July 1, 2007

Ramblin' Man

Friday morning I was fed up with sitting still on Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway. Who was Mr. Ryan, and would he be pleased to know he is cursed by tens of thousands daily? Is this the tribute the politicians of Chicago had in mind? I vowed not to make the same mistake on my return trip home. I tuned to the erstwhile WGN and the Cubs as I made my way to Lake Shore Drive and US Highway 41 South. The lake was green and the beaches empty on this cloudy cool Friday afternoon. I passed the remains of the Great White City from the Colombian Exhibition of 1893, now housing the Museums.

I curved through stately neighborhoods, once upper class. There is a wave of rebirth in some of these southside neighborhoods since I last came this way. The historian in me sees things the way they were, and I wish I could have driven these same roads 80 or 90 years ago. Further South I traveled through stoplights and zigzagging down the streets of Chicago. I pass under and along the Skyway, eschewing the exit to view the old road, once the primary highway southward from the Second City.

I cruised past the City Hall and what must be Hammond High. I considered staying on good old US 41 southward to connect with US 52 and on toward home. It is late afternoon and I am already looking at a 7:00 arrival. I jumped back on the interstate and set the cruise control for 83 mph. The balance of my trip will now be quicker, but I think I am a bit poorer in experience.

My side trip was faster than the 'express' lanes on I-94. I enjoyed it far more. As one who travels it is fun to take the old highways and byways, travel through the forgotten towns of America. I squint my eyes and see what was, what might have been, and I am happy.

Now let us calculate your reading comprehension score. What is the main point of the story above?

A. Dan Ryan Jr. was the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners

B. The Cubs won a dramatic game with a walk-off two run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning

C. The Columbian Exhibition of 1893 was the last World's Fair of the Nineteenth Century

D. This is an amazing tale about a salesman who actually worked on a Friday afternoon.

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