Paul Revere’s day job was silversmith. He was very successful. His products were more functional than ornamental, vessels for preparing and serving food and drink. We know his role as a patriot, and he applied his metal working talents to the war effort, during and after the war using the profits from his expanding business to finance his work in iron casting, bronze bell and cannon casting, and the forging of copper bolts and spikes. In 1800, he became the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets for use as sheathing on naval vessels.
Mid-20th century American cooks knew Paul Revere and his copper very well.
How we got there goes way back to the end of the Revolutionary war (1). Revere focused on copper, starting his own company. He brought in his son Joseph in 1804, the company becoming Revere and Son. Paul died in 1818 at age 84. 10 years later Revere & Son merged with James Davis & Son of Boston Brass Foundry to form the Revere Copper Company. Joseph died in 1867 succeeded by his nephew, Frederick Walker Lincoln. Several Revere family members (John Revere followed by his two sons William Bacon Revere and Edward H.R. Revere) remained active in the company. In 1881 John Revere, Paul Revere’s grandson, became company president. Subsequently, Revere Copper Company merged with the New Bedford Copper Company and the Taunton Copper Company, to form the Taunton-New Bedford Copper Company. Revere retained its name as a separate division. In 1928, six companies – Rome Brass & Copper Company, Michigan Copper & Brass Company, Baltimore Copper Rolling Mill, Dallas Brass & Copper Co., Taunton-New Bedford Copper Company (Revere’s company), and Higgins Brass & Manufacturing Company were merged and incorporated as the General Brass Corporation on December 1, 1928. The merger produced the second largest fabricator of copper & brass products in the U.S. with 25% of the country’s rolling mill capacity. Four days later, the name was changed to Republic Brass Corporation. The next year, on November 12, out of respect to the founder of the American copper industry, the name of the company was changed again, this time to Revere Copper and Brass Incorporated.
About that time began a 10-year effort that would find the Revere brand in America’s kitchens as well as its shipyards. At the time home cooking was done in cast iron pots, with finer cooking, as in restaurants, in vessels of pure copper or copper lined with tin, delicate and expensive alternatives to cast iron. In 1931 Revere introduced a line of cookware with chrome plating the copper instead of tin. The product failed, as potatoes cooked with salt caused the chrome to flake off. By 1934 the team investigating this product’s failure found that only stainless steel could effectively replace chrome, but this material conducted heat unevenly. The leader of the team judged that a heavy layer of copper bonded to the stainless steel would solve the problem, copper being an excellent and even heat conductor. Such bonding was thought to be impossible. In 1938, after 2 years’ time and considerable expense, the objectives were reached: A 2-step electroplating technique was developed which could deposit a thick layer of copper plate (1 1/2 times the thickness of the underlying metal) on 18-8 stainless steel at production speeds. This thickness was more than sufficient to overcome the burning problems of regular stainless-steel cookware.
The newfangled cookware was introduced at the 1939 Chicago Housewares Show and was an immediate hit.
World War II halted Revere Ware’s march into America’s kitchens, as all copper went into the war effort rather than consumer products. In 1942, Revere was issued Patent No.US2272609, covering their new copper cladding process as used in the Revere Ware product line, which they would later stamp onto every pot and pan produced.
Postwar sales boomed, the sales of Revere Ware limited only by the production capacity of the Rome, NY plant. The decision was made in 1948 to establish a second plant on the west coast. Subsequently, an abandoned manufacturing plant in Riverside, CA, was acquired and equipped for production. In 1950, a third plant, in Clinton IL, came online.
Even in the heyday of Revere ware’s popularity, signs of the company’s eventual demise could be seen, such as new product lines and a foray into aluminum (even foil pans!). As the copper cladding patent expired in 1959, the company attempted a relaunch, with modernized styling and accompanying utensils. Enthusiasm for the new/old copper clad products was blunted by near simultaneous introduction of Teflon clad cookware, a bandwagon Revere would later jump on.
The 60s found Revere trying to make a go of it with aluminum cookware, still producing the copper clad classics. With the aluminum products failing, management sought to squeeze some profit out of the copper clad line by making it more cheaply. The electroplating process was gradually shortened – reducing the thickness of the cladding while simultaneously increasing the production line speed. Ultimately, the thickness of the cladding was reduced by 50% (which unfortunately caused the cladding to lose much of its ability to dissipate heat). This change passed unnoticed by consumers (at first) – as there was little change in the appearance of the product. The changes allowed Revere to lower retail prices, leading to a rebound in sales through the mid 1970’s.
After that, it’s a sad story of cutbacks, consolidations, selloffs, mergers & acquisitions, and bankruptcies. The last company to own rights to Revere Ware, World Kitchen Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2002. The next year found them emerging from financial restructuring, and all Revere Ware production was transferred to far-eastern plants, and the product imported to the US. You can still find Revere Ware on Amazon, but it’s all used. A Google search finds a mishmash of historical sites and purveyors of used cookware. World Kitchen was a successful outfit, featuring the popular OXO (“Good Grips”) line. They sold out in 2004 to Helen of Troy Limited for over $273 million in cash. In 2018, Corelle Brands discontinued all production of Revere Ware and Bakers Secret. So that was, as they say, that.
While I love my mother’s Revere Ware and have fond memories of her using it, I’ve never used it myself, at least regularly. I’ve accumulated my own collection of more modern cookware (mainly Chantel), a couple woks, and some ancient cast iron pieces and am very happy with their performances. Part of the problem with Revere Ware is that copper bottom. Essential for heat transfer to the pan, and a major part of the eye appeal, it starts tarnishing the moment you take it off the stove, maybe sooner. While the tarnished copper will still do the heat transfer thing, it just doesn’t look as pretty as it could. From ages 0-10, I never paid much attention to what Mom did in the kitchen, just what she brought out of it. I got to observe my dear Grandma Slater much longer, and I enjoyed sitting at her kitchen table watching her work her magic. That extended to cleanup. Her Revere Ware always gleamed, never put away without a good sprinkling of Copper-Glo carefully applied by her full arthritic hand, palm included. It’s a motion I know well but am too lazy to apply, at least regularly Had to be Copper-Glo, as nothing else came close (2). They’ve stopped making it so it’s good I was able to read about Kleen King in an online comment and get some in Amazon. The guy at the hardware store swears by Barkeeper’s Friend for copper, and that works too. And it’s well worth it to get ‘em all polished and shining, as the before and after pictures below show.
So, this last restoration to gleaming copper of my Revere Ware’s bottoms will be their last roundup, at least by me. I’m gathering them up hoping they can find a home where they are appreciated and used. Vintage Revere Ware sets are going on eBay for $100 and up. The memories are of course worth much more, but I’ll still have them even when these pots and pans I never use are gone. Sorry Mom and Grandma, but I did get to be a pretty good cook with your start.
This morning, we had our second homemade batch of this breakfast treat. It was then I knew I had to spread the news to the mountaintops. Yeah, I know I only have my WordPres blog but, hey, Jesus only had 12! Shaksuka is a spicy underside to your eggs that had its origins in Tunisia but has become very popular in Israel. Pilgrims from the Holy Land bringing home a desire for this dish probably account for its popping up on menus here and there. Babo Detroit was one of those places (1). An eclectic little café a half block down Woodward from the DIA, it was where we stopped for breakfast before taking on the van Gogh exhibit at the DIA one Friday morning (2). Seeing this shaksuka on the menu – “spicy moroccan tomato sauce, sautéed peppers & onion, poached eggs, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, french baguette” – how could you pass that up? It was every bit as good as advertised. Knowing my next several hours would be occupied contemplating the works of a very troubled Dutchman, I parked my food curiosity for the next day. But then Dr. Google was very accommodating. While the Israelis owned shaksuka, it came from Tunisia or Yemen, or maybe even the Ottoman empire (3). Recipes were abundant, but I like the one I crafted together from several sources (see below). Hard to imagine a healthier sauce, then plop your poached eggs into it. Mmmm.
Here’s a peek at what the stuff looks like, some leftovers from breakfast in a bowl. But not for breakfast anymore is this. You could make a nice pasta dish (which we have) or spoon it over most everything.
As for breakfast, it helps if you can poach an egg old style. Set those passive “egg poachers” you might have aside and pick up a whisk. You can salvage those egg whites going through a strainer by collecting them in a dish sprayed with some non-stick (I have a garlic spray I prefer) then nuking the collection for a minute. More protein! But here are those simple instructions about how to poach an egg.
You’d think such a feast would call for sides. Babo served some sliced baguette which was nice. But if your grocery store is up on this stuff, snatch ‘em up! Stonefire mini NAAN ORIGINAL! Pop one in the toaster, and out it comes, nice and puffed up as any naan you might get from your Indian restaurant, minus the slathered butter. Perfect for pushing around the bits of goodness in your bowl.
I didn’t mean to tease you but here’s that recipe for shaksuka.
Don’t know if it’s a thing over there, but Google translate says “bon apétit” in Hebrew is בתיאבו.
I first set foot in Hyde Park when I was 14. Mrs. Kitchel had taken Vicksburg High’s Biology Club on a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. After horsing around the many exhibits, boarding the U-505 submarine, and descending into the coal mine, it was time to clown for the cameras. Some of my friends crawled into that old car for a tintype.
In front: Tim, Rupe, Sam. Back: Al, Shorty, Rod. Eric (Rupe) was and is my best friend. Sam came close in his later years up to his unfortunate premature death (1).
The Museum is a massive piece of neo-classical limestone standing on the north edge of Jackson Park, not far from Lake Michigan..
It is the sole remaining on-site structure from the World’s Fair convened to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s 1492 discovery of America, the Columbia Exposition of 1893, which introduced the Ferris wheel and widespread electrical lighting. The building served as the Palace of Fine Art then and stood empty until 1933 when, after having its plaster facade rebuilt in limestone 1928-32 it opened as the Museum of Science and Industry, during the City’s Century of Progress Exhibition (2). The next largest surviving building from that fair was one of the few built downtown in Grant Park, not in Jackson/Hyde Park, and now houses the Art Institute of Chicago. The Dutch Cocoa House – modeled after the Franeker, Netherlands, City Hall – serves as a multi-residential building in Brookline, Massachusetts. The Pabst pavilion was built in Milwaukee and returned to Captain Pabst’s estate after the fair. That estate is now a museum, and the old Pavilion serves as a its gift shop. A little ticket booth from the Fair survived and now resides next to the de Caro House, a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oak Park. The Norway Pavilion, which had been built in Tronheim and travelled to Chicago by boat, ended up in Wisconsin, first on the Lake Geneva estate of C.K. Billings, owned briefly by William K. Wrigley, and ending up in Blue Mounds, west of Madison’s Little Norway Museum.
The Museum was the brainchild of Julius Rosenweld, philanthropist and CEO of Sears, Roebuck, and company (3). He was inspired by the Deutches Museum in Munich to build a similar interactive in the United States. The museum still features that coal mine and U-boat, as well as a 3,000 square foot model railroad. The museum has major exhibits on mining, automobiles, telecommunications, aviation and aeronautics, space travel, agriculture, time, and medicine, many of which are interactive. Little did I know then that in 8 years I’d be back, executing an assignment for my Anatomy class by returning to one if those interactive exhibits, walking through the giant, and accurate, model of the human heart. Cardiology became one of my loves through med school. Did that start here?
I made it back to the Museum once more in those 4 years in Hyde Park, taking my girlfriend Laurie there when she came from Ann Arbor to visit for the bicentennial. Of course, we had to take one of those tintypes.
A school bus took me into Hyde Park first time. In med school, either Dad’s Cadillac or my old Volvo hauled me and my belongings back to school from Kalamazoo. Nowadays, Kathy and I enter from the north, taking the Metra electric from Millennium Station or the little platform on Van Buren. Back in med school, this was the slick, fast, and clean way to get into town.
It was the Illinois Central then, or “IC”. I got a warm feeling riding the IC, as it recalled the Doobies (“Illinois Central, Southern Central Freight. Ya gotta keep on pushin’ momma, ya know they’re running late” (4)). But that feeling came with a price. It was far cheaper to take one of CTA’s options for that 7 ½ mile trip, either the #6 bus or the Cottage Grove-Harlem El. A buck would get you a ticket plus change and a transfer, good for a free ride back if you use it within an hour of issue. The IT was over twice that. But the CTA did take you through some pretty dicey South Side neighborhoods.
Hyde Park – named after Hyde Park in London – began as a real estate development when young lawyer Paul Cornell, cousin of the founder of Cornell University, purchased from the federal government 300 acres of land between 51st and 55th from which the feds had recently removed the Potawatomi (5). Cornell envisioned a lakeside resort, erected a hotel, and deeded some of his land to Illinois Central Railroad for a station to take residents into the city. Growth was swift and it accelerated after the 1871 Chicago Fire when many Chicago “captains of industry” built mansions in the untouched Kenwood area around 51st. The Hyde Park neighborhood was annexed by the city in 1889, saw the new University of Chicago dedicated the next year and shortly after was chosen as the site of the 1893 Columbia Exposition.
Our goal in visiting Hyde Park these days is mainly to go to church. More about that church later. It’s a ways from the train stop, with Hyde Park and campus in between. Metra’s southbound electrics leave about every half hour, so getting to Hyde Park with enough cushion to eat breakfast and walk to church leaves plenty of time for both if you time it right. Right on the way, an easy half mile 8-minute stroll from the 55th-56th-57th street station, is Medici’s on 57th (6). Medici’s was the name of the small coffee house and gallery original owner Hans Morbach bought to turn into this restaurant in 1962. He said he couldn’t afford to change the sign. The place acquired its own gargoyles early on, crafted by a customer who had worked on the National Cathedral.
The warm, wooden interior, upon which every square inch bears carvings and graffiti, is overseen from a platform above the second level by a 6’ tall mostly naked wooden Indian temple guard Hans had purchased in Vienna.
She happens to rotate once an hour to get a good look at all the customers (and they at her). When you think of all the eccentric and eventually important sometimes famous people who have passed through UofC, you can begin to get a feel for the flavor of this place. And the food and drink are excellent. The bloody Marys come in a pint beer glass with lots of vegetables. Good prep for church.
Church is still a ways from Medici’s, about as far as Medici’s was from the train station. After about 4 blocks through commercial and residential Hyde Park on 57th you cross Woodlawn and campus become evident.
There’s an imposing gothic beauty to the UofC campus, complete with many gargoyles. I think it was wasted on me back in med school. I longed then for the warm red brick of Ann Arbor and saw all that gray granite as stark and cold. You had to study so much you rarely got to go or and see any of it anyway. The social center was Regenstein library, with plenty of imposing cold gray granite it its modern design.
The climate didn’t help, as cold and gray seemed to be the order of the day. Cold, gray, hard, you can see maybe why I didn’t mind leaving Hyde Park when my time was up in June ’79. Yes, there were some spots of fun and I keep in touch with several classmates.
Only when Kathy and I got going with our Chicago jaunts did I consider revisiting Hyde Park. The initial attraction was to attend Sunday services at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. This glorious neo-gothic cathedral stuck in my Hyde Park memory much more than any other of those old gray buildings. It was the last UofC building I occupied officially, as it housed my graduation ceremonies June 15, 1979. I’d gone to church there a few times and found some solace. It’s also site of one of the best UofC stories I’d heard. When the chapel was originally erected, there were no locks on the door, as it was not customary in those times for churches to have them. However, it was not long till President Robert Maynard Hutchins ordered locks. His explanation “When I looked in there, there were more souls being conceived than saved.”
The cathedral was dedicated 10/28/28, nearly 30 years after the University was founded. John D. Rockefeller, oil baron considered the richest man in the world at the time, was a devout tea-totaling Northern Baptist and teamed with the American Baptist. Discussions beginning in 1886 came to fruition in 1890. This would not be the first University of Chicago, as one was established about 3 miles north by Stephan A. Douglass (remember the Lincoln-Douglass debates?) in 1857 (8). It also had a strong Baptist connection, as the Baptist Union Theological Seminary had its first classes there before departing for suburban Morgan Park in 1877. UofC the first collapsed under debt in 1886. Rockefeller began donations to Baptist causes in Chicago in 1873, working with the Midwest Goodspeed and their associate William T. Gates (9). He entered into discussions about a new U of C in 1886 and in 1889, pledged $600,000 to help launch the new university, provided that its Chicago supporters raise an additional $400,000 within a year’s time. The University was dedicated in 1890 and saw its first students 2 years later. I heard several times while a student there that UofC’s initial charter was as a Baptist college. I’ve been unable to corroborate that but given the many Baptist associations in these early days, I can see how it might have happened.
The cathedral (modestly called “The University Chapel” in its early days), came from Rockefeller’s “final gift” to the University. He’d already given $24.7 million, but on December 13, 1910, added $10.0 million (total $1 billion with $29,890.00 in change in today’s dollars) (10). With the gift was the express directive it go to the chapel. It was nearly 8 years before architect Bertram Grosvener Goodhue of New York was commissioned to design the chapel (11). Mr. Goodhue was a well-regarded architect of his time, a proponent of Spanish Colonial Revival and Gothic Revival. The latter was a perfect fit for the gargoyle granite UofC campus. Ground was not broken till a year after he died in 1924. But the product was magnificent, dedicated 10/28/28, a little after the 8/28/25 groundbreaking. Total cost of the project was about $1.9 million ($32 million and $596,202 in 2023 dollars). The massive stone structure was not copied from any European church but is a true American original. Unlike other tall buildings going up in Chicago at the time, there was no structural steel support. The building is 120 feet 1 ½ inches wide and 265 feet 2 inches long.
Foundations were sunk to bedrock 80 feet below and the spire is 207 feet above the sidewalk. Pews seat 1,500. The organ and bells are world class, of course. And the carillon. After Rockefeller died in 1937 at age 98, the Board of Trustees voted to rename University Chapel as Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.
Church services are protestant but ecumenical. Clergy and choir wear vestments. I doubt most of the messages delivered these days would have passed muster with old Baptist JD. The organ and voices resonate magnificently in those high ceilings. It’s sad that so few worshipers take part. Caretakers of this place see to it that the space is kept busy, with many offerings beside Sunday worship service (12).
As you exit the chapel with bells peeling, it’s time to face the rest of campus.
The 59th street Metra station is a half mile beeline back East along the Midway Plaisance. Nice enough scenery along the way. The Plaisance is a green sunken space between 59th and 60th, running from Jackson Park on the East to Washington Park on the West, a mile long and 220 feet wide. It used to be all open space. We played a lot of Chicago-style softball (16” ball) there. It was from the Midway Plaisance that the Bears’ nickname – “Monsters of the Midway” – came. They’ve plunked a skating ring in the middle.
If you know a little French, you’ll recognize “plaisance” as “a place for boating”. So, where’s the water? When the city fathers conceived of a park here in the late 1860s, they hired Olmsted and Vaux, designers of NYC’s Central Park (13). They saw the proximity to Lake Michigan to be connected with lagoons up and down. A canal would need to be constructed but the Great Fire of 1871 intervened, halting all progress. The land lay dormant until planning started for the 1893 Columbia Exposition and planners agreed this would be a great spot to put everything. So, as you walk along the Midway these days, imagine it teeming with fairgoers, amusements, restaurants, foreign villages, ethnological exhibits, and the world’s first Ferris wheel.
As you look across the Midway to those decidedly non-gothic buildings on 60th, those are things like the Social Work School, Law Quad, several arts and assembly buildings, and Burton-Judson Court, the dorm where I ate my freshman year. But this strip of buildings is a thin veneer of civilization abutting the Woodlawn neighborhood, a rough ghetto. If you want to take the EL (Cottage Grove-Harlem, now “green”, line) into the loop, you need to walk 3 blocks south to the 63rd street Cottage Grove station. It was on such a walk I got mugged by a pack of young adolescents in broad daylight. Most of my classmates can tell similar stories. During our orientation week, they sat us down to talk frankly about safety and crime. Many of us were new to an urban neighborhood. We were told how all the harsh halogen lighting seemingly everywhere helped deter crime. That must be a core UofC belief because as recently as 2019 they were producing reports how street lighting cut crime (14). We were advised to stay cautious, never go south of 60th or north of 47th, and rest assured that the U of C Police Force was the second largest unit in the State of Illinois, right after the Chicago Police Department. We all felt so much better.
If you turn north out of church and go back up Woodlawn, some prize campus sites present themselves. First, I still have to hit 59th, not just for a glimpse of the Midway but to take a block or 2 east to see how ol’ Albert Merritt Billings Hospital is doing.
This is where I first bumped into patients and began to get some guidance about what to do with them. AMB held the beds, but also the clinics. “UChicago Medicine” is a huge enterprise these days (15), with Hyde Park patients housed mainly in the glass and steel towers of Mitchell Hospital and the “Center for Care and Discovery”, but with other affiliates around the Chicagoland area. Billings Hospital goes back to before World War I, when the Albert Merritt Billings family began to amass the $1 million they’d put up. There was even a doctor in the family, cousin Frank – Dean of rival Rush Medical College – who contributed. The war and higher post-war construction costs delayed opening of the hospital till 1927. Further donors led to further named hospitals, yet all were housed under the roof of Billings. We strive to teach doctors to learn lessons from the past. How effective can that be when they’re surrounded by glass and steel? Nothing like a little granite to make those lessons sink in.
So, after that, it’s up Ellis. The days of popping inside side doors to the hospital are long gone, so there’s no sneaking in to see my class composite picture, wherever it may hang. Leaving the medical complex behind, there’s the campus bookstore.
Great selection of books and UofC gear, and you might want to take home a stuffed gryphon of your own (I know someone who did!).
Had you turned up Woodlawn outside church, you would have come across Robie House on your right.
Built in 1909 after a design by Frank Lloyd Wright, his last before splitting for Europe for a while. Frederic Robie was a supply manager in his dad’s company with a wife, Laura Hieronymous, a 1900 UofC grad who liked the townie life. Financial and marital problems forced Robie out after 14 months and the next owner, David Taylor, died a year after moving in. The next occupants, the Marshall Wilbers, were the last family to use the place as a home, selling to the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1926, who twice made plans to demolish the building, which finally was purchased by a benefactor in 1958 and donated to the University. The structure is still in use for university functions and tours can be arranged through the Frank Lloyd Wright Society (16). 58th will take you across a quad back to Ellis.
Past 57th, you enter hallowed ground. This now has been consumed by libraries, both Regenstein and the modernistic Mansuetto, looking like something they might construct on the surface of Mars for long term survival of the astronaut crew.
But on this land once stood Stagg Field, where at the turn of last century, Amos Alonzo Stagg led his Chicago Maroons – the original “Monsters of the Midway” – against whatever opposition might face them, usually crushing them decisively. Only that team from the East, Fielding H. Yost’s Meechegan Wolverines, posed a challenge. So titanic were their clashes, they moved them to Soldier Field. Stagg was also athletic director, who knew you had to make the most of your facilities, so he had squash courts installed under the stands of his namesake field. And you remember what happened at those squash courts, don’t you? Italian expatriate physicist Enrico Fermi had conducted experiments with several other colleagues at Columbia suggesting fission in nuclear “piles” was feasible (17). Seeking space to attempt a self-sustaining nuclear reaction, he approached UofC, assuring that chances of an accident were minimal. Construction was finished on December 1, 1942. 771,000 pounds of graphite were used to build 57 layers. The pile also used 80,590 pounds of uranium oxide and 12,400 pounds of uranium metal, approximately $1 million worth of materials ($18.52 million in 2023 dollars). It worked the next day, with 49 in attendance. The reactor was dissembled and rebuilt at the Argonne national labs, where it also generated plutonium. The Stagg stands were torn down in ’57. For the 25th anniversary in 1967, British sculptor Henry Moore erected a bronze sculpture on the site of Stagg Field titled “Nuclear Energy.”
Whew! What can be left to do after that? Maybe time for a drink? For a neighborhood heavy with college students, Hyde Park has surprisingly few places to go get a drink. Yelp finds only 5 “bars” in Hyde Park that aren’t also restaurants, and one is a private club run by the University in the basement of a dorm (Ida Noyes Hall). A lively place to be sure (18). It was there in ’76 I saw one of my best concerts ever: Asleep at the Wheel, Bonnie Raitt, and George Benson. Very up close. My girlfriend at the time bore a striking resemblance to Bonnie, so it was fun to check back and forth. Later that year, we saw R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders (19). The iconic cartoonist Robert Crumb, slumming in his little old time jazz combo, tossed popcorn at my date as he relaxed at table between sets. But in my day, we really only went to two places: Jimmy’s and the Cove. Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap was a place of legend. Up on 53rd, it is said to have escaped the wave of urban renewal that swept that area in the late 50s through the graces of late Father Jack Farry of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, whose photo still graces the wall. Jimmy is the name of original barkeep and owner Jimmy Wilson. UofC students Mike Nichols and Elaine May were said to have met there, started up their improv routine (20) as well as the Compass Players, forerunner of Second City. Jimmy’s was the place for UofC’s eggheads to tipple, and I’m proud to have been one of them. A more recent wave of development leveled the original Jimmy’s, which lives now in a soulless strip mall down and over on 55th. Some of the artifacts from the old Jimmy’s made the move, but the soul is gone. Surely a new generation of students will make the place their own, with their own memories, but it’s not worth any more visits from me.
So it’s a long walk from new Jimmy’s to the bar that was even more my own, the Cove, almost a mile straight east on 55th. The Cove Lounge was right behind my freshman “dorm”, the Shoreland Hotel. More about that in a bit. The Cove had a funky nautical feel. Woulda fit right in in New England. Beer was cheap and they’d sell ya a six pack to go. But on my latest visit looking for that familiar nautical front, I was sad to see all fronts along the street had been turned to uniform glass. At least they kept the sign.
Which brings us to the Shoreland, where UofC started for me and where we’ll finish.
In ’75, the incoming class of ’79 was bigger than UofC had dorm beds to accommodate. As a solution, they had the Shoreland Hotel, a once grand lakeside place built in the 20s that had fallen into slight disrepair. It housed UofC retirees and some other old folks but was far from full. Room for freshmen, dontcha think? It was a fur piece from campus and had no facilities to feed students. Nothing that some shuttle busses couldn’t handle. So, we moved in, tried not to step on the old folks, and built our own community. It was fun in its own way, but I never could get that line from the Dylan tune out of my head about “the old folks’ home in the college” (21). These days, Shoreland’s been restored to its old splendor, the students are long gone, with luxury apartments renting for $2000 and up (22). Nice place, huh? Lakefront living and good bar right around the corner. Train stop 12 minute walk away. Maybe this is what Paul Cornell had in mind all along.
I’m dragging Kathy to Dee-troit tonight to see Dylan at the Fillmore (yes, we have one in Detroit). Jakob, that is, with his Wallflowers friends. Hard to think of them as an oldies group, but it’s been over 25 years since I checked “Bringing Down the Horse” out of the library, taped it, then played it to death. Checking setlist.fm (1), they’re still playin’ those tunes! Can’t wait to check out the audience. We’ll drive it home with one headlight (2).
Hafta have a nice pic of Jakob Dylan in his youth. Handsome boy, but ya gotta believe his dad nailed some pretty choice women. Maybe he didn’t inherit all his dad’s lyrical gifts, but he sure can rock!
Hard to believe as I watch temps plunge into the 40s and snowflakes cast for tomorrow that a week and a half ago we had that warm California sun at our backs as we headed into a week at the beach in La Jolla. Kathy and I fell in love with that place during my winter ’17 UCSD sabbatical, particularly the rocky beach just down the street from our place: Windansea. Nearly every evening we’d walk the 4 blocks down, sit on a bench or a rock, bag with wine and other provisions, and watch the sun set over the Pacific. Several of you reading this might remember the many sunset shots I sent you. We try to get back as often as we can afford it, usually twice a year. We seek to get as close to the beach as possible, but somehow “steps to the beach” in the listing turns into at least a block or two. Closer than my Gravilla sabbatical bungalow, but still not optimal. Not being right on the beach means that at some time you must pack it up and go home, leaving those crashing waves behind. But our past two times out, Kathy has scored places on the beach, and those waves are with us all night. This latest was the best yet, an old wooden chalet with a great deck, big windows, and a straight shot from the deck through the dining room into the bedroom, so that surf music was muffled not one iota. Why we happened to go out when we did relates to the the other love that grew during our ’17 stay, that for a church. I’m not sure what caught our eye about La Jolla Presbyterian (“LS Pres”(1)), but we quickly became regulars, particularly attracted by the pastor, Rev. Dr. Paul Cunningham. A Fresno kid, he never put on airs from his Princeton Doctorate of Divinity, and was as real as they come. And what an ace at exegesis. His sermons stirred the mind as well as the soul. When we found out after coming home we could attend services virtually, we did regularly, mostly pulling away from our local church. Whenever we visited LJ, we tried to make sure to include a Sunday so we could attend LJ Pres in person. When Pastor Paul began to announce Holy Week plans for this year, we decided to spend that week in LJ. I won’t regale you with details except to say it was very much worth it. Highlight was Easter sunrise service at the built-in-1915 organ pavilion in Balboa Park
Except for the churchy things, we didn’t do much. Nearly every day we took the 3-mile round trip hike up the beach into the Village for lunch at El Pescador plus a little provision shopping and back. For you whose Spanish might be a little rusty, “pescador” translates as “fisherman”, and most of the fare behind the counters had been swimming in the Pacific the previous day. Should you not be adventurous enough to take some prey home, they’d cook it up for you, expertly. Grocery store Von’s (now “Provisions”)(2) and wine warehouse BevMo (3) were nearby, so we could fill our backpacks and seek out the bench for the #30 bus stop and take our booty down La Jolla Ave to Rosemont, where it was a couple blocks downhill to our place. And of course you eat outside at Pescador jn that glorious LJ sun. But after that activity we took our cue from the seals on the rocks at the Cove, eating, sleeping, grunting, occassionally changing positions, and emitting waste.
All right by the beach, of course. While LJ has many fine establishments at which to eat and drink, to go to one would mean to leave the beach! Thus was born the “let’s eat home” approach, which served us well throughout our stay. The VRBO had a decent kitchen with a gas stove, but no grill on the premises. I now include a digital thermometer in our “survival” kit. I’ve learned enough from using one at home that good meat shouldn’t be left to guesswork. Our gas stove had a broiler. Radiant heat from above, radiant heat from below, what’s the difference? Not much, I proved with our first night dinner, a nice one of the NY strips I’d scored on sale at Von’s. 3 ½’ on a side, probe to 1300 internal temp, beautiful. Believe we had purple Mexican asparagus on the side, and a nice red blend. How much would a meal like that have cost in one of LJ’s tony establishments? Dinner II required some foraging. I’d stumbled into a great little butcher shop (Buck’s) on a previous trip, and it took Yelp to find it again. But Buck’s on Fay had the choice big veal chops I was craving. I gently coaxed those babies to 1450 internal temp before uncorking the pinot my wine pairing guide said this more delicate meat should join. Maybe regular asparagus this time, but who cares about the vegetables? Next night our friend Ken, host for my sabbatical and good friend from long before then, was coming over. I had something a little different rolling around my brain, and here’s what I threw together:
They were a hit. I used yellowtail as that was what Pescador had, but I think any fish could substitute. Just don’t cook it too much.
Kathy and I would have one last dinner by the beach. Back to the steaks we went, as we had but one left from our original trio. Meat should never be the sideshow, but the perfectly cooked 1300 steaks had to stand up to a topping and a side. I’d toyed with the topping before, doctored it up a bit for this occasion, and here it is:
Then the side. This started as a Thanksgiving dinner staple, but has spread. No matter what the season, you can always get Brussels sprouts, and cooked like this, they’re always a hit:
Ah. The morning after that dinner was time to begin packing up. But this time on the beach reawakened Kathy’s long dormant LJ real estate bug. The realtor who had helped us with our current rental was eager to show us some other properties. He knew our narrow set of parameters and came up with a place a block north of us: modern condo unit with a curved face. Of course, Kathy fell in love with the place. Big and open, with an big curved deck staring down Windansea beach. Not on the market yet, but maybe available for monthly rent.
If only the two of us could move more books! You folks put there, go to Amazon and place some orders (5,6)
But we eventually had to leave paradise for northern California, where family and friends reside. The Pescadaro clan was all there, unfair to ask mother Janet to feed ‘em all. So we went down the coast to the Costanoa Lodge (7). Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
We finished up in Petaluma, visiting my Barnes buddy Dave, who usually runs a 5:31 PM Friday “Safety Meeting” in a back room of his friend Jim Maselli’s hardware store, instead took the show on the road to a local distillery yet to register on Yelp. The booze, food, and comradery were fabulous, but the next morning found us with still enough energy to negotiate the trip to San Jose Mineta. We knew the way. Even though we were happy to be California Fleein’ (8), we knew we’d be back, just like Arnold says (9).
Sure, I’ve liked to drink since age 16, have done it regularly, and maybe stepped it up a bit since COVID like so many others. But when old best friends take notice, and suggest changes, maybe it’s time to pay attention. Eric is almost my size and has a goofy sick sense of humor that exceeds even mine. We were inseparable in high school and have remained friends ever since, despite Eric’s travels chasing bank compliance problems. It’s been a joy since he moved back to Ada, near Grand Rapids, about a decade ago and stayed put. With 3 children, (at least) 5 grandchildren, there’s little time for Grandpa Eric to socialize. When his wife of over 40 years Jean (I was their best man) died last spring, Eric, after a mourning period, emerged with a new honey, Kathy, a former U of M clinical psychologist. It was a date at the Red Hawk with them in Ann Arbor that prompted Eric’s observations and suggestions
As Eric said : “Needless to say seeing an only marginally coherent Bob scarfing down appetizers in a manner that would have raised the eyebrows of a caveman was discerning.”
To which I replied:
Every now and then, you emerge to show you really are my best friend and not just another goofy very tall guy with similar interests and sick sense of humor whom I enjoy hanging out with. I still remember the Abraham Lincoln letter from high school when you expressed concern over my weekly beer excursions with Shorty, Shutesie, and Jerry Mayes. Of course, you followed along the same path of debauchery not long after which I took to label you hypocrite in my mind, not that you ever stopped being a friend. We both emerged from all that nonsense to have pretty successful careers and you with the wonderful family but me just with a wonderful wife. I’ve loved the effects of alcohol ever since tasting it in that bar near the White House that Pecker Paul took me, Sam, Linda Darai, Pam Burns, and Jeannie Van Allsburg on that fateful domestic exchange trip winter of ’69. It didn’t take long upon return to the ‘burg to arrange dial-a-beer and my drinking buddy mates. Several months into it Johnny Mac called me into his office to confront me with his knowledge I’d been going out on a drunk every weekend and wanted to know why. I told him I liked it, kept doing it, and kept getting straight As, so he didn’t bother me any more, at least about that. My habit never affected my job performance, and only only once drew any attention, when a fat nurse told my chief she smelled liquor on my breath as we ascended the elevator to clinic one Monday morning (totally false). I had a DUI while helping teach a course in Maryland in ’94. When I got caught up into the whole opioid over prescribing thing, as part of my rehabilitation they threw me into a state program mainly designed for impaired physicians. Total abstinence was required. Every morning, I’d have to dial a number to see if I had to submit a random pee test at employee health. The tests could detect any exposure to alcohol within the previous 5 days. I couldn’t even use hand sanitizer as the absorbed alcohol would turn my test positive. I figured out I could still get a beer if I went on vacation and quaffed more than 5 days before my return to AA. Those were magical times. After 7 months of this, my Case Manager called me to say they determined alcohol was not part of my problem and I could cease the abstinence and random pee tests. I’d stay a total of 2 years in that program, but only having to put up with the required counseling and reporting. So I drink because I enjoy it. A lot. Connecting with my bio parents has been revealing. Dad (Dick Ike) liked his beer, but took a dim view on our Barton Lake excesses. My bio-mom is half Irish and loves alcohol in all forms but is no lush. One of my bio sisters has had several DUIs. Bio-dad was a bon vivant who was especially fond of wine. He and my mom met while carousing in the bars of Pt. Austin after the war. We gather by his grave in Toronto yearly to pour a little of his favorite pinot over, consuming the rest ourselves. So it’s in my genes, doncha know. But I’m becoming aware of the consequences of my habit. I’m disgusted with the 50# beer gut that came on when my knee arthritis knocked out from under me those daily 4 mile walks that had been keeping it down. I think you know of my bipolar diagnosis (established ~2000) and the lithium keeps me out of the gutter but my motor often runs high, so I think the alcohol is a bit of self medication there . “A doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient” – Osler. But I pay: naps when I’d rather keep going, hangovers (but n-acetyl cysteine is great!), and embarrassments to friends and loved ones. So, you’re right. It’s time to cool it. I’ll see what I can do.
PS. Kathy’s abstinence was mainly weight-control related. But she was a little concerned about all she was downing. Her folks were wine and martini loving bon vivants, so we both sort of have that.
PSS. Curiously, marijuana has not been hard to kick. After my 12/23/14 bike injury, I qualified for a Michigan Marihuana card. While I enjoyed the high so familiar from my college days, it didn’t do too much for my pain. I have quite a stock of “edibles” (like Hooch likes), but don’t indulge anymore as they always make me lose half a day. There’s too much going on in my life in which I want to participate and I don’t want to miss out
Kathy’s learned to trust my judgement with Ark bookings. While mostly I just sign up for our old faves, now and then I’ll slip in someone I’ve only heard about. Worth taking a flyer. So, it was with last Friday’s Sonny Landreth and Cindy Cashdollar. I scrutinize the Ark schedule far in advance so as to get good tickets. When I spotted these two last winter I jumped at the chance. I knew Sonny was a Southern rock guitar hero, and Cindy was a member of the original Asleep at the Wheel. I probably watched her perform back in the day when everyone in the Wheel was about the same age and they bopped around Ann Arbor, usually sharing a bill with Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. Kathy of course knew nothing of Sonny and Cindy, although she likes AATW. I have a Sonny CD “South of I-10”, his 4th from an output of 13 ’81-’20 (1), which I played for her.
Pretty upbeat and a little hard. As for Cindy, I’m almost as insufferable talking about the Wheel as I am for Commander Cody. Remember, Ray Benson formed AATW in 1970 inspired by Commander Cody, who showed you could sell old country to hippies. Of course, the Wheel over the years has been sustained by big Ray’s vision and the many talented musicians he’s gotten to play with him. The originals were easily replaced, including Cindy. But she’s had a marvelous career, pretty much country royalty, taking her proficiency on flat stringed instruments (pedal steel, dobro, flattop) to back up legends Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, and Lyle Lovett while winning 5 Grammys as a member of the Wheel (2). After the Wheel, she’s been enlisted by Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Dave Alvin, John Sebastian, Rod Stewart, Albert Lee, Marcia Ball, Roy Block, Jorma Kaukonen, Leon Redbone, BeauSoleil, Peter Rown, Amy Helm, and on and on. It doesn’t hurt that she’s beautiful and has retained her looks.
From the way the artists took the stage, you’d think some sort of folkie concert was coming. Tall, skinny bespectled Sonny looking like the guitar nerd he is sitting stage right, then the surprisingly beautiful Cindy wafting in to his left. No pedal steel in sight. Darn. Well, it’s hard to get those things into the overhead bin. She’d acquit herself on flattop and dobro. Once set, it really looked like a recital. After some quiet humorous words from both of them, they tore into it. This wasn’t gonna be no recital! (Full disclosure. The pics I took didn’t come out so I kyped this off the net).
Man, did they make some sound. Sonny sometimes sounded like he was playing 3 guitars at once. Oh, and he can sing, too. I never imagined you could make a rhythm section from a dobro and flattop, but it sounded like she had a full drum kit up there. With an opening number like “Blues Attack” (3), you knew they weren’t going to just ease into this thing. Sonny and Cindy started this tour in March, and from Setlist.fm, it looks like they’ve been following the same setlist. This one is from their show at the Thunderbird Café in Pittsburgh March 26 (4). One of the beauties of setlist.fm is that each song listed is linked to an audio file of that same song, so you can click your way through the whole concert. High points for me were “Black Top Run” (5), revving up the middle of the set, and a slide guitar fest from the old blues number “Prodigal Son” (6), which kicked off their encore.
Sonny’s roots are in the swamps of deep southern Louisiana, apprenticing with zydeco king Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band, among others. His music has been called “swamp music”, zydeco, and Cajun. All those influences are there, to be sure, but they’re only a starting point for Sonny, always the experimenter. He’s dandy with the slide, but does much else with a guitar, even going acoustic sometimes. Yes, he’s a brilliant guitarist from the deep south, but this ain’t “Southern rock”. You’ll not mistake a Sonny Landreth concert for Alabama or Lynard Skynard. He’s been nominated for 2 Grammys and Eric Clapton says, “Sonny Landreth is probably the most underestimated musician on the planet, and also probably one of the most advanced.” (1)
Cindy has what looks like a beautiful new album out, which of course I ordered (7). “Waltz for Abilene” welcomes as guests many who have played with her over the years, including Albert Lee, Rory Block, Sonny (of course), Jake Langley, Ray Benson, Derek O’Brien, Mike Flanigin, Omar Kent Dykes, long tall Marcia Ball, and Arlen Roth. I can hardly wait.
Cindy and Sonny began playing together many years ago in what started as a sometime thing. Over the years it’s become regular, and I can’t wait for them to roll through town again. Heck, since Kathy and I are always looking for an excuse for a little trip, I’ll be scrutinizing their schedules to see where else they might be playing. Just another Black Top Run.
I’ve had the joy recently of reopening a relationship with a dear woman who was nurse to my intern at Barnes over 40 years ago. She was married (still is), and thus one of the few St. Louis skirts I didn’t chase. In a recent text exchange, she mentioned how she didn’t like sports very much, not liking dates she had with jocks. I had to counter with how much I did, and wrote her the following:
Kathy and I are big on sports. She was quite the jock, lettering in 3 sports in college and attaining Division III All-America in swimming (backstroke). Me not so much but I played HS football, basketball, and golf, and ran cross-country. I got a HS varsity letter in golf. Intramural basketball in college and med school. Curiously, neither of us was ever injured, except for an ankle sprain here and there. I’ve got a way cool varsity jacket I hope to show off at my Bulldogs’ home opener next Tuesday. Our season football tickets go back to the early 60s when Kathy’s orthopod dad got them for helping to recruit Ohio boys to come to Michigan. We’ve had season basketball tickets since early in the Beilein era. Weekly joys during the football and basketball seasons besides the games are the U of M Club of Ann Arbor Coaches’ luncheons at Weber’s, and in basketball season we add evening Monday sessions of Inside Michigan Basketball from Pretzel Bell where Kathy’s buddy Brian Boesch interviews Michigan’s basketball coaches for a radio show. Kathy got named to the board of the U ofM Club and now has the assignment to corral the coaches of “non revenue sports” to come speak. So now we’re taking in more their matches. So I think that UofM sports are a huge part of our bond to AA. So, there’s something we don’t have in common. Young jocks tend to be pretty self absorbed, but we’ve met some gems among them. At U of M, the jocks are expected to go to class and succeed, so the way they balance the demands of academics and sport can be impressive. Kathy had jocks in her class (more women than men), and several sought and attained med school. Michigan ex-jocks tend to do well in the real world based on their competitive nature, experience with working as part of a team, and having the discipline necessary to excel both in the classroom and on the playing field. Go Blue!
It was my dear late Aunt Dorie (1) who first introduced me to the joys of what we now call mid-century modern furniture (2). Those days, it was called Danish Modern. Aunt Dorie had a few choice teak pieces (now in my living room) and took me to House of Denmark in Troy to see many more. I was smitten. That House of Denmark went out of business, but one survived in St. Louis (seemingly the only place they survived (3)) and I visited it frequently during my internship and residency at Barnes. When I finally got a real paycheck from my full-time post-residency moonlighting in July of 82, I went in and bought that Ekornes Stressless Recliner that had been beckoning by their front door, and in which I had taken a sample sit every time I visited. I later bought a stereo cabinet and bedroom furniture there, all of which survive today. It was that recliner that brought me into our present story.
You never know what you’ll find on e-bay. And one day I found another Ekornes Stressless Recliner, this one in blue leather. I couldn’t resist. There would be a place for it. When it arrived, there were some flaws. Up against my ’82 piece, there were some flaws there too, mostly wear and fading. Looking for someone who could effect the necessary improvements, I came across Bar (for “Barbara”) in Chicago who took on Scandinavian leather furniture for a living (4). After a prolonged effort, stretched out by COVID, she returned to me two like new chairs. I am eternally grateful.
Then, like I said, you never know what you’ll find on e-Bay. I decided that a nice stool would complement our living room teak credenza, someplace to sit while sorting through the files there. The plastic milk crate we were using wasn’t too classy, and certainly not mid-century modern. What I stumbled on was so perfect it made my eyes roll back: Danish, mid-60s, solid teak (you don’t see that anymore!).
So, I plunked down the large amount of cash they asked, and awaited arrival. It was perfect beyond words. I knew nothing of its history then, except for the funny Danish name of its designer, but was very happy with my purchase. It served well and looked oh-so-cool in its home at the edge of the credenza by the hallway. I bought mine used, but as of 2006 you could get a new one from Furiosa in Kolding (phone 75 50 88 87), a design shop run by one of Hundevad’s former employees (5). Price then: 3660 Danish Kroners ($532.67 by today’s exchange rates. You could fly there round trip from DTW and have plenty of Kroners left over for what I paid for my stool!). Not sure that 2006 model was made out of solid teak. Still worth every penny, regardless, especially with what I’ve learned recently.
Then tragedy struck. Trying to lift my 6’6” 270# frame off the seat, I put a hand on the leather seat itself rather than the teak bar supporting it. One of the leather tabs to the teak bar ripped. There are 5 such tabs on each side, so the seat held up for a while. But a later venture found me ripping the remaining 4 on one side and that was that.
It took me a while even to seek help for the situation. Surely, I wanted my heirloom restored. Local solutions were not forthcoming, as the leather furniture restorer with whom we’ve done business before said there was nothing he could do. I sought out businesses in the region that dealt with thicker leather, like saddle purveyors, but couldn’t get a response. As a last ditch, I turned to Bar. If she couldn’t fix such a thing, she’d have some advice. The e-mail happened to land on her birthday, and she was happy to hear from me. She said the repair was beyond what she did, but offered 3 outfits that could take in on, 2 in LA (6,7) and one in NJ (8). I was in touch with all that day and got quick responses. All wanted to know a little more about the piece, so I dug in and told them, as follows:
If you’re curious about the piece to be repaired, it was made in Denmark in the 60s, called a Poul Hundevad ”Guldhøj” Folding Stool. Poul Hundevad was a Dane born in 1917, trained as a carpenter and had his own furniture shop until he turned to design in the early 60s (9). He became a renowned designer (in circles that recognize such things) and is responsible for many of the mid-century modern teak pieces I love so much. “Guldhøj” translates to “gold rush”, so I suspect prospectors took along stools like this to sit on as they panned for gold. Mr. Hundevad did not design this particular stool. A tag on the underneath of the seat – in 4 languages – says a stool like this was found in a “grave-hole” in Vamdrup, coincidently where Hundevad was born, a small town in Southern Denmark on the Jutland peninsula. The grave dated to the early bronze age, ~1350 BC. No wonder the leather tore! I’m counting on the repairmen to produce a piece that can give me another several millennia of service.
So, I can’t imagine a more impossibly cool stool.
One of the potential repairers had me chasing my own leather “half-hides”, which would be necessary to replace the seat. He’d excitedly found some on e-Bay that might work, but in the color I wanted, none were available in that size. But e-Bay does offer some interesting possibilities.
I offered to the LA repairman he could leave the tail in for effect.
But as I write this, I seek to gather up the broken off parts then bubble wrap this thing to an inch of its life. Then it’s off to LA, to be refurbished amongst the furniture of the stars. Once home, I promise to sit on it with proper reverence.
Readers of this blog probably appreciate I’m not above giving shameless plugs to my works in other media. I suppose this is another. I suspect I pushed my very first book here 2 years ago, but time has passed and I thought that book needed work, so here it is in its second edition. First published May ‘21, the second edition is out at 2304 words and a mere 24 pages in this new edition, it’s still more a pamphlet than a book, but Amazon doesn’t have that category. I stopped writing when I had all I had to say about the incident in question. I still think it’s a powerful story, something that happened in October of ’68 and shook my little community. No one who was alive in the area then has forgotten it, although many still wish to. My little book, first published May ’21 and then second edition 3/10/23 describes a tragic car-train accident that killed 2 of my classmates and 3 other Vicksburg boys then the effect all of it it had on my community, which was profound, as you might imagine. Hardly an enticing lead, but the emotion is deep and the writing is heartfelt. Looks like you can get it for free (at least to me) on Amazon/Kindle (1)