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Solution for the May 2013 Puzzler!

CaponeWell, no one knew the answer to the Puzzler this time, although some made gallant efforts, while others had no idea what the answer is, but really want to know.

The Puzzler was: What was  the gaff involving the City of Chicago flag in the movie The Untouchables?

So here goes: If you saw The Untouchables, you may remember the shot of South LaSalle Street and  the financial district with many city flags flying from the buildings. You also may have noted that all of the flags had four red stars. In addition, you probably know that the events in the movie took place in the late 1920’s.  

Each star represents a significant place or event in Chicago history. The design for the City of Chicago flag was first approved in 1917 with the first two stars honoring the Great Chicago  Fire of 1871 and the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair of 1893. The third star was added in 1933 for the Century of Progress World’s Fair of the same year. The fourth and last star was added in 1939 to commorate Fort Dearborn. The Fort actually predated by many years all those having already received stars.

Thus, there were only two stars on the flag in the late 1920’s!


A Poem for May

How to Work                                                      

I’m talking about this old guy from here

name of Charley

that old boy was something


could ride a horse standing up

I seen pikshers of him on his horse

Jiggs in World War I days

he’d swing his little bulldog Jiggs

around his head

dog holding on to the end of a rope with his teeth

suppose he liked the name Jiggs


that old boy could do some work

bought an eight-room house

no kitchen no bathroom

put ‘em both in by hisself

made the cupboards from scratch

landscaped the backyard

rock-walled gardens and a patio

took off the front porch and built a new one

added two rooms

that time his friend Everett helped out


old boy could do some work 

he was sixty-some and

 started shingling that two-storey place

by hisself

just a little guy maybe five-foot-one

hundred and ten or so

done some shingling before but not much

no matter

used asphalt shingles

stiff brittle stuff broke easy weighed

a ton, fifty pounds a bundle

he would sling it up

on his shoulder like a 15-pound ham


Charley wanted his boy to help some

and yes he did      some

 he told the boy to use the pre-drilled

nail holes in the shingles

driving the nails too deep’ll shatter the shingle

kid needed to pay more attention

than he was used to

three broke shingles and three ass-chewins

went a long ways for making the boy a worker


every night after work and weekends

got the job done in two years

that’s his house across the road there

sixty years nothing’s sagging

shingles‘re looking good

Charley’s been gone forty years now


enough talk  let’s go

grab that bundle

sling it up on your shoulder

that’s the way, sling it

now bring it up the ladder to me

remember what I told you about

bein’ careful driving them nails

you and me we’ll get this goddam job going yet

and it won’t take no two years.


Copyright Larry Ambrose

A Poem for March

Seeing Chicago

Seeing Chicago

Temporal Joys

How pleasant it is to not be writing today

not needing to pay intense attention to any moment.

How good it is not to have to be really good at anything

I do today

especially poetry.


I can play my fiddle badly or just go sit in Bughouse Square.                               

I don’t have to be ultra awake talking to my neighbor

or sitting in the dentist’s chair.

I have no need to be guilty

for not writing all the damn time.


It’s much better to wander the ancient streets of Lamu

with tiny children who cry Jambo, Jambo until

I return their greeting.

Or to amble over to my neighborhood barber shop

for the monthly amateur political stylings

of Hector and Mario.


Why try to think of anything

meaningful to say

or get impatient with the

junk I write?

I needn’t be precise with my words today

or brilliant or brave or even fair.

I’ll not be writing.


Today I don’t have to pursue

metaphor or simile like an urban coyote

searching out a toy poodle.

Instead I can float down

the Thames to Hampton Court

stop for a summer shandy and raucous songs

in my favorite pub.


I can sit and contemplate ghostly

chimney vapors casting shadows on the building

next door before I take a notion to look

for my high school yearbooks because

I can’t quite remember what Cynthia looked like back then.


It’s perfectly suitable to ride the 157 bus

end to end

both ways.

Spend time at Cape May or Belmont Harbor

or have the supreme flat bread breakfast with Karen

at Pierrot Gourmet in the Peninsula

and argue whether to use a tip calculator or just wing it.


I am a poet nonetheless.  

I roam about

pray for happenstance – perchance inspiration

and worry I might miss its dawn.


Such trials notwithstanding

poetry is my excuse to look

listen and maybe     



 Copyright ©2013 Larry AmbroseLarry 2013



Your February Puzzler Solution is here!

Ceres at night

Ceres at night

The February 2013 Puzzler consisted of two questions about the sculpture at the right:

     Who am I?

     Where am I?

Congratulations to Paula, Mary and Soren for your correct answers to the Puzzler. It is the sculpture of Ceres, the Goddess of Grain atop  the Chicago Board of Trade Building at the foot of LaSalle Street where it meets Jackson Boulevard. The Board of Trade Building is one of Chicgo’s greatest Art Deco skyscrapers of the late 20’s and early 30’s. It was designed by John Stores of Paris in cast aluminum. Ceres weighs six tons, is 31 feet six inches tall and sits on a six-ton steel frame.

It is said that Ceres does not have facial features because the planners felt that there would never be a building tall enough from which viewers could detect their absence.

Who am I?Where am I?

Who am I?
Where am I?


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!!



Correction of the October Puzzler answer

I am grateful for the correction to my answer to one of the questions on the October, 2012 Puzzler.

Here it is:

As a distant relative of  William Butler Ogden, I feel I need to correct some mis-information regarding one of the answers to your questions about him.

a. Ogden, Utah was NOT named in honor of William Butler Ogden. It was named in honor of another relative in the extended Ogden family: Peter Skene Ogden. The father of Peter Skene Ogden (related to the family line of William Butler Ogden), Isaac Ogden, went to Canada during the Revolutionary War because he was a loyalist. Peter Skene Ogden was an early explorer of what is now  Utah. 

– Jean DeLauche