Video: My dad remembers Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
I traveled with my dad this week to a meeting of former Chicago City Hall reporters at Italian Village to mark the 30th anniversary of the passing of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Afterwards, we went to WGN AM 720 radio to join “The Download” radio host Justin Kaufmann for a live interview where my dad talked about Washington’s legacy. Here’s a short story and a video of the day.
By Aaron Hanania
I hope you enjoy this video and photo array I did following my dad around as he joined other former Chicago City Hall reporters reminiscing about the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, who died 30 years ago just before Thanksgiving on Nov. 25, 1987.
Before dad went to join Justin Kaufmann, who previously was a producer for WBEZ Radio, he took me to a dinner that include a group of former Chicago City Hall reporters, many of them now doing media relations like my dad.
They included Avis LaVelle, Michelle Damico, Molly Sullivan, Dan Parker, Manuel Galvan, Cheryl Corley, John Holden and Dave Roeder. You can see their photo with my dad in the picture below.
They talked about mayor’s I did not recognize like Harold Washington, who I know only as Chicago’s Main Public Library Building downtown. And they also talked about Jane Byrne, who I know as a congested major traffic interchange in the Chicago Loop.
At the dinner all 10 reporters had a great conversation remembering various mayors and telling funny stories. It was so fascinating to watch how they all remembered certain rooms and the one bulletin board. I had some Fettuccini Alfredo, and it was absolutely amazing.
One of my favorite moments was trying to take a group photo of my fathers friends.
The restaurant was very tight, and the only space big enough was the hallway. So we literally blocked up the entrance for a good two minutes as everyone posed for photos. All of this as I was handed various electronic devices, cameras, phones, and even a tablet.
Clearly, they don’t teach us much about the history of Chicago politics or Chicago’s many mayors. My dad covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 including Richard J. Daley, Michael A. Bilandic, Jane M. Byrne, Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer and Richard M. Daley. I did get a chance to meet Richard M. Daley when I was younger before he retired from office.
I do know a lot about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is the current mayor of Chicago. We met him at an Iftar, a Muslim dinner to break the fast for Ramadan, that was held at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2015. Mayor Emanuel autographed a baseball for me. He and my father were polite but clearly they don’t get along. My dad says Mayor Emanuel doesn’t care too much for Chicago’s Arabs. Mayor Emanuel is Jewish like me.
WGN Radio’s Justin Kaufmann was very entertaining and I sat in the studio in the “fish bowl” that is on the first floor of the Chicago tribune building, it’s Southwest corner, facing Michigan Avenue. People were going by knocking on the windows as they talked.
It was pretty cool.
We got to the Tribune building at around 8:30. Our segment wasn’t until 9:30, so we sat in the lobby of the building. It was gorgeous, the wood ceilings, giant clock.
As we waited to enter WGN radio, we were in the Tribune lobby and dad introduced me to David Axelrod, a former Chicago City Hall Tribune reporter who worked with my dad for many years. Axelrod was the political genius who helped Mayor Richard M. Daley and also helped elect Barack Obama as America’s first African American president. Axelrod was probably going to the CNN studios on the 7th Floor of the Tribune building to do a news analysis.
Axelrod was very polite and courteous. I wish I had a baseball to ask him to give me an autograph. Axelrod was a member of the same synagogue where my mom and grandparent’s attended in Oak Park. Now, we attend the Beth El Synagogue in Munster, Indiana which is closer to where we live.
So many people were doing funny dances or funny waves as they stood outside the radio studio on Michigan Avenue, just because they saw that I had a camera in my hands. Oh, the power of film on people today!
I also noticed that there was a producer inside a room in the radio station. I assume he was doing the audio and making sure everything ran smoothly.
Overall it was a very unique experience that I hope I can experience again someday, and maybe I can be interviewed by WGN.
(Aaron Hanania is a junior at Sandburg High school and a writer. You can check out his videos and reports at www.Aaron411u.com.)