Editor’s Note: Uptown-area resident Carl Sandburg lived at 4646 N. Hermitage, and it was in this house that he penned the famous Chicago Poems, from where this selection is taken. Sandburg was a bit critical of the money wasted on the lavish tombs of Graceland and of their upkeep.
TOMB of a millionaire, A multi-millionaire, ladies and gentlemen, Place of the dead where they spend every year The usury of twenty-five thousand dollars For upkeep and flowers To keep fresh the memory of the dead. The merchant prince gone to dust Commanded in his written will Over the signed name of his last testament Twenty-five thousand dollars be set aside For roses, lilacs, hydrangeas, tulips, For perfume and color, sweetness of remembrance Around his last long home. (A hundred cash girls want nickels to go to the movies to-night. In the back stalls of a hundred saloons, women are at tables Drinking with men or waiting for men jingling loose silver dollars in their pockets. In a hundred furnished rooms is a girl who sells silk or dress goods or leather stuff for six dollars a week wages And when she pulls on her stockings in the morning she is reckless about God and the newspapers and the police, the talk of her home town or the name people call her.)