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A Memory of Harold Washington

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The first time I tried to interview Harold Washington was at a ground breaking for a new high rise in the North Loop. It was a project Jane Byrne had introduced but was never really able to get off the ground. Washington was proud; he was making it work.

It wasn't a big news event, but City News, the local wire service where I worked, covers everything in the city, no matter how big or small.

I was very nervous and had written my question down on the back of a pad. I waited until the mayor had finished his speech and then asked him if it would be OK if I asked him a question. He looked at me and chuckled. So I read my question in what I thought was a very intelligent way. The mayor waited until I had finished and grabbed my notebook. Then he suggested, looking amused, that I ask again "without the crib notes." We both laughed and I asked him a different question I had, and he answered it candidly. I thanked him profusely and he laughed, saying, "I wish all reporters were as timid as you."

Later, I learned how to be more sure of myself, but Washington still managed to be good-natured.

Once I was following him around trying to get his response to Bears president Michael McCaskey's threat to move the team to the suburbs.

I followed Washington to four events that night. The first time I asked him about the Bears he flatly said he had no comment. At the next event, he said, "You still here?" but that was all. The third time went the same way.

The fourth time, at a Korean dinner in honor of the mayor, he still refused to talk. I ran after him as his bodyguards whisked turn into a car, and yelled that if I had had a TV camera I bet he would have talked to me.

The mayor's limousine started to speed off, and then came to an abrupt stop. I ran over to the car and he said, "I think you've overstepped your bounds by accusing me of being a camera-hound. And by the way, if the Bears move to the suburbs, it'll be over my dead body."

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