Exploring the Windy City

Ed Rood

My old buddy Slick couldn’t believe his eyes! There it was on the official hotel registration ... his name along with the four female class members’ sharing sleeping accommodations. 

It was May and the Class of 1957 was checking in at Chicago’s Morrison Hotel as part of our Senior Trip. 

Our school had recently adopted a tradition to award a four-day whirlwind adventure to the Windy City for graduating seniors. An event school officials believed the seniors would always remember.

Ed Rood

It didn’t take long for our chaperones, Coach and Mrs. Dave Blackman, to squelch that sleeping arrangement. Seems the folks at the hotel front desk had thought Slick was a girl because his first name is Carrol.

Needless-to-say, room assignments were quickly changed. Mrs. Blackman took Slick’s place with the girls while Mr. Blackman got stuck sharing sleeping quarters with the boys. (When the class is comprised of just 11 members, shuffling a few rooms wasn’t that big of a deal.)

However, the hotel room assignment snafu did sort of set the tenor of the trip. Seemed like anything that could go wrong DID. 

Our “Educational Tour of Chicago” began at 11:45 p.m. on May 15, 1957 when the Milwaukee “Arrow” stopped at the Slater depot and 11 seniors and our two sponsors (chaperones) climbed aboard. 

The chaperones didn’t last very long before falling asleep. After all, they were elderly (in their early 30s). I don’t remember what the girls did for the next eight or so hours but we boys played poker.  We played all night and then enjoyed breakfast in the dining car.

Upon arrival in Chicago, we soon experienced our first big city taxi ride to the Morrison Hotel in downtown Chicago.

After finally getting into our bona fide rooms and unpacking we were soon stuck on a tour bus scooping the Chicago loop. That evening we found ourselves back on a tour bus checking out the city at night, visiting Chinatown and eating with chop sticks. Upon our arrival back at the bus we discovered Slick and Kooker ducked down in the seats after raising the ire of an awfully big waiter.

We kicked off the next morning by witnessing the opening of the market at the Board of Trade and checking out the observatory tower where some of us tossed sugar packets upon innocent Chicagoans. 

As we were approaching Marshall Field’s department store a short time later a taxi cab flew past us, bounced up on the sidewalk and knocked a prospective female shopper through a plate glass window. Unfortunately, that proved to be the most memorable part of the trip for me.

That evening we walked to the Chicago Theatre to see “China Gate” and to meet Nat “King” Cole. We did see the movie but Nat “King” Cole was a no-show. That was the least memorable part of the trip for me.

Our final day in Chicago was the day we (at least the boys) had been licking our chops over – a baseball game at Wrigley Field featuring the Chicago Cubs playing the Brooklyn Dodgers. Well, we awoke to a rainy day in old Chi town and the game never happened.

We killed that day shopping (which was a real bummer for the boys) and boarded the “Arrow” for a most-of-the-night trip back to the Slater depot.

I believe we arrived back home around 3 a.m. the next morning. But that’s a whole other story!

Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.