How ex-board of trade chief Pat Arbor coped during 8 months in jail

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Patrick Arbor leaves Cook County Jail Thursday. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

Who is counting?

Pat Arbor certainly was.

Specifically — 8 months, 21 days, 27 minutes.  

It was 7:30 p.m. last May 25, when former Chicago Board of Trade chief Pat Arbor was sent  to Cook County Jail for civil contempt of court; led handcuffed through the tunnels to Cook County Jail’s Cermak Hospital; and placed in an isolated cell for protection.

“I was the 268th inmate to enter that night,” said Arbor.

On Valentine’s Day, he exited.

“I had little to say the day I was freed,” Arbor said.

That was then.

This is now.


“It was pretty powerful that first night in jail,” said Arbor, whose travails stemmed from a messy 2013 divorce settlement.

Described as a globetrotting fugitive and a flight risk because of his penchant for living outside the U.S. since 2013 — specifically Italy — Arbor, a non-smoker and non-drinker who exercised frequently, is now spending most of his time with his children, old pals, and going to the doctor for frail health and injuries  due to a complete lack of exercise.

Arbor, who spent his 81st birthday in jail, is now precluded from discussing the gag ordered financial divorce settlement with his ex-wife.

“I’m not going to talk about it because I can’t,” he said. “Let’s just say I had some angels out there.”

“But being in jail really had a profound effect on me,” he added. “It’s a tough place; isolation is rough. But there is the power of silence. I did start praying. There was no texting. No tech. I did a lot of thinking. I just thought of it as a religious retreat at times to get rid of anger.

“I was able to endure the isolation because I had a tough childhood. When I misbehaved, my mother would put me in a dark basement. You learn not to fight it. To manage it.”

Arbor, who was basically raised at Mercy Boys Home because of a disappearing father and his mother’s eventual suicide, claims the jail guards were disciplined and professional and did the best they could under the circumstances. “And the outpouring of friends who visited and the books they brought made a huge difference,” he said.


Valentine’s Day end to divorce drama: Pat Arbor ‘delighted to be out’ of jail

Judge risks 81-year-old Pat Arbor dying in jail, ex-CBOT chief’s lawyer says

‘I’m kind of doomed,’ says ex-CBOT chairman, jailed for months in divorce fight

“If I’d get depressed, I’d think about what John McCain had endured at the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam and realize my incarceration was a piece of cake.”

Arbor claims there is one thing he can’t get out of his head.

“I thought I had seen it all, but there are things I will never forget,” he told Sneed.

“It was the mournful wail of an inmate down the corridor which still haunts me,” he said.  

He even wrote a poem about it:

“The mournful wail echoed throughout the jail.

“The shrill sent a chill that stabbed like a nail.

“I want my babies and I want to go home.”

“I never saw her and knew neither her name nor her crime.

“But her piercing cry will haunt me a long time.”


The grocery list: Sneed has learned when singer R. Kelly made bond in order to be released from Cook County Jail Saturday on child support payment arrears, he was also entitled to take with him $1,414.99 sent to him by fans for purchases from the jail commissary!

The donations came from a total of 29 people. Two people sent $5 each.

Hmm . . .

Sneed is told a car crash scene for an “Empire” episode, which was filmed in Paw Paw Woods Feb. 27, could signal the end to actor Jussie Smollett’s career on the series — if he is found guilty of faking his own racist, homophobic attack in Chicago on Jan. 29.

• Timeline: Smollett was just indicted by a grand jury Friday with 16 federal counts of disorderly conduct.

• Translation: “It’s true the Fox series requested to shoot scenes at Paw Paw Woods and Smollett was not there, when they filmed the scene after Smollett was charged,” a top source told Sneed. “They requested sheriff’s police support. They didn’t stay long, but they did film a crash scene.”

Could the car crash be the scene where Smollett’s character disappears if he doesn’t win his case?

Sneed tipped earlier the Fox series requested security and traffic-control assistance from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office when it filmed scenes for the crash episode at Paw Paw Woods.

“It just seemed beyond the pale this request would come on the heels of Smollett being charged yesterday,” said a spokesman for Dart’s office.

It’s anticipated mega L.A. attorney Mark Geragos, who once handled the Michael Jackson sexual abuse case years ago, is expected to represent Smollett at his hearing later this week.

Toni vs Lori . . . 

Lori Lightfoot’s acceptance of former mayoral opponent Willie Wilson’s endorsement Friday is a head-scratcher, considering her tweet on Feb. 15, 2019:

“No amount of money can paper over the fact that @DrWillieWilson is a proud, Trump and Rauner supporting Republican who supports horrible policies that will end up costing regular Chicagoans much much more in the long run.”

Sneedlings .  . .

Condolences to the family of Maureen Sherwood on the loss of her beloved mother, Ann Kelly Butler, who died Mar. 1 at the age of 88. No mother had a better daughter. . . . Look out for the General Federation of Women’s Club of Illinois and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois’ Blue Ribbon Fashion Show Apr. 6 at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook. All proceeds go to Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Cierra Ramirez, 24; Matt Barnes, 39; and Brittany Snow, 33. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Bad Bunny, 25; Chuck Norris, 79; and Zach LaVine, 24.

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