Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition

By Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition

Your Saturday history briefing

#488・
530

issues

Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition
Welcome to the “This week in history” newsletter, part of Afternoon Edition! Every Saturday we take a break from recapping the day’s news to bring you a deep dive into Chicago’s activist-minded, life-saving and occasionally blood-sucking history. For more historic photos, follow us at @CSTphotovault on Facebook and Instagram.
— Alison Martin (@miss_alison_m, follow for extra history plus rants and dogs throughout the week)

This week in history: Comedian Dick Gregory attempts to confront Mayor Daley on school segregation
Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, born Oct. 12, and others gathered outside of the Mayor's Office after being told that Mayor Richard J. Daley was not in the building and thus unavailable to meet with the Anti-Willis protesters on June 10, 1965. From the Sun-Times archives.
Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, born Oct. 12, and others gathered outside of the Mayor's Office after being told that Mayor Richard J. Daley was not in the building and thus unavailable to meet with the Anti-Willis protesters on June 10, 1965. From the Sun-Times archives.
Comedian Dick Gregory never shied away from making a joke about racism. His brand of comedy in the 1960s involved making people laugh and (hopefully) squirm in their seats. When he wasn’t doing a bit, Gregory — born Oct. 12, 1932 — hit the front lines of the civil rights movement, participating in boycotts, sit-ins and protests all over Chicago and the country.
In June 1965, the activist focused his attention on ending school segregation in the city and getting rid of School Supt. Benjamin Willis as he and other cohorts attempted to organize a school boycott.
Several other boycotts against Willis — the “Freedom Day” boycott in 1963 and another in 1964 — drew massive headlines and attention but failed to force Mayor Richard J. Daley to get rid of the superintendent, who refused to send Black children from overcrowded schools to less crowded ones in white neighborhoods. Instead of building better schools in Black neighborhoods, he installed portable school rooms pejoratively known as “Willis Wagons” and put many of those schools on double shifts.
During the summer of 1965, Gregory and other activists planned another school boycott that would keep kids out of classrooms, but a temporary court order stalled this effort. On June 9, Chicago Daily News reporter Edmund J. Rooney caught up with the comedian just as he was coming out of jail on a disorderly conduct charge. Despite what other activist leaders thought, Gregory still supported the boycott.
Find out why Gregory continued to support the school boycott and what his next move was. Chicago wasn’t the only northern city facing school segregation problems. Milwaukee did, too — so Gregory stepped in to help. Supt. Willis did leave Chicago Public Schools in 1966, but the city school system still remains segregated today.
For the sake of public health
On Oct. 14, 1912, an assassin shot President Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee. He was transported to Mercy Hospital where renowned physician Dr. John B. Murphy treated him. Here the doctor stands outside the hospital several days after the shooting. From the Sun-Times archives.
On Oct. 14, 1912, an assassin shot President Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee. He was transported to Mercy Hospital where renowned physician Dr. John B. Murphy treated him. Here the doctor stands outside the hospital several days after the shooting. From the Sun-Times archives.
Meet Dr. John B. Murphy. Though many of his surgical techniques are no longer in practice, this famous Chicago surgeon laid the groundwork for many procedures still used today.
Born in Wisconsin in 1857, Murphy graduated from Rush Medical College and spent the majority of his career in Chicago. Although he’s made several major contributions to medical and surgical science, perhaps his biggest accomplishment came in 1914 when he saved the life of then-presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt.
“Col. Theodore Roosevelt is suffering a serious wound in the chest as a result of the deed of a would-be assassin in Milwaukee last night,” an Oct. 15, 1912 report in the Chicago Daily News read. “An afternoon bulletin issued at his bedside at Mercy hospital, East 26th street and Prairie avenue, where he was brought early today, and signed by Drs. J.B. Murphy, Arthur Dean Bevan and S.L. Terrell, recited that the colonel’s breathing is somewhat painful and that absolute rest and quest are essential to his quick recovery.”
On Oct. 14 at a campaign rally outside the Milwaukee Auditorium, New York saloonkeeper John Schrank shot Roosevelt, who was running as a third-party candidate, as he waved from his open-air car, according to a Library of Congress article. A stenographer for the candidate saw Schrank with the gun and immediately tackled him to prevent him from shooting again. The crowd surrounding Roosevelt nearly killed the would-be assassin, but the candidate managed to control the crowd and turn the suspect over to the police.
Roosevelt knew he had been shot, the Library of Congress article said, but several items in his coat pocket stopped the bullet from doing serious bodily damage. Against what would have been the better judgment of any physician, Roosevelt continued inside the auditorium and delivered his speech. He famously told the audience, “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose,” and finished his 80 minutes of remarks.
After the speech, Roosevelt finally sought medical care at a Milwaukee hospital before heading to Mercy hospital in Chicago.
There, Murphy and the other doctors discovered just how narrowly Roosevelt avoided death. X-rays showed that “the bullet entered above the upper border of the liver less than an inch below the lower border of the lungs.” Had the bullet penetrated either organ, Roosevelt’s shot would have been fatal.
Speaking to the press on Oct. 15, Murphy said he believed Roosevelt’s wound was “not dangerous” and indeed the Bull Moose candidate was back on the campaign trail by Oct. 30, according to the Library of Congress.
Back in Milwaukee, Schrank told an Associated Press reporter that he felt no remorse for shooting Roosevelt. He knew of Roosevelt when the former president was New York’s police commissioner in 1895, and “looked upon [Roosevelt’s] plan to start a third party as a danger to the country,” the Oct. 15 article in the Daily News said. He believed Roosevelt to be “engaged in a dangerous undertaking,” and he claimed former President William McKinley, who was assassinated in office, told him that Roosevelt was to be blamed for his death and that he “had blood on his hands.”
That’s why Schrank followed the Bull Moose candidate across eight cities, including Chicago, and tried to line up that shot, the Daily News article said. It wasn’t until Roosevelt’s speech in Milwaukee that he finally got the chance to fire.
Roosevelt eventually lost the election, but thanks to Murphy, he lived to fight another day. The skilled surgeon remained in Chicago but died four years later.
Over the course of his career, Murphy served as a professor at three Chicago institutions all at once: Rush, Northwestern Medicine and the University of Chicago. He also maintained a private practice at one point and held “wet” clinics at Cook County Hospital. Read more about this creative and controversial surgeon here. Learn more about the auditorium named after him and why WBEZ called him the “Forrest Gump of Chicago physicians here.
Talk of the town
Bela Lugosi gives his most memorable performance as Count Dracula in the 1931 film, "Dracula." This still from the film appeared in the March 20, 1931 edition of the Chicago Daily News.
Bela Lugosi gives his most memorable performance as Count Dracula in the 1931 film, "Dracula." This still from the film appeared in the March 20, 1931 edition of the Chicago Daily News.
There’s no better time to watch a scary movie than October. And what better movie to choose than the 1931 classic, “Dracula.” Though the 1922 silent film “Nosferatu” frightened audiences and Lon Chaney certainly set a high bar for horror with “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1925, “Dracula” upped the ante — it was a talkie.
The film hit theaters in February 1931, and a review finally appeared in the Chicago Daily News on March 20, 1931, under the headline, “A Recipe for the Heebie-Jeebies.”
“Warning to the customers,” critic Clark Rodenbach started his review, “lay in a peaceful eight hours in the hay the night before you contemplate attendance at the State-Lake. You’ll have a tough time catching up on the shut-eye after a session with ‘Dracula.’”
By 1931, Bram Stoker’s gothic novel had been on shelves for over three decades and adapted into a stage production. This movie marked the first of many film adaptions of the infamous bloodsucker, but certainly not the last.
In this version, Count Dracula sets his sights on Mina Seward, the daughter of an English doctor who runs a sanatorium for people with mental disorders. She’s engaged to Jonathan Harker, but when the mysterious count arrives from Transylvania, a “strange affliction” begins to take hold of her.
It is not until a visiting Dr. Van Helsing notices Dracula’s lack of reflection in the mirror that something might not be quite right about the count. He correctly guesses that Dracula must be a vampire, but knowing thy enemy does nothing to help Van Helsing and the others destroy the accursed being and save Mina.
“We could tell you of the one and only way of killing a vampire, once and forever,” Rodenbach teased. “But we will be mumbudget about it.”
The film was not without criticism, as the reviewer called it an “unusual picture and somewhat uneven.” Some of the more gruesome scenes looked “so overdone as to be ridiculous” and even made him laugh at moments that were supposed to horrify him.
Rodenbach didn’t rate the film nor recommend or discourage readers from seeing it. He left that decision up to the very bravest of them.
As of publishing you can watch the 1931 “Dracula” online through Peacock and YouTube. Meanwhile, enjoy this clip of Van Helsing confronting Dracula or read Roger Ebert’s retrospective of the film in 1999.
City of arts
On Oct. 16, 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played its very first concert. Here jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman plays with the symphony on May 11, 1968. Photo by Jack Dykinga/Chicago Sun-Times.
On Oct. 16, 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played its very first concert. Here jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman plays with the symphony on May 11, 1968. Photo by Jack Dykinga/Chicago Sun-Times.
This week on Oct. 16, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra celebrated its 130th birthday. Conducted by Theodore Thomas (also born this week on Oct. 11, 1835), the first concert garnered rave reviews from the Chicago Daily News.
“It was in every way an auspicious beginning,” the paper wrote in a review on Oct. 17, 1891. “No special efforts had been made to drum up a big audience.”
If you read Neil Steiberg’s column last week, then you know why Thomas’ concert drew such interest in the city. The famed conductor had a concert scheduled in Chicago for Oct. 9, 1871, and he arrived to find the city on fire and Crosby’s Opera House, where he would conduct, destroyed. 
Years later, Thomas grew tired of touring the country. He famously told Chicago businessman Charles Norman Fay that he would “go to hell if they gave me a permanent orchestra.” Chicago being much closer, Fay found a support group for the new orchestra, which met officially as the Orchestra Association on Dec. 17, 1890. Almost a year later on Oct. 16, the orchestra, with Thomas conducting, played its first concert and became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Thomas held the new symphony’s first concert at the Auditorium Theatre, whose seats were filled “with musicians and lovers of music,” the Daily News said in its review of the concert.
“They came there not to see and be seen, but to listen. The audience was composed of people who will attend these concerts again and again. Their patronage will be steady and not capricious, as is often the case with ultra-fashionable audiences.
"This fact among others only a little less significant gives assurance that the Thomas concerts will not suffer from lack of interest on the part of the public even when the novelty of the thing shall have worn off.”
In the final sentences of its review, the Daily News took a swipe at New York City, reminding Thomas which city supported him. “Theodore Thomas will not be compelled to waste harmony upon empty chairs, as sometimes happened when he and his artists were trying to please New York.”
Read more about Theodore Thomas here and watch the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform the 1812 Overture at Ravinia this past summer. Benny Goodman, pictured above playing with the orchestra, is best known as the “King of Swing.” Listen to him perform “Sing Sing Sing” here with his band.
Thanks for reading! Want to share your thoughts? Your favorite moment in Chicago history? Your complaints? Send them to amartin@suntimes.com.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition

Chicago's most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city's storied history.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Manage all your newsletter subscriptions here.
Powered by Revue
30 N Racine Ave. Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60607