Uptown Chicago History Correspondent
Editor's Note: Bill lived on Kenmore from 1942 to 1952, and shares his memories of that time. If you have memories of Uptown or photos you'd like to share, e-mail us at editor @ compassrose.com.
I loved the area where I grew up. It wasn't fancy or upscale, but it was real, with real people. I loved swimming at the New Lawrence Hotel. For 30 cents we could swim all day, with unlimited hot water in the showers. I think that was the real treat.
Over at the Aragon, me and Jimmy Thomas would help sweep up the floor on Sunday morning, sometimes on Friday afternoon. I would come home and tell my mom that I met Eddie Howard. She had a crush on him, I think (I have a cassette of his in my car). Eddie would send me or Jimmy to Happy Jacks Deli on the S.E. corner of Lawrence and Sheridan. He liked their corn beef on rye. I always thought it was disgusting, until I was about 25 yrs old and I tried one. Wow, all those wasted years.
On the north side of Lawrence just west of the El tracks was an old junk yard; this became our playground. Those old cars were our spacecraft ala Flash Gordon or a Pershing Tank or whatever we wanted it to be
At the S.W. corner of Kenmore and Lawrence was the Viceroy Hotel, later to become the Wilton. West at the corner of the alley and Lawrence was the Ritz Grill. The Ritz made hamburgers, fries, and chili. I have never found their equal; I have searched and came close a few times, but never the same.
West of Winthrop was a barber shop with a watch repair guy in the front window and next to the tracks was Marquis Lunch , a cafeteria.
The Uptown Bank building was the tallest structure in the area at that time. Me and Norman Sobiesk would take the elevator to the top floor; he had a pair of binoculars and we would look out at the Lake.
Most of the time we would get caught by someone and kicked out.
Just west of the El was Clifton Ave; this was a scary street in the dark, but we would walk it at night just to prove how brave we were. The east side was railroad/El embankment and the west side was the backs of stores.
At Clifton and Broadway was the Undertakers and the Uptown Chicago Boys Club and a men's clothing store. I bought my first pair of Levis, a Levi jacket, and a wide belt with a big trophy buckle--total price was about $12 /13.
The Levi's we wore had exposed copper rivets . Our principal from Stewart School, "Mary Sullivan," hollered at us because the rivets were scratching up the desks and chairs. We were all afraid of Mrs Sullivan; she would pound her fist on the desk, veins would pop out on her forehead; she'd get beet red in the face when she hollered at us.
Then Levi's came out with covered rivets. Evidently, Levi's was afraid of Mary Sullivan, too.
On Broadway we had shoe stores. Father and Son, Thom McCann, Red Goose, Flagg Bros. They would even x-ray our feet in the shoes to see if they fit right, and we could get a free gift, usually a model airplane.
I liked the pawn shops; they all had neat stuff.
At Broadway and Leland was the Majestic store for men. There was a shop on Broadway under the El tracks, The Hasty Tasty Barbecue. They would have ribs, chicken, and beef on a rotisserie. I can't forget "Val o Wil" chicken, a poultry shop; their motto was "milk fed chicken."
Leland and Broadway had Kresge 5 & 10. Towards Wilson Ave was Woolworth's 5 &10. I liked Woolworth's because I could enter on Broadway and go out the "secret door" onto Winthrop Ave.
On Leland just east of Kenmore at the alley was a men's store; I bought my first One Button Roll Suit. It cost $16 and it was powder blue.
The N.E. corner was Barneys Tavern; the N.W corner was Leibermans Drug Store