Timothy Johnson’s Logan Square: Tough Neighborhood, from From Jørgensen to Johnson is based on Johnson’s family history in the city of Chicago.
My ancestors were Danish immigrants to the Logan Square neighborhood during the late 19th Century through the first quarter of the 20th Century. During this period Logan Square was primarily Norwegian and Danish. My grandfather’s grandfather Christian Jorgensen gave rise to three generations of Johnsons, most of whom were raised in the family home on the 2700 block of North California Ave.
My grandfather’s cousin Rockne Johnson did extensive research into Johnson family history in Chicago and in Denmark. My musical ideas are based on stories I read in his book “From Jørgensen to Johnson.” The piece is meant to evoke this earlier time and the experience of immigrants growing up in a large, loving family in a tough neighborhood.There were family sing-a-longs around the piano, a neighborhood football league called “prarie football” (resulting in many fights) and the wonders of a city that was modernizing right before their eyes. These Johnsons would have seen beautiful Logan Boulevard and the Illinois Centennial Monument being built, among many other things.
The family was not without tragedy as well, losing my grandfather’s beloved Uncle Alvin and Aunt Daisy to appendicitis at young ages, and within a few years of each other. I was captivated by the story of Daisy in particular, who was the sweetheart of the family, the only girl among 12 children, and whose death at age 15 left a deep and lasting mark on her family, especially her parents and my grandfather’s beloved Uncle Wally. Wally was a music lover: classical music, ragtime, waltzes and musicals. He was the youngest of the 12 and his older sister Daisy was his protector and confidant. This piece is dedicated to Wally and Daisy Johnson.