A week ago I reviewed Hollywood Park, a novel that takes place in a Chicago neighborhood during the Depression. The author, Martin Marcus, and I grew up in that neighborhood during different times, so I asked Marty to share some of his memories. He gave me this recent photograph of his friends from Peterson Elementary School class of 1947.
Pictured from left to right, top row: Larry Gordon, Burton “Buddy” Mora, Jerry Gordon (Larry and Jerry are identical twins). Second row, l to r: Herb Fisher, Marty Marcus. Bottom row: Howie Korngold and Noel Perlman.
They were members of Peterson’s first SAC–social athletic club. Theirs was called the Vulcans and it started in 1946 when the boys were seventh graders. All but four original members of the Vulcans are in the photo above. At the time Peterson did have one SAC, the Sovereigns, but it was a junior branch of a Von Steuben High School club. Vulcans were a Peterson club, though they weren’t around when I was in school (Class of 1970). The last surviving SAC at Peterson was the Epsilons, which ended in 1971.
What did they do for fun in Marty’s day? The same Hollywood Park games boys played in my day–lineball, football, basketball.
Except that in Marty’s day, goats were chomping away at Kedzie Field where the boys played football. The field was bound by Kedzie, Bryn Mawr and the canal. There was was a farmhouse on the property and goats roamed where years later Lerner’s and Zaretsky’s stood and now Northside Prep High School stands.
Marty also remembered jumping the fence surrounding the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Bryn Mawr and Central Park to play football. I’ve been told boys continued to jump the fence to play football in that corner of the TB Sanitarium grounds into the 1950s, but I don’t think boys played football there when I was growing up. Actually, I’m not sure boys in my years played football at all.
Marty recalls playing basketball using a hoop nailed to a tree at the corner of St. Louis and Bernard. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this custom of attaching hoops to trees throughout Hollywood Park. One of the older boys who played on Marty’s corner, Howard “Howie” Rosenblum, made All-City teams twice while he was at Von Steuben and went on to became the second highest scorer in Carleton College history.
I asked Marty if he remembered his Peterson teachers. He sure did: Enright, Johnson, Matthews, Wise, Nybo, Schank, Levin, Joseph, Kapinski and Derson. In that order, including the gym teacher, and Mr. Marsh was principal. No doubt I’ve spelled the names incorrectly. I thought for sure I would know a few of Marty’s teachers from my years at Peterson, but only one sounded vaguely familiar.
When Marty told me he was in the first Hebrew class at Congregation Shaare Tikvah, I thought here is one more neighborhood landmark that spans both his youth and mine. But then he mentioned his Bar Mitzvah took place in a storefront on Bryn Mawr. The enormous synagogue with the soaring stained glass window hadn’t been gone up yet at 5800 North Kimball.
About 25 years after Marty’s Bar Mitzvah, a friend of mine was in the last Confirmation held at Shaare Tikvah. She was a couple years shy of the traditional age of 16 for Confirmation, but there weren’t enough kids her age left for a class.
The neighborhood did change dramatically from Marty’s day to mine. But, aside from the goats, Marty and I grew up in the same era of Hollywood Park history, just at opposite ends.