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To Kodiak and Back: a Story of a Spittoon

Macdonald with spittonThe Edgewater Historical Society was kind enough to invite me to their Spring Fundraiser. It included a silent auction ranging from options like breakfast with 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman to my favorite, a value pack of gift certificates to Gethsemane Garden Center and Father and Son Barber Shop.

spitton close upThe item of the night, however, was a brass and copper spittoon from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It was donated by Bob Remer, EHS President. He was, of course, interested in supporting the historical society, but he had another reason for his donation. He had two Columbian exposition spittoons that were identical except for their number of dents, and his wife said that for the sake of their storage space, he could only really keep one.

While the rest of the items were auctioned off silently, the spittoon became the subject of a lively bidding war before it eventually went to Jim Macdonald for $205. Macdonald was fascinated by the spittoon, partially because it was a unique piece of Chicago history, but also because Remer had bought it from the Yukon in Alaska. The combination of the two caught his fancy. “Think of all the tales we could concoct” about the winding path that the spittoon took from 1893 in Chicago, to Alaska, and then back to Chicago and into his open arms, he said.

Purists will note that the Columbian Exposition wasn’t in Edgewater, but purists aren’t any fun.


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