Ward Room has just learned Mayor Daley plans to write a memoir when he leaves office. Here are exclusive (facetious) excerpts from the book, which will be titled, What Did You Want Me To Do, Take My Pants Off?
I was born in a humble brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago. But Chicago is the land of opportunity for a young man, especially a young man who grows up at 3536 S. Lowe Ave., in Bridgeport, the home of my father, Mayor Richard J. Daley. When I was baptized at Nativity of Our Lord, I was supposed to be named “Mayor Richard J. Daley Jr.” but Father Carey’s eyes were bad, so he christened me “Mayor Richard M. Daley.” I’ve gone by that name since childhood.
In those days, the City Charter required the mayor to be Irish on both sides of his family and live in Bridgeport. That’s how it was up until the elections of Jane Byrne and Harold Washington, which were illegal, because Jane Byrne was from Sauganash, and Harold Washington wasn’t even Irish. But we’ll get to that later.
When I was growing up, my father spent most of his time at City Hall, so I was raised by the world champion 1959 Chicago White Sox, who played in Kaminsky Park, a few blocks from our home. If you look at my report cards from De La Salle High School, you’ll see they were signed by Luis Aparicio.
I didn’t have an easy start in politics. I graduated law school at DePaul, but flunked the bar exam twice. After my third try, Dad was so grateful that he gave the test examiner’s entire extended family jobs in the city’s Legal Department.
My first elected office was as a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1970. After that I wanted to go to the state senate, where my father had begun his career. But Bridgeport already had a state senator. Luckily for me, he decided to run for judge in 1972. Next thing I knew, I was state Sen. Mayor Richard M. Daley. I was nicknamed “Dirty Little Richie” by Dawn Clark Netsch, a fellow state senator from the North Side of Chicago. This was a serious shock to me, because up until then, I didn’t know Chicago had a North Side. I still had a lot to learn about the city before I was ready to become mayor.
Dad died in 1976. I wasn’t ready to inherit the family business, so we let our neighbor, that nice Mr. Bilandic, run things for awhile. Unfortunately, during the blizzard of 1979, Mr. Bilandic offended the black voters of Chicago by running trains past their L stops so suburban commuters could speed to work. He lost to Jane Byrne. This was another shock to me. Growing up in Bridgeport, I didn’t know there were black voters in Chicago.
In 1980, I was elected Cook County State’s Attorney. Unlike the bar exam, I got that one on my first try! At that point, it was my duty to run for mayor, because Jane Byrne was failing the city by not being from Bridgeport. My father gave Byrne her start in politics, even appointing her head of the Consumer Affairs Department. Despite that, she refused to have grown up in Bridgeport.
I would have beaten Byrne, too, but then Harold Washington entered the race. I was leading in the polls before the first debate, but then that smooth-talking Harold jumped up on stage and started using words like “subaltern” and “regressive.” I didn’t have an answer to that, because I didn’t know what subaltern and regressive meant. I didn’t lose the mayor’s race in 1983 because Washington split the white vote. I lost because he was more articulate, and a better campaigner. But I learned a lot from that race, and I came back.
Coming up: I buy a dictionary, and become mayor.