Chicago – A Film from the Chicago Board Of Education

The following is from Jeff Altman’s Vimeo account:

This is a film I found at an estate sale on the south side of Chicago [Auburn Gresham]. It merely said ‘Chicago’ and ‘Print 1′ on the canister. I bought it because I was intrigued as to what might live inside.
Well, its hard to say exactly what this is. Its a film by the Chicago Board Of Education, produced sometime in the 1940s. I only know this because the narrator died in a horrible plane wreck around that time. Its hard to say the purpose of the film; it could be geared towards tourism or to entice companies to come to Chicago. This film could have just been used in the classroom. I’m not entirely sure.
The great thing about this film reel, is all the different views of the city they give. If you have any more info on this, I would love to know!

Altman spent $40 on the print and then used his skills as someone who works with film in post-production to restore and digitize the print, according to The Atlantic Cities.

Interestingly a spokeswoman from the Chicago Board of Education said staff was searching the board’s archives to find a reference to the film but, so far, it seems unclear why the video was created and who saw it, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

Up to this point the only names anyone researched seems to be John Howatt, credited as the business manager of the film, and Johnnie Neblett, the film’s narrator. Howatt was elected to the Chicago Board of Education as a business manager on Jan. 8, 1945 and Neblett died on Sept. 15, 1946, according to NBC5.

So the the film had to have been released at some point between those two dates.

The official end of WWII, V-J Day, happened in between those dates on August 14, 1945. Because of this I think the film was an attempt to attract a combination of returning veterans, their families and businesses that were restructuring back to civilian/pre-war production levels to come settle in Chicago.

Digging around myself, I started researching the names listed in the opening credits and came across a Chicago Tribune obituary for Selma Jacobson dated from Dec. 23, 2000.

It describes her as a home economics teacher in the Chicago Public School system during the time the film would have been made. She left her teaching position at the Bridge School for a sabbatical in Sweden in 1950. She would alternate between Sweden and Chicago intermittently for the next few years.

The reason I think it’s her name in the credits is that in 1956 she was asked by Mayor Richard J. Daley to prepare a history of the Swedish in Chicago for a holiday folk fair. The fact a CPS home economics teacher was tapped by King Daley to put something like this together makes me think Jacobson had already successfully boosted for the city in the past.

During her lifetime she also lobbied for the Swedish-American Historical Society to start an archive and for the establishment of a Swedish-American museum in Chicago.

Adding support to this theory was an obituary I found for Marie C. Frank, another name featured in the film’s opening credits. According to a Chicago Tribune obituary dated from May 19, 1972, she was a the director of the federal and state survey department of the Chicago Board of Education.

This adds to my theory that the film was designed to sell Chicago to as an ideal place for veterans and businesses to thrive in their return to civilian life.

I need to find more information on Jacobson and Frank to confirm if they were involved. I think that once I start digging into those two women’s history I might be able to find out why exactly the film was commissioned. Ω 

Weird crime is my business, and business is good

A few weeks ago I woke up before dawn to get to my newspaper’s office in Plainfield for an editorial meeting on our Primary Election coverage.

Since I’m the northwest suburban Cook County reporter I normally don’t head out to the office more than once a month since it’s so far away from my beat.

While I waited for the meeting to start, the layout editor came in and we ended up shooting the breeze. We talked about the ongoing redesign of the newspaper, my favorite watering hole and how it was nice to catch up in real life instead of over email or social media.

As the conversation progressed she brought up how the crime stories I file for each week’s issue are something she looks forward to because of how weird they are.

Most of my friends enjoy hearing my work stories when they’re about armed robbers with colorful monikers like the “Bad Hair Bandit,” or guys running on top of a Metra train during rush hour or cops trolling the internet for prostitutes.

It’s when I bring up property tax levies or a municipality overhauling its zoning ordinances that I usually end up losing their interest.

So of course I was looking forward to the next weird crime story I was going regale my friends with the next time we were sharing a pint of the dark stuff at our favorite dive bar.

I think this jinxed me because for a few days I found nothing weird to write about on my beat.

I mean, I filed some pretty solid crime stories but none of them really stood out as weird or interesting.

It wasn’t until the early morning of March 22 that I was able to track down the lurid details of a man Niles police allege was publicly pleasuring himself to a cop’s wife while sitting in his car at a mall parking lot.

The jinx was over. I was back in business. Ω

Post Primary Hangover

Thanks to the March 18 Primaries my sleep schedule is all messed up.

I woke up around 6 p.m. that day because I was charged with updating my newspaper’s website with my fellow reporter’s copy while also reporting on the races in my beat. A combination of a glitch in Will County’s computerized tally system and Cook County keeping its polls open until 8:30 p.m. made sure I was awake well past 2 a.m.

As soon as the Cook County’s polls closed I hit up campaign events in Morton Grove, Edison Park and Park Ridge to get some photos and quotes. At one of those events  a very drunk mayor got within a few inches of my face to loudly whisper a scoop at me.

Anyways, around 11 p.m. I got back  to my desktop to update the The Bugle’s website and start working on my stories.

Focusing on my beat in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, one race’s outcome was especially surprising. 

Susan Atanus and David Earl Williams III were competing for the GOP nomination to go against incumbent U.S. 9th District Representative Jan Schakowsky (D) in November. The media and GOP both figured it was Williams’ race to lose because of comments Atanus had made during her campaign.

Here’s an example:

Then turning her attention to Schakowsky, Atanus said the incumbent was a “nothing candidate.”
“Schakowsky is pro-gay rights and abortion, and that breeds HIV and AIDS,” said Atanus
Atanus has repeatedly gone on record saying God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.
Comments like these led GOP party leaders, including Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party Jack Dorgan, to say she had no place on the ballot as a Republican.
“Schakowsky is way out in left field,” said Atanus.

No one expected her to win.

However to most everyone’s surprise, once Cook County’s totals for that race came in around 12:30 a.m. she had a total of 12,447 votes while Williams had 12,012. Because of this I spent most of my night and early morning tracking down Williams, Atanus and the Niles Township Republican organization for comment.

By the time I filed my story it was 10 a.m. and I was burnt out. Five days later I feel like I’m finally getting back to normal.

Can’t wait for the November General Election. Ω