Lost and Found: Jack Boschulte
by Peter Zelchenko September 25, 2009

Getting ready to be a little nippy out there! Gapers Block honchos up on the 56th Floor sent a message this morning down the pneumatic tube, instructing us to check the radiator in their conference room. But we keep getting lost in the stairwell somewhere on 15, so we stop by the staff pool on that floor and bump the pump, chat with the ladies poolside, you know. Let them fix their own damn radiator.

Not much new and exciting to report down here in the basement. Building pretty much runs itself, except for the hand-crank air conditioner, which august task we now delegate to certain ambitious editorial interns.

Fortunately, people keep losing their friends. Here's the setup for another person search, from former Wilderness Road founder Warren Leming -- who does double duty as husband of Wicker Park arts doyenne Laura Weathered:

pete, jack boschutte [sp] was an apprentice actor at the second city in 1965, and was in chicago until the early 70's. he was an actor musician, came from some money i think. a ruggedly handsome chap, jack then went up to canada. where he may have done some work at the canadian second city.... probably hung out in the bar there. we were friends and did a college play together at roose[v]elt university.... a man for all seasons... by robert bolt, and jack played the "common man" and i the spanish ambassador. this was a student production, again about 65 or so. jack was an accomplished skier as i recall and an outdoorsman.

Well, when Warren butchered the name, we looked for Boschuttes high and low. After annoying the hell out of a Baltimore doctor, we came across a more common variant of the name, Boschulte. This sounds like the proper original of a German (or Italian) Boschutte, deriving from German Bösch or Böschung "riverbank, slope," far less likely from Italian bosco "forest," but that would explain the quasi-Italianized ending. And forget Schulter "shoulder" or Schutte "trash" as possible derivations. We're making this up as we go along, even though it's probably miraculously close to being right. Nicht wahr?

Boschulte led us to a director of an electronic switch company in California, not to mention some people in the Virgin Islands -- but we finally found a warm lead in the archives of an old hippie leathermaking shop in Toronto. We also found an Ontario printmaker who at length ended up being Jack's wife. (That is, she always was his wife, at least after they'd married, and, well, long before we ever never actually met her.)

We had a little explaining to do with the would-be wife and the leather dude, but we soon collected our modest commission. No sweat, once you get the name spelled right. (Before that, it was sweat!)

Here's Warren's nostalgic wrap-up:

Jack Boschulte was a good friend of mine in the mid 1960's, and part of a group of musicians who jammed continually at 1742 N. Sedgwick. We'd both come out of the army in the Sixties and were thrown, running, into the Chicago folk-music and theatrical scene. Jack and I did Robert Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons" together at Roosevelt University, and we took some classes at Paul Sills and Viola Spolin's store front theater on Sedgwick near Armitage.

[Paul Sills and his mother Viola co-founded The Second City in 1959 at the base of Lincoln Avenue, 1842 N. Wells, where Hemingway House now stands across from the park. Warren's talking about the Game Theater storefront that Paul opened in 1965. See Paul Sills' Story Theater: Four Shows, p. 7, note 2. That great open space now houses Sedgwick's Bar & Grill.]

Those were heady days, what with Second City not yet a bastion of sit. com wannabes, and still at [1842-]1848 N. Wells, and Chicago just three years away from the Democratic National Convention that would put it definitively before the eyes of the world. It was a world running on energy, chance, possibility, and a growing discontent with the stooges in power, then in the process of leading the country into a disastrous and unnecessary war, when they weren't fudging on Civil Rights and fulminating against people like Martin Luther King.

Jack went up to Canada, disappeared into the North. We exchanged a letter I think, no more than that, and I lost track. I thought on him long, and hard over the intervening forty years.

Recently I contacted Peter Z. and he found Jack thru the internet at which he happens to be a cyber style, alchemical wizard. Jack had gone North, joined a theater company in Toronto [the venerated Toronto Workshop Productions], married, and wound up a pilot, actor, organizer, doing programs with challenged kids. He had a knack for relating to the "hard cases" and his energy and focus were legendary. I called Jack's wife last month, only to discover that I was a little over a decade too late: Jack died of cancer in 1997. He left behind a whole pitch of good friends, and the thanks of the community in Ontario, Canada where he had taught and lived out his life.

I was sent an article on Jack by another one of his many friends: Steven Bush. Steven was kind enough to forward the piece that a Toronto paper had run shortly after Jack died. Reading this marvelous tribute to Jack, by Cedric Smith, who was another actor friend of Jack's, brought back a jumble of memories and biographies. Most of them from the Sixties and focused on the kind of people who made it a period which, I fear, so far outstrips the present passivity that I am loth to mention this sad time, with that "dawn" that never quite broke into day.

My quest for Jack is now over but there is not an end, a final point to this story. Whitman said it over a hundred years ago: "the only home of the soul is the open road."* Jack's was one of those souls that inspire and move on.

Wow. We're getting a bit misty-eyed here. Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? We sure don't know.

Have you been looking high and low for someone? Let us help. Just don't tell GB management.

[*Actually, that was D.H. Lawrence, 86 years ago, in Chapter 12 of Studies in Classic American Literature: "The great home of the soul is the open road." He was paraphrasing Whitman's Leaves of Grass 82, "Song of the Open Road." ("Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road...") And, here, have a quatrain eponymous by Ogden Nash. That one's a freebie, Warren. (Dag, but Google can make any jerk look like a genius!)]

Archive Index | Subscribe to The Party Line | Pete Home | Gapers Block Home

(c) 2003-2009, Peter Zelchenko and Gapers Block