#858: To Miss F—

December 4th, 2017

Lady! I’ve gazed upon thy face;
     ’Tis [something something something]”
Mantled with smiles, what witching grace
      Has there built up as throue! [sic.]
Thy pearly teeth!  dear heart, don’t flutter
They must be death on bread and butter!

A man’s love for Miss F— only exists on crackling microfilm no one can quite read.

“To Miss F—” was printed in Vol. 1, No. 113 of the Chicago Journal in 1844. Through a series of mergers, acquisitions and rebrands, today we  know the paper as the Chicago Sun-Times.

I’ve scanned that  marble brow of thine, 
     ’Neath which those dark eyes roll
And praised that intellectual mine,
     That “palace of the soul.”
But say, can I find there  nay, don’t droop
A receipt for making soup?

Miss F—’s devotee wasn’t a Chicagoan, but from “an exchange paper,” likely meaning either a paper out east or the Journal completely made it up to fill five column inches stuck between an observation about how temperance has cut the number of paupers in South Boston and a register of local steamboats.

Or the paper out east made it up to fill their own blank space and a fictional love affair of soup and butter made its way across the nation. Newspapers of the day did things like that.

And soft with beauty, loving eyes,
     Upon thine [illegible, but possibly "skin"] my fond gaze lingers;
For sculptor’s model what a prize!
     And then, thy richly [bipered?] fingers!
Say, was it ever cradle rocking?
Or can those fingers darn a stocking?

It’s another find from the Harold Washington microfilm room, one obtained when I happened to let go of the fast-forward dial at the right moment to snag a slightly fictional love. I might be the only one to think of Miss F— of the dark eyes and teeth that deal death to bread in 173 years.

I’ve expressed my fears for this room before, “these cracking plastic coils and rattling old lightboxes, half decked with signs that the repairmen have been notified.” One of the readers broke on me the other day. The light flicked off and the hum shut down forever while I was looking up a particular speech from a particular trial in 1965. One less access point for the world of silly, weird and stunningly vital history contained in chipping and flecking plastic reel.

I’ve praised thy foot and who would not.
     Coffins I within its tiny shoe?
Like “Ellen” fair of Walter Scott,
     A lighter [can?] ne’er dashed the dew.
Say, did it [?] in bright pranela [a soft flannel used in shoes]
Tread on the corns of some poor fellow?

In 1844, the future Sun-Times printed a lunatic poem. Possibly, likely, hopefully fictional, an ode to coffin-like shoes, soup receipts and a woman of witching grace and intellect ran among the days events.

Now it’s gone again, coiled in a loop no one reads in a room no one goes in to use machines that, one by one, are dying.

Why did the Journal print the poem? Because, they claimed, after Miss F— rejected her would-be, the paper decided it was “too good [large black blotch] lost.”

What's this?

You are currently reading #858: To Miss F— 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.