The Second City

I was back in the Second City in October. Once again my visit coincided with the Chicago Marathon. There were 45,000 runners give or take this year, seeming to enjoy (it was still early in the race when I saw the runners) a clear sky day, moderate temperatures, and a steady south breeze. The 1 million or so spectators were in usual form, cheering on all persons and teams but waiting for that special one or group to encourage (and for the most part happy to be holding a cup of coffee and not running among the masses). Most were dressed appropriately for the weather, but a few were in violation of local spandex laws. My favorite “spectators” were actually two women (no spandex) that I will refer to as the Kleenex Ladies. They set up shop with a table and endless supply of Kleenex. The morning began with a bit of a chill and many runners had an overactive snot pump (my dad’s language) early in the race. I saw a number of participants turn back north at a street corner as the race route changed, eyeball the Kleenex Ladies, and make their way over for some relief. The ladies were graciously thanked again and again as runners were continually drawn to them like mice to cheese. I stopped to talk with the ladies, my pump was dry so I did not need a Kleenex, and found that they were most excited to be offering that service.

There were other participant observers in the crowd, but these two were the most interesting to me. I gave a fleeting thought to sometime in the future running one marathon as my sister did two decades ago (Chicago), but reality took hold when I realized that if I ran (I would run New York) I would need to get down to about 175 pounds, an unlikely occurrence given my poor work, exercise, and eating combination.

Chicago marathon

The architecture of the Second City is fascinating, a blend of the old and new, vital and tired, colorful and bland, and just plain goofy. While I like, well sort of like, the revitalized soldier Field, it really looks like the offspring of the Birds Nest (Beijing) and a 1920s football stadium mausoleum. There are all types of boutique hotels, some old, some new with regard to construction. The Wirt (where did they get that name?) is a fine looking building located on the site of a former Dunkin Donuts spot (or was it Krispy Creme?). Imagine checking into that hotel and smelling the funk of plain glazed donuts from years gone by. Sorry. The classics such as the Water Tower and the Wrigley Building call us all back to a time when a group of amazingly talented stone masons put their mark on buildings throughout the world.


Janet and I watched a Cubs playoff game with a Chicago friend at Harry Carey’s 7th Inning Stretch. It is great to be around Cubs fans, especially when there is a victory (they won that night). The periodic roar of the bar/restaurant crowd was loud. The Cubs hit six home runs that night and for each successive batter the noise became louder. However, as we all know the Curse of Billy Goat still holds and for the 107th year the Cubs did not win a World Series. For those of you who are wondering, “who is Billy Goat?” here is the story (the short version). Billy is short for Billy Sianis who supposedly bought two box seat tickets for Game 4 of the 1945 World Series (against Detroit). Billy’s second seat was for his goat, and as you might expect the goat did not stay for the whole game. He grew bored. Yes, the goat was admitted (can you picture that?), but after a few innings and some unpleasant odor the goat and Billy were forced to leave. Billy Sianis supposedly was heard to say “The Cubs aren’t gonna win no more” as he exited Wrigley Field. The Cubs lost that game and that World Series, thus the curse was in play. They have yet to appear in another World Series.

billy goat


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