The May Day ceremony at the Haymarket Martyrs Monument has a personal significance for me. The monument was a favorite of my late brother Edward. His ashes were scattered there in 2006. He’s also been memorialized in “The Day Will Come” – a booklet that honors the working class heroes buried and scattered near the martyrs.
The new edition of the booklet contains a brief biography of Edward Rice-Maximin. The booklet’s author, Mark Rogovin, also gave him a shout-out at a Haymarket observance on April 12. Mark told the audience about an American of principle, who moved to France in the wake of George Bush’s reelection.
Not that my brother needed the extra motivation to become a French citizen and relocate to a breathtaking Alpine village. He was a Francophile through and through, though he didn’t start out that way.
According to his biography, Ed grew up in a conservative Irish-American family. He lugged a briefcase full of books to St. Ignatius High School. The Jesuits provided him with “a very well-rounded liberal arts background and a great thirst to keep on learning.”
After graduating, he stuck with the Jesuits. He attended Loyola University, where he had the thrill of being at the Final Four to watch the Ramblers capture the NCAA crown. He was still a pretty normal guy when he graduated in 1963.
Then he went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison and all bets were off. Ed became a left-leaning radical. He said his “life now had meaning – things began to make sense.” He studied under liberal professors and would co-write a biography of one of them.
In 1966, he became active in the civil rights movement and taught at African-American colleges in the south. He wasn’t paid well and never received tenure. When he came home on holidays, he would bring guests of color to our lily-white neighborhood.
Meanwhile, he was turning his thesis on the French involvement in Vietnam into a book. This involved traveling to Paris to do research. There he met his wife, Micheline Maximin, a French professor from Guadeloupe. Ed was becoming French-ified.
He spoke the language fluently – with a God-awful Chicago accent. He mastered French dishes and became a wine connoisseur. He even wore a beret.
Ed and Micheline made yearly trips to France, where she taught students from Swarthmore University. On return visits to Chicago, Ed made pilgrimages to the Haymarket monument. He was fascinated by the tragedy and gave me his collection of Haymarket books. He also liked the monument itself, with the face of Justice modeled on Marianne, the female symbol of the French Revolution.
I wish Ed could be here on May Day, surrounded by his comrades, living and dead, sporting his black beret and singing the “Marseillaise” with all his heart.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.