Simply Six Minutes: Spider Dan

Christine over at Stine Writing invited me to be part of her blog hop, Simply Six Minutes, where we set a timer for six minutes and write, then post it. Sounds like my kind of thing, so my six minutes starts….NOW!

Mary and I were passing through downtown Chicago on our way to the Northwestern train to get me out to my folks’ house on Memorial Day, 1981. As we rode past the Sears Tower, Mary said "Is that a man climbing up the Sears Tower (at the time, the tallest building in the world at 1,450 feet/442 meters)?" I was skeptical, but a newscast later confirmed that there was a man named Dan Goodwin who was indeed climbing the Sears Tower. He had witnessed the MGM Grand Hotel fire in Las Vegas and saw where the Clark County Fire Department couldn’t save the lives of some of the people in the upper floors. He thought of a way to save those people and brought it up with the chief the next day, and the chief said he needed to climb a building that high to understand what the difficulties were. So he did. And got arrested, naturally.

He was back in Chicago in November to climb the John Hancock Building. When the fire chief learned this, he ordered several men to go up to an upper floor and block him from climbing any further. In doing so, the firefighters nearly knocked him off the building. Knowing this would be a PR nightmare, the mayor got hold of the old chief and told him to let Goodwin pass, then talked the chief into retiring. He had, after all, been the chief for a very long time, long enough that, when the White Sox won the American League pennant in 1959, he set off the air raid sirens to celebrate, putting everyone in the city in a Red Scare-induced panic…

17 thoughts on “Simply Six Minutes: Spider Dan

  1. Wow, you wrote a lot and it was really interesting. I didn’t know that is why he tried to climb the outsides of the building. Not me. I’m not necessarily afraid of heights but I’m not doing something like that when there is an elevator and stairs. Thanks for participating!


    1. Likewise. The observatory at the Sears Tower (officially the Willis Center, but hardly anyone calls it that) now has windows where you can walk out and it feels like you’re suspended in midair. No way would I do that…

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That would be a definite no for me. In New Mexico, there’s a tram that takes you from ground level to the top of a mountain, where they have a restaurant. It was bad enough looking out one of those windows and seeing a cavern underneath…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. They say not to look down but when that is all you have to look at what are you supposed to do? And isn’t looking down at that expansive space, where you could crash and die immediately with one loose screw of the cable pulling you up, part of the thrill. Lol.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. Mike Royko, who was probably the most popular columnist in Chicago most of my life, once suggested the city change its motrto from “urbs in horto” (city in a garden) to “ubi est mea?” (“where’s mine?”). You get corruption in any big city, and every one is unique. Makes for good news coverage…


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