The Human Comedy (9-16-1936)

The Great Depression was a grim time.  And yet, sometimes people needed a laugh.  On this date, Chicagoans were chuckling over two stories.  Both of them were somewhat risqué—at least by 1936 standards.

The first tale begins with Hazel LaBreck, a 27-year-old singer from Wisconsin, traveling to Chicago for a concert audition.  On the bus she became acquainted with an older man named Mr. LaRue.  LaRue told the young lady he was a movie agent, and that he might be able to get her a job in Hollywood.  But first she would have to demonstrate that she had a shapely figure.

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LaBreck might have come from farm country, but she was no hick.  Once off the bus, she called police.  Now joined by two detectives, the young singer went to the Morrison Hotel, where she had arranged to meet LaRue in his room.  The cops waited outside.

When the young lady arrived,  LaRue produced copies of official-looking studio contracts and a silhouette chart.  Then, taking out a tape measure, he told her to get undressed.

With that, Hazel LaBreck gave a signal, and the detectives burst in.  LaRue quickly confessed that he was not a Hollywood agent, but a clothing salesman.  He also gave the cops his right name—which wasn’t LaRue.  As he was being led away to the police station, he explained: “Something snapped in my brain when I saw this girl on the bus, that’s all.”

The second story involved a movie that Stephen Holish had shot at a nudist camp in Indiana.  The Eastman Company had refused to develop the film, claiming it was obscene.  So Holish filed suit against the company in Small Claims Court.

Judge Samuel Trude heard the case.  With attorneys from both sides in agreement, the judge decided to view the film.  The courtroom lights were dimmed, and Wonders of the Human Anatomy was screened.

When the lights came back on, Holish’s attorney argued that the film was “just as good and clean as movies of any Sunday school picnic–except that the people haven’t got any clothes on.”  This film was not obscene, because “the leer of the sensual” was absent.

Judge Trude disagreed.  He declared the film indecent, and ruled Eastman could destroy it.

I wonder if Holish hired Mr. LaRue to direct his next film?

—30—

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Clarence Wagner’s Bridge on “Extension 720”

Last night on WGN’s Extension 720, Justin Kaufmann and I visited another site in my latest book, Hidden Chicago Landmarks.  Join us at the Clarence Wagner Memorial Bridge.

Here’s the link to the segment—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: The Clarence Wagner Bridge

 

 

Then and Now, Cottage Grove-55th

1954–Cottage Grove Avenue @ 55th Street, view north

2019–the same location

We are on the eastern edge of Washington Park.  The buildings in the older photo date from the 1890s and early 1900s, when the University of Chicago was becoming established a few blocks from here.  In 1954 streetcars ran on Cottage Grove Avenue, while electric trolley buses operated on 55th Street.

Before the 1950s were over, the Cottage Grove streetcars and 55th Street trolley buses were replaced by motor buses.  Most of the old buildings fronting those streets were cleared for urban renewal and university expansion.  Today, for better or worse, the landscape here looks almost suburban.

—30—

The Balbo Column on “Extension 720”

Last night on WGN, Justin Kaufmann aired another segment we did on his “Extension 720” show.  It’s about the Balbo Column, part of a series based on my latest book, Hidden Chicago Landmarks.

Here’s the link to the segment—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: the Balbo Column

 

Chicago Trivia Quiz #14–Answers

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1. The Chicago team in the Federal League was nicknamed the __________.

(B) Whales

2. Which of these incidents helped the Cubs win the 1908 World Series?

(A) The Merkle Boner (allowed Cubs to win N.L. pennant and get to the Series)

3. Why did Sox pitcher Billy Pierce play first base during a 1953 game?

(B) He played first base temporarily, so a right-hander could pitch for awhile.

4. Who was known as The Mayor of Wrigley Field?

(D) Hank Sauer

5. Which three teams did the Sox defeat in the 2005 post-season?

(D) Red Sox–Angels–Astros

Chicago Trivia Quiz #14

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A quiz on Chicago baseball—

1. The Chicago team in the Federal League was nicknamed the __________.

(A) Blue Sox

(B) Whales

(C) Sharks

(D) Fighting Bohemians

2. Which of these incidents helped the Cubs win the 1908 World Series?

(A) The Merkle Boner

(B) The Homer in the Gloamin’

(C) The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

(D) The Strange Death of Big Ed Delahanty

3. Why did Sox pitcher Billy Pierce play first base during a 1953 game?

(A) All of the regular first basemen were either injured or ejected from the game.

(B) He played first base temporarily, so a right-hander could pitch for awhile.

(C) He wanted to become an everyday player and home run hitter, like Babe Ruth.

(D) It was one of Bill Veeck’s stunts.

4. Who was known as The Mayor of Wrigley Field?

(A) Ernie Banks

(B) Jack Brickhouse

(C) Charlie Grimm

(D) Hank Sauer

5. Which three teams did the Sox defeat in the 2005 post-season?

(A) Yankees–Angels–Braves

(B) Yankees–Royals–Mets

(C) Tigers–A’s–Astros

(D) Red Sox–Angels–Astros

 

ANSWERS POSTED AT 5:00 P.M.

The Great Chicago Statue Quiz #13—Answers

(1) WHO is this?  Fritz Reuter (1810-1874)

(2) WHERE is this?  1243 N. Humboldt Dr. (Humboldt Park)

(3) WHY does this person deserve a statue?  German Writer