America's Second City abounds in literary talent, and this anthology spotlights writers associated with Chicago as well as tales that take the Midwestern metropolis as their setting. Contributors include Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, James T. Farrell, Edna Ferber, Zane Grey, and many others.
George Ade's "The Judge's Son" offers a brief character sketch in which two down-and-outers find solace in their shared suffering; "From A to Z," by Susan Glaspell, recounts an idealistic young woman's pursuit of a glamorous publishing job on Michigan Avenue; Will J. Cuppy's "The Extra Major" profiles a struggling freshman at the University of Chicago; and "Reform in the First" presents Brand Whitlock's study of Chicago politics. Additional stories include Nelson Algren's "A Bottle of Milk for Mother"; "The Fall of Edward Barnard" by W. Somerset Maugham; Stuart Dybek's "Chopin in Winter"; and other moving and thought-provoking tales.
About the Author
James Daley is the editor of several Dover editions, including The World's Greatest Short Stories, Classic Crime Stories, Favorite Christmas Poems, Great Speeches by African Americans, Great Speeches by American Women, Great Speeches by Frederick Douglass, 100 Great Short Stories, and Great Writers on the Art of Fiction. His debut novel, Jesus Jackson, was published by The Poisoned Pencil in 2014.
Read an Excerpt
By Alison Daurio
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
THE JUDGE'S SON (1906)
Two men sat by one of the narrow south windows of the Freedom Hotel. They were tipped back in their straight wooden chairs and their feet rested against the scarred sill of the window.
One of the men was tall, with a tan-coloured moustache and a goatee. He wore a black slouch hat, which was pulled forward over one eye so that it gave him a suggestion of rural bravado. The other man was younger, hollow-cheeked, and with hair and beard of dead blackness. His light-coloured stiff hat seemed preposterously out of season, for a slow but steady sift of snow was coming down.
Both men wore clothes of careful cut, but the shape had gone from the garments. The elbows were shiny, the vest buttons were not uniform and the fronts were sadly spotted.
In the room with the two men were some fifty other men, marked by adversity, most of them holding with weakened pride to some chattel of better days.
As many as could find places at the windows sat and looked with fascinated idleness at the rushing money-makers outside. Others put their backs to the dim light and read from scraps of newspapers. There was a smothering odour of pipe-smoke, which floated in vague ribbons above the clustering heads. Sometimes — but not often — the murmur of conversation was broken by laughter.
It is a good thing the Freedom Hotel calls itself a hotel, otherwise it would be a lodging-house. These men in the bare "office" were being sheltered at a weekly rate of $1.50, and each had a cubby-hole for a home — a mere shell of wood open at the top. The upper floors of the Freedom Hotel were subdivided into these tiny pens. Here the tired and discouraged men came crawling every night. From these boxes the frowsy and unrested men emerged every morning.
The wreckage on an ocean beach washes together as if by choice and the wrecks of a city mobilise of their own free will. The man who is down must find some one with whom he can rail at the undeserving prosperous.
The Freedom Hotel sheltered a community of equals, all worsted in the fight, some living on the crumbs of a happier period, some abjectly depending on the charity of friends and relatives, and some struggling along on small and unreliable pay.
There was a 400-page novel in every life there, but the condensed stories of the two men at the window must suffice for the present.
The older, the one with the slouch hat — son of wealthy merchant in Indiana town — inherited money — married — learned to gamble — took up with Board of Trade — wife died — more reckless gambling — moved to Chicago — went broke — Freedom Hotel.
The younger, with black hair and beard — son of a judge in Western city — reared with great care by mother — sent to college — learned to drink — repeatedly forgiven by father through the intercession of the mother — mother died — father cast son from home — son in Chicago, employed in a collection agency — went on a drunk — Freedom Hotel.
The victim of gambling did most of the talking.
"They can't always keep me down, now, you can bet on that," he said, nervously combing his goatee with thumb and finger. "I wish I could have had about ten thousand last week. I'd have shown some of these fellows."
"If I had ten thousand I wouldn't chance a cent of it," said the other, his eyes twitching.
"Well, I'll beat the game yet, you see if I don't. I've got three or four fellows in this town to get even with — fellows that I spent my money on when I had it; fellows that could come to me and get fifty or a hundred just for the askin' of it, and there ain't one of 'em to-day that'd turn over his finger to help me — not one of 'em. That's what you get when you're down, young man. If you want to find out who your friends are, just wait till you go broke."
"I know all about it," said the other. With a shaky hand he took the last cigarette from a package.
"I was thinkin' when I turned in to my bunk last night, 'Well, this is a devil of a place for a man that had a room at the Palmer House, when it was the talk of the whole country.' That was when I used to drive my own trotter and hire a man to take care of him. When I'd come to Chicago, the hotel clerks used to jump over the counter to shake hands with me. If I wanted a steak, I went to Billy Boyle's for it. If I was over on Clark Street and wanted a game, I could get a private roll. It was 'Phil' here and 'Phil' there, and nothin' too good for me. Do you think I could go to any one o' them to-day and get a dollar? A dollar! Not a cent — not a red cent. That's what you get when you're in hard luck."
"You can't tell me anything about it," said the other, in a restrained voice, for his lungs were filled with cigarette-smoke, which he was breathing slowly through his nostrils. "Didn't I go to college with fellows that live right here in this town, and don't they pass me on the street every day or two without recognising me? Why, when I think that I came of a family that — ah, well, it's all right. Money talks here in Chicago, and if you haven't got money you're little better than a tramp."
"Well, I'll have it again and I'll make some of these fellows sorry they ever threw me down. I'll make 'em sweat. If I don't —" and he ran into profanity.
"Here's a telegram for you," said some one at his elbow.
It was the "clerk" of the Freedom — a short man with an indented nose, who went about in his shirtsleeves.
"For me?" asked the speculator, in surprise.
"That's what it says here — Philip Sanderson. It come over from 136."
"I signed for it."
He tore open the envelope and read the message. It seemed that he gazed at it for a full minute without speaking or moving. Then he arose and hurried away. The judge's son rubbed his eyes and felt vainly for another cigarette.
"Your partner's gone," said the clerk that evening.
"Who — Sanderson?" asked the judge's son.
"Yes, this afternoon. He didn't have much packin' to do. What do you think? An old aunt of his died down in Indiana and he told me he'd come in for about five thousand."
"Well, I'll swear," said the judge's son, "and he didn't leave any word?"
A week later the judge's son was walking in State Street.
The cold north wind was blowing.
His summer derby had to be held in place. The other hand was deep in his trousers' pocket.
His old sack-coat was tightly buttoned and the collar was turned up. The judge's son seemed to be limping in each foot, but it was not a limp. It was the slouch of utter dejection.
He was within thirty feet of the main entrance to the Palmer House when he saw a man come out.
The judge's son had to take a second look, to be sure of his own senses. Instead of the old and crumpled slouch there was a new broad-brimmed felt hat of much shapeliness. The winter overcoat was heavy chinchilla, with a velvet collar. Sanderson was smoking a long cigar. He had been shaved recently. His shoes were brightly polished. As he stood back in the sheltered doorway he worked his left hand into a blood-red glove.
The judge's son stood some fifteen feet away and hesitated. Then he slunk to the shelter of a column and spoke to his partner.
"Well, Sanderson, they seem to be coming pretty easy for you." Sanderson looked at the speaker, squinting through the smoke.
He said nothing. His hand being well into the glove, he fastened the clasp at the wrist with a springy snap. With a satisfied lick he turned his cigar once over in his mouth. A flake of ash had fallen on the chinchilla coat. He brushed it off. Then he pushed through the swinging doors and went back into the hotel.CHAPTER 2
REFORM IN THE FIRST (1910)
The senatorial convention in the First District was to convene at ten o'clock, in a dingy little hall in lower Clark Street, lighted by windows so long unwashed that they looked like ground glass. From the chandeliers, black and sticky with dead flies, shreds of tissue paper fluttered, relics of some boisterous fête an Italian society had given there long ago. The floor was damp in arabesque wrought by a sprinkling-can, for the janitor had sprayed water there to lay the dust he was too indifferent to remove. Perhaps a hundred chairs were set in amphitheatrical order, and before them stood a kitchen table, on which was a white water pitcher, flanked by a glass, thickened by various sedimentary deposits within.
In the saloon below, at nine o'clock, scores of delegates were already shuffling in the sawdust that covered the floor, holding huge schooners of beer in their hairy fists, gorging grossly at the free lunch table, with bologna, rank onions and rye bread. The foam of the beer clung to their mustaches, which, after each sip, they sucked between their lips. Most of them managed, at the same time they were eating and drinking, by a dexterous sleight-of-hand, to smoke cheap domestic cigars, and a cloud of white smoke rolled along the low ceiling. Each new arrival was greeted with some obscene but endearing epithet, and the room rang with laughter and profanity. A keg of beer had been provided by one of Conway's managers, and the bartender, wiping his hands on a dirty towel, was rid, so long as the keg lasted, of the responsibility of keeping account of drinks, and of ringing up the change on the cash register. At eleven o'clock the keg was empty, the free lunch table abandoned to the flies, and the delegates scuffled up the dingy stairs to the hall. Half an hour later the chairman of the senatorial district committee pounded the kitchen table with a leg of a broken chair, and shouted:
"The convention will be in order."
This declaration made no impression upon the babel of voices, the laughter, the profanity, the noise of shuffling feet and scraping chairs. The delegates were scrambling to their places, seating themselves by wards. Reporters flung themselves into seats at a second table and gazed about the room, noting who were there. The political men of the morning papers did not trouble themselves to take seats. They loafed among the politicians in a way superior to the reporters for the afternoon papers, as if they were politicians themselves, making history instead of recording it.
Meanwhile the noise did not abate, and the committeeman was growing red in the face. The morning was warm, and the room, already cloudy with tobacco smoke, was filling with a noisome human odor. The atmosphere was feculent. Delegates removed their coats, hanging them over the backs of their chairs. Finally the chairman of the committee, growing impatient, split the table with his club and yelled:
"Damn it all, boys, come to order!"
And then, eager to resign such a difficult command, he hastened to announce:
"The committee has named Honorable John P. Muldoon to act as temp'ry chairman."
He handed the chair leg to John P. Muldoon, who, stroking back his curly hair from his brow, began to beat the table impartially.
All this while Underwood stood against the wall, looking on. The question that had been agitating him for weeks was about to be decided, but now that the ordeal was actually upon him, the consciousness beat numbly against his brain, so that the whole scene lacked reality, almost interest. He was dazed. He was about to take his baptism of political fire, and he trembled like a white novitiate.
Underwood belonged to one of the oldest families of Chicago — the name had been known there before the fire. His father, who had lately taken him into his law firm, continued to cling in his conservatism to an old stone house in Michigan Avenue long after his neighbors had abandoned their mansions to uncertain boarders, and either retreated farther south or advanced to the North Side. John Underwood had come out of Harvard with a young lawyer's ambition in politics, an ambition that had the United States senate merelyas a beginning of its home stretch, and when the year rolled around in which state senators were to be elected in the odd numbered districts he decided that it was time to begin.
The newspapers had scented the sensation that lurked in the candidature of a young man like Underwood in a district like the First, and because he was rich, because he wore good clothes, because he went into what is called society, promptly dubbed him a reformer, and thus weighted he had set out upon his race for the nomination. He liked to see his name in the newspapers, liked to think of himself as a reformer, though he was embarrassed in this attitude by the fascinating figure of the political boss he had hoped to become — a well-dressed, gentlemanly boss, of course, who, while at home in those saloons where he permitted the convivial familiarity of the boys, nevertheless took his luncheons at his club. He fell into a way of speaking of the First as "my district," spoke of it, in fact, as if he, instead of Malachi Nolan and "Cinch" Conway, owned it, and when certain ward politicians in the first days of the campaign called upon him, Underwood was pleased to lend them money, just as he was pleased to comply with the requests of certain others who organized the John W. Underwood First Ward Campaign Club, and sent a committee to inform him that they were assembled in the club rooms ready to transact business, and beer only four dollars a keg. He winked confidentially at himself in the mirror that night as he gave a final touch to his white cravat and surveyed his fine young form arrayed in evening clothes for the reform banquet at the Palmer House. His speech was The Tendencies of Modern Politics. The newspapers said it was a very brilliant speech, breathing lofty political sentiments that were bound to make John W. Underwood votes. Also, the Reform Club indorsed his candidature.
As Underwood leaned against the greasy wall of the little hall on lower Clark Street this morning, the whole campaign flashed before him, just as the events of a lifetime are said in books to flash before the mind of a drowning man. He recalled every vivid detail of the call Baldwin had made upon him, how he entered his private office without troubling the pale, pimpled office boy to announce him, how he lifted from his carefully parted hair his straw hat with its youthful band of blue, and laughed out, "John, my boy, how are you? Hot, isn't it?" He could see Baldwin as he sat in the solid oak chair that stood intimately beside his roll-top desk, fanning his ruddy face with the hat, which had impressed a broad red band on his forehead. Underwood had been glad enough to close Cooley on Taxation and revolve his chair to face Baldwin, just as if he had been a client, for Baldwin was the most important politician who had ever called upon him professionally.
Underwood remembered clearly how Baldwin's excellent teeth glistened when he smiled, how he lighted a Turkish cigarette and, tilting up his chin, blew a long, airy stream of blue smoke through the thick hairs of his mustache. He could even remember how carefully Baldwin sheltered the flame of the match for Underwood's cigarette, in that curious spirit of economy men always practice with regard to matches, much as if there were only one match left in the whole world. And then he could recall almost word for word their conversation. Baldwin had frankly told him that Conway had him handicapped, because he had the city hall with him and controlled the Fifth Ward. Simmons, Baldwin had said, didn't cut much ice; he had some labor leaders with him, and would get a bunch of delegates from his own ward, but that was about all. In fact, said Baldwin, concluding his judicial summing up, Conway could win out, hands down, if it were not for his recent quarrel with Malachi Nolan. Underwood remembered that during all this frankness he had reflectively drawn rude little geometrical figures on an envelope and had been somehow afraid to look up at Baldwin, for the noted lobbyist had sat there transfixing him with an eye that could read the mind of a man when it was impinged on politics — that is, practical politics — as easily as it could a poker hand across a table stacked with blue chips.
Excerpted from Chicago Stories by Alison Daurio. Copyright © 2016 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Table of Contents
ContentsThe Judge's Son (1906) George Ade,
Reform in the First (1910) Brand Whitlock,
The Extra Major (1910) Will J. Cuppy,
From A to Z (1912) Susan Glaspell,
The Bounty Jumper (1915) Mary Synon,
Breaking Into Fast Company (1915) Zane Grey,
The Gay Old Dog (1917) Edna Ferber,
The Fall of Edward Barnard (1921) W. Somerset Maugham,
A Spider Phaeton (1924) William John Pickard,
A Bottle of Milk for Mother (1941) Nelson Algren,
Lunch Hour: 1923 (1945) James T. Farrell,
The Man Who Went to Chicago (1961) Richard Wright,
Looking for Mr. Green (1968) Saul Bellow,
Chopin in Winter (1990) Stuart Dybek,