When last we saw them, it was 1970 and Keith Magnuson and Cliff Koroll were just a couple of Black Hawk bachelors living the high life in Schiller Park, northwest of downtown Chicago, out by the airport at O’Hare. They seem to have migrated north after that: a 1971 dispatch has our heroes situated in “the upper-class Chicago suburb of Park Ridge.”
“A long hike,” Magnuson confided to a reporter at the time, “but it’s only three blocks from where all the airline stewardesses live.”
Cheaper, too. Whereas Koroll and Magnuson had been shelling out $375 a month in the first place, and the rent now was $325, Magnuson explained that they were paying just $290, because the owner was a hockey fan.
Various descriptions of the players’ home décor survive. A 1970 description of their set-up:
In the Koroll-Magnuson living room there’s a black-and-white houndstooth couch; three contour chairs and a coffee table set in a sociable semi-circle in the bulge of a bay window; an off-white wall-to-wall carpet and a stereo unit mounted on flat, black walls. The halls are very white, and in Keith’s bedroom — among the “now” hints of flared, belled pants, blazer suits, buckle shoes and Wellington boots, as a traditional Swedish instinct for personal tidiness — is a large print of a leopard hanging above a leopard-patterned bedspread. (In Cliff Koroll’s room, it’s all zebra, more hi-fi and the apartment’s large TV set.)
It’s hard to tell whether this is the old place or the new. Could be, too, that they stayed put, and the newspapers reporting their locations were confused, so all these historical descriptions are of the same apartment at different stages of its evolution. Maybe? Possibly so.
Either way, designer Irv Caplan seems to have been responsible for the touches of tragical hipness and safari wildlife. He’d done Bobby Hull’s house in Glen Ellyn previously. He quoted Koroll and Magnuson a cut-rate price of $5,000 to re-imagine their place, and they’d agreed. “But when we saw all the stuff coming in,” Magnuson later recounted, “we really flipped. We’re guys from Saskatoon. We’re not what you’d call super mod.”
A 1971 feature described “a living room filled with plastic see-through chairs and three bare white tree branches stuck in huge white flowerpots, a dining room papered in black-and-white stripes like a referee’s shirt, and a burnt orange bedroom with a fake leopard bedspread. There were also one black-and-white and three colour TV sets and three stereo sets in the apartment.”
From a 1973 account we get the scoop that the scene we’re seeing in the top photo involves “Naughahyde masquerading as zebra, plastic ibex horns, and contrasts in black and white with red carpeting.”
Magnuson’s bedroom featured the mounted bill of a 150-pound marlin he’d caught while fishing off Jamaica, along with a blow-up of a grinning Magnuson that had featured on a 1970 cover of Sports Illustrated. Also on display, as noted by a visiting reporter, Paul King:
On a dresser sat a gold-plated hockey puck that Bobby Hull gave Magnuson when he scored his first NHL goal, and on top of it Hull had added a gold-plated tooth — the first that Keith had knocked out of another NHL player’s head: Earl Heiskala, Nov. 11, 1970.
I guess I’m not surprised to learn that Magnuson had a bar in his bedroom, which is to say (as King does) “a bar-cum-bookshelf.” This was home to several trophies and “an impressive five rows of hardcover books (from Nabokov to Joseph Heller).”
Those all belonged to Koroll, Magnuson confessed. “I only read when I have to know something,” he said. King pursued this:
He has read two of Dale Carnegie’s books, Lloyd Percival’s Hockey Handbook (“It was my bible as a kid”) and [Jim Bouton’s] Ball Four. He remembers reading Steinbeck’s The Pearl once, and a few other novels. But he forgets what they were.