I'm one of those nerds who loves reading historical markers. They're usually commemorating some obscure event or person, but you never know when useless knowledge can get you out of a scrape so I'm always careful to stop and read them.
Like what if I'm held hostage somewhere and my captors demand, "I'M ONLY GOING TO ASK THIS ONCE. WHOSE COMPANY (they're yelling most likely) DID ABRAHAM LINCOLN ENLIST WITH DURING THE BLACKHAWK WAR?" And I'll reply, maybe with a smirk, "Why with Elijah Iles at Fort Johnston in LaSalle County. " Impressed, they'll of course let me go and as I'm leaving I'll shout, "AND IT WAS HIS SECOND TOUR MOTHERFUCKERS!"
So point. . . I had one. Oh yeah last weekend I was walking by the Tribune Tower where I saw a marker on the Chicago River noting that Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette were the first white men to pass through Lake Michigan into the river in 1675ish. I've walked by the spot a trillion times and never noticed it. Some group--surprisingly still in existence--calling themselves the Colonial Dames of America erected the plaque in 1925. The whole thing was troubling, and it had nothing to do with the 'white men' thing. Some of my best friends are white men you know?
Carved into the side of a pillar, this sculpture allegedly depicts the aforementioned French explorers meeting the first native Chicagoans. Homoerotic to say the least, the well built and presumably oiled Natives were on their knees clinging, CLINGING to the legs of Jolliet or Marquette and gazing up at them adoringly. Even more spectacular, an angel is floating above the group and smiling down at them. Somehow I doubt that's what the meeting looked like.
And the whole thing left me wondering if a more contemporary Chicago River incident deserves an historical marker. Lest we forget the shit bath that boatload of tourists took a while back when Dave Matthew's bus driver decided to unload their crapper on the Kinzie Street Bridge?
Don't those people deserve recognition for their struggle? Should I call the Colonial Dames?
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