Wednesday, June 8, 2016

June 8, 1933 -- 10,000 Person Petition Demands Nudist "Corral"

June 8, 1933 – Sometimes what DOESN”T get done in a city is way more interesting than what DOES.  Alderman Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna long ago observed that “Chicago ain’t no sissy town,” and with this city’s particular form of politics and the constant grappling between commercial, cultural, and environmental factions, a lot of projects that get proposed die before they get very far.  So it was back in 1933 when on this date followers of Dr. Arne L. Suominen, a “nature cure specialist,” submit a petition signed by 10,000 people to the Lincoln Park Board, requesting a space for nude sun bathing.  The reaction of Board President Alfred D. Plamondon?  “I doubt that a fence could be built high enough.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 8, 1933]  It only takes two days for the board to come to a decision, and the explanation for refusing to act on the petition is a perfectly logical one.  Plamondon said, “The exact reason we turned down the petition was the cost of the stockade.  It would have had to be of lumber absolutely free from knotholes, the most expensive grade.  Furthermore, to prevent an epidemic of peeping Toms on the skyscraper apartments bordering the park the stockade itself would have had to be a skyline affair.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 10, 1933]  Another member of the board observed, “I’m against it on esthetic grounds, especially now that everybody is drinking 3.2 beer.  Now you take some of these 200 pound papas with aldermanic fronts.  Start parading them around in their birthday clothes and you’ll make the bull mandrill over here in the zoo blush with shame.” 

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