Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It's a Toddlin' Town

...from a photographer's notebook

1964 - Looking west on Randolph from State Street. Remember whose music was topping the charts?
[As originally posted August 2014]

I’ve always liked that line in “The Package,” where Tommy Lee Jones tells his nefarious associates he’s not going to hang around with them, but instead plans to head into town. It must be said, if anyone can make an assassin oddly “likeable,” it’s Mr. Jones. If you don’t believe me, just rent – or better yet – purchase the DVD of this Andrew Davis Chicago-set thriller from 1989. I’ve a hunch you’ll want to watch it more than once.

Of course, the most familiar iteration of “toddlin’ town” doesn’t have the “it’s a” in there.
Rather, as Frank Sinatra sings the Fred Fischer tune
Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town…
Chicago, Chicago, I will show you around, I love it...

Naturally, being a fan of both Chicago and vintage Sinatra, I found good use for the tune in one of the last “This Is America” programs I produced for VOA Learning English. There were only so many photos I could post in the web presentation of the story, and I wanted to stick with aspects of Chicago contained in my audio production. But I felt a bit remiss at not having space to illustrate what Frank is alluding to when he sings

On State Street, that great street...

Nonetheless, I did manage to dig up some slides from a couple of very early trips to the Windy City (and, of course, some from more recent visits). I thought I’d share a few…

State Street - Marina City, Marshall Field's iconic clock, and a couple I knew very well (1964)

The picture above is how “that great street” looked in March of 1964. Oh, yes, that classy looking couple on State Street crossing Randolph Street in the foreground would be my Mom and Dad, as the rookie kid photog aimed his…what would it be? … ah yes, the old Yashica J-3, my very first SLR…up State toward the Corn Cobs, Chicagoans’ apt name for the twin towers of (then new) Marina City.

Talk about a time warp…

The State Lake Theater is treating its patrons to Peter Sellers and David Niven in “The Pink Panther.” Remember Henry Mancini’s sly-catchy theme? Couldn’t miss it on the radio back then.  Let’s see, Gregory Peck is on the Chicago Theater’s big screen – not sure which film that would have been – Bergman’s “The Silence” is in the way.

And would you look at that big sign at upper right...

If you boarded a flight for London at O’Hare International Airport (or O’Hare Field, as Chicagoans of a sentimental leaning still call the sprawling complex today), your four-engined “Speedbird” would not say British Airways on its aluminium skin, but rather the stout and steaky livery of B-O-A-C – British Overseas Airways Corporation, don’t you know…

Oh, and that massive and iconic clock suspended over the “great street” belonged to the venerable Marshall Field’s Department Store. It’s now another Macy’s.

I’ve got to get back to Chicago real soon…and shoot from this same vantage point. It will no doubt look quite different, especially the area beyond the State-Lake L station. Like any big vibrant city, Chicago’s skyline and cityscape is in constant evolution.

But what fun to freeze time for a moment and view some slices of the “Windy City” through the eyes of my teen rookie photographer self!

But, oh my! After the elation in seeing that my Chicago slides from that 1964 visit had held up well in their long-neglected drawer of slide boxes, came the sudden realization – or was it shock? - Whoa, that was f-i-f-t-y years ago!

Well, as they say, time flies when you’re having fun. As director Andrew Davis said in his commentary track for “The Fugitive,”

“Love you, Chicago.”
Yeah, me too. I’m Steve Ember

©2014 Steve Ember

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home