At the Ref Desk (11/18/17): Lots of phone requests today. Wonder why... :-) [more...]
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Personal/Family

Some Things Never Change: Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 6/12/07 (8:49am)

I was a student at the Sorbonne for two years. For most of that time, I was in the library. This was in the early Eighties -- way before "automation" (i.e. computer catalogs). You'd look the book up in the Card Catalog, fill out a form -- literally in triplicate, and then hand it to one of the attendants at the "guichet" (i.e. service window).

"Vingt minutes", they'd invariably say, and you'd sit around looking at the mural of Francois I while they fetched your book. "Vingt minutes" -- I'll never forget it. I'm happy to see things haven't changed a bit...

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Daddy Was a DJ to the Germans in WWII

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 6/9/07 (4:42pm)

Family History note: my father, William L. Klein, had a very popular German-language radio show in Chicago called the "Germania Broadcast". He had been doing it in one form or another since the 1930's and it consisted mainly of music with the occasional skit, etc.

Anyway, once WWII came along, he shifted gears, going to London and doing essentially for the Allies what he had been doing so well in Chicago -- namely producing German-language radio shows -- only now beamed into the homes and barracks of enemy Germany.

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Berlin 1987: Summer of Hönkel

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 6/3/07 (1:38pm)

With all the talk of anniversaries, I thought I'd mention the "Summer of Hönkel" which happened in West Berlin twenty years ago.

It was a hectic period of cultural ferment and turmoil. "Hönkel" -- which I think was a beer -- was supposed to represent this vast chaotic mix.

I was reminded of it most recently by this picture in Flickr. The picture is of a supermarket that went up in flames in the course of a riot on May 1 1987. My house was across the street from the supermarket.

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CTA EL Train Crash : Feb. 4, 1977

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 2/4/07 (2:55am)

Thirty years ago, I had a part-time job at Carson, Pirie, Scott in Chicago. It was a Friday night and I had just gotten off of work, walking down Michigan Avenue to catch the 151 Bus.

When I got to the corner of Lake & Michigan, I looked west and saw the most incredible thing: a CTA EL train dangling from the overhead tracks all the way to the ground. There were police cars, fire trucks and ambulances all over the place. Huge spotlights shone on the train.

It was an incredible sight -- something you'd see in a Hollywood disaster movie or a child's train set. But it was all too real. One of the great people working at Carson, Pirie Scott was in that train and while she survived, she was unable to ever come back to work.

I was reminded of that scene by a report on WBBM Radio. They have a article about it on their site. Chicago-l.org also had an informative page on the accident.

It's something I'll never forget.

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