Thank God I’m a country boy! An Illinois Department of Public Health survey of more than 7,000 Illinois schoolchildren reveals that more than one in four rural high school boys in Illinois use chewing tobacco or snuff. The average user started at age 11.

Programs most requested by recent visitors to the Museum of Broadcast Communications: Garfield Goose and Friends With Frazier Thomas, Dragnet, Amos ‘n’ Andy, The Jack Benny Program, Garroway At Large, and Kukla, Fran & Ollie. Not Romper Room?

“The fox is being asked to guard the chickens,” warns the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects in criticizing the hurry-up method being used to develop the new Chicago Public Library building. The Design/Build competition “could produce both time and cost overruns–and very serious problems of quality control. This is the first time this method has been tried on a building of this size and complexity. Design/Build is effective for parking garages, office buildings and prisons–not libraries. . . . In the traditional building process, the architect is employed by the owner and is the owner’s representative during the construction. In Design/Build the architect works for the contractor and the contractor’s price guarantee is based on an unfinished set of drawings. Quality control is in the hands of the contractor; his interpretation of how the building is to be finished is binding. This can create many surprises in the finished product.”

PR that enabled us to skip lunch altogether. “You’ve heard of Hamburger Helper . . . You’ve heard of Tuna Helper . . . Well, now there’s creole helper.”

Travel promotions, travel agents, time-sharing plans, travel clubs, and charter operations brought the most complaints to Illinois attorney general Neil Hartigan’s office during the first ten months of 1987. Of 18,413 total complaints, 5,470 (30 percent) dealt with travel; 3,042 (17 percent) with automobiles; 2,047 (11 percent) with banks and financial institutions; and 1,399 (8 percent) with home repairs.

The local taxing body with the fastest-rising property-tax rate belongs to Chicago City College with its eight campuses (Daley, Kennedy-King, Loop, Malcolm X, Olive-Harvey, Truman, Wright, and City-Wide). But Jean Franczyk and Valerie J. Phillips, writing in the Chicago Reporter (November 1987), found little evidence that Chicagoans are getting their money’s worth. CCC chancellor Salvatore Rotella told them to judge the colleges’ success using three factors: the number of students placed in jobs, the extent to which students are satisfied, and the number of students transferring to four-year institutions. “But the system keeps no concrete data on job placement nor does it measure student satisfaction to any significant extent. Transfer rates are low. A 1984 University of Chicago study showed transfer rates ranged from 22.8 percent at Daley to 5.8 percent at Malcolm X.” Meanwhile, despite plummeting enrollment, the system is investing in two new campuses.

Expect some excitement in four Illinois communities early next year–when Illinois and Kentucky’s Central Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission (CMILLRWCC for short) plans to select four “candidate sites” for its “regional disposal facility.” Wastes from nuclear reactors–almost all Com Ed’s–constitute “approximately 80 percent of the volume, and more than 99 percent of the radioactivity” in the stuff to be “disposed” of.

The Reagan Revolution doesn’t mean less government, just less government for those who need it. The Chicago Urban League reports that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development actually sent more money to Illinois in fiscal 1986 ($478 million) than in fiscal 1981 ($457 million, in constant dollars). But spending on HUD programs for low-income people was cut by 87 percent. Nor have state, city, or private funds taken up the slack. “Almost all of these [HUD, state, city, and private] resources have been targeted to households that are substantially middle class or at the very top of the poverty scale.” Those with incomes below 80 percent of the median are being left out: “No one in Illinois is producing housing for [the poorest] 40% of the state’s population.”

Dept. of almost-lost arts: For $35 a kit, the Chicago Historical Society is selling replicas of the early American samplers on display in its current “We the People” exhibit. “Although the original samplers were stitched by young girls,” the CHS notes, “these samplers are recommended for needleworkers with advanced skills.”

“You can get any look you want here,” exults Chicago-based film producer Ken Bernstein in Chicago Enterprise (November 1987)–“a farm look, a metro look or a slummy look.” Adds CE’s Glenn Coleman, “Lake Michigan off Monroe Harbor can resemble a gray and menacing North Sea, dawn in Key West or a genteel Mediterranean yacht mooring, depending on what time of the year the camera crew shows up. A Pennsylvania-style, grandmother’s-house-we-go woodscape is available just outside Galena, as is a steamy Louisiana bayou in the swamplands near downstate Vienna.” Of course, by the time you get to Vienna, you’re halfway to the real thing.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.