Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Sunday, April 1, 2018



We have long been fascinated by the quality of writing of muppets who wrote and edited The Salty Spray 1968-1972, much as old timers lament the loss of the New York Herald Tribune or the old Brookly Eagle.

The Saltaire Historical Society has reprinted all of the Salty Spray issues and bound them, and has made them available at cost of reprinting -- $10. We urge you to pick up the whole volume, through the Historical Society and/or Saltaire Historian III Eliz. Starkey.

We also can’t resist taking some excerpts and posting them here from time to time.

We found a Salty Spray story that goes with a pictorial we ran a few months ago. We take pleasure to rerun those pictures now with the full story as reported in the Salty Spray on August 1, 1969:



The Salty Spray

August 1, 1969

On Sunday, July 27, at 3 p.m., just half an hour late, a roaring game of softball was played by the women of the west side of Saltaire against the women living on the east side of town.
The captain of the east side was Marie Bitzer.

Before the game started, her team assembled at Mary Jane Scanlan’s house. There is a rumor that whisky sours were served.

The captain of the west side players was Florence McManus and she invited her teammates to her house. More rumors.
Before the game started, two east side children, Steve and Susan LeMay, armed with pads and pencils, tried to spy on the west side women—to learn their strategy.
When the teams met at 3 p.m., catcher Mary Jane Scanlan of the east brought her raft. Pitching to her was Grace Gallagher. First Lady Virginia O’Brien caught for the west side and Joan Gowan pitched.
There were two wolves in ladies’ clothing. Matilda (or was it Peter?) Reilly came in her long blue and white culottes which matched the blue bonnet she wore over her lovely long brown hair. Penelope (maybe Mike?) McAllister wore black and yellow flowered culottes.
As the spectators said, “What a game!” It was thrilling from start to finish.

Your Salty Spray reporter noted these other fashionable costumes.

Peggy Cunningham wore long blue jeans, her son’s track shoes and unmatched sun glass lenses. Rita Connelly wore an old lady’s dress, yellow bonnet, old men’s sneakers. She sat in a rocking chair to bat, knit, smoked a corncob pipe, and had to be pulled around in a wagon. She made a tremendous hit which led her team to the victory the west side claims.

Virginia O’Brien wore red long-johns and a “Queen Elizabeth” sailor hat. Her pigtails were tied with a rope. Claire Marcus wore a football shirt numbered “21”, sweat pants and a sailor hat. Marion Scott wore a baseball shirt numbered “32”, baseball pants and navy blue knee socks.
Anne Reilly wore a pair of old fashioned men’s pajamas with a red and blue striped shirt. Her hair was braided and beribboned.
Georgie Hull wore boys’ pajamas, a sailor hat and old men’s sneakers.

Florence McManus wore a blue Snoopy sweatshirt, a pair of old golf pants and an old golf hat.

Joan Gowan wore a pair of sweat pants, a WMCA Good Guy sweat shirt and a sailor hat topped with a Raccoon pompom.
Dottie Campbell wore farmer clothes and a straw hat. Grace Gallagher wore her husband’s surfing pants and a miner’s hat.

As we reported, the west side says it won.

East v. West (late 60s)

All photos copyright J. Wolford, Chicago Il..

Sept 29, 2008:
Michael McAllister said...
Thank you Saltaire38. Not only do I get to see a picture of my Greatgrandmother, my grandmother and me in my mother's belly, but I get to scroll up and see my father in drag.

JOH: Hey Mike: we ran these pictures before. So what is the big surprise? Do you mean to say your father hid this secret from you all these years?

We don't know about Marie's coaching prowess, but there is no doubt she was a Saltaire original:

"Marie Bitzer was without a doubt one of the most flamboyant and memorable characters ever to grace the boardwalks of Saltaire. Her sense of high fashion and dress could have gained her admission to the most high brow costume parties.

I remember specifically one Saturday night in the early fall of 1968. I decided to take a date to the old Oak Beach Inn, which in those days was a great local night club. The only problem was a means of transit from Saltaire to Oak Beach. My father agreed to take us over to the OBI in his boat. Invited along for the trip was both my mother and Marie Bitzer.

Marie got a few drinks poured into her and the entertainment for the evening began. She regaled us with her stories of trips to foreign lands. Among her circle of friends was King Farouk of Egypt and I believe the Shah of Iran. She was house(or more likely palace) guests of both.

Marie's best story was the experience she and her extremely near-sighted husband John had during the Hurricane of '38. As the wind and waves rose Marie(who owned the current Ickes/McElhone residence on Pacific) felt that it would be prudent if both she and John made tracks for higher ground in the Village Hall. Marie related how, as she looked back the tidal surge had ripped up boardwalks behind her. She implored John, who could barely see the nose in front of his face to "hurry the waves are destroying the boardwalk behind us" John, looking back, and barely seeing anything, responded, "Oh Marie, you've always had such a vivid imagination." Thankfully, for Saltaire Marie and John survived the storm with no injuries.

Marie also, in her day, was the preeminent realtor in Saltaire. No one, at that time could out-hustle her for either a sale or rental. Captain Al, out of either respect(or disgust) always would tell us that "if there was a vacant telephone booth in the Village that Marie would rent it to someone for the summer."

Jean Campbell said...

That softball game must have taken place in 1969 because my Mom is using my crutches with her "costume" and I broke my leg in 1968 and would have needed them that summer.

On the "East" team, I recognize Dottie Campbell (my Mom), Grace Gallagher, Mary Fontanals, Lee MacAdam, Dorothy LeMay, Marie Bitzer and I think that's Pat Corrigan on the end.

In the shot of the Florence Gibson with the question of her being the best coach ever, I believe that's my Dad - Ken Campbell - sitting in the bleachers.

Great photos - thanks for posting them. I remember them also being published in the Salty Spray that summer. Hope you've been able to contact the former editors - Elizabeth Elkind, Jane Markus and I think the 3rd one was India Ely.

Was this Saltaire's Greatest Team Ever?

Click Photos to enlarge

Saltaire East
copyright J. Woolford, Chicago, Il

Or was this?
click photo to enlarge
Copyright J. Woolford, Chicago, Il
Saltaire West

We have a half a dozen more pictures to come, one each day, subject to people properly identifying the personalities in these team portraits.

So if you want to see more of these exclusives (there are no "negatives" out there; these originals were Polaroids) you have to tune into

"We report. You decide"

1 comment:

Michael McAllister said...

Thank you Saltaire38
Not only do I get to see a picture of my Greatgrandmother, my grandmother and me in my mother's belly, but i get to scroll up and see my father in drag.