need to travel to the Library of Congress to read it. It is online. It is complete. That is none other than the "Chick Evans Golf Book," immodestly subtitled "The Story of the Sporting Battles of the Greatest of all Amateur Golfers," written by Charles "Chick" Evans Jr., published in 1921. The book was written when Bobby Jones, now universally recognized as the most successful amateur golfer of all time, was still a young man and had yet to win the first of his 13 major championships.

    The book confirms things we thought we knew about Chick -- he dearly loved his mom, and he thought the world of caddies and the caddie experience.

    Chick paid tribute to his mom in the book's dedication.

    He further recognized her prominent role by including her in the "Double Crown" photo of his cherished United States Amateur and United States Open golf trophies.

    While more careful copy editing might have been in order (in the photo above, the trophies were said to be won in 1920, while the picture is copyrighted in 1917, the year after Chick won both championships), the book is a remarkable, contemporary insight into the life and times of a golf legend.