Monthly Archives: January 2013

January’s Puzzler Solution!

Wow! Everybody who responded got the right answer!

Congratulations all! Some of you guessed. Some of you just knew you were right.

As you all know, the answer to the Puzzler is NAVY PIER.

Indeed the Pier has been:

     A jail for draft dodgers and housing for several regiments of soldiers in 1917-1918.

     The location of its own streetcar line, theater, restaurants and evergency hospital in 1919-1921.

     Its own “golden age of recreational and cultural activity. Mayor William H. Thompson’s “Pageants of Progress” drew nearly a million visitors in 1921 and 1922.

     A pioneer in broadcasting – the Chicago Federation of Labor radio station WCFL, “the voice of labor” began at the Pier in 1926.

      “Municipal Pier”, renamed “Navy Pier” in honor of Navy personnel in World War I, 1927. Soldier Field had been completed in 1926 to honor those serving in the Army in WWI.

      A lake freight and passenger terminus that declined, 1930-1940.

     A Navy pilot orientation training center for 15,000 pilots for military service,  including a young airman named George H.W. Bush, future President of the U.S. As many as 200 WWII planes still rest at the bottom of Lake Michigan as a result of  training accidents. 1942.

     A two-year University of Illinois undergraduate program replacing the Navy and remaining there until 1965. The Navy’s main mess hall became a giant library considered “the largest reading room in Illinois”. When I was a student at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in the early ’60’s we called the Pier “Champaign on the Rocks”.

A Poem for January


Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mrs. Lincoln  Admitted Today

Bellevue Place Sanitarium, Batavia, Illinois   May, 1875

 We seen it in the paper. She’ll get

here around noontime.

The wife didn’t want to see it so I come alone.

They say the old lady went crazy, maybe been crazy all along.

Say the son, Robert Todd done it. Took her to trial, 

said she’s a danger. Danger

to herself.   

Wonder if that’s all of it.

That’s them now, carriage’s pulling up the path.

She screaming? Ranting? Acting crazy? Nah.

I ought to get out of here, walk on home.

She’s real little. So gray.

Not like the pictures.


It’s a dirty job he’s got, the son Robert Todd

that got her committed.

I suppose he was full of strain and great difficulty,

growing up with Mary as a mother,

Abe riding the circuit and all.

Now her trying suicide, spending wild,

irrational. High one minute,

bottom the next.

Son’s got to do his manly duty,


God damn hard job.

Wonder if that’s all of it.

Probably not all of it.

There’s always more.

Robert Todd must be torn,

deep in the night he’ll beg

relief from all this.

Mary is surely lost and alone.

She’ll pray him the worst

scoundrel of the age.

Both Mary and Robert Todd are

prisoners of this sanitarium,

every day a day of gazing out,

studying imponderable escape.


Some days I pass by there,

that sanitarium.

See Robert Todd’s carriage

once in a while and guess

what window is his mother’s.

Do you suppose Mary and Robert Todd

are visible through the glass?

S’pose you

can see them talking,

slowly but surely, reaching,

little by little setting one another free?

Larry Ambrose

Your January, 2013 Puzzler is here


Time to start the new year with a new stumper

Get your thinking caps on. Here goes:

What well-known Chicago location has at various times been a. a jail for draft dodgers, b. the site of two annual Pageants of  Progress, c. a transportation terminus, d. a military training center, e. a university, and f. an amusement center?

Enter your answer as a “comment” and I’ll reveal the Puzzler solution in a couple of weeks.

Good Luck!!