Public Figures | Newberry

Public Figures

I have seen other people take pills that way, but no one over the age of about eight. Still, I am not going to knock what works for YOU. I do know people who take a certain pride in swallowing their pills without water, and I know people who would not touch a medication unless there was a tumbler with twelve ounces of water in it. “They’ve proved it helps the medicine work better,” they tell me.

I did not last all these years as a matinee idol and beau ideal of millions by arguing about how people take pills.It is not my way. (Which has ruined me for what seems to be an expanding career market for people who are willing to tell you you’ve got that face mask on wrong.) So if you like to pick up your pills using the tips of all the fingers on your hand, and then put this cone of fingers and pills as far into your mouth as you can, you go right ahead. All I will say by way of warning is that everybody has a camera on hand these days. And however well the pills may work, you look kind of goofy doing this.

This particular box of collectibles has been sitting out at the Book Fair for eons. You may remember it: a black plastic box with five shallow blue drawers. It has contained a number of flat documents over the ages, but for a number of years now, it has held this huge collection of news photos taken in City Hall in the 1980s. I’ve been going through the collection, checking for things which might have an eBayable air about them. A lot of the choicest items have sold over the years, but I have plenty left.

The Tribune felt no particular need to show the City Council always in a flattering light. This does not sell newspapers, except to the alderman’s office. So here’s a lad with his feet up on another alderman’s chair, here’s one blowing a puff of smoke from a cigar as thick as his bankroll (smoking not only used to be legal in city hall; it was practically required.) But people have bought every photo of Jane Byrne taking aspirin during council meetings. (I assume it’s aspirin, since most antacids are chewed, not swallowed.) So I don’t have any of those to offer the crowd on eBay. (Though I do have this photo of her feet. It was a groundbreaking, see, and she had set her hardhat under her chair during the speeches, and I guess the photographer was getting the hard hat. But there are Jane’s feet, recorded for posterity.)

I still remember the glee when one of my customers (a neighbor in my building) found not one or two but three different photos of his alderman, um, in an ungenteel attitude. “I have to have these,” he said, and plunked down twenty-five bucks. (There were no other photos like that in the collection: was the only alderman who picked his nose in public good old…but I won’t say the name. You’d just break into my neighbor’s place to get the pictures.)

It’s been an entertaining look at the past. This fellow was out of politics for a while because Richard J. Daley and he didn’t get along. This one did well because he and Harold Washington saw eye to eye. This one was investigated for Mob ties but remained in office (his son went to prison for dealing with the Boys, but that didn’t mean Dad was in on it, of course.) I once beat this one to the checkout counter in the grocery store, and if looks could kill my problems would have ended long ago.

A goodly number of these folks are still in business, though their hair is no longer the color it was in 1987. At least two have biographies online which list investigation after investigation which they have somehow weathered, remaining in business at the same location in spite of it all. And I now get to spend time while I’m Working From Home marketing these photos of these open, unlined, innocent faces as they were in the 1980s, though, as I say, I have no further shots of any of them taking pills.

But City Hall is on LaSalle, not all that close to Medicine.