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This week in history: King Drive in Chicago dedicated — but ceremony botched

Welcome to the "This week in history" newsletter! Every Saturday we take a break from recapping the d
Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition
Welcome to the “This week in history” newsletter! Every Saturday we take a break from recapping the day’s news to bring you a deep dive into Chicago’s storied, creepy and urban-legendary history.
— Alison Martin (@miss_alison_m)

This week in history: King Drive in Chicago dedicated — but ceremony botched
Mayor Richard J. Daley speaks to crowd at the Martin Luther King Drive dedication.
Mayor Richard J. Daley speaks to crowd at the Martin Luther King Drive dedication.
As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., won the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 14, 1964. Four years later, he was honored in Chicago with a street renamed for him.
But Mayor Richard Daley’s dedication ceremony on Aug. 8, 1964 left out key people, according to reporter Betty Washington at the Chicago Daily News.


Strange Chicago
With Halloween around the corner, now’s the time to highlight the strange and the supernatural of Chicago history — starting with the the legend of Resurrection Mary.
Not familiar with the tale? Resurrection Mary allegedly haunts a stretch of Archer Avenue in Justice. People who claim to have seen her describe Mary as a young woman, sometimes blond and sometimes Polish, wearing a white dress. In some tales, she’s dancing with unsuspecting young men at nearby dance halls, and in others, she’s hitchhiking on the road. When a kindly dance partner or driver offers her a ride home, she tells them to drop her off at the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, where she subsequently vanishes.
The earliest record of the Resurrection Mary legend appeared in the April 7, 1973 edition of the Chicago Daily News.
“Late in the 1920s an off-duty policeman decided to spend an evening dancing at what is now the Willowbrook Ballroom in suburban Willow Springs. On his way there, he picked up a young hitchhiker, a woman dressed in white, along a deserted stretch of Archer Av.”
According to reporter Mary Tate, Resurrection Mary hadn’t been seen since 1965. No one knows Mary’s last name, and a 2018 Chicago Reader article says the woman was buried in a term grave that was never renewed.
Mary’s story — and similar hitchhiking ghost stories (see Elizabeth Wilson of old Reeder Road in Northwest Indiana) — have been told in cities all over the country. So if you’re driving down a lonely stretch of road some night, maybe listening to some big band music, keep your eyes peeled.
Want more? Check out Ep. 30 of the “Pleasing Terrors” podcast for a chilling retelling of the Resurrection Mary legend. Got a Resurrection Mary story of your own? Send it to amartin@suntimes.com — I’m dead curious.
Snapshot
It may seem that the controversy over Columbus Day is a recent development, but in truth, Native Americans have been pushing for more scrutiny of the celebrations surrounding the Italian explorer for decades.
On Oct. 11, 1992, a group of Native American residents in Chicago held a vigil in protest of Columbus Day festivities in Indian Boundary Park. As the city planned its annual Columbus Day parade, the group joined with other Chicago locals to protest the narrative that Columbus discovered America. Here are a few snapshots from that day:
From the Sun-Times archive
From the Sun-Times archive
From the Sun-Times archive
From the Sun-Times archive
From the Sun-Times archive
From the Sun-Times archive
For further reading on Columbus, check out “Columbus: The Four Voyages,” or for a quicker read on the Columbus controversy, see Vox’s explainer or this helpful cartoon from The Oatmeal.
Talk of the town
She may have been born in New York and raised in Evanston, but actress Joan Cusack is a true Chicagoan.
The Oscar-nominated local, who was born on Oct. 11, won a Jefferson Award for her work in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Goodman Theatre in 1991, and she earned five Emmy nods for her role on the Chicago-set TV series, “Shameless,” finally winning in 2015.
In 1999, Cusack sat down with columnist Cindy Pearlman. Here are a few highlights from that interview:
Q. People mostly think of you as being funny. What did it feel like to play the straight role in “Arlington Road”?
A. It’s just nice, because it is a choice to be funny. But I feel like I grew up studying acting, and it’s nice to be able to exercise those muscles. It feels real, especially since in Hollywood I always get thought of as quirky. (In a high-pitched voice:) “She’s the quirky girl!”
Q. How has being a mom changed your views about Hollywood?
A. It is a wonderful, luxurious, great career to be able to do films. But you realize it’s a job. The best things in life are balancing job and family. Your actual life seems more important. Yes, having a kid is hard, but it’s just incredible. You know that’s what you’re here for on this planet.
Q. You also have “Runaway Bride” coming out this summer. What was it like to work with that “Pretty Woman”?
A. Before we started, I kept wondering, “What is Julia going to be like? This is a person who is so larger-than-life and on every magazine. How do you handle that?” But she was great and real. She’s smart. She’s nice. We had a birthday party for her on the set and she wrote everyone a thank-you note.
Q. And now for our obligatory question, about why you still live in Chicago?
A. Because people in Chicago go to the movies for two hours and then they go on and do other things. That’s just sort of refreshing.
If you’re a “Shameless” fan, check out this quick-hit interview with Cusack here, and for a longer profile, try this one from The New Yorker.
Thanks for reading! Want to share your thoughts? Your favorite moment in Chicago history? Your complaints? Send them to amartin@suntimes.com.
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