I guess I just like books I can connect to — and I’m finding a lot to connect to in Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.
Growing up in Northern Illinois, I could not help but at least be aware of Frank Lloyd Wright. Driving past Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva always elicited a mention of the house that Frank built by whomever was in the car. Because the only thing I really remembered about Fabyan Forest Preserve was the large Dutch-style windmill, I thought Frank Lloyd Wright built buildings that looked like windmills. Luckily, before I could make a fool of myself, I learned that Frank Lloyd Wright built other kinds of buildings. Although it seems, he did build a windmill after all! I may or may not have seen the actual house built by Wright at Fabyan Forest Preserve. I’m guessing not.
Anyway, in the early 1980’s a friend moved to Oak Park, Illinois and I had the chance to walk the streets there and see some of the homes built by Wright. I don’t remember being terribly impressed — except that Frank Lloyd Wright was famous and I was walking the area where he once walked.
Then, on one of my birthdays while we lived in Pittsburgh, my soon-to-be husband took me to see Fallingwater near Ohiopyle State Park. I finally realized why Wright was made such a big deal of. His arcitecture fit in with the natural surroundings. I’ve since been back there a few times and have visited a few other buildings designed by the man.
So, none of that — except the Oak Park part is why I’m loving this book. Or maybe all of it is plus some other things. As I said before, it is all about connections.
On page 28 of the book the narrator mentions Lorado Taft. Now, I may or may not have come across that name in The Devil in the White City, but I cannot find it in the index. It turns out that Lorado Taft was a reknown sculptor and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright and not the outdoor education enthuasiast and Native American researcher I’ve always believed him to be.
Why would I have such a misconception? Here’s why — Students in the teacher education program of Northern Illinois University were (maybe still are?) required to take an outdoor education seminar. The location for the seminar was, and still is, at Lorado Taft Field Campus in Oregon, Illinois. This seminar, although I dreaded it, was one of the highlights of my college experience. I was not a birder at this time, but watching the bird banding demonstration might have planted the seeds for my interest in birds. I was afraid of heights, but the repelling exercise down the side of a tall wooden building made me realize I could do things like that when few others would. I also remember learning basic tree identification — and I’m still interested in that.
So, I figured that Lorado Taft was the name of whomever founded the outdoor education facility in Oregon, Illinois. I thought he liked Native Americans because of the very tall Blackhawk statue near the entrance to the campus.
It turns out that Lorado Taft Field Campus used to be Eagle’s Nest Art Colony which was founded by the famous sculptor Lorado Taft whose Blackhawk statue overlooks the grounds.
It is highly possible that they told us all about this at the time, but obviously I was not listening.
I wonder what else I’ve missed in my life by not listening or not paying attention. Probably a lot. We’ve got friends whose relatives own a Frank Lloyd Wright house and they’ve converted it into a B&B. We’re planning on spending a night there sometime — perhaps for our 25th wedding anniversary celebration.
Man — this post is pretty convoluted and messy. Oh well, I’ve got a book to finish.