Sunday, February 06, 2011

Streets and Sanitation Heroes Take Public Guff, While Taking the Snow Away

Last night, I attended a beautiful wedding ceremony at Temple Rodfei Zedek at 52nd and Hyde Park Boulevard. There were lines of snow removal vehicles and Chicago Police cars all along Lake Shore Drive in the northbound lanes from 47th Street to McCormick Place. They were being marshaled to move out into the side streets. Hyde Park Boulevard was as clear as a baby's eyes, by the time we hit the exit at 51st Street and the route to the Temple was wide open. Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel, a really sweet natured guy from Springfield, Mass., greeted guests and prepared us for the nuptials and blessings. The gents, including three Micks from Little Flower and St. Justin Martyr and Visitation, donned yarmulkes. The ceremonies took a little under an hour and guests headed back north to Bistro 110 on Pearson.

I exited at Navy Pier and went west to Rush Street. Just south of Erie, there was pause in traffic and there were two cars ahead of me and nothing behind. At the corner was big blue snow truck removing show and two white managers and crew vehicles. In a nano second of stopping the horn started. The guy two cars ahead of me must have had a vital organ, heart, liver or such in a red emergency cooler that he needed to rush to an ER, or had crucial information about an Al Queda plot against the nation, because he laid his palms on the horn with a will.

Out of the white vehicle with flashing orange lights, stepped a very tired looking guy. He wore a vest. He was about six foot and looked like he had wrestled 167 in high school and could probably still go all three periods on the circle in the mat.

He walked slowly and leaned into window of Harry the Horn. The Horn stopped. Within seconds of the delicious quiet, the huge Blue Plow backed away and traffic moved. The supervisor did not display and contempt, nor anger; rather, stoic professionalism. I nodded a thank you to him. He nodded back and I crossed Chicago Ave. behind Harry the Horn. He went straight on Rush Street, when I took the left past the Chicago Archdiocese Quigley Pastoral Center and up to Bistro 110.

We went in for a fabulous dinner that featured a Choral presentation of an Anglican Hymn before dinner, by the twenty friends of the bride and groom who had sung with the Kings Choir and the Apollo Chorus. Back on Rush Street, the crew of Streets and Sanitation snow removal pros were clearing streets and taking guff from varieties of Harry the Horn.

We are what we do.

Last year, John Schmidt presented a great feature on Chicago Snow Removal from 1907 -Click my post title for the full tale.

This is from John R. Schmidt of Chicago Now's Unknown Chicago -12.15.10

On this date in 1907, Chicago was just getting through a major snowstorm. Clearing the streets of the First Ward--downtown--was a priority. The ward superintendent had hired 312 day laborers to remove the snow. Their job was to shovel the snow up into the back of horse-drawn wagons.
Once the wagon was full, the teamster would drive the wagon to the end of Van Buren Street, then dump the snow into the lake. The wagons were also hired on a daily basis. They were paid for each trip they made.
That was the problem. The drivers were "nursing their work along." Instead of dumping all their snow into the lake, they were coming back to the job site with part of the load still in the wagon. They'd have to make more trips, and get paid more money.

No 'nursing it along' by Snow crews now and no Harry the Horns either.

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