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Chicago Days

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  • keith2draw@home.com
    I ve always been intrigued by Blanding s references to his Bohemian days in Chicago while he was attending the Art Institute and working odd jobs to get by. He
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 30, 2001
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      I've always been intrigued by Blanding's references to his Bohemian
      days in Chicago while he was attending the Art Institute and working
      odd jobs to get by. He mentions living in the same house as the
      writer Sherwood Anderson, and staying up late into the evening having
      literary discussions with emerging members of the Chicago Literary

      A friend of mine went to the Chicago Public Library for me and looked
      up Blanding and Anderson in the old city directies. They both
      appeared in 1915 at 735 Cass Street (which is now Wabash Avenue.)

      I've been reading a few biographies written about Sherwood Anderson,
      and they shed some light on the building that Blanding lived in for a

      From SHERWOOD ANDERSON: His Life and Work, by James Schevill:

      Much of his experimentation was done in a top-floor room of an old,
      converted mansion on the North side. Wealthy Chicago families had
      lived in this area, but after the turn of the century many of the
      wooden palaces had been converted into cheap boarding houses. In one
      of these places, on the corner of Cass and Superior, Anderson had a
      room. He called the boarding house the home of "The Little Children
      of the Arts" because it was filled with would-be dancers, actors, and
      painters. The landlady was a rotund, good-humored woman called "Ma"
      Lindsay, whose one demand was prompt payment of the rent. Anderson's
      room was part of the former attic. It was furnished with a battered
      work table shoved against the wall and loaded with books. A basket
      full of lead pencils of all lengths, a tremendous stack of cheap,
      yellow paper, and another pile of manuscript covered with his
      hieroglyphic pen and pencil scratches completed the desk's burden.
      Through a window he could see the turmoil of Michigan Boulevard, the
      glittering main street of business and fashion. In this attic room he
      wrote the first of the Winesburg tales.

      From SHERWOOD ANDERSON, by Irving Howe:

      Nowhere did he so enjoy himself as in the boarding-house at 735 Cass
      Street where he was the dean of "the little children of the arts."
      Here, free of competitive pressures, he could release his natural
      high spirits and rich sense of play. At night he would walk on Cass
      Street with a huge brass ring hooked to his ear, and chortle over the
      attention he aroused. When his friend Tennessee Mitchell took him to
      the opera, he returned to tell the "little children of the arts" that
      the music left him indifferent but that the costumes were marvelous--
      "in those days," he said, men knew how to dress. In his room his bed
      was raised high so that while lying in it he could have a full view
      of the Chicago he loved to romanticize. And when he wrote on his huge
      table, he would sometimes light candles to the gods of inspiration--
      an act of devotion, half play and half serious, elicited perhaps by
      his continuing amazement at having become a writer at all.

      Well...it sounds like Blanding was one of Anderson's "little children
      of the arts"...hardly a flattering title. A bit condescending
      actually. But I imagine they fawned over him, these students from the
      art institute and wannabe writers and artisans. In the fall of 1916
      Anderson went off to upstate New York and got married...then came
      back and lived in a different part of town. Blanding was already in
      the Canadian army by then.

    • keith2draw@home.com
      From CHICAGO RENAISSANCE: The Literary Life in the Midwest 1900-1930 by Dale Kramer One late April evening of 1915, Sherwood Anderson borrowed a copy of The
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 31, 2001
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        From CHICAGO RENAISSANCE: The Literary Life in the Midwest 1900-1930
        by Dale Kramer

        One late April evening of 1915, Sherwood Anderson borrowed a copy
        of The 'Spoon River Anthology' from a young musician named Max Wald,
        fellow tenant of a rooming house. Anderson was unacquainted with
        Masters, but to Wald he mentioned that Tennessee Mitchell, also a
        friend of Wald's, knew him well. All of Chicago's unknown literary
        hopefuls were excited by the attention being given to one of their
        recent number. Anderson climbed to his third-floor room, switched on
        the naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and stretched out on
        his narrow bed. It had been raised above the level of the high window
        sill in order that he might gaze down at the Loop, half a mile south.
        He began to read. When finished, the rudiments of a book of his own,
        eventually to be titled 'Winesburg, Ohio,' was in his mind.
        The rooming house, tall and narrow and shallow, with a mansard
        roof, was one of the Near North Side's old fashionable houses. The
        address was 735 Cass Street (later Wabash Avenue) at the corner of
        Superior Street. 'Poetry's' office was only two blocks south. Nearby
        was a catholic school of the Little Children of Mercy. Anderson
        called the rooming house the Little Children of the Arts, since the
        partitioned-off rooms had mostly aspiring musicians, writers, actors,
        painters. He readily included himself among the Little Children--
        although now approaching thirty-nine. George Daugherty, a friend
        since the old days at Wittenberg Academy, had moved here with him
        last year from a South Side rooming house near Jackson Park.

        So...now we know how the expression "Little Children of the Arts"
        came about. The fact that Anderson considered himself one of them
        doesn't make it sound so condescending.

        We also know that the residents of the boarding house included Max
        Wald and George Daugherty. I will look into them.

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