Back in 2008 I posted a number of documents from my Chicago free speech exhibit, one of them an interview of Slim Brundage by Studs Terkel. Now a reader from Italy writes in the comment section with memories of Brundage’s Old Town tavern known as the College of Complexes:
I have just turned 80 and my contact with The College of Complexes was over half a century ago, although the experience is vivid in my memory.
I was working days at a wholesale-resale house in the Loop, I think it was called Bennet’s. I somehow happened into the College on a Friday or Saturday evening. The piano was free, and nobody seemed to mind, so I played some ragtime on the piano. At the time I could only play in F# because the first song I had learned on the piano was chopsticks. Although Slim Brundage, as I recall, didn’t come in every night, he was there that evening and said he’d pay me something to come and play on the weekends. I, of course, jumped at the chance, because I loved the idea of having someplace to hang out with kindred sprits and play the piano and show off and get a few free beers. I also chaired a few lectures.
Moreover, the College was full of stimuli for a young man, psychologically weighed down upon by McCarthyism, who considered himself a conservative and, of course, given his conditioning, anti-communist. The conversation in that saloon, the people I met, the example of Brundage, turned my head around. Being there was a major moment in my education, for which I will forever be grateful.
Thanks for sharing, Gordon. Can’t wait to hear more.