Pages from Michael Butler's Journal


Date: Sun, 30 Jun 1996 16:31:18, -0500
Subject: Life at home

How about a memoir on day-to-day living on the farm in Oakbrook back in the comfortable days?

Michael Butler This email, coming on the day of an article about me in the Chicago Tribune Magazine, brought immediate memories. From way back when the roads in Oak Brook were all gravel. In a basket saddle being on a lead pony with Dad as he inspected the fields. Held up to the tremendous, musky, lace bosom of my Great Grandmother in her carriage, paying us a visit. I remember running out with Jorie, after a rain, dressed in our seaman slickers to inspect the deep puddles of water to see any critters. In a toboggan, being towed by Dad, in his Duesenberg, to the top of the hill at 31st and Spring Road, so we could slide down, maybe making the bridge over Salt Creek. Or being on skates playing hockey with Dad and all the stable hands when the creek froze over. Sometimes we could skate up to Polo Field 1.

Ponies, they were something really important. After grooming and passing inspection by Capt. Calhoun, the head of the stable, we would gallop out for the entire day. To play war with any enemy, usually brother Franks other gang. Or joining forces to remove the bridge boards and claim tribute from Col. McCormick's 16-cylinder Cadillac, when he was en route to polo. Or with Frank and Jorie, covering ourselves with a horse sheet to make us invisible, we ran across International Polo Field during and thus stoping a major match.

Walking up the hill to Butler School. Being ask by a Peace Officer if I needed a ride. Playing on the enormous combine with was parked in the tall center section of the Old Oak Brook garage. Going to the rail spur in Hinsdale with the cowboys to herd horses, from the ranch in the Black Hills, to the farm. Being warned by Edna, Cal's wife, not to get within a block of the RR tracks when the new Zephyr went thorough--we might get sucked under. The big house of the family on First Street in Hinsdale, then the largest in town. When we were driven to Monroe School, a man road shotgun, with a sawed-off shotgun, next to the driver who's hand gun was holstered on the left side next to the hand brake of the Cadillac. Walking the trap lines with John Boyd on the Salt Creek when he was after mink. When the dozens of buildings on the property were all white. Getting free hamburgers from Mr Porter who managed the York Golf Course. Or visiting Mrs Rhedies whenever she was baking to help her taste the cooking. Earl Horgen, who ran the farm, showing us how to curry the cattle en route to the shows where he won so many prizes. Competing in the family seat and hands classes at the annual Hinsdale Horse Show which later became the Oak Brook Horse Show, before gangsters took over the Chicago horse show scene. Caught smoking behind the barn and being forced to smoke more until I was sick. Going to Mr. Amaker's house "Natoma", which later became mine, to get free chocolate milk from our dairy, which he ran. Knowing that I could ride a pony all day and still be on our property.

The age of wondrous innocence and wondrous times.

On to "POPE JOAN - How and Why"

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