August 3, 2010

A Reader Writes in With Her Memories of Uptown Chicago

Editor's Note: We love hearing from former Uptown residents. The following e-mail was sent to us by Chris L., who has kindly given her permission to include it. If you have memories of Uptown to share, write to us and we'll include them here.

Thank you so much for your website and all the memories. My family moved to Eastwood Avenue in 1955 when I was in 2nd grade. I walked to St. Thomas of Canterbury and knew the neighborhood intimately. Once the Lennon sisters were playing the Aragon and our pastor got them to come and give us a 3-song concert in front of the school as we all stood outside.

The Aragon had Top 40 shows on Sunday afternoons. Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper were scheduled to play, but their plane went down in Iowa. I remember seeing Freddie Cannon and Bobby Rydell there. You could hang around the alley door and wait for autographs. BTW, I just Googled Bobby Rydell and he is still touring, if you can believe it!

I remember the Backstage on Wilson. You couldn’t see in, but there were black and white pictures of the girls wearing pasties in the front windows. Their dressing rooms were on the second floor and in the summer the windows would be open.

I can still smell the BBQ and hot grease from the exhaust fans of Ribs by Roberts on Sheridan Road. The Parthenon Theater on Sheridan was a dim echo of the fabulous Uptown, but its plaster columns, statues of gods and goddesses, and monster movie Saturday nights for kids – back-to-back Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf movies. Also on Sheridan was a very upscale Spaulding’s dress shop with several display windows on either side of its front door. The most glamorous outfits, cocktail dresses and suits with dyed fox collars and such, were nearest the door. Grayson’s was a more reasonable, but still nice, dress shop on the corner of Sheridan and Leland across the street from a card shop and kitty corner from a little snack shop. There were lots of bars, taverns, taps and liquor stores up and down the major arteries of Wilson, Sheridan and Lawrence.

I remember guys with jackets that said “Revels” on the back in turquoise script.

There was a bowling alley with several floors of pool tables above it on Wilson. Crittenden’s record store on Racine behind Goldblatt’s had a row of soundproof booths where you could listen to a few 45s they would pipe in to you from the counter.

The Peter Pan restaurant was on the northeast corner of Broadway and Lawrence. A very different Peter Pan from the Disney version leapt out in 3-D from above the front door holding a hamburger on a plate above his head. Kitty corner from it was the very classy Peter Pan dress shop. I always wondered if the same person owned both businesses. If not, how did they come to be named? One of life’s mysteries.

Anyway, thank you for letting me share these memories. It’s fun to reminisce.

Chris L.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris L.
We have so many of the same memories. I remember all to well almost everything you wrote about. I lived on Leland, first building off of Sheridan Road which was later torn down and a hospital was buildt I believe. I believe there was a liquor store on the corner of Sheridan and Leland and then a Chinese Restaurant which we would smell the food from the exhaust fans as well since they were in our backyard. My parents ran the little snack shop in 1952, we lived behind it. They took it over from friends of my parents, Mickie and Harry. They lived in the hotel on Sheridan and Wilson. I use to go to the Pantheon or Parthenon with my sister. It was practically across the street from us. The building was black marble I think. I also remember the bowling alley on Wilson. The boys would set up the pins. I went to the Lakeside Theatre as well. I even have the last movie on VHS that I saw there with my girlfriend Lana Musso and her father, The Adventures of Sadie with Joan Collins. The Lakeside was kind of pinkish red, wasn't it? Grayson's is where I saw Mary Hartline window shopping in her white boots and short skirt. I loved all the shops on Sheridan, Broadway and Wilson and even the little store on Leland that sold penny candy. There was also a little grocery store on Sheridan Road going toward Lawrence that I would get my red licorice one penny a piece. I can still see the man's face that ran the store. He had curly-wavy hair slicked back. I also remember a shoe store on Sheridan that offered a silver dollar for purchasing a pair of shoes. I still remember the shoes my mom bought me. I have a picture of me wearing them. They ended up with a hole in them on the bottom so my mom would put an empty match book in my shoes so I wasn't walking on the bare street. You only got one pair of shoes a year just before school started not like the kids of today.
Well, I think I have gone on enough. I enjoyed reading your memories. I can truly relate.
Cheryl (Peck)


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