Sunday, April 6, 2014

Michigan Avenue Runaway -- April 6, 1900

The route of Charley Adams -- Michigan Avenue as it appeared in 1902,
two years after the race to Monroe
Big excitement on Michigan Avenue on April 6, 1900 as Charley Adams, a horse owned by three-year-old Barbara Belle Muller, created havoc on the street, dashing without direction from the Logan Monument in Grant Park all the way to Monroe Street.  The Tribune described the horse as a “beautiful sorrel, with long, flowing tail and mane” with a “most intelligent head” and “eyes . . . full of good nature”.  [Chicago Tribune, April 7, 1900]

Little Barbara Belle had received the horse from her grandfather on her first birthday.  When he was a small colt Charley Adams “showed signs of being a pet, and the older he became the more of a pet he became.”  When he arrived in Chicago from farm country 60 miles south of the city, Barbara Belle’s daddy decided to make a “theater horse” of him and by the time April of 1900 rolled around the horse had roles in at least four plays in the city.

At one o’clock in the afternoon on April 6 the horse was sent to the Logan statue, in the guardianship of two young men, both dressed in full jockey regalia.  Alas, “the man with the camera was slow, and the jockey made Charley Adams nervous by insisting upon his remaining in one spot.”

Supposition quite removed from journalistic investigation takes over the story at this point.  Barbara Belle’s father had “one drawer in his office in the barn filled with sugar, from which Charley Adams helps himself when his sweet tooth needs filling.  The horse has the freedom of the office, making himself at home there much as a dog would.”

“Perhaps,” reported The Tribune, “Charley Adams thought of the white lumps in the desk.”

Tired of the photo session, Charley Adams “whirled suddenly, and . . . dropped his head and started north in the street.  He ran as if a pair of spurs were being thrust into his flanks.”

For nearly a mile Charley Adams “at race track speed” scattered “people on foot and on wheels” while “drivers turned their horses to the curb to give a clear course.”  Although his mouth was bleeding, the show went on and Charley Adams, a lifetime stage hoofer, returned to the Logan statue after his run to freedom “like a respectable theater horse, and never winked while his picture was being taken.”

No comments: