May 2, 2009

Bugs Moran, the Sheridan Plaza Hotel, Buena Church, and the Green Mill: A Reader's Perspective

Editor's note: Thanks to Joe Ragont for sharing his memories of growing up in Uptown! He has kindly given his permission for us to post his recent e-mail to us.

I loved reading your blogs about Uptown. I was born at Ravenswood Hospital in 1939 and grew up in Uptown. In fact I lived at Montrose and Dayton (800 west) from birth until I got married in 1960.

My mother took me to Buena Church when I was four years old. I grew up going to Sunday school, DVBS (where I received Christ) Youth groups, etc. My wife and I were married there in 1960. Our four children were baptized there. I continued to teach Sunday school until we moved to the suburbs in 1969. Five years later we decided to attend Buena again. The minister, Dr. Larkin, asked me to be Director of Christian Education in 1974. We accomplished much the next year, but living so far away and working a full-time job proved too much and I had to
resign.

After the collapse of the building, my wife and I visited the rubble and just wept. Buena was and in many ways still is our church.

Incidentally your other blogs have also stirred great memories. Stewart School was where I went all eight years. And the Jesus People USA's headquarters at 937 Wilson Ave. was the very sight of my father's barber shop. I spent countless hours there after school and summers and
cleaned it on a weekly basis. Ironically, above the barber shop was a bookie joint, and next door was a strip joint called Backstage. As a youngster I used to amble out the back door of the shop and wonder what was going on in Backstage, where their back door was always open.

My father also owned the barber shop in the Sheridan Plaza Hotel in the late twenties and early thirties. Many of his "clients" were members of the Bugs Moran mob which had its headquarters at Lawrence and Broadway, across from the Green Mill and the Uptown Theater. After moving to the 937 Wilson shop, his clients became many Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears who lived at the Sheridan Plaza and played just down Sheridan Road at Wrigley Field.

During the summer I used to go to neighborhood movie theaters just about every day. In addition to the large theaters like the Uptown and Riviera, there were the smaller Pantheon and Lakeside. On Saturdays I would venture to the tiny Mode, just south of Irving Park, which always showed two cowboy pictures, three cartoons and a serial.

I really appreciate your blogs which have brought back so many great memories!

Joe Ragont

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is awesome! I hope we see more posts like this.

Anonymous said...

Joe, you should share some of your Chicago Cubs bat boy memories from the 50s!

Green Fairy said...

That would be great. We'd be happy to publish anyone's memories of what Uptown was like back in the day. You can e-mail us at blog(a)compassrose.com

clarendon park said...

whem I was about 7 yrs old I started getting haircuts at that barber shop between the sheridan plaza and the golden lion bar,there were 2 barbers there.They were really good,it didnt matter if you were 5 or 50,after the cut you got that hot shaving cream around the edges,and that straight razor shave,Tony made sure you were gonna have hair there for him cut as you got older. The Backstage always intrigue us as kids.it had those double red doors.but when you opened them you couldnt see anything, cause there was a partition you had to walk around.We would try to sneak in and peek around that wall, but the bouncer would catch us and kick us out. ,any years later I worked there as a bartender,after a few months you actually got tired of looking at the strippers, well not all of them

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