“There’s more to this grim, ambitious movie than a psychopathic assassin of the highest order whose carnage is gorgeously shot, though I seriously doubt it would be garnering so much enthusiasm without such perks.” —Jonathan Rosenbaum, November 8

The Story Behindthe Picture

Michael Miner’s wonderful article on the new book collection of Chicago Daily News glass plate photos, “Window on a Lost World” (November 8), immediately caught my eye from the great photos. One of the photos that the Reader reproduced, of three girls in a hurdles race from 1924, I especially noticed, as did Miner.

Miner made a comment, however, that needs some explanation and a bit of correction. He said, “I wonder if there’s anyone at the school, let alone in the neighborhood, who knows Lake View High was once was home to world-record holder Norma Zilk and a world-class women’s track program.”

Miner was OK in his reference to Norma Zilk but was a bit off regarding Lake View’s supposed “world-class women’s track program.” He and the readers should know that in the 1920s, because of the noncompetitive ideology of physical educators of the day regarding women’s athletics, the Chicago Board of Education did not allow interscholastic track teams for girls. They did allow interschool competition for girls in golf, tennis, rifle, and swimming. The girls wanted to compete, however, and through the great Chicago Park District program in track and field, as well as private club programs, the city produced a large number of high-school-age girls who were world-class competitors.

So why is Ms. Zilk wearing a Lake View High jersey? The story behind that is that during the early 1920s, despite the Board of Education ban on interschool competition, the girls of various high schools went out and illegally competed under their school colors, not only in track and field but also basketball, softball, and volleyball. This competition was all underground, and rarely reported in the newspapers. Lake View produced not only Ms. Zilk but two other world-class runners, Helen Filkey (who later attended Senn High) and Marie Teichman. Lake View did not actually have an interscholastic track team, but they had world-class runners, and its school newspaper, Red & White, proudly profiled freshman Helen Filkey in its April 1924 issue, who by this time was already setting national adult records in track. The publication next profiled Marie Teichman in its December 1924 issue, and in the story related that she and fellow Lake View students Norma Zilk and Helen Filkey traveled to Canada and Detroit to compete in meets. Filkey ranks as probably the greatest female runner in the United States who never competed in the Olympic Games. Readers who want to know more about the great high school female runners from Chicago in the 1920s might want to investigate my article on the subject on the IHSA Web site—ihsa.org/initiatives/hstoric/track_girls_early.htm.

After 1926, the Board of Education clamped down on all interscholastic competition by girls in the schools, eliminating the legal competition in golf, tennis, rifle, and swimming, and making sure that the girls were no longer wearing their school colors in outside track and field and other sports competitions. Thereafter, Chicago high school girls continued to compete successfully through the Park District and other programs, setting world record after world record, while myopic educators of the day prided themselves on keeping their female students from competing in their high schools in such overly stressful and physically demanding competition as track and field races.

Robert Pruter


Even if Your Ancestors Didn’t Own Slaves …

I would like to address the letters sent in from S. Haake and Mark Pettigrew [November 8]. As I understand it, reparations [The Business, October 25] wouldn’t be paid by individual Caucasian people, they would be paid by corporations and governing bodies around the world that participated in the slave trade. Reparations should also be paid for the racism and jim crow that affected African-Americans in the United States both in the southern states and northern states (read Sundown Towns by James W. Loewen). White Americans have benefited from racism in the United States even if their ancestors didn’t own slaves, i.e., the New Deal program, the Federal Housing Administration, which gave home loans to Caucasian people but excluded African-Americans from securing the same loans. This allowed many Caucasians to own a home for the first time, and home ownership is basically how wealth is built in this country. This is not the only preferential policy that white Americans enjoyed in the United States. In order to set the scales even some type of actions or measures have to be instituted. There is a reason for African-Americans of today being in the condition that they are now and that is the history of racism in this country and around the world. It is not that we are genetically inferior. As for who would get these reparations, I would say those who can prove they are of direct descent from a person of African descent living in the United States between 1619 and 1965 (when the civil rights bill was passed). So to answer Mr. Pettigrew’s question about Barack Obama, unfortunately he wouldn’t qualify since his father is from Kenya and his mother is of Caucasian descent. I believe that some Caucasian people have a fear that if the government does anything to help African-Americans that it is to the detriment of Caucasian Americans, but everything doesn’t have to be a win-lose situation. I think that overall this would be a win-win situation for the nation as a whole.

William Smith

Hammond, Indiana

From OurOnline Readers

This review seems a bit histrionic. Who would have believed a Coen brothers movie merited a denunciatory Orwell quote on concentration camps?

On top of this, a very partially baked diagnosis of psycho killers as society’s symbolic personification of its lust for war. And the Coens are supposed to be the ones condescending to the audience?

What I saw was a very tense, well-made, entertaining B thriller. I didn’t realize that made me a war criminal.