Back at the scene

Last Thursday I was at the corner of Chicago and Dempster in Evanston to meet a couple of Medill undergrads at Starbucks.  They have asked me to serve as adviser for their summer project, which I won’t reveal here but which manages to combine my interests in social media, economic news, and cold, windswept climates.

It was September, 1974, and I was heading back to school after buying a birthday gift at the Practical Tiger in Evanston.  I remember it as a watering can.  Anyway, the car radio was loud, and as I sailed into the intersection of Chicago and Dempster, I was broadsided by an Evanston police car, lights flashing (and, evidently, siren wailing).

The cop wasn’t happy, and I soon was summoned to court.  And summoned, and summoned, because the cop also seemed too busy to appear and the City of Evanston kept getting continuances…until, one day, an exasperated judge threw out their lawsuit for damages, along with my traffic ticket.  This made State Farm happy and me happy – at least until I learned that all the Life Science classes I had to ditch during my court appearances were going to lead to a failing grade for the fall term, never mind that I aced every test.

Oh well. Evanston and the court had forgiven me; I forgave Evanston; and I forgave the professor by the time North Park conferred an honorary doctorate on me in 2005.  It was in Humane Letters, so I had better be humanely forgiving, right?

My 1973 Gran Torino and its separate lap and shoulder belts is long gone; so is the dry cleaner’s where I cooled my heels that day.  But here I was, back at the corner.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

About Owen Youngman

Professor Emeritus of Journalism and formerly Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Formerly senior vice president/strategy and development and director of interactive media, Chicago Tribune.