Monday, December 9, 2013

Chicago, Land of Enchantment

John Houseman by Fran Gregory
At 23 in 1926, John Houseman — born in Bucharest, raised in Paris and London and already tempered on the lonely plains of Argentina — was excited to be traveling on the Twentieth Century Limited to what he regarded as the center of a “vast, enchanted land,” a place we would call Chicago.
He was eager to experience “…the America of Whitman and Sandburg, and Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Frank Norris and Sherwood Anderson — of which I had already formed such a vivid literary image and which I was now impatient to discover for myself.”
Through the dining-car window, Houseman caught his first sight of “…the Loop, deserted on that Sunday morning, the air tainted with a faint, sickening smell of putrefaction from the stockyards. There was a motion-picture convention at the Drake Hotel when I arrived and the lobby was jammed with men in Western hats and cigars and girls who looked like Clara Bow, with pillboxes on their shingled heads. When I got to my room, I could see the vast expanse of Lake Michigan through my window, its shimmering, wind-swept water stretching out beyond the breakwater for what seemed like an infinite distance into the sky."
So your viewpoint always depends on your perspective, my friend. And romance and adventure remain, like beauty, in the beholder’s eyes.
Source: “Run-Through” by John Houseman

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