The Hunting of the Mink
Irving Chapman lived
a block east of Gert Adam's on Euclid,
a corner house with two apartments.
Open country and orchard fared north.
"The Chapman boys were great trappers.
They set traps and caught the wild mink,"
bundled them down
to the veterinarian's red brick house
set back from Euclid at Dryden
where the Drapers would have a party
to celebrate "the catching of the mink."
After their session with the taxidermist,
the sleek brown bodies posed perennially
in Dr. Draper's office
where local children peered up
at mink and owl and weasels with skinny
yellow like that yellow pillow,
in great cabinets behind glass doors.
The town's closest approximation
to a natural history museum.
Her parents owned a mill on the Rhine.
But her mother "never knew she had a husband"
for all the wars he was called to.
They sold the mill,
sewed gold pieces into the hems of dresses,
and hied them to a land not always at war.
Mother lived to see her daughter Catherine
and eleven grandchildren
run Wheeling House. Eleven rooms.
A tavern in the front, bedrooms above
for drummers plying their stock,
and a meeting room
for locals who slung their milkcans
up on platforms at Evergreen and Campbell
for early rides into the city.
Up at 4:30 a.m., she loaded her steam table
with soups and stews and baked beans.
Their milk chores done, the farmers
ranged around the big tables,
deploring taxes and drops in milk prices.
Like the watering trough for horses outside,
Lauterburgs' tavern was watering spot
for hard-working, plain-speaking farmers.
Myrtle, youngest of the Lauterburg children,
loved the talk, the bustle and hustle, the farmers.
"I had a great time when the politicians came by us,
the Busses from Mount Prospect,
the Hoffmans from Des Plaines.
"All Republicans, all of them.
We didn't know what a Democrat was."