#893: Just Like a Waving Flag

February 23rd, 2018 § permalink

Gus Porter’s father would joke he had the most famous rear end in Chicago.

It was 1987 and Mayor Harold Washington had just died in office. WGN Flag & Decorating, a small shop in South Chicago, had the city contract to decorate council chambers in black mourning bunting. An Associated Press photographer snapped a shot of Porter’s dad and other WGN employees at work, mislabeled them as city employees and sent a photo of their backs out to the world.

It wasn’t the first big job for WGN — named for Porter’s great-grandfather William George Newbould and no relation to the TV station (but people always ask, Porter said). They were the ones who decorated Marshall Fields for V-Day in 1945. They still decorate police stations and fire houses when tragedy hits. They work with the archdiocese when popes or bishops pass.

But they were there for happier moments too. They do the championship flags for the Blackhawks and White Sox, decorated the official city visit when Queen Elizabeth II came to call in 1959. They put Harry Caray’s face on his steakhouses, cover universities and businesses, make the sigils for Oak Lawn, Orland Park, South Holland, Cook County and scores more governments.

If it happened in Chicago, they’ve been there. Since 1916.

Photo by AJ Kane.

» Read the rest of this entry «

#397: The Steelworker’s Art

November 10th, 2014 § permalink

“They just closed the damn door,” Roman Villareal said as his great-grandchildren laughed through the studio.

“One shift went out, the next shift was coming. And everyone who was coming in, they wouldn’t let you in, not even to get your stuff out of your box or nothing. They slammed the lock on there,” he said.

“That was the last time the men went into the steel mill.” » Read the rest of this entry «

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