The Chicago Room

Since my last post received many “likes” this has motivated me to share more of my writing with you folks.  Thank you for reading!

This is a descriptive essay I wrote for a magazine writing class. My teacher thought that I was describing a library or a room in City Hall, when really I was describing my father’s office in our basement. That’s what makes me proud of this piece, because no one would envision it to be a room in someone’s home, yet I captured the symbolism as well as the treasures it holds. This room contains decades of history and writing a description about the space doesn’t do the view of it justice.

Attached to the gray paneling there is a sign that reads “Chicago Room.” This engraved metallic sign was removed from a banquet hall at the Congress Hotel years ago. Since your bare feet haven’t gotten used to the concrete floor beneath them, take a seat in the rickety wooden office chair that spins in the corner. A person can’t miss the 1937 Black Phantom Schwinn Bicycle parked in the middle of the room, or the 4-foot long orange Oscar Mayer Wienermobile peddle-car lined up next to it.

A wooden desk wraps around the left side of the room and laminated underneath a glass base that extends as long as the desk itself is a detailed map of the city. On the wall above it is an enormous banner that reads “Join us in Celebrating Chicago.” The banner is black and all of the “I’s” are birthday candles. The banner itself used to hang above a terminal in O’Hare International Airport back in 1987 during the city’s 150th birthday year.

A rubber chicken hangs on a wooden post beneath a postcard that was autographed by Svengoolie. Across from the rubber chicken is a wall covered with various photographs of Chicago Mayors beginning from the year 1933 and ending with former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

On both sides of the room, red cast-iron, fire-alarm boxes stand 6-feet tall on fluted columns. The firebox on the right side of the room is a simple one from the 1880s. The firebox on the left side of the room has a little glass window that a person would break, in case of an emergency. Adjacent to this firebox from the 1970s, autographed baseballs, hockey pucks and other sports memorabilia from Chicago area teams are neatly stacked upon shelves.

Beside these mementos is the most comprehensive index card file cataloging most of the buildings that ever stood in Chicago. At the time of this writing, 21,617 buildings are on file. This cold-metal file cabinet has been collecting timeless keepsakes since 1977. Plaster casts, moldings, and actual bricks from buildings like the Garrick Theater, Chicago Coliseum and the Carson Pirie Scott building collect dust on top of it.

Historic collectibles clutter bookshelves; Chicago politics, world’s fairs and amusement venues are just a sliver of divisions that describe them. Doctor Who Daleks, outdated McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, and Wienermobile whistles fill the rest.


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