Friday, October 4, 2013

Evanston: a personal history of Chicago; big boat owner



Carol and I have now lived in Evanston for more than seven years, although as she sometimes pointedly points out, I have not been here all the time.

I have more history in Chicago than that.


The first entire night I slept with a woman was in Chicago.

We were in college west of here and on our way to spend the Easter break with my parents in a suburb of Saint Louis. This involved changing trains at Chicago’s once grand Union Station. We left one day, after telling my parents we would arrive the next, and instead of switching trains that afternoon, went to a hotel. This was more than fifty years ago and what I expect would be commonly accepted now, was not then. But young lovers will find a way. And should.

I will not embarrass you or me with details, but I still recall how wonderful it was to turn in half sleep and bump into smooth, warm flesh. After that night, I better understood Henry Moore’s sculptures, all curves and hollows.


I was married just before Christmas my senior year in college, and we drove to Chicago for our honeymoon.

I bought a copy of the ILIAD, of which I’ve written before, and as I note in that entry, we went to hear the Chicago symphony.

I did not mention that the soloist was Arthur Rubinstein. I don’t remember what pieces he performed, except that after receiving thunderous applause following one of Chopin’s short compositions, he turned to the audience and apologized for having made a mistake, of which only he and perhaps a handful of others were aware, and said he would play it again, which he did.

A lesson about personal standards I never forgot.


When my mother was a teenager, her family lived in Chicago, where her father worked for now vanished Marshall Fields. He was named August Weber and didn’t like any form of his first name, so was called ‘Webb’.

One day while walking back from lunch, he collapsed on the sidewalk and died of a stroke or a heart attack. He was in his mid-thirties. My mother, who was not the most reliable of sources, said that he had been gassed during WWI, still known then, ironically, as The Great War.




If you walk down ‘A‘ Dock at Driscoll’s Mission Bay Marina, as I will next Wednesday afternoon, by far the smallest boat you will see will be named GANNET. Yet several of you own smaller.

Steve in Norfolk, who has just completed a fine 430 mile cruise in North Carolina waters, and Tom here in the Midwest, sail 17’ Welsford Pathfinders they built themselves. Doryman is sailing his recently restored 23’ Stone Horse, BELLE STARR, in the Pacific Northwest. Audrey permits her husband, Kent, to be moveable ballast on her 18‘ Drascombe Lugger in Florida. Dayton in South Carolina had an 18’ Cape Dory Typhoon. Glen in Saskatchewan his modified 17’ Osprey. Zane in New Zealand has a 22‘ sloop. There are probably others I’m forgetting and to whom I apologize.

I may have to start thinking of myself as a big boat owner.




I have a dumbphone, not a smartphone.

I was curious about the camera in my dumbphone and took the above with it at the Botanical Gardens where Carol and I had lunch a week ago.

I may have to get a smartphone. But not until after the next voyage.