With Thanksgiving upon us, this seemed like an excellent time to peruse the Museum’s menus collection. The Research Center houses a collection of Chicago restaurant menus from 1853 almost to the present.
One is a 1937 Thanksgiving menu from Isbell’s at 590 Diversey Parkway. Diners had their choice of appetizers, soups, main course, drinks, sides, and dessert all for $1.35. If a whole turkey was included (for parties of six or more), the price went up to $2.00. Selections included “Half Florida Grapefruit, Maraschino,” “Roast Young Pig with Cinnamon Glaced [sic] Apples,” and “Thanksgiving Ice Cream.”
A year later in 1938, a better deal was to be had at the Auditorium Hotel, where the price of a Thanksgiving dinner ranged from $1.00 to $1.50 and the most expensive cocktail was $.40 (it was a Horse’s Neck, in case you were wondering; see below for a link to the recipe). These are just two of the menus in this extensive collection. If you have a favorite memory of dining out at one of Chicago’s restaurants, check out this collection and remember that meal gone by.
One of the great joys of being a curator at the Museum is finding new material for the collection, especially if that material tells a forgotten story about the city. Such is the case with a bright red jacket worn by Peter C. Lamana of the Chicago Rockets football team.
Chicago Rockets football warm-up jacket, 1946–48
Worn by Peter C. Lamana
Chicago History Museum, gift of Virginia Lamana, 2013
The Rockets, established by Chicago trucking executive John “Jack” Keeshin in 1946, belonged to the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), which included teams such as the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts. The Rockets played their home games at Soldier Field and over three seasons compiled a record of 11 wins, 40 losses, and 3 ties. In 1949, the team played under the name Chicago Hornets, but unlike other teams in the AAFC, they did not join the National Football League prior to the 1950 season and ceased to exist.
Peter Lamana (1921–2007) played center and running back for the Rockets during the 1946, ’47 and ’48 seasons. He was born in Bristol, Connecticut, and played football, basketball, and baseball at Cathedral High in Springfield, Massachusetts. At Boston University, he focused on football, becoming captain of the team and an All-American honorable mention. Lamana served as an infantry captain in the US Army during World War II. He spent nearly two years in Europe, mostly Germany, and received several awards, including the Bronze Star, twice, for bravery, heroism, or meritorious service. While overseas, Lamana played for the European Theater All-Star football team in the fall of 1945 and was voted most valuable player.
Peter C. Lamana, c. 1947
Chicago History Museum, gift of Virginia Lamana
Returning home, Lamana moved to Chicago to play for the Rockets. According to his wife, Virginia, who donated the jacket to the Museum earlier this year, he lived at the Stevens Hotel with several teammates but grew so bored between practices and games that he walked over to State Street and found a part-time job at Marshall Field’s. Lamana continued working for Field’s after his football career ended, moving up in the ranks to help the company establish several suburban locations. Although he never played professional football again, Lamana kept the jacket as a treasured memento, along with several photographs and game-day programs.
Program for night game between the Chicago Rockets and Baltimore Colts, November 7, 1947
Chicago History Museum, gift of Virginia Lamana
Editor’s note: DePaul University students Burton Cann, Bristol Cave, Kristen Gayer, Hannah Woodford, and Elise Zerega talked to Ken Raskin, owner of Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, about Manny’s history for this entry in the Museum’s People and Places blog series. The students studied with the Museum’s archivist Peter T. Alter as part of DePaul’s public history program.
Manny’s has long been a Chicago landmark. After winning the historic 2008 election, the new president-elect, Barack Obama, stopped by. President Obama even has his own favorite order: corned beef, potato pancake, and cherry pie. It isn’t just a politicians’ hangout, though. For generations, Chicagoans have visited Manny’s to enjoy and share their favorite meals.
One of Manny’s famous sandwiches, 2012
Photographs taken by DePaul students
The family business, originally opened by Russian Jewish immigrant brothers Jack and Charles Raskin in the early 1940s, is now owned and run by a third-generation Raskin, Ken. Jack and Charles opened their first cafeteria at Van Buren and Halsted Streets. In the late 1970s, at the age of twenty-seven, Ken took over Manny’s. That makes his kids fourth-generation Manny’s employees. Over the years, Manny’s has kept its historic identity. As Mr. Raskin puts it, “We are one of the few places that are really, truly in a time warp. Other than the prices of the food, things are just about the same as they were seventy years ago.”
Manny’s sign on South Jefferson Street, 2012
In 1942, the Raskin brothers opened the Manny’s restaurant we know today on West Roosevelt Road near Maxwell Street on Chicago’s Near West Side. At the time, the area was a neighborhood of Jewish, Eastern European, and Mexican immigrants and African American migrants. At the center of the community sat the Maxwell Street Market, which ran on Sundays when most other stores were closed. With the creation of the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) in the 1950s, Maxwell Street’s eastern portion was destroyed, while the University of Illinois at Chicago’s expansion took up more of the historic street not long after that.
Cafeteria line at Manny’s, 2012
Manny’s moved to its current location at 1141 South Jefferson Street in 1964. Besides a president-elect, Manny’s has also been a haven for Chicago’s mayors. Mayor Richard J. Daley frequented the restaurant during his tenure, a tradition continued by his son Mayor Richard M. Daley. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel also occasionally stops by. You don’t have to be a mayor or president, though, to enjoy their latkes at Hanukkah and matzo pizza and honey cake at Passover or their giant corned beef sandwiches anytime. Do your taste buds a favor, and head to Manny’s to experience a bit of Chicago tradition. You might even try one of Mr. Raskin’s favorite dishes, the beef stew. Then share your favorite Manny’s story with us.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest speeches of all time. Delivered by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of a new Civil War cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the brief speech is a rhetorical masterpiece containing many memorable phrases: “Four score and seven years ago,” “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here,” “a new birth of freedom,” and the stirring finish, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” But, today, I’m focusing on a less familiar phrase in the last sentence: “the great task remaining before us.” Lincoln is, of course, referring to winning the war.
Diorama depicting President Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863
Created by the Works Progress Administration of Illinois, c. 1940
Chicago History Museum, ICHi-53029
In November 1863, despite recent Union victories, including one at Gettysburg the previous July, Lincoln and the Union still faced the enormous challenge of defeating the Confederacy, a tougher and more resilient foe than expected, and abolishing slavery, the root cause of the conflict. Since April 1861, more than 750,000 Union and Confederate soldiers had been killed, injured, or reported missing, making the Civil War the largest and deadliest conflict in United States history with no end in sight.
Less than a week after Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, fighting erupted near Chattanooga, Tennessee, with the Battle of Lookout Mountain on November 24 and the Battle of Missionary Ridge the following day. On both occasions, Union troops under Major General Ulysses S. Grant defeated Confederate forces commanded by General Braxton Bragg. One of the forgotten heroes of Missionary Ridge is David Bremner of Chicago.
David Francis Bremner wearing his US Army coat and cape, c. 1885
Chicago History Museum, ICHi-68212
Born in 1829 in Ottawa, Canada, Bremner moved to Chicago with his parents in 1848. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Nineteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry with many other young men from Chicago and northern Illinois. Bremner is credited with leading Union forces up Missionary Ridge against a hailstorm of enemy gunfire in one of the most dramatic moments of the war. As he wrote many years later: “Forward dash the Boys in Blue; the woods are soon cleared; a stretch of half a mile of open fields lies between us and the Ridge, and there is no cover, no protection whatever from the storm of lead and iron which greets us. On, on, we go; no stop, no halt; a comrade drops here, another there, but the line moves on… Up, up, steady and sure, to the crest, over the breastworks—the Ridge is gained!” (from The Nineteenth Illinois, published 1912).
Victory that day came at a heavy price with 5,824 Union casualties: 753 killed, 4,722 wounded—including Bremner—and 349 missing. But, the North had routed a major rebel army and gained complete control of Tennessee and the city of Chattanooga, gateway to the lower South. Although not as famous as Gettysburg or Sherman’s March to the Sea, the Battle of Missionary Ridge, in the words of one rebel soldier, “sounded the death-knell of the Confederacy” and helped complete the “great task” Lincoln spoke of at Gettysburg.
After the war, Bremner briefly operated a bakery in Cairo, Illinois, before establishing a successful bread company in Chicago (they later invented the famous Bremner Wafer). In 1897, Bremner and several fellow veterans commissioned a monument at Missionary Ridge to mark the site of their heroic action. A bronze panel set within the monument depicts Captain Bremer, flag in hand, leading his troops up the mountain. Bremner died in 1922 and is buried in Saint James at Sag Bridge Church Cemetery in Lemont, Illinois. In 1963, his granddaughter donated his war-torn army coat to the Chicago Historical Society along with a photographic portrait of Bremner wearing the garment.
US Army coat and cape worn by Captain David Bremner, 1861–65
Gift of Mrs. J. Donald Scott, 1963.600
Photographs by Museum staff
Veterans Day has special meaning for me this year. A few weeks ago, I attended the opening of a new exhibition at the Museum, American Heroes: World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal. The exhibition, organized by the Smithsonian Institution, features the prestigious award bestowed upon Japanese American soldiers who served with the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The Museum also developed a local component, With Courage and Honor, to honor veterans of the local community.
Congressional Gold Medal, 2011
Courtesy of SITES
Among those featured is Sats Tanakatsubo. A native of Sacramento, California, Sats volunteered for the US Army and reported for duty on October 27, 1941, before the United States declared war on Japan in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He trained for MIS at Camp Savage, Minnesota, in June 1942 and served with the Seventh Infantry Division in Attu, Alaska, where he interrogated Japanese prisoners of war. Sats also served in the Aleutian Islands, Australia, New Guinea, Philippines, and Japan.
Sats Tanakatsubo, 1945
Courtesy of Sats Tanakatsubo
I had the pleasure of meeting Sats at the exhibition opening. He told me about his wartime experiences, which included training with other Japanese Americans, many of whom had been forced to live in government internment camps during the early years when anti-Japanese sentiment ran high. Because he had enlisted, Sats had not been sent to camp, but his family went to Tule Lake, California, and then to Topaz, Utah, where his father died.
Upon returning to Sacramento, Sats realized he had nowhere to go. But as he started walking toward a church, he ran into his brother, who was living in Oakland but had come to Sacramento to look for him. Sats lived with his brother’s wife’s family for about a month before moving to Cleveland where he studied to become a dental technician. While there, Sats met his future wife, Betty, and after they married, the couple moved to Chicago and lived in a small apartment in Hyde Park.
They started to raise a family but struggled to get by, prompting Sats to attend night school to become a florist. He worked in a floral shop for about four years before seeking a better-paying job in a machine shop on Western Avenue. As he recalled in a 2008 interview with the Japanese American Service Committee, Sats bluffed his way into the shop to speak to the foreman but decided to “put everything on the table” and told him, “Look, I really don’t have any experience in a machine shop but . . . if you have the patience to teach me, I got the will to learn. I will be a good worker. . . . All I want is a fair shake and I will work.”
Sats landed the job and stayed for thirty-two years—twenty as a machinist, twelve as an inspector. He and his wife raised three sons who live and work in the area. He also established a competitive drum and bugle corps for young boys. Sats is justifiably proud of his accomplishments: “This has been my life. I’ve done a lot, here, in the city. . . I’m a fruit of my labor.”
As a member of MIS, Stats Tanakatsubo was among those honored by the 2011 Congressional Gold Medal. The front of the medal features a group of Japanese American soldiers with their motto “Go For Broke.” The reverse features the insignia of the three units whose members were awarded the medal: the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service.
American Heroes: World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal and the accompanying With Courage and Honor will be on display through Sunday, December 8.
Beginning Saturday, November 9, the Museum will host a national treasure: a printed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and John G. Nicolay, Lincoln’s private secretary. The document has been generously lent by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield and will be on view at the Museum through January 5, 2014. It is one of forty-eight copies printed for sale at the 1864 Philadelphia Sanitary Fair with proceeds aiding wounded veterans. Each document bore the signatures of Lincoln, Seward, and Nicolay, and only twenty-six copies are known to exist.
Printed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Lincoln, Seward, and Nicolay, 1864
Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Gift of Jesse Jay Ricks, 1937
Of far greater significance, however, is how the Emancipation Proclamation changed the course of American history. Lincoln issued the proclamation on January 1, 1863, nearly two years into the Civil War. The Constitution protected slavery, but Lincoln used his power as commander in chief to declare freedom for more than three million Southern slaves. Lincoln’s decree also called for the enlistment of black soldiers and directed Union troops to protect black freedom as they entered and occupied rebel territory. The Emancipation Proclamation gave the war a higher moral purpose of human freedom and eventually led to the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in 1865, followed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which extended citizenship to African Americans, and the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted equal voting rights to African American men.
In addition to the Emancipation Proclamation, the exhibition features two significant pieces from the Museum’s collection depicting conditions before and after Lincoln’s presidency. The exhibition closes Sunday, January 5, 2014.
After the Sale: Slaves Going South from Richmond, 1853
Oil on canvas
Chicago History Museum purchase, 1957.27, ICHi-52422
This painting shows a group of recently sold slaves being forcibly moved from Richmond, Virginia, to work on large plantations in the Deep South. Such events often involved the painful breakup of families, as illustrated by the central figures. By 1850, the United States had approximately four million African American slaves, more than any other country in the world.
The Shackle Broken by the Genius of Freedom, 1874
E. Sachs & Co., Baltimore
This print portrays South Carolina Congressman Robert B. Elliott speaking in support of the bill that became the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The act guaranteed African Americans equal access to public accommodations and prohibited their exclusion from jury service. Below Elliott, the artist depicted a free black family with the caption, “We toil for our own children and not for those of others.” Notice the figure of Abraham Lincoln standing on the left, holding the Emancipation Proclamation.
To learn more about Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, visit the following websites:
For many, the Ebony Fashion Fair was a transformative experience. On a Sunday afternoon in early October, I had the chance to hear just how life changing the show was from a group of insiders. Nearly a dozen former Fashion Fair models, backstage staff, and photographer Vandell Cobb reunited here at the Chicago History Museum to walk down memory lane. Of course, they knew that the Fashion Fair dazzled audiences across the nation and how it affected their lives, but the group repeatedly said they had no idea that they were making history.
Fashion Fair alumni stand at the Inspiring Beauty entrance. Pictured from left: Gayle King, Shayla Simpson, Vandell Cobb, Christina Clements, Paula Bond, and Almetris Snulligan
Photographs by Museum staff, unless otherwise noted
As we walked through the galleries together, these insiders shared stories from their days on the road. Shayla Simpson, the traveling show’s longest-running commentator, provided insight on gowns she remembered from her tenure. When we came to the show-stopping lavender gown by Givenchy, Ms. Simpson recounted that the couture house later borrowed the gown from the Fashion Fair collection for a retrospective exhibition. It’s not the only time that a signature piece was lent back to a designer. Similarly, she talked about her experiences on buying trips with Mrs. Johnson where no expense was spared.
Evening ensemble, haute couture, spring/summer 1974
Silk crepe and fringe
Appeared in Ebony Fashion Fair The Big Whirl of Fashion
Photograph courtesy of Johnson Publishing Company
In the exhibition, former models looked for images of themselves and ensembles they had worn. Gayle King, who toured with the show for four seasons, wowed audiences in the pink André Courrèges, while Almetris Snulligan stunned in the floral Jean Patou. When viewed from the front, both ensembles appear demure, but when the models turned around, each revealed a daring, plunging back. Paula Bond and Christina Clements, who toured with the show during the 1979–80 season and graced the cover of that tour’s program, were in attendance as well.
Gayle King was a sensation in this pink haute couture evening ensemble by Courrèges during the 1974–75 Fashion Fair tour.
Jean Patou (France)
Evening dress, haute couture, fall/winter 1986–87
Flocked silk satin, mink
Appeared in Ebony Fashion Fair Fashion Scandal
Behind the scenes at every show, wardrobers prepared the garments and models for the stage. A number of the women who steamed and mended the gowns joined the reunion to share stories of their time on the road. In theory, I was the tour guide but I learned as much as I shared. Needless to say, my time with these special guests was fabulous and, above all, inspirational. Be sure to join us at the Chicago History Museum for this historic exhibition. You won’t be disappointed.
Former Ebony Fashion Fair models and wardrobers in front of Inspiring Beauty
Chicago toy inventor Marvin Glass (1914–74) loved kids and loved fun. Even better, he loved thinking up more and more kooky ways for kids to have fun. He and his brilliant creative team not only conceived original games that became instant hits, they were the masters of “spin-off” pop culture products in the toy industry. In a 1967 interview for Chicago magazine, Glass observed, “The success of a toy depends largely, I have come to believe, upon the contemporization of basic ideas.” The Chicago History Museum’s new Unexpected Chicago artifact represents the legacy of this genius.
Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, Transformers edition, c. 1985
Museum collection, ICHi-67244
Take two toy icons—Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, one of the most coveted toys of the 1960s and 1970s, and the massively popular Transformers, which debuted in 1984—and mash them together to make one game twice as fun. Here’s what happens: Two kids square off in the ring by manipulating mechanical boxers using a handheld thumb trigger. It’s like a version of thumb wars where robot avatars take the hits. Eventually, one player knocks off the opponent’s robot’s head, and the round ends.
If you thought the original version of the game was awesome, the Transformers edition was even more extreme. The futuristic characters—Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, and Megatron of the rival Decepticons—sprang to life, plastic, touchable, and suddenly under the control of dueling children. It was a proven formula for decades: Boxing + Robots = Fun.
Advertisement for the original game, 1964
Museum collection, ICHi-67131
Better, too, for toy sales. The game stayed in production, riding the wave of video game–era merchandising. Glass and Associates foresaw the success of video games in the early 1980s and kept the company current by transforming virtual- and TV-based fun into a world of “real” contraptions and old-fashioned board games.
Back in 1966, the US Patent Office had issued a patent to Marvin Glass and collaborators Harry Disko and Burton Meyer for Toy Boxers, the original name for Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots. Robots lent a current, forward-looking appeal for kids fascinated by space-age dreams, who also happened to like to hit things. Glass had strong opinions about violence and toys as well as about ways to channel children’s aggressive energies onto inanimate objects rather than each other.
Figures for Toy Boxers, Patent #3,235,259, filed in 1963
Museum collection, ICHi-67239
Marvin Glass was an Evanston native and graduate of the University of Chicago. He began work in toy design in 1941 and nurtured a multimillion dollar studio on North LaSalle Street that represented the best minds in toys. After Glass’s death in 1974, the firm continued under the leadership of the other partners until 1988; three of whom then founded Breslow, Morrison, Terzian, & Associates, now known as Big Monster Toys. The Chicago History Museum took in the Glass and Associates collection in 1989.
Marvin Glass, c. 1965
Museum collection, ICHi-40329
On one occasion when asked what makes a good toy (which surely happened often), Marvin Glass replied that he anticipated an aura of relaxation that would come upon its players, followed by a simple, “Yes, that was fun.”
Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, Transformers edition, is on display in the Museum’s Kolver Family Lobby through December 2013.