Getting Personal: Robert Isham Auler
Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with veteran attorney Robert Isham Auler.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
I get up around 7, take my bloodhound outside and then hurry to the Council of Universal Wisdom at the McDonald's on Neil and Kirby.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
I had steamed salmon and broccoli (Doc, are you reading this?) at home, with my dog sitting and watching as if in a death bed vigil.
Best high school memory?
My best high school memory was watching the building recede in the rearview mirror.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
The best shoes I ever had were bought in Germany in 1968. Strange, with a long seam from the toes to the laces. Those shoes still haven't worn out one part, even the laces.
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
A perfect Sunday afternoon would be 78 outside, patio doors open, Cubs winning big over the Cards, with my kids in town and a Papa Del's being cut up. And Illini football and basketball tooling up for fresh championships.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?
During World War II, I was given a British kids' book called "Whimseybus." It contained verse including some Edward Lear ("Akond of Swat") and others like Roaring Tom ("The Red-Faced Boy With Blue Britches On"). I searched for a copy for decades and finally got one. Yep, it's even better now.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
I've been to 32 countries, and East Africa is at the top of the return list. But the American West, especially the Tetons, is first and foremost.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
Matilda. Pedigreed bloodhound that somebody dumped at the humane society. She expands the definition of headstrong. For the first year, it was easier to name the things she didn't eat. But she is also the definition of sweet and funny.
Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?
I was like my dad, loving sports, politics and humor. Then, around 60, when I began writing fiction, I became a lot more like mom, suspending judgment and seeing other points of view.
What would you order for your last meal?
Stone crab claws appetizer, three kinds of barbecue and eight champion sauces (Blues Hog is No. 1 right now), mashed potatoes with garlic, buns from the Beef House, several Amish jams and butters, two Dove Bars over a bed of Custard Cup peach.
What can you not live without?
Can't live without hope.
Who do you have on your iPod?
Lots and lots of classic jazz, and anomalously, lots and lots of '50s to '70s rock. And best of all, CD albums of my son Rob's group, the Oswego Jazz Project, samples on CDBaby and iTunes.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
The three births of my kids. But the publication of my novel, "Keep and Bear Arms" is right up there. Striking out Ron Santo at the Cubs fantasy camp stands out, too.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
Alan Furst, Ron Paul and Milt Rosenberg.
What's your best piece of advice?
Never pass up an opportunity to urinate.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
My dad said, rightly, "Trust everybody, but cut the cards."
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
Soda jerk and store sweeper, Ditmar Drugs, Oglesby, Ill. For 75 cents an hour and was probably overpaid. The jerk part was excellent training for dealing with courts and lawyers.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
I was in love with radio and TV. Had an announcer gig in high school. Then I noticed that the stations were owned by lawyers.
Do you have a bad habit? What is it?
Bad habit? Waiting for the Cubs.
How do you handle a stressful situation?