WBEZ | Grand Boulevard http://www.wbez.org/tags/grand-boulevard Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A forgotten home of Clarence Darrow http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/forgotten-home-clarence-darrow-104316 <p><p>For the last 30 years of his life, Clarence Darrow lived in an apartment&nbsp;hotel facing Jackson Park.&nbsp;That building has been demolished.&nbsp;But a few&nbsp;miles to the north, at 4219 South Vincennes Avenue, a house that the great lawyer built still stands.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-17--Darrow Home.jpg" title="Chicago History Happened Here: 4219 S. Vincennes Ave." /></div><p>Darrow came to Chicago in 1887.&nbsp;He was 30 years old, and had already been active in Democrat politics in his native Ohio.&nbsp;Naturally he became a City Hall attorney.</p><p>In 1892 he moved into the private sector. Darrow landed a job in the legal department of the Chicago &amp; North Western Railroad.&nbsp;Much of his work involved defending the company against lawsuits brought by people who&rsquo;d been injured at grade crossings.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">His wife Jessie wanted a &ldquo;normal bourgeois domestic life&rdquo; for the couple and their young son.&nbsp;At first&nbsp;Clarence obliged.&nbsp;Shortly after going to work for C&amp;NW, he built the two-story graystone dream home on Vincennes Avenue.&nbsp;His&nbsp;career path as a corporate lawyer seemed set.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-17--Darrow%20%28LofC%29.jpg" style="width: 320px; height: 325px; float: right;" title="Clarence Darrow, 1924 (Library of Congress)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Over the next five years, everything changed.&nbsp;Darrow quit the railroad. He took his first murder case, defending the man who&#39;d killed Mayor Carter Harrison. He represented labor leader Eugene V. Debs in court in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike. Darrow also found time to run for Congress&ndash;unsuccessfully&ndash;as a candidate of the Populist Party.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">He was spending less and less time on Vincennes Avenue.&nbsp;Jessie rarely saw him, except when he came home to sleep.&nbsp;By now Darrow&rsquo;s father was living in Chicago, and Clarence sometimes found it&nbsp;more convenient to bunk at&nbsp;his place.&nbsp;The marriage deteriorated.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Early in 1897 Darrow sued his wife for divorce, on grounds of desertion.&nbsp;That was a convenient lie&ndash;Jessie hadn&rsquo;t deserted Clarence, he had deserted her.&nbsp;But divorce was still considered shameful.&nbsp;Because Jessie didn&rsquo;t want to hurt her husband&rsquo;s professional or political future, she agreed to go along with the charade.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Jessie got the house and $150-a-month for the rest of her life.&nbsp;Clarence got his freedom.&nbsp;He later remarried and became famous, while his first wife and his son slipped into obscurity.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Clarence Darrow died&nbsp;in his apartment at 1537 East 60th Street in 1938.&nbsp;His ashes were scattered in a Jackson Park lagoon.&nbsp;Today his onetime home on Vincennes Avenue is privately owned.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/forgotten-home-clarence-darrow-104316 Marxism on the Grand Boulevard http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/marxism-grand-boulevard-100911 <p><p>Our subject today is the graystone three-flat at 4512 South King Drive.</p><p>The street where the three-flat stands&nbsp;used to be called&nbsp;South Park Way.&nbsp;Before that, in the early 20th Century, it was known as Grand Boulevard.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marx%20Brothers.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Chicago History Happened Here: 4512 S. King Dr." /></div><p>The neighborhood was German-Jewish then.&nbsp;From 1912 through 1920,&nbsp;the building was home to Sam and Minnie Marx and their sons Leonard, Adolph, Julius, Milton and Herbert.</p><p>The sons&nbsp;are better known by their stage names &ndash; Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo.</p><p>The Marxes were&nbsp;New Yorkers.&nbsp;Sam was an easy-going tailor.&nbsp;Minnie had the brains and brass of the family.&nbsp;A performer herself, she raised her sons for careers in show business.</p><p>During the&nbsp;first years of the new century, when the older boys were teens, they started singing in vaudeville.&nbsp;In 1910 Minnie decided that Chicago would be a more central location for travel on the circuit.&nbsp;So the family moved.</p><p>For&nbsp;two years they all lived in an apartment at 4649 South Calumet Avenue.&nbsp;Late in 1912 Minnie scraped together a $1,000 down-payment for the graystone on the boulevard.&nbsp;The purchase price was $20,000 &ndash; about $450,000 in today&rsquo;s money.</p><p>The mortgage was held by a man named Greenbaum.&nbsp;He became the family bogeyman. Whenever the brothers complained about their hectic life on the road, all Minnie would have to do is say the magic word &ldquo;Greenbaum.&rdquo;&nbsp;Then they&rsquo;d shut up and get back to business.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">By now the oldest brothers were young men.&nbsp;Their act gradually evolved into less singing and more comedy.&nbsp;During these years, when they collected their mail in Chicago, the Marx Brothers developed their familiar stage persona.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marx%20Brothers%2002_0.jpg" title="Chicago Marxism, 1915--Groucho, Gummo, Minnie, Zeppo, Sam, Chico, Harpo (Wikipedia Commons)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Just when the act was becoming successful, America entered World War One.&nbsp;The brothers weren&rsquo;t enthusiastic about getting drafted.&nbsp;But Minnie had read that farmers were exempt from military service.&nbsp;She bought a farm in La Grange, and for a while the very urban Marxes raised chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Gummo was drafted, anyway.&nbsp;He hadn&rsquo;t been much of a performer, and didn&rsquo;t like being on stage, so it was no great loss to the act.&nbsp;In later years he became an agent.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Minnie sold the Grand Boulevard home in 1920.&nbsp;The Four Marx Brothers wanted to develop their act for the Broadway stage, and a move back to New York was in order.&nbsp;When their Broadway shows were successful, movies followed.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A few years ago the Goodman Theatre presented a revival of Marx Brothers&rsquo; 1928 stage hit, <em>Animal Crackers</em>. The family&rsquo;s onetime Chicago home, an official city landmark, is a private residence.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">It is not known whether the current owner is named Greenbaum.</div></p> Tue, 31 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/marxism-grand-boulevard-100911