One of the things I miss most about working downtown is the ride there and back on public transportation. Up until March of this year, I had been working in the office almost exclusively, and my commute on the elevated portions of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red Line train had historically, and quite literally, provided a window into the world of the north side. New businesses would open, and I would make mental notes about places to explore. Familiar storefronts would close. Buildings would be demolished to make way for new developments.
Passing Wrigley Field during summer months often brings some festive, Cubs baseball-related cheer during home games, even if the trains are usually crowded. On more than a few occasions, I’ve been able to spot a vehicle on the street from my seat which has grabbed my interest so much that I’ve chosen to deboard at the next stop and get a closer look.
Sometimes, I haven’t been so lucky. In the fall of 2009, I had seen the running, early Chevrolet Vega hatchback pictured above from the Irving Park station, and watched as its driver got into it, started it, and began driving south down Sheffield. I had fully planned on deboarding at the next southbound stop (Addison, home of Wrigley Field) to photograph it, but the train had temporarily stopped on the track for some reason, and this Vega got away. I “coulda, woulda, shoulda” had a contender for Paul’s Great Vega Hunt contest, but everything happens (or doesn’t) for a reason.
Most of the time, though, the object of my automotive interest has been parked and not in motion. Our featured ’73 LTD was sitting in the parking garage of a north side college when I saw it from the train. As generally risk averse as I am, I saw no problem with taking a few pictures of this LTD in this parking garage. I didn’t see any “no trespassing” signs, so I entered the car park, took a few snaps with haste, and was back on a different northbound Red Line in a matter of minutes. No harm, no foul.
Flipping through the frames I had shot through my camera’s viewfinder as I rode back home to Edgewater, I had an increasingly… hungry sensation. You see, this LTD’s puffy, generous proportions, creamy white finish and wide-whitewall tires, and its overall shape reminded me of the frosted cinnamon rolls from Chicago institution Ann Sather restaurant. Even its deluxe wheel covers are round and swirly-looking, like the shape of those pastries. And without trying to sound like a thinly-disguised pitch for Ann Sather, these rolls are so good that at various points throughout the year when I entertain guests from out of town, ordering them usually ends up in the top-three things we absolutely must do over the course of the weekend.
They’re too much: too many calories, too sweet, too delicious, and too addictive. There’s no way those rolls can be good for a human body in any way, outside of the pleasure endorphins that would be released upon their consumption. One side order of them gets you two, so by the time you’ve finished one pastry, you’re already full and satisfied even before your breakfast entree arrives. Regardless, they’re just so good, and so allowances are made.
The ’73 LTD was born of a similar “more is better” philosophy. Compared to its ’72 predecessor, which was riding on the same 121-inch wheelbase, the ’73 LTD two-door had increased in every dimension, with our featured car measuring in at 219.5″ in overall length (+3.3″), 79.5″ wide (+0.2″, a nominal increase, but still there), and half an inch taller than the ’72 at 53.6″. Base curb weight (sans driver) was also up to about 4,500 pounds, which represented an increase of about 5%.
Sales of the redesigned 1973 Ford (all full-size models) were up by a nominal 2.7% over ’72, with about 854,500 units finding buyers for ’73. By comparison, the full-sized Chevrolet outsold the Ford that year by about 14% at 978,000 units, in the third year of its basic design. The third make that comprised the “Low Price Three”, Plymouth, sold just 261,000 Furys that year, though this number was basically flat over the prior year’s 263,000 units.
Every time I leave Ann Sather, I feel like my curb weight has gone up, but no one’s complaining. This generation of full-size Ford historically hasn’t gotten a lot of love at Curbside, much like the cinnamon rolls at Ann Sather aren’t going to win any nutrition awards. Both have their merits, though, and I can proudly say that my late grandparents had a great fondness for their large, mint-green ’78 LTD from the last year of this generation’s production.
Grandma and Grandpa were from the so-called “Greatest Generation” (the name given to those born between roughly 1901 and 1927), so their general sensibility was to appreciate any extra anything for their money, especially as they advanced in years. Thankfully, Sather is offering take-out right now. I wouldn’t consider these rolls essential to my survival, but if I need supplies from the discount grocery store across the street, I may stop in for a to-go box – with a side cup of extra icing.
Uptown, Chicago, Illinois.
Thursday, September 25, 2014.