"Chicago is America with the lid off" (George Bernard Shaw?)

bapopik at AOL.COM bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed Aug 10 23:39:56 UTC 2005

The Chicago Historical Society has a new president. A lawyer!
Rejoice not. The CHS still plagiarizes my "Windy City" work, and no one there gives a darn about me. Maybe someone can ask him about what I've gone through for ten years?
Anyway, the new CHS president was quoted as passing on a line attributed to the great playwright George Bernard Shaw, that "Chicago is America with the lid off." The quotation's source seems dubious and is not on the databases before 1956. Also, Shaw never visited Chicago!
In my opinion, the quote is merely an extension of "America is Hell with the lid off," a controversial quote when made in 1903.
--Barry Popik
  1.Shaw's 100th Anniversary Is Celebrated by Chicago
The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959). Washington, D.C.: Jul 26, 1956. p. 26 (1 page) :


Chicago, the city George Bernard Shaw once called America "with the lid off," becomes the center of his 100th birthday celebration Thursday.
Shaw never got to Chicago, and the late British playwright's "lid-off" crack was just about his only known comment on the Windy City.
2.The International Literary Spotlight Focuses on Bernard Shaw and Chicago
Fanny Butcher. Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Aug 12, 1956. p. B2 (1 page) 

FANNY BUTCHER. Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Aug 26, 1956. p. B6 (1 page) 

List Plans for Shaw Centennial
Irene Powers. Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Jul 15, 1956. p. E4 (1 page) :
"America with the lid off"--that, on the authority of the English biographer, Hesketh Pearson, was Shaw's idea of Chicago.
 Berkshire Evening EagleFriday, April 16, 1943 Pittsfield, Massachusetts
...Weddings, Etc. SOUTH AMERICA WITH THE LID OFF in Disney's merriest j manner.....GLADYS GEORGE Attractions "THIS IS AMERICA" Story of THE Air IN SCRAP NT..

HARSH WORDS FOR AMERICA.; John Burns, the English Labor Leader, Says This Country Industrially is "Hell with the Lid Off." 
New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Apr 23, 1903. p. 2 (1 page) 



Copyright 2005 Law Bulletin Publishing Company  
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

August 1, 2005, Monday


LENGTH: 721 words

HEADLINE: His love of history leads to new career


   Gary T. Johnson isn't out to make history -- only to preserve it.

After almost 30 years as a corporate lawyer, Johnson, 55, is leaving private practice at Jones, Day to become president of the Chicago Historical Society.

He says he thinks of the move as a kind of homecoming.

"It just seemed like history was always part of my life," Johnson said. 

His parents were amateur historians and were always making historical pilgrimages.

"During our family vacations, we always had to steer things so that we saw Civil War battlefields," he said.

He attended Yale University as an undergraduate and was a Rhodes scholar at Worcester College, Oxford.

At both places, he tried to study different currents of history, but Chicago kept coming up.

"No matter how much I was surrounded by the places like Ivy League universities and Oxford, the history of Chicago is one of the great stories. Because it's so colorful and there's so many groups involved," Johnson said.

"I understand that George Bernard Shaw once said that Chicago was America with the lid off. I think that's a great metaphor because the way to look at what's happening in the United States is to understand what's happening in Chicago," he said.

Johnson's ancestors came to Chicago in the 1850s. Many of them are buried in the city's classic cemeteries. They, too, have become part of Johnson's walking history tours.

"I don't know if I've imparted my love to my kids but one thing I did when they were a captive audience was when my kids were training for drivers' licenses, I'd force them into these great cemeteries," he said.

So at some level, Johnson said (and please don't tell his new bosses this), he can't believe he's now getting paid for it.

"This is what's so fun about this. On a Saturday morning, you can find me taking friends around town just showing them neighborhoods," Johnson said.

He added: "Anytime you can be hired to do something you're passionate about, it's a gift."

Johnson will have a lot of work ahead of him, says John W. Rowe, chairman of the Historical Society's board.

The Society will all but shut down in December for a $ 25 million remodeling. Once the rehab is complete, the board expects the Society to become a regional focal point for Chicago history, Rowe says.

"He's got an awful lot of things to do at once: Fund-raising, financial management ... getting himself more known around town. It's not that there's one big obstacle, it's there's a lot of things to take on at the same time," Rowe said.

If anyone can do it, Johnson can, Rowe added.

"We talked to a lot of very good candidates, but we were looking for someone who could touch a lot of bases, who had a passion for history, a commitment to community outreach, good outreach skills, good management skills ... and Gary rang more of those bells than anyone," Rowe said.

Johnson, a former co-chair to Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Inc. and former president of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, says he is confident he can slip into full-time nonprofit work.

This is especially important with the scheduled rehab, Johnson said.

"They'll be closed for a lot of the year 2006. So during that period, when the museum is dark, it's going to be incumbent on me and some of the other staff members to, in effect, be the museum around town," he said.

That's for the short term. For the long term, Johnson said he wants the newly rehabbed museum to cover all aspects of Chicago history, so that it can be a clearing house for specialists, generalists and amateurs alike.

"I think the museum ought to work hard to be a flagship for all of the people who are doing history in the city of Chicago. We ought to help them do their job better," he said.

Johnson also wants to expand the Society's Web resources, so that the museum can begin to take on international importance.

His mission, Johnson said, isn't just dedicated to current historians.

"History isn't about the past. It's about the history that's being made around us every day. It's important to tell the stories in every community," Johnson said.

"And the test is," he added, "whether, a generation from now, when people want to write the story, they'll be able to find the materials in the Chicago Historical Society."

LOAD-DATE: August 2, 2005 

 Document 7 of 10. 

Terms & Conditions   Privacy   Copyright © 2005 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

More information about the Ads-l mailing list