#760: On This Day in History

March 6th, 2017

On this day in history, a woman with red earmuffs walked a French bulldog.

On this day in history, a different woman with a crisp short haircut and six-inch stiletto boots stumbled for a second on the pavement by a nail salon.

On this day in history, Bayer patented aspirin, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the Dred Scott case, Rob Reiner was born and an old man in a Union Pacific cap and Metra jacket flipped through a calendar of the muscle cars of his youth as he rode the Brown Line to work.

People milled and jostled on the train, as people do. They crammed the world into their books or phones, giving a religious attention to whatever photo they were liking or sentence they had gotten to, fearful that any moment they spent not rapt would be an opening for the twin demons of Boredom and Other People.

Once the train exploded into the Loop, shark-eyed hustlers on the downtown streets looked for marks who might believe the stories of broken-down cars and doctor visits they just need two more dollars to get to.

In the play “Our Town” a fledgling ghost discovers she can haunt her own past, one day at a time. All the dead can. They just choose not to.

“At least, choose an unimportant day,” a more experienced spirit counseled. “Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.”

Today is March 6, 2017. I know of no big events coming, no wars looming or pending SCOTUS decisions on slavery. I am as of yet unaware of anything that will make today stand out among the legions of March 6s we whip and whirl by unnoticed until we get a Reiner or an aspirin out of the deal.

But I am aware the man I saw listening to headphones on the train didn’t shave this morning. The man next to him did, but missed a spot under a chin fold.

I am aware the old man with the mustache, Metra gear and car calendar had a rubber band wrapped around his pinky, middle and ring fingers.

I am aware a young woman with a thousand-yard stare looked like she might be mentally composing the greatest sonnet a hungry world has ever known, or could be trying to remember where she left a dry-cleaning ticket.

It’s an unimportant day, even as March 6s go, but it’s important enough.

Are you a scientist? If so, submit to our upcoming fundraiser reading

What's this?

You are currently reading #760: On This Day in History by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.